Chapter 32: Running and Hiding

The first 31 chapters of “An Elusive Hero” can be found here.

Laurenar immediately bolted ahead of me. We didn’t head up the staircase I had come down, but instead slipped through a hidden door behind the stairwell. It was interesting to see him move without his restrictive, silver armor. Only clad in a linen shirt and linen pants, he was extremely nimble and quick on his feet. I almost struggled with following him. My actions had left me exhausted and woefully out of breath. Thankfully, we couldn’t just barge through the fort, but instead needed to take some careful and planned steps.

The corridor we walked through was dark and narrow, as one would imagined the hidden ways of an old fort to be. However, my surprisingly loyal sphere of light provided us with enough assistance to make our escape easier. Laurenar kept on heading through the tunnels with fierce resolve and determination.

“Do you know where we’re going?” I asked him, slightly worried about being trapped underground for the rest of my life.

“Yes.”

It was good to see that his captivity hadn’t changed him all that much. He was still as tightlipped as ever. And the knight did have a plan. There were not many paths to choose from in the darkness, but Laurenar never skipped a beat, gliding through nooks and creases effortlessly and urging me to keep up with him.

“Your command over the light is impressive.” He said, while signalling me to wait.

I looked at him stunned and surprised. In front us was a slim door and he was peering through a tiny opening to make sure we could slip out undetected.

“Does Seraphina know about your powers?”

“No, she wasn’t captured with us and I only started using this sphere in the cell.”

“Interesting.”

I hadn’t thought about Seraphina in a while. I was sure she would ride through the gates of the fort to save us, but so far nothing had materialized.

“What happened to the rest?” Laurenar wasn’t looking at me, but still examining the environment beyond the door.

“Tyler got away and hopefully went to find Seraphina. Michelle and Drake were injured and captured. But they were led away from me. I don’t know where they are held.”

The knight nodded and tightened his grip on the sword we had stolen from his unfortunate guard. “Did you meet the Chosen One?”

“Yes, I did.”

“What do you think?”

“He has a lot of power, but a lot of it seems to be showmanship.”

Laurenar nodded again and flashed a rare smile.

“You’re smarter than I thought you’d be.”

I felt myself blushing a bit. Of course, he was right. When I had arrived in Illusio, I couldn’t even hold a sword correctly. Now, I had just secured my first victories in fights and freed a captured hero. Not bad for a soon-to-be college student. But we were not in the clear yet. Laurenar was still observing the outside world, while we were stuck in the darkness.

“Where are we? What are you looking at?” I whispered, increasingly curious about our exact whereabouts.

Laurenar smiled again. “We’re under a stairwell in one of the main corridors of the pentagon. But the fort is a maze. I can’t say where exactly we are without being outside.”

“Then what are we waiting for?”

“A sign.”

He smiled at me reassuringly. Maybe captivity had in fact changed him a bit. What kind of sign were we waiting for? I looked at him and hoped to find any clues in his expression, but he had turned around again and patiently resumed his observation. If we were still inside the pentagon, we would need a lot of help to escape the walls of the fort. And would we just leave Michelle and Drake in here? Michelle had done so much to help and support me during my journey that it felt wrong to leave her here. We would have to come back later. Hopefully, we wouldn’t be alone, but with an army at our backs. I had to remind myself that I hadn’t escaped yet. Laurenar and I were stuck in dark corridor beneath a stairwell with the whole castle looking for us.

That’s when the sign Laurenar had waited for came. Three loud and roaring trumpet blasts travelled through the castle, sending the guards walking through the halls into full-blown panic mode. Their leisurely and methodical pace used to look for the knight and me had been replaced by sprints to the nearest doors and weapon chambers.

“What was that?”

“Our sign.”

Laurenar laughed quietly and motioned me to follow him as he burst through the door. He swiftly manoeuvred us into another dark corner. I motioned my sphere of light to become as small as possible and continued to be dumbfounded.

“What does it mean?”

“The Fort is under attack.”

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Thank you very much for reading so far. I hope you have a great Friday and wonderful weekend. If you’ve enjoyed the story so far, don’t forget to like, share and subscribe!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

Chapter 31: Rescue

You can read the first thirty chapters here.

I had instinctively chosen the left path and was now running through a narrow, winded corridor with torches mounted to the walls at the side. The sphere of light floated closely behind me, always adjusting to my changing speeds. My body had started to ache shortly after I left my cell behind me. When I wanted to accelerate, every fiber and muscle of mine urged me to take it easy. I had never been the fittest person around, but using magic or whatever feat it was I had just pulled off, was incredibly tiring for my mind and physique.

A few cells were lined up on the left and right side of the corridor, but they were not guarded, so I assumed that they were not the cells I was looking for. Nobody was to be seen behind the small slits in the doors, so I continued charging down the corridor. It soon found its end with a small staircase consisting of about six steps inviting me to explore. This definitely wasn’t a way out, but I was sure whoever had caused the trouble earlier was held on this second level of cells. I crouched down and peered down the stairs, but it was too dark to decipher anything.

“Brighter.”

