The bolt travelled towards me with blinding speed. I didn’t have time to react and just stood there with my arms by my side, awaiting my fate. Seraphina didn’t move either, but unlike me she seemed undisturbed by the projectile headed in our direction. It came closer and closer, destined to hit my neck in one of the sweet spots not covered by my newly acquired armor. But just when it was supposed to hit and injure me, the bolt fell to the ground listlessly . Seraphina smiled, pleased with herself. I noticed the simmering air before me had vanished and it again looked like an ordinary, cool spring night. She however, picked up the bolt and examined it quickly. Her smile disappeared almost instantly. Carefully, the sorceress placed the projectile in one of her pockets.
“We need to get to Laurenar quickly. Please follow me. And stay close.” Seraphina then exited the room and I had no choice but to follow suit. I had to run the first few meters to keep up with her pace.
She led me through the main corridor before entering another one of the guest rooms with shattered windows. There, the two of us entered a closet with a hidden slide. She slid down with elegance and grace, while I struggled to gain enough traction. But somehow, I managed to reach the bottom of the slide, only to find that I was standing in the courtyard. Or what had remained of it. I was very happy that I didn’t have to jump out of the window like Laurenar had done.
The knight was standing a few feet from the bottom of the slide, surrounded by the two guards who had guarded my room. He was visibly exhausted, with sweat streaming down his face and his breathing still heavy. The smile he had worn when the action had started was replaced with a disappointed frown. The two guards stood there, looking lost and irritated. I could now see that both of them were still very young and inexperienced, maybe only a year or two older than me. The group was discussing the events of moments before.
“Did you see or hear anything before the explosion?” Laurenar asked, staring at the younger of the two soldiers, a clean-shaven boy with black hair and sad, brown eyes.
“No. We were standing guard at the door. You joined us for your inspection and then it happened.”
“And after the explosion, were you able to get a good look at the suspect? Or did you find anything at the site of the explosion?”
“His face was hidden by the mask and hood. I’ve never seen his grey armor before. We didn’t find anything useful.”
“We have something.” Seraphina pulled the bolt out of her robes and handed it to Laurenar.
“He, or she, fired this at us before jumping off the roof. Judging from the make of it, it seems to be poisoned.”
“Poisoned?” Laurenar looked at the bolt carefully. It seemed like a normal crossbow bolt to him with no trace of liquid or poison around it.
“It’s hollow, and injects the poison on impact. You can see the sealed opening for any kind of liquid at the back. I’m not sure if it really is poison, but that seemed the best guess to me. But the bolt is not everything we have. I’m not sure if our eyes have deceived us, but did he levitate to the upper part of the wall?”
The knight handed the bolt back to Seraphina. “Yes. Just before I would have captured him. But suddenly, he was flying upwards.”
It was only that I noticed he was still wet from falling into the pond which had slowly filled out the courtyard.
“It’s a powerful spell, which isn’t learned at the academy. Only exceptional wizards and sorceresses can learn it, because it is entirely self-taught. I only know a handful of them who can do it. And most can only hover over slightly over the ground.”
“Can you do it?” Laurenar and Seraphina looked at me. They were surprised by the question, as if I had broken some rule of courtesy and trust. While he then returned to his serious look, she answered mysteriously as ever:
“When the time comes, you will see.”
Laurenar focused his attention back on the two guards, this time speaking to the smaller of the two, a lad with auburn hair and a slight stubble indicating his desire for a decent beard.
“You said there you didn’t find anything. Not a single hint or trace of a bomb?”
“No, sir. The water makes searching for anything very difficult. There was nothing at the bottom of the pond. We also didn’t see anything resembling powder residue or a liquid that clashes with water.”
“Seraphina, then you need to take a closer look at the lake. See if you find a trace of magic or of any suspicious liquid mixed with the water. But be careful. We do not know what we are dealing with. I will have to report our findings to the queen.”
“Was she hurt by the explosion?” Seraphina’s face had a look of genuine concern for the young queen. Laurenar however seemed undisturbed.
“No. The walls of the throne room are windowless and she was still there when it happened. She was secured by knights of the queensguard the moment the fountain was destroyed.”
“And she will want to catch whoever did this to her prized fountain and courtyard.”
Laurenar nodded curtly. “We do not have any time to lose.”
“And what am I supposed to do?” The words came out very quietly and I was glad they were even heard.
“You’re coming with me.” Laurenar said brusquely. This answer caught me off guard. Seraphina had been much friendlier and was a more talkative companion than he was. And I figured I would be much more of nuisance to him than to her. However, I would get the opportunity to see queen Sophia again.
Laurenar then began walking towards one of the doors and this time, I picked up the pace immediately.
Thank you very much for reading this far as we’ve already reached chapter six of my story!
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