Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: River (08/31/06)
TITLE: Swept Away
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Aylia's breathless protest was spoken to the backside of her swiftly moving companion. She grunted in irritation as a branch snapped back and whipped her in the face.
"So you've said." The curt response was tossed casually over a shoulder, "If you're coming along, you'd better keep up."
The uneven ground and scattered debris made progress difficult for Aylia. She wasn't as adept at maneuvering as Glyne appeared to be. The denseness of the forest was proving to be a challenge and she was having enough trouble keeping up, much less voicing her opposition.
"Can you hear it?" Glyne's voice was electric with anticipation. She glanced backward which revealed a writhing excitement within her features.
A cold hand gripped her stomach as the sound of rushing waters met her ears. Aylia halted her progress. She was surprised by the grip it had on her. How could something so seemingly of nature cause such a twisting sensation within her very being.
"We're almost there." Glyne quickened her pace, an unintelligible exclamation marking her exit from Aylia's field of vision.
"Will you please slow down?" She stumbled from the forest to find her companion standing spellbound on the bank of a wildly rushing river.
"It's beautiful." Glyne slowly sunk to her knees, a hand coming to rest upon her chest.
"The stories were true. Can you see it?" She lifted her free arm to indicate the opposite side of the river.
Aylia squinted in the darkness. The waters themselves were what drew her attention. They twisted and churned over jagged crags of rock. Fear rose to her throat while a slender tendril of apprehension wrapped about her spine. She was puzzled by her physical response and parted her lips to speak when an unearthly hiss spit from within the river's depths.
"Did you hear that?" Aylia took a single step backward.
"Look." Glyne rose as she continued to point. "Do you realize what this could mean for me? For us?"
"I have no intention of going anywhere near that river. You shouldn't either."
Glyne scoffed, eyes narrowing as they settled upon the other woman. "If you're afraid to go, that's fine. Those riches are there for the taking and I fully intend on taking them."
"If you know the stories, you also know nobody has ever made it across." Aylia forced herself to take a few steps toward her companion. "There has to be a reason for that."
"That's because I've never tried." Glyne's features adopted a haughty grin. "I'll be the one who brought prosperity to the village."
Aylia glanced toward the opposite bank and squinted again. She could see nothing but coarse sand and scattered rocks. "What are you talking about?"
"Are you blind?" Glyne's eyes flashed within the moonlight. "There are gems, thousands of them. All that stands between me and my dreams is that stupid river."
As if on cue, the churning waters released another hiss. Aylia bridled her fear and forced herself to approach the other, a hand resting upon her shoulder as she attempted to make eye contact.
"Glyne, please. There's something terribly wrong here. Let's go back. I'm not seeing what you're seeing and I really think-"
She was interrupted by a sharp blow. A throbbing pain shot across her right temple and it was several moments before Aylia realized she'd been hit. Raw betrayal welled within her eyes as she gazed at her friend who still held the finishing position of a backhanded strike.
"I'm not going to let you hold me back." Glyne's tone dripped with disdain as she turned to the river. "This is a golden opportunity and I'm going to take it."
As she uttered those words, a line of stones rose from the watery depths, forming a slick but level path to the opposite bank. Glyne tossed her head and laughed.
"Please don't." Aylia whispered her plea. "I can't follow you there."
"I don't recall asking you to." The other woman laughed again, the sound chillingly inhuman as she hopped upon the first stone. "See how easy this is?"
Aylia sank to her knees and watched helplessly. The waters groaned, their churning depths building in intensity as they began to swell. An unearthly shriek marked an abrupt rise as they lifted several feet into the air and crashed down upon a now wide-eyed Glyne.
She was gone.
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