A battle for the mind.
Mathis Kelly spent his whole life blind to the mysteries of his home on Qukapak Island. His focus has been on his and his father’s dream of him becoming Hersir of the castle guard. His father failed to return home from his most recent trading trip, leaving Mathis with many nights patrolling with heartache.
Befriending the girl locked away on the third floor was all he had to make the long, lonely nights go by quicker. Little did he know he had befriended the castle’s feistiest Special whose powers were unknown even to his leaders.
The more he uncovers about those he works closely with, the more he learns of the dark presence in the forbidden half of the castle. He finds he must decide where his loyalties lie. He can be sure of two things: there is no telling who he will meet or where in their story he will be entering. The most important question for everyone: How far am I willing to go for my dreams?
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
It began when I was in college and I had changed my major for the third time changing to English. I went hard into the creative writing courses offered. The now Prologue was written for my second creative writing course, where it was peer-reviewed. It was thrilling to know it could go anywhere from that point and that's how the now Ch 2 chapter was written. Then once I decided I wanted to write an entire book, it became about me fighting against the mind control of depression.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
At first, I used the faces of friends and people around me. Once I started writing Runaway as a book and not a class assignment, the characters split into separate personalities that I felt I had when dealing with depression. They're not entirely accurate but the characters did have to go through a reflection period to help separate them and divide into set individuals with wants and goals that were real parts of myself.
Inhaling the warm night air, Mathis Kelly could feel an otherworldly tingle in his bones. On this night, Queen Mallory’s prisoner would attempt to run. The last full moon was radiant amid the season change of summer to fall, with trees still bushy cascading their shadows over layers of hills. Bare trails along each ripple to the town were a bright spot between two east hills where many rejoiced, enjoying scandalous endeavors all while ruining their livers. The wooded area spread for miles along the coast of the island, rising higher, marbled against open farm fields. The Qukapak lands, with a canal cutting through, is the island where tales of the mystic unknowns lay in wait.
He walked the stone rise and looked down to the glittering silver highlights on the water that stretched from the ports through to an expansive horizon. The dark bricks of Qukapak Castle tricked the untrained eye into believing this to be a nice place to travel for aid in escaping one’s destined journey for a while. Mathis’s guard duty included monitoring strangers, people from all over the world, to drink and sin like no one’s business. Some came and could continue their paths out of this place but not everyone.
Where those considered stuck ended up was unknown, and he was willing to leave that a mystery. Being a part of Noble Squadron was a dream come true, for Mathis and his father. As he stayed true to his route, his induction into the guard flooded his mind as the best day of his life. A day his father and he worked toward his entire life. Foolish boy he once was thought things were going to be fine, until three months later, when his father was ordered to go across seas to see a trade partner, the Flick clan. Something in Mathis felt wrong about his father going, and after arguing over it for days, his father went unpersuaded, as did Mathis’s decision not to attend the ship’s departure.
Walking along the island’s edge next to the castle gave a man time to think and reflect in a quiet manner. The hours between sunset and sunrise became a self-indulged journey of survival, man versus mind. Nights went by quietly, much like this night, as inner demons lurked in shadows, readying to feed on lingering sensitivities. Recalling the disappearance of his father was the demon to haunt him tonight. A gut-wrenching feeling pained him while he reexperienced events too difficult to speak of, even to himself.
His boots thudding was softened by blue carpet strewn across cement floors, ruined from years of foot traffic. The jingling ring of keys echoed through the main floor’s corridor, warning those still moving about in the night who was coming. A side staircase near the kitchens came to view, tempting him into deciding last minute to head up, giving in to his desire for entertainment. He climbed the three flights, reaching an oak door with one large silver knocker nailed into the center.
An order hung to the left, asking for this door to be kept permanently locked or death would ensue. Beyond these doors was a hallway full of a dozen or so more doors, but only one contained a constant occupant. Rumored to be the most evasive, insane, and aggressive creature brought behind these castle walls. Also rumored to be equipped with a hidden power, never leaving proof but the stories piled higher to the possibility.
Entering the hall of doors, old demons threatened to consume his mind, keeping him in the oak threshold, the memory of months passing before his father’s ship returned.
Mathis, young and naïve, was excited and going about an average work night in a brighter mood. At the break of dawn, his patrol was over. That’s when his squadron’s captain informed him of his need to report to the queen. Upon entering, his eyes focused directly on the girl shackled next to the queen’s feet. She looked familiar. Curiosity won over him often. He approached and nearly tripped over the bottom step leading to where the thrones resided. Queen Mallory did not crack a smile at such buffoonery, but the girl did.
“Mathis, there’s no easy way to tell you this…” The queen’s hesitation was apparent. “So I’m just going to say it, okay?”
He nodded his head.
“Your father did not return from his journey.” Queen Mallory’s voice echoed in his mind’s memory as he headed down the hall stopping at the sixth door.
