Sunday, August 11, 2013

Friends and Enemies // Chapter Nine // Into the Fortress

A black mist enshrouded the immense stone fortress. Tajoreth surveyed the shadowy courtyard, stopping on the gigantic bird that was caged in the upper right corner of the court. It's youthfulness was evident, it had been trying to escape ever since the palace guards had discovered it at the capital city a couple of weeks ago.
   The bird was a rare species of Thunderbird, which were rare anyway, since their habitats were found only in Solandria. She was what was known as a Kestrel, and was wearing a leather necklace type thing around her huge bird neck with the name "Liberty" inscribed in neat silvery letters.

   "So, little brother," Tajoreth's elder brother, Kedemeth, asked in a condescending tone. "Are you ready to do whatever it takes to win my throne? Of course you are," Kedemeth assured Tajoreth before he could say anything.
   "That Chosen Four member might cause us some difficulty, though. That's at least what Father thinks. But I'm sure she'll be easy to handle, those types always are." Kedemeth's lips curved into a cruel smile. "We'll see now, won't we, little brother?"
   Tajoreth shrugged. "I suppose," he hesitantly agreed. "I must retire now, brother. Good night."


The faint footsteps echoed softly, so softly that you couldn't hear them, and if you did, you would have thought that it was the whistling of the wind that you heard, not gentle footfalls.
   Five figures, all dressed in various greens, bent double, crept silently through the drainage tunnel. The haunting drip drip drip of the water echoed ominously, but thankfully covered the sound of any splashes they were making, as they were wading through ankle-deep water.
The leader signaled a halt. Straitening as best he could in the rather cramped tunnel, he pulled a map from his tunic. The hood of his cloak fell back to reveal his pale skin, ghostly white in the misty darkness, cropped reddish hair, and piercing blue-green eyes. Killian's bright eyes scanned the map, searching for their location.
   The smallest of the figures sagged against the damp wall, trying to catch a quick breath. In the almost-light of the tunnel, the figure's dark eyes and thick dark braid on her shoulder seemed dead black.
   Killian's brightened as he found their location on the map. With a crisp nod, he gestured to the cage-like bars of the drain cover above them. Another raider produced a rusted key from his pocket, and passed it forward. Killian waited until the guard above them had gone past, then slid the key into its keyhole. Hardly daring to breathe, he twisted it gently. It needed some strength to turn to key, mostly because no one had used it for years. After several breathless moments, it finally turned.
   Nodding to his assistant, Killian stepped into his hands. Poking his head out of the hole, he signaled safe. After pulling himself out, Killian hastened to help everyone else out. Then they split off into two groups. Three of them, led by Killian, left to free some prisoners that were locked in the dungeons. The other two {Willow and Teclemith} slipped off in the other direction to try and free Liberty.
   Teclemith nodded towards the door to the courtyard, and led the way. Easing it open, they tiptoed through as silently as they possibly could.
   "Over there," Teclemith breathed, pointing across the wide courtyard. The huge bird was laying inside a restricting cage, her sweet eyes closed as she slept. A massive lock was evident on the door to the cage. Willow winced.
   "Where's the key?" she whispered back. Teclemith pointed to the tower at the edge of the courtyard.
   "Probably in the guardhouse," he suggested. Willow sighed. It can never be as easy as it sounds, can it?
   The sudden crunching of heavy footsteps set them both on alert. Teclemith caught Willow's arm and dragged her back into the shadows as several guards marched past them. Once they were past, Willow leaned against the stone wall, a tiny flicker within her urging her to go. Why? she thought. Maybe there's something I have to see there. Okay, Author, I hope you're giving me this urge, and I'm not doing something really stupid. She glanced up at the guardhouse, then turned to Teclemith. "I'll go."
   "No!" Teclemith gasped, then lowered his voice. "Absolutely not! What if Emmeth found out I'd let you do that! This is too dangerous for you just being here right now!"
   Willow shook her head stubbornly. "I think there's something in the guardhouse that I need to see," she explained. "I don't know what, though. Please Teclemith, I need to try." She clasped her hands together imploringly, not realizing she was almost batting her eyelashes.
   Teclemith sighed, raking his hand through his short dark hair. "We'll both go."


