This is the first chapter of my book The Broken Tournament, to catch up with the story so far you can read the first installment, the prelude here.
I was whisked in a dark carriage before I knew it. Some strange squishy object was touching me, then I realised that food was scattered all around me in this terrible filthy place. Initially I didn’t eat it because I wasn’t hungry, and I was gagged, then my stomach started to crave. After a couple of hours waiting and removing the gag I gave in, the food was disgusting and bitter, the bread was difficult to chew and turned to mush in my mouth for minutes before I was finally able to swallow. The dishevelled and mouldy conditions were something I had to get used too. I would often get uncomfortable lying on the solid wooden floor and need to change my position. Then everything started to ache and nothing became comfortable. I hated it.
It only too me minutes to notice that the carriage I was in wasn’t much of a carriage at all, it was a surface with a sheet tied over it making it nearly pitch black at night, the pale light shone strongly through creating an unbearable heat until the sun set. The captors hadn’t said anything to me at all so I shouted “Is this the trial?” I heard quick “yeah” in response. It was good to know and allowed me to feel at least a bit reassured.
Many hours had passed since then and it was only now that I realised if I were to kidnap someone on a horse and tie them up, I would claim they were on a trial anyway so that they wouldn’t run. I thought that the only people nearby were my fellow villagers but now that I thought about it maybe Matthew wasn’t from this place, maybe these guys weren’t from this place either.
“Can you prove to me that I’m on the trial” I shouted hoping they’d be able to say something that proved it though I wasn’t sure. They didn’t say anything, so I shouted “DO YOU HAVE PROOF?” still nothing. I decided to attack the cover that was holding me in the carriage, shouting as loud as I could at the same time “DO YOU HAVE PROOOOOOF I’M ON TRIAL!” this time I did get an answer but it wasn’t the one I wanted.
“SHUT UP, AND LEAVE THOSE ALONE.” I didn’t have much of a choice, I either had to trust these guys or escape and I wasn’t prepared to leave the carriage unless it actually wasn’t the trial. Even then being kidnapped is a pretty good excuse for missing your trial so it would probably be alright anyway. It was too late to run now, I had gone too long without doing anything and leaving would only cause me to get lost, and suffer in the cold for days.
The hours continued to go by and I tried to go to sleep. Instantly I could hear the horse plodding along and I became very irritated with the stupid creature. I promised myself that if at all possible I would kill that horse because it would ease my troubles and let me sleep. The mummer of my drivers was also irritating but I wasn’t about to do something as barbaric as murdering humans just to make me sleep better, that would be ridiculous and I value human life a lot higher than that, even if the person’s being annoying or kidnapping me. I wouldn’t be able to sleep well with murder on my hands anyway. I decided that I would try to instead minorly inconvenience them by doing something like killing their horse so they couldn’t get home. Yeah, something similar to that. It’s a little bit evil but not so evil that I would feel bad about it. Anyway I couldn’t really make out what they were saying so the noise went over my head but those horse hooves made me mad as they clopped loudly and louder over and over again.
At one point we reached a place with softer ground and the sound of the horse hooves wasn’t as bad. I still had pent up frustration which made sleep difficult but eventually I settled for just relaxing the hours away in the most uncomfortable state possible.
I guess I must’ve fallen asleep because I woke up to see that the sun had risen again and we were moving, the horse was as annoying as ever. I really needed the toilet and I was getting concerned that I might not be able to do it for a long time. I shouted “CAN I GO TO THE TOILET”
The response I got was “WE’LL BE THER IN AN HOUR” this made me relieved, I wouldn’t have to pee in here and then just sit in it, thank goodness. They hadn’t given me any water either and the terrible heat only made me want to drink. The dry bread given to me for breakfast didn’t help either.
Later an hour passed, I was sure of it, I even waited far longer than I would have thought an hour would be and we still hadn’t arrived. So again I said “CAN I GO TO THE TOILET PLEASE, I’M VERY DESPERATE!” I tried to sound really traumatised so that they’d sympathise with me but it clearly didn’t work.
“We’ll be there very soon.” Ok, great, that’s reassuring. The men didn’t appear threatening so I had to assume that they were just doing their job.
After an extra hour and a half we finally arrived. A strong, masculine adult towering over me took off the sheet and my restraints finally letting me escape. When he pulled off the sheets I felt the cold air rushing into me and the cool open air made me relax, I was free.
“Go now” He didn’t have to tell me twice, I leapt up and walked a few meters into the wooded section which was near the road we were on. Once I’d taken a long time to relieve myself I returned only to find that nobody was there, they had just left me.
What was going on? How could this crazy trial not even tell me what my objective was? I looked around and saw that there was a map on the floor with instructions. It said to follow the signs on the map and reach the checkpoint, once reached pick up another map to end your destination and complete the trial. So this whole thing was a map reading exercise? I wasn’t actually sure how to read a map.
I picked it up and had a look anyway, Withwood had completely vanished and I was in an area I was unfamiliar with, they clearly had taken me out a long way but it was difficult to get my head around the fact that Withwood would have built such a massive road just so that they could do this trial, it was a complete waste. Anyway I positioned the map to the road, this was clearly where I was but which orientation was I relative to the map?