Giving commands orally was less taxing than controlling the light just by my mind. However, as I was just beginning to explore my newfound capabilities, I was not sure if had enough strength to continue controlling the sphere.

I sighed and cursed myself. “Maybe I should have chosen to go right after all.” I  whispered under my breath. The thoughts of failure pushed back by my escape were creeping back into the forefront.

Muffled laughter forced me to concentrate on my task of exploring. The sound was not only a surprise to me. I could hear two voices reacting to it.

“What the hell are you laughing about?” An older, male voice.

“Shut up!” A young, forceful and definitely female voice.

Still crouching, I inched down the first steps, trying to get a closer look at the guards. The laughter hadn’t stopped yet.

“If you don’t shut up, we’ll come and make you.” The female tone was serious and calm. Her threat carried a lot of weight and gravity. Meanwhile, I had reached the bottom of the stairs and peered around the corner. I could clearly see the two guards and the heavy cell door they were guarding. And most importantly, I could hear everything they were talking about.

The laughter stopped for a second. “I’d like to see you try.”

The female guard moved her hand through her short, shoulder-length red hair and sighed. She dropped her voice and told her partner, who was looking at her slightly puzzled. “I might actually have to go in there now.”

“He knows you’re bluffing.”

“I’m not.” She smiled and moved her hand to the short sword hanging by her side. Both guards wore heavy, grey armor, a bit different from the simple padded clothing my guards had worn. Obviously, this prisoner was considered more of a threat than I had been.

The laughter started again. The older guard reacted first, asking his prisoner what was so funny.

“None of your business. I’m just keeping myself entertained.” The voice coming from within the cell was full of confidence, which added to my earlier surprise quite a bit. Now that I had finally heard the prisoner speak clearly, I knew who was behind that door: Laurenar.

I cautiously peered around the corner again. My own disappearance wouldn’t go unnoticed for any much longer. In fact, my escape had probably been discovered already. Somehow, nobody had caught up to me just yet. It was clear that time was running for me and Laurenar.

“Grow.”

The sphere of light, floating quietly behind my back grew back to the size of a football.
I waited for a moment, staring at the two guards standing in front of the cell. The woman was furious and wouldn’t take the jabs from inside the cell much longer. Sure enough, when Laurenar said something I couldn’t quite make out, she took out her keys and told her partner: “Someone needs to be taught a lesson.”

That was my chance.

“Glow.”

The light which had previously burned with the intensity of the torches now fully illuminated the staircase I was still standing on.

“Divide.”

I was panting heavily now, still focused on the white lights in front of me, when I heard footsteps coming in my direction. But they were coming from downstairs and not from upstairs. The older guard had decided to check out the strange light on the stairwell.

In an instant, I jumped around the corner and pushed the guard back before he had a chance to use his drawn sword. Adrenaline drove me forward and I ordered one of my glowing spheres of light to blind my opponent. I shielded my eyes, while my ball exploded in a flash of bright, white light blinding the old guard and causing the female guard, who was standing in the open cell door, to turn around.

The older guard fell backwards against the wall. Immediately, I jumped on his one-handed sword and picked it up. With a quick move, I slid the weapon into the cell and into the hands of Laurenar, while the female guard made a step towards me. When she realized what I had done, her face turned pale. Beating up Laurenar while she had all the power was easy. Beating him when he had a sword was a different story.

I felt the need to rest. The original sphere of light was still floating next to me, but when I tried to help out Laurenar, my words failed me. He didn’t need my help. The knight deftly parried the first two clumsy strikes by the guard, before using the same trick I had just minutes before. He attacked, probing the woman’s guard with subtle blows from the left and right. While she was working hard to defend herself, he moved around with purpose and a clear plan. Laurenar dominated the fight without using too much energy. He tried to strike her chest, then her arms and then her legs, but never gave up his defensive stance. The knight was not doing this for the first time. Even though he would be more comfortable with a two-handed weapon, Laurenar had gotten her exactly into the position he wanted. He was outside of the cell and she was standing inside of it. They had danced around in a perfect circle. With far more elegance than I was used to, he shut the heavy stone door.

During the shouting and screaming of the furious, captured guard, he nodded to me: “Let’s get out of here.”

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Thank you very much for reading so far! Please share and subscribe if you liked the story. Have a great weekend and see you soon.

Sincerely yours,
Albert

Chapter 30: Escape

You can find the first 29 chapters of “An Elusive Hero” under Story.

The sounds of shouting and fighting woke me up. I opened my eyes groggily and looked around the little cell of mine. The sphere of light was floating high above me. I crawled towards the stone door and looked out of the narrow slit the guards used to check up on the prisoners. To my surprise, none of the guards normally standing in front of my cell were to be seen. Instead, the sounds of the commotion originated from the left of my cell.
I desperately tried to find out what was going on, but I could only make out excited and worried shouting without understanding the wording.