No matter how much Willow protested, Teclemith wouldn't budge. They were both going. She was actually secretly relieved, because who wanted to go up onto the creepy wall into the creepy guardhouse with who-knows-what creepy thing in it by yourself? Not her, that was for sure.
    Teclemith led the way, melting into the shadows easily. Willow followed, and kept glancing over her shoulder to make sure that no one was following them. The getting there was surprisingly easy. They only had to stand still about twice because of the guards. And then they arrived.
 "This is the door," Teclemith whispered, reaching for the handle. But the millisecond before he could touch it, they both heard voices from inside, and the handle turned. Teclemith sprang to the side of the door, the only place he could go without being seen by a guard outside the hallway, pulling Willow by both arms with him. They tensed and held their breath.
    The surprisingly loud voice of Kedemeth and who must have been his second-in-command echoed throughout the fortress and they exited the guardhouse, laughing loudly.
   "The prisoners will be amusing to hang tomorrow," Kedemeth smirked, his bronze face breaking into an evil grin. His second-in-command nodded gleefully. Willow gritted her teeth while Teclemith clenched his.
   Their creepy laughter faded down the hall, and both raiders let out a long-held breath.
   "That was close!" Teclemith whispered, not wanting to think about what could have happened.
   "Ya think?" Willow whispered back, her chocolate eyes huge. "Durin's sake, we coulda gotten killed!"
   "Let's not think about that now. Here is the door, we should hurry and fetch they key," he insisted.
   Pushing the door open as softly as he could, Teclemith peered cautiously around the door to make sure there wasn't anyone there. There wasn't. He nodded back at Willow, who followed him as he tiptoed into the dimly lit room.
   It was a circular room, made of grey stone. It had lots of maps and other such things laying about on a dark wood table pressed against the wall on the side of the room. Willow noticed that someone had left some drawings laying around too.
   While Teclemith searched for the key to the cage, she ventured for a closer look at the sketches. Most of them looked like freehand drawings of people. Surprisingly, she recognized some of the people. One, a loose sketch of a young woman, looked remarkably like Hyaline. Her pert lips, ripply hair and spirited expression were unmistakable. Another resembled Emmeth laughing. The others also looked like people from the "rebellion". The last sketch that her eyes caught was another one of a young woman. The drawing had been shaded, and was very well done. The expression on her face was one of suspicion, and her deep-looking eyes pierced out of the drawing. Fingering the paper, Willow bent closer and squinted. She was very familiar. Oh goodness! It's me! she realized. Lifting the parchment up closer to the candle {while being careful not to burn the paper} she squinted at the scribble at the bottom of the page. Trejeth-no. Talortheth? Grief, no. Tajoreth. That's it.
   "Teclemith!" Willow hissed in Teclemith's general direction. "Come look at this!"
   Teclemith agreeably ventured over to see what she was hissing about. "Why is there a drawing of Hyaline here?" he asked. She shrugged.
   "Were any of you guys close with Tajoreth? He drew these, at least, he drew this one of me," Willow explained, handing him the sketch.
   Teclemith scratched his head. "We kind of were. Hyaline is always friendly to everyone, though. He was always quieter and more reserved than Kedemeth, and never as haughty."
    "Doubtless," she agreed. "Anyway, did you find the key?"
   Teclemith waved the large rusty key. "Right here."
   "Then let's go!"
Stay tuned for the next chapter, Liberating Liberty!


  1. Sometimes, when I read or watch something so epic that I can't take it all in, it's almost as if I'm about to cry. Because maybe there is some good in this world, and maybe I'm fortunate enough to find it. And certainly, you are a highly gifted writer, whose words I admire, and whose creativity I respect. Maybe it's going to sound like too much, but when reading your tale, I sort of had a fleeting thought that you're my favourite young author, and that your works resonated so beautifully in my writer's soul; it's just an incredible epic moment. <3

    1. Wow Les, thank you so much! That really means a lot to me :)


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