I could see clearly a sort of uphill accent on the map and tried to spot if that would give me any clues to my location. The plain space to my right was uphill so I knew which orientation I had to go towards, I would be walking through a small wood, nothing as big as a forest, on relatively flat ground at first to reach my destination. I couldn’t tell any more information from the path that I was on so I simply continued through the woods and hoped to find something that would let me recognise where I was located.
The forest was pretty muddy to walk in and my already battered shoes started to sink and slide around. The forest was guarded by many branches and stingy nettles that I wanted to avoid, they only ever appeared in patches at least, most of the time all I had to worry about were some spikes on plant leaves, which wasn’t too bad. This continued for about 500 meters or so until I reached an end and could stare out at the amazing landscape overlooking the coast. I had heard stories of a great sea but this was the first time I ever saw it, it was both captivating and dangerous. The ocean was directly in front of me, maybe ten miles away and there was a huge forest to the right. This was very good because it matched the visuals on my map. The rest of the land was just relatively flat grass, navigation was going to be easy, especially in such good conditions.
I was on the higer ground and as the map confirmed the landscape sloped downwards until the high cliffs separating land from water. The best thing to note was that I could see a clearly identifiable building near to the sea which was on the map, I put it in the back of my mind as a place I would probably end up at later. It was more or less directly in front of my vision so I was able to see where I was on the map. I had to go more to the right and into a large set of trees further down the coast from the shack. So it was simple, the task was starting easily. No wonder all the villagers didn’t worry about it.
Conscious of the fact that I might be timed I decided to jog towards the location at a rather quick pace, only slowing to a walk when I was tired. The grass was a very nice place to run on and it wasn’t too bad excluding a few dodgy bits where the mud was pretty rough and deep. After about an hour I had made it to the checkpoint but instead of being greeted by a person it was a simple wooden stand with a button. On the stand it had a cabinet with two dispensers at the bottom and a sign that was embedded within the device. The sign said ‘Press the button to reveal your question’ and sure enough there was a big wooden button on the top of the device.
When I pressed the button the sign switched and a new piece was revealed, it must have been on a rotator or something and the question was on another piece of wood that slid into the display of the contraption… or something like that. I read the sign.
‘You only have half an hour to answer this question; your answer will affect your chances of winning the trial. Two people are starving and will die if you don’t give them food, which person should you give the food to?
- The old woman
- The old man
You’re time has already started.’
It was a very difficult question and didn’t even give me a lot of time to think. I wish there was a choice where you could say you’ll let them decide between themselves or try and split the food between them. Unfortunately I had no idea what to answer because it was such an odd question.
You could say that it doesn’t matter because they’re old but that’s still a human life dying at your hands so it’s not like you can’t answer and give it to nobody. Giving it to an old man… when I think of an old man I think of Jak and his strange, creepy speech and touching. I didn’t really want to save a guy like that, so I’ll give it to the old woman I guess? I was dubious but it was such a difficult question that it was my best answer. Then I saw that there were no buttons to confirm your answer and whatever choice you made. I went around to the back of the machine to check and sure enough it had two buttons, one with old man and one with old woman. I pressed the old woman button and I could hear the sign change.
‘Congratulations, you chose the right answer! It was indeed the old man!’
This was pretty shocking but if a really stupid problem with the thing (I don’t even know what to call it) had led to me winning the trial then it was fine by me! My insane level of luck was hard to believe. I remarked that I was so close to failing the trial and that a problem by the villager’s handy work was what caused me to win, maybe the one who created it needed to have their own trial. It was a pretty good and scary feeling, I could have been exiled or something! I felt like I had cheated death, the serious stakes of losing were now dawning on me and a sensation of fear rushed through my body and I noticed my heart rate quicken uncontrollably.
A map popped out of the bottom of the ‘old man cabinet draw’ with directions for where to go next, luckily enough for me they pointed towards the building I had seen earlier. So I knew how to get there very easily, it was right by the sea as well, hopefully that was as difficult as it got.
It took me about half an hour to arrive and it was a rather big building with visibly tall wooden walls painted a faded black. I could see beyond the building into the small pebble beach by the sea where there was a large piece of wood sticking out, I had no idea what it was for but it was interesting. I knocked on the door and waited.
I could see the person who let me out of the carriage for my trial right there in front of me “Congratulations, you’ve passed the trial! Come with me!”
It was difficult to believe! After all this build up, the trial that I had been stressing over in my head was finally over, I was officially an adult of Withwood village! It was an amazing feeling! I followed the guy downstairs to a dark grimy corridor with elation.
“We’ll need you to wait here for a bit but congratulations, you’ve passed!” He gestured to a very dark and horrible disgusting room, but if it was just for a few minutes it couldn’t be that bad!
Someone already in the room shouted “KIL RUN!” but before I could do anything the guy pushed me into the ground and locked the door. I couldn’t see it clearly enough earlier but I turned to see that the door to the room I was pushed into had bars on it. A relentless flood of terror took over my consciousness.
What’s going to happen to Kil? Well you might find out in the next thrilling installment… maybe.
I really love the support for this even though it’s far different from my usual style of writing so thank you! I’m looking to make this book as good as possible so if you spot an error (more grammatical than anything else at this point) please point it out so that I can correct it and make the project much better! Thank you!