Sneaking in was always the easy part, mused Blake Hunter as he strolled through the castle in a stolen guard uniform. He had done this more times than the guards would like to think possible yet each time was as easy as the last. This time was different though, he had a valid reason to be here and the guards were on edge because of the two man assault on the gate. He had heard that the warriors had been defeated but at a disgusting cost of lives.
Blake was glad he had done this before when there was nothing to lose as he now knew the place like the back of his hand and could get in and out without fuss. He had found the Lord’s private chamber on his second exploration of the castle and was deeply relieved as that was his current destination.
There was a single guard on duty but Blake had timed it so that he arrived at the change of guards. The burly man nodded to him then left his post, thinking Blake to be his replacement. The door was locked and far too thick to break down.
“He seems to forget that force isn’t the only way to open a locked door,” smirked Blake as he removed a lock-pick from his sleeve. The pick clanked around inside the lock and Blake began to get frustrated when there was no satisfying click signalling it had worked.
“Maybe he didn’t forget then.”
Changing his tactic he lit a torch on the wall and held it against the thick door hinge. Several minutes passed and the metal began to glow a dull red. When it was as hot as it would get, he dropped the torch then hacked at the glowing metal with a stolen sword. Within seconds only scrap metal remained. He repeated the process with the second hinge then noticed an additional third one which was destroyed soon afterwards.
With one last quick look around him, Blake pulled on the elegant ring knocker and the door fell forwards with a mournful groan like a felled tree. Blake stepped onto the great slab of mahogany then hopped into the room.
The room was a vast chamber of stone, much akin to the secret room under Zendek’s old house back in Pastrino. Shelf after shelf of books lined the walls and a large four poster bed sat on a slightly raised platform in the centre. There were a few other items of furniture in the ring between the bed and shelves like desks and cupboards.
Tucked into the bed was Sarah. Blake ran to the bedside and called out the woman’s name but she did not stir. He tried to shake her awake but still she gave no response. Her body was limp like a corpse but her chest still rose and fell as she breathed. Knocking the small bedside table, Blake noticed a bottle of tablets. She had been drugged.
From his belt Blake took a small water flask and splashed its contents onto her face. As the water ran into her mouth she began to choke. Her eyes shot open and her fist shot out, punching Blake in the face.
“Hey, it’s only me, Blake, don’t worry,” Blake said softly, soothing his reddening cheek.
“I know,” replied Sarah as she punched him again.
“Did he do anything to you?” asked Blake, suddenly turning very serious.
“No. He brought me here, gave me some tablets that he said would take away the pain from my ankle then I woke up just now,” she replied.
“Can you walk?” Blake said, glancing around him again.
Sarah made a huffing sound, her face flushed with anger. “Is that all your going to ask? You haven’t seen me in fifteen years, a week after our wedding, and all you want to ask is if I can walk.”
“It was hardly my choice. Being captured by giant demons was hardly my choice of honeymoons. Now is not the time for that though,” interrupted Blake. “We need to get out of here before someone finds us. We’ll discuss pleasantries later.”
Sarah swung her feet over the side of the bed then stood up, immediately falling back onto the bed as pain shot through her ankle. Blake picked her up and slung her over his shoulder. She shouted out in protest and hammered at his back with her fists but Blake ignored her and exited the room.
He stopped in his tracks as he walked right into a guard as he stepped over the door. He probably should have propped the door back into place to avoid suspicion, he thought wearily to himself. Before Blake could react, the guard had grabbed a black horn from his side and blew a deep, violent note from it that echoed through the corridors. Blake ran him through before the guard could draw his blade but the damage was already done. In the distance sounded the heavy dong of the security bell and he knew that guards would be swarming his location any second.
Cursing loudly, Blake broke into a run, taking a back route away from the main areas of the castle. There were a few moments of calm as he thought the enemy would not find him but that was soon shattered as he heard rapid footsteps closing in behind him. While in full armour and carrying Sarah he could not outrun them but neither could he fight his way out.
Just keep running forwards, he told himself. He laughed in irony as he heard voices further along the narrow corridor before him. His laugh faded as he saw it was Zendek himself leading the second group. His old friend smiled evilly as he spotted Blake and Sarah, knowing they had no chance of escape.
“Stuff this!”muttered Blake. He grabbed at a coil of rope that hung from his belt. He made a sudden turn even though there was no corner and dived through an arched gap in the wall that served as a window.
They had been several floors high and the ground looked a long way away. After a few seconds of terrifying freefall, Blake threw the rope, its end tied to a grappling hook and hoped to the Sprites that it would connect to something. The small metal cross landed on a balcony, latching onto the railing. The sudden halt of the rope ripped through Blake’s hands but he did not let go. They were still a fair way from the ground and just dangled from the rope uselessly with nowhere to go.
The rope suddenly became loose and Blake and Sarah fell once more. Someone had found the hook and cut the rope from it, wanting them to fall to their deaths. Blake turned in mid air and embraced Sarah from behind; making sure that he took the brunt of the impact.
The fall seemed to take forever despite the fact it was mere seconds. Finally Blake hit something but it gave way underneath him, fell a split second longer then landed hard onto an unyielding surface. Sarah opened up her eyes and looked up at the grey sky through a large hole in the wooden roof above them. Slowly, like a dream, her eyes floated around the room, taking in its details.
They had landed in a stable. The Sprites must have been with them as out of every place they could have landed, it had been a large straw pile. She glanced to her side and found Blake’s hand sticking out of the greyish straw. The rest of him was not visible.
She dug through the straw and found her husband’s unconscious form at the very base of the pile. She slapped him across the cheek, reminiscing of the past when she woke him up like this. He had passed on his heavy sleeping gene to Trey, another thing to moan at him for when they had time.
“Five more minutes,” groaned Blake as he snuggled deeper into the straw.
“Now,” snapped Sarah as she slapped his other cheek. He grumbled some more then winced as he fully awoke and the pain from the impact hit him.
“Couldn’t you have left me asleep, it was less painful,” he whined while rubbing his back.
“No. Like you said, now is not the time.” She climbed to her feet, keeping her weight off of her hurt ankle.
Blake rose to his feet too and motioned for Sarah to climb onto his back. He staggered out of the stable, remembering he was not as strong as he used to be because of this place.
The couple gasped as they stepped out onto the street. It looked like a sandstorm had passed through that area. Rather than the hard soil, sand covered the ground and coated the buildings. In the middle of the street was a deep crater. The only sign of life was a black cloaked girl who lay next to the crater. Jogging to the girl’s side, Blake knelt down allowing Sarah to get down and check her condition. She moved aside the girl’s fiery red hair to check her pulse.
“She’s alive and seemingly in perfect health other than some minor wounds and major fatigue. As long as we patch up her shoulders and side she’ll be as good as new in no time,” stated Sarah. At hearing the voices, the girl’s eyes shot open and she tried to jump to her feet.
“Don’t worry. We’re going to help you, okay,” soothed Sarah.
“T-Trey?” asked the girl groggily, her eyes trying to focus on Blake.
“You know Trey?” asked Sarah, excitement and concern growing in her voice.
“Yes. He’s here somewhere. We came to free you all,” answered the girl, regaining some of her strength.
Blake interrupted Sarah before she could begin speaking again. “Who is this Trey guy?”
Sarah was silent.
“Whoa. Is he your new partner? I disappear for fifteen years and another guy just waltzes in,” sighed Blake.
“He is not my partner,” Sarah replied in a quiet voice.
“Who then?” demanded Blake.
“Trey is…he’s your son,” she answered softly.