It had been a month since learning of such misfortune, and every day he tried to avoid thinking about it, too many possibilities of his demise for the lonely son to handle.
To the right, facing her door, he was reaching for his keys when mumblings came from inside the room. They soon were followed by crashing objects along the wall that no doubt had been thrown.
He kicked at her door with the tip of his black boot, three solid thumps spaced seconds apart, before letting himself in. “You could have at least cleaned up a little before I got here,” he said, closing the door behind him. Collecting pieces of paper from the floor, he skimmed through them, moderately interested.
“What are you doing here?” Asiza questioned, twisting herself out of an isolation she knew too well, but only enough to come off less abnormal in his presence. Her attempt had dedication, but he still noticed how she fought against eye contact. Taking a step casually to one side then another, her sway lead to the same, meaning she too resisted physical contact. She stood picking at her fingers, peeling off layers of skin at her cuticles until they bled.
“Tedious tasks, quiet night, I got bored,” he said nonchalantly, putting the papers down on a bland wood table. He leaned against the wood frame of her bed. It creaked under the weight and slid firmly against the brick.
Across from him, she watched, and he noticed a sort of fire to her eyes. Moonlight cast shadows off her shapely nose, and the curve of chubby cheek had the same. The features highlighted by light intensified the steadiness of her gaze. She joined him near the window, careful to keep at least a foot between them.
“You look insane,” Mathis commented.
“Have you ever wondered what it would be like to leave? To hop aboard one of those ships and set sail?” She turned her head and pointed out the window toward the docks. “Have you ever thought about places beyond this?”
“Um, no?” He lay back on her bed, gaining a grunt of frustration from her.
“Why?” she questioned, sitting on her bed pillow.
“I visit the docks at least once a week.” His remark earned him an eye roll.
“You don’t understand what it’s like living bound in figurative shackles. Or in my case, figurative and literal,” she added pointing to the shackles mounted to the wall that she had again managed to pick her way out of. “What’s it like to have absolute freedom over your own actions?” she asked with such a tone that suggested she really did not know.
He opened his mouth, discovering he had nothing to say; he had never thought about it before. He could not fully wrap his mind around her words. He could not help but notice how Asiza glowed when the idea of running away was within her. Anyone could see her yearning for freedom, and he could not blame her after witnessing the aftermath of her disobedience beatings.
“I can’t allow you to just leave. Ma—” he began, but she cut him off.
“SCREW THE WHOLE LOT OF ‘EM,” she exclaimed angrily. “The only reason I am even here is because— To think that I—” She stopped, seeming to be choosing her words carefully. “I’m a prisoner for one reason: hunger.”
“You’ve claimed so the last three times I was here, and every time you manage to avoid any evidence behind your claims,” he stated, yawning for exaggeration.
She hugged her knees closer to her chest, staring out the window, as she did when she lost an argument.
“Have you had any good dreams lately?” he asked with a sigh.
He hoped a subject change would calm her out of an immature rage episode. The memory of her throwing a book at his face, breaking his nose, arose, as did the urge not to have a repeat. All because the guards came to take her to Queen Mallory’s throne room but she wanted to finish reading instead. Not all tales in the gossip pools are false, but they are rather overly exaggerated.
“Asiza,” he chided, noticing her determined expression.
She jumped from her bed to her closet, where she tore clothes from their hangers to throw them behind her. She took trinket boxes from their shelves to be thrown with unsatisfied lobs. She ripped open dresser drawers, riffling the contents, until she pulled a beige fabric from the bottom. It took until she found rope for him to notice her masculine attire of leather riding gear as she hurried from one drawer to the next.
“What are you doing with—” he began as she stormed back to the bed.
Bafflement made his jaw go slack as she boldly tossed one end of her rope out the window and secured the other to the shackle chain. He grabbed her arm as she whizzed past for the window, wanting her to focus back on him so they could reason. The daggers in her eyes would stop a charging rhino, and he knew he would not be capable of stopping her from escaping.
“Asiza,” he whispered soothingly.
“This is my last offer, Mathis.” Her expression softened mildly. “Are you joining my adventures or not, Brown Eyes?”
“I told you not to call me that,” he said through tight teeth, fighting his smile.
“You can bet your ass I won’t stop. I wish you the best,” she said, slipping from his grasp.
His fingertips brushed off her forearm as though they were merely raindrops rolling off a leaf, sensual but brief. He thought he saw tears swell under her intense stare, but the blur of her disappearing out the window left him uncertain. Quick, she slid down the rope three stories, hitting the ground running, crossing the yard without even a will to glimpse back.
There from the window, he watched her dark frame grow smaller as the shrubs bounced back into place, covering her trail. A pang of regret lurched his heart forward, and his left eye twitched momentarily. Her black shadow disappeared, no trace, or good explanation to how it happened other than the rope she left behind. He pondered whether to inform Queen Mallory of her runaway or see how long it took until she figured it out.
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