Just as I wanted to retreat back to my cot, I saw two more guards rushing past my cells, both with their swords drawn. They were panting heavily and not moving as fast as they should have been. I deducted that they had just been woken up after serving the night shift. Something big was happening. I thought of Seraphina and Tyler who had managed to escape before reaching the fort. Had they been able to return and infiltrate the impregnable walls of the building? Then I thought of Michelle and Drake. Had they recovered from their wounds and staged a revolt from the inside? I thought of Laurenar. Had he found his strength to cast off his shackles to rise up?

I looked up at the ball of light I had just started controlling the day before. The guards before my door were still gone. I stared at the sphere of light and commanded it to divide itself into four different balls. I left one of the lights floating in the center of the cell, while I made three basketball sized globes float directly over the door. From the outside, my creations were invisible.

The sounds from the commotion died down. It got eerily quiet. My thoughts again circled around what was going on. Guards passed the cells, none of them uttering a single word. They were not running anymore, just walking back, looking exhausted and relieved. Like before, two guards took their post before my cell.

“What is going on?”

I decided to try my luck. Maybe they’d have a reason to gloat or exaggerate their prowess in putting out this minor fire. But I got no reaction.

“The sounds woke me up. I’m hungry. When’s time for breakfast?”

My voice was calm and cheerful, the opposite from what I hoped they wanted me to sound. I really did feel hungry. But that was not the reason for my feeble attempts at conversation. No answer came forth from behind the doors. Instead, I heard the sounds of footsteps leaving. I took a quick peak out of the opening to see that only one of the guards was standing before my cell.

Now was my chance. Something was going on among in the fort. I looked up at the light and hoped it wouldn’t suddenly turn dark. That was a possibility I hadn’t considered at all. As easy as this power had come to me, what if it would disappear right when I needed it most? I swallowed my doubts and looked up at my strategically placed balls of light.

“Stand back.” The guard had returned. I took half a step back. The door was pulled open and the guard set down a tray filled with a loaf of bread, some butter and a cup of milk.

The moment the captor bent down I closed my eyes and focused all of my concentration on the spheres and shouted “Light up!”.

In an instant, the lights dialed up their intensity and heat. The young man was blinded and startled immediately. He stumbled two steps backwards out the door. I called out “Follow me” to the three globes and before the other guard knew what was going on I had tackled the first one. He was stronger than me, but still unable to see a thing. We fell to the ground together, but I used his confusion to get up immediately.

I quickly turned around and focused on one of the balls of light. With ease I directed it towards the second guard; an older, bearded man armed with a short sword. The light was shining as bright as the sun now and radiating heat. He tried to fend off the ball with his weapon, but it passed through as it had no physical properties. I gathered all of my strength and whispered “Explode”. Without making a sound, the sphere exploded, releasing a surprisingly powerful shockwave and throwing the bearded man back into my cell.

The other guard was still regaining his eyesight, so I pushed against the door as hard as I could. A jolt of pain rushed through my recently injured shoulder, causing me to wince. The door shut with a loud thump. If the struggles from before hadn’t alerted the other guards, the closing of the door surely would the trick. I faced the younger guard again, who had now gotten to his feet again. He had drawn his mace and shield and looked ready to attack.

He was still squinting and hadn’t regained full control over his eyesight yet. I still controlled two of the spheres from before. They were floating mid-air, shining brightly and quietly. I concentrated and put all of my thoughts into one of the spheres of light, getting ready to strike without saying a word. We stared at each other. He was weighing his options and if I hadn’t known better I would’ve thought he was scared of me. Time was running out. I closed my eyes and silently decided on a command. The light I was controlling immediately obeyed and shot down the corridor with speed before vanishing into thin air. Its movement was enough to make the guard take his eyes off me. I jumped on him and threw a punch with a my right arm. My first punch ever connected with his face and caused him to fall against the wall behind him. The impact knocked him out cold. I stared at him, surprised at myself and knelt down to check his pulse. He was only unconscious.

I stood up again and looked at the last ball of light I following me. “Shrink.”

The light took the size of a tennis ball. “Follow me.”

What would I do now? I looked left, to where the earlier sounds and shouts had come from. And then I turned right, where the corridor seemed to lead upstairs and towards freedom. I had absolutely no clue where to go.

I closed my eyes and sighted. Then I started running, followed by my only weapon and new companion, my original sphere of light.

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Thank you very much for reading so far! Please like, share and subscribe if you’ve enjoyed the story so far. It will continue next Thursday with the 31st chapter.

Until then, have a great weekend and see you soon!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

 

Chapter 28: Hope

You can find all posts about “An Elusive Hero” under “Story” or “An Elusive Hero”.

The only source of light in my cell was one of the spheres of light I had seen in the council room. It floated close to the ceiling, slowly and steady, providing the space with a dim, cold light. The sphere could have shined so much brighter and instead mocked my presence by deliberately not reaching its potential. I rested my head against the heavy, stone wall and closed my eyes. But sleep didn’t come to me.

Continue reading

Chapter 27: Lights

The first 26 chapters of “An Elusive Hero” can be found here.

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I closed my eyes instinctively and kept them shut for a few moments. Silence spread through the room once more. I tried to pry my eyes open, now that the space had finally been illuminated. But the lights, which were radiating from the sides of the room, were too bright.  