Chapter 1 – Escape Attempt
“This really stinks! I’ve been running from those stupid lump heads almost all day. Just when I think I’ve shaken them, those bullies seem to pick up my trail again.” Hanna muttered to herself as she panted through the thick underbrush.
She was lost. Well, not completely lost. Hanna knew the general direction she needed to go to get home. But this was a lot farther than she normally wandered from her home when she was out gathering herbs for her mother. She had hidden her basket to run faster, and so those crazy boys wouldn’t scatter them around.
Hanna wiped her long, orange hair from her eyes. It had come loose in her run and she didn’t have time to tie them back at the moment. Suddenly, she ran into a clearing. The girl stopped abruptly and looked around to see where she could hide or which way to run. She listened intently for the sound of crashing underbrush that would tell her how close her pursuers were and which way they would come from.
The only sounds she heard, though, were those of the wind blowing through the leaves above her head and a few birds in the distance. The clearing stretched out before her, and the trees seemed to end. She had heard stories of the edge of the clearing and the dangers that lay beyond. But she had never come this far on her own.
A twinge of fear made her cautious and nervous, but a sense of wonder and curiosity drove her forward. Hanna wanted to see what was out there. All she had ever known was Binklaustur. This small patch of land she called home. It was sheltered between the Forest of Kirkhammur on one side and the snow capped mountains of Eyjaskullfall on the other.
She had grown up hearing fantastic tales of magic and might beyond those borders, but no one that she knew had ever ventured beyond those borders. Most of the adults she knew were terrified of what lay beyond. All except old Friorik, but everyone said he was crazy. So Hanna didn’t know if he really counted. But if they didn’t dare go out there, what hope did she have of surviving?
Still, her curiosity got the better of her, and Hanna wanted to take a peek. So she continued walking forward. Careful to listen for the sounds of the other kids pursuing her from behind. She also listened for any strange sounds that might foreshadow danger from ahead.
As she moved farther across the clearing, she realized that the opening ahead was nothing but an illusion. It was simply a small slope that made it look like the trees had disappeared. Her excitement turned to disappointment as she realized that this wasn’t the edge of the forest at all.
But as she shuffled forward, Hanna heard the sound of rumbling under her feet. Then a loud hissing at her feet. She leaped backward as several large cubes floated up from the ground before her.