The run slowed down to a jog, then a walk and finally this awkward dragging forward. Fate had run all day, from 6 in the morning til sunset. If it weren’t for her self-healing capabilities, those three times she sprained her ankle would’ve seriously slowed her down. This sand was horrible to walk on. She wondered how close they were after her.
Escaping from Paradise was something no one ever dared. Maxwell resented the thought of someone escaping their control, so it was very violently and permanently punished. Maxwell’s sadism was unrivaled, no matter how atrocious the world around them was. And as a so-called Wall Demon, Fate was already a person that was merely tolerated by Paradise and as such her punishment would fall even harsher.
Fate was one of the first child slaves to be sold to Paradise. The story goes that a group of men had put out the offer to buy child slaves from the outside world. Someone tipped Maxwell off to this and it’s as amazing as it is gruesome that these men can still survive in the state they left them in. Still, people on the outside began orphaning children just to sell them to Paradise. Maxwell had decided to actually buy them. It was spun as a philanthropic act to save those kids from the cruelties outside. Paradise was otherwise completely self-sufficient and contact with the outside world was very restricted. Still, Maxwell had eyes and ears everywhere. How did Fate believe she could flee?
The sand receded to uncover a more solid ground and Fate was so glad not to have her feet sink into the ground anymore she almost kept marching right into the deep gulch before her. Lights glimmered at its bottom and she could hear faint sounds from below.
After being stopped dead in her tracks she first noticed she had no destination. She knew barely anything of the outside world, so where could she go other than wander around the desert?
Fate almost dropped herself down the gulch as she jumped away from the voice and landed landed on her ass.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.” He wore plain clothes except for a blue shawl with pretty golden patterns on it. His smile looked as natural on him as if he had been born with it.
“...Hi.” Fate said, remaining on the ground.
“I’m Hakizimana, but you can call me Mana. We don’t get many visitors here.”
“...Sorry.” Was all Fate could think to say.
“No, it’s alright. You look awfully tired, why don’t you stay a while?” He extended a hand to help her up. Fate looked down the gulch again.
“Can’t.” She said and took his hand.
“What’s the problem?”
“Fleeing… Find me.”
“Fleeing from what?”
“Can’t! They will know… can’t...” Fate made her way around the abyss stuttering on. Mana followed her.
“We could keep you safe I’m sure. It’d be safer than moving on at least, you’re right in the Circle of Nails after all.”
“You know, it’s crawling with bandits and slavers out there. And they might not be scared of a single New-English looking like you do.”
How did he know? He’s one of Maxwell’s! Fate gathered the last of her strength to dash off into the night. She tripped as her feet slipped into the sand again and all she managed then was to crawl forward, too desperate to realize she’d never outrun the guy that way.
Mana knelt down next to her and caught her hand as it reached out to claw into the ground before her.
“You’re bleeding pink blood, that’s how I know. You needn’t worry, your kind is welcome in Ambestrix’ Gash. It’s you who kept us all safe out here.”
“Maxwell… spy… nowhere safe.” Fate grunted.
“You… got out of Paradise?” Mana let go of her hand.
Mana picked her up and carried her towards the chasm. “I’m sorry, but I won’t let you get killed out there.”
Fate had no more energy to fight. In fact, she had passed out from exhaustion.