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Pandemonium: Excerpt from Chapter 3

Official account of the upcoming Pandemonium Series. Gain exclusive access to the first few chapters of the first installment.

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The worrisome triad of the Vanguard moved swiftly through the forest, ducking under branches, and sidestepping young leafless trees. Their steps were light, and the leaves crackled only for a second as they made their way downhill. Despite the repetitiveness of the forest, Thalir knew the checkpoints, and could imagine the mental map of the domain clearly. From the outpost, you pass the naked trees to reach the evergreens, you steer left in the mossland to hear the stream. You continue until it starts to descend, and you make your way through the rocks by jumping on and through them, as they get larger. But, reaching the stream’s drop means you’ve gone too far, he reminded himself. The trio's footsteps noticeably became quieter, as they had transitioned onto softer, darker surfaces. Orin came bumping into Thalir as they jogged on, almost knocking him off balance


“What the hell was that about?” demanded Orin.


“You better watch yourself, you just came crashing into me Orin,” growled Thalir, regaining his balance and fixing his breathing as the three of them continued to run. Camila darted her eyes between the two, and decided to run ahead and take the lead.


“You know what I mean moron, stop playing. What’s Plan Guerilla, and why do you know about it?” replied Orin, the frustration growing stronger in his tone. The surroundings became greener, and wetter, and the freshness and moisture of the woods crept into Thalir’s nostrils.


“If you don’t know about it, then you know that I can’t tell you lad,” panted Thalir as he continued to try to get his breath back. Suddenly, he feels his shoulder being violently grabbed, before being spun and pushed with his back colliding heavily with a wet tree trunk. Orin’s scrunched, hairy face breathed into Thalir as he glared into his eyes. Orin was slightly taller, acting like his usual hot-headed self and he lifted his victim slightly off the ground so they were face to face. Thalir knew that his nature, blaming the world on all the misfortune that had fallen upon him, and was never slow to show his anger. And when he did lose his cool, it was almost always at the wrong time.


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Hearing the ruckus, Camilla stopped dead in her tracks, sighing heavily. She was maybe 15 steps ahead of them, and whilst still looking ahead she shouted: “There’s no time for this Orin, stop acting all tough and let’s go.”


Orin turned his head to her, still holding Thalir by the shoulder with his left hand, and his throat with the right hand whilst retaliating with: “Why doesn’t it bother you? He’s not more important than us! Why are we the ones to get left out, looking like a bunch of chumps because of him!”


“That’s enough! We have to get a move one, I’m not going to repeat myself again,” Camilla stated with authority. She turned and started jogging once more, the aggravation in her breath and it resonated forcefully. Thalir could feel the grip on his shoulders easen up, and he briskly swung his arms in a sudden downwards motion, before thrusting them inside Orin’s grip and forcing them outwards to disarm Orin’s hold on him, who stumbled back promptly and grunted. Thalir dusted himself off, making sure that his dark cloak and light leather tunic were back in place, before eyeing Camilla and proceeding to run in her direction. As Orin started to look up, Thalir launched himself upwards and pushed himself off from Orin’s grasp, who stumbled further backwards and tripped on a log; thudding heavily onto the ground.


“Keep on complaining about being left out of everything, and keep on being Camilla’s little hen,” Thalir muttered as he ran past Orin, spitting nearby him.


He didn’t look back, but he heard Orin’s loud grunt and heavy fist hammer down on the moist ground. Having felt like he came winning that fight, Thalir grinned but made sure that he sped up so he could catch up to Camilla hoping to not keep the confrontation going. He ducked under the branches and fallen logs of the forest, as the trees seemingly appeared to become increasingly shorter and smaller.


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By the time he caught up to Camilla, he could both hear and see the stream, and he knew that the annoyed trio were close to their objective. Almost out of breath, his lungs feeling the pain of the high paced running, he looked back to see where Orin was. The moist, fall air tickled his throat, and he coughed as he noticed the angered Vanguardsman gaining on himself and Camilla.


He looked where he was heading, before daring sideways trying to meet Camilla’s gaze. Her hood was down, and her blond hair streaked past her face, bouncing carefully as she jumped over some rocks and boulders. She could surely notice Thalir trying to get her attention, but she seemed to ignore him and instead pick up the pace. She sped forwards before muttering:


“To the left now, this way.”


He opened his mouth but before he could let out any words, she accelerated and left him by himself. Thalir admired her dedicated attitude to the cause, her causal demanour and her fair complecion, and thought that he got along with her well, but ever since she seemed to be spending all of her time with Orin, there was little hope of getting to know her better. Still, you never know, and Thalir remembered that before Orin had joined the Vanguard, he did start to get to know Camilla, and they did have some laughs together.


His reminiscence was cut short as he noticed the crumbling of leaves beneath the rough hide of his boots; they had emerged from the forest and had arrived at the outskirts of the village. A few more seconds of running allowed Thalir to emerge out of the forest into a small enclosure; it was a stark contrast fro the green wonderland which he had just finished trawling through, as the ground was dried and grey, trees appearing to the left and right 50 paces away. Around the middle of the enclosure were gathered Camilla and three other hooded Vanguard, who all appeared to be deep in discussion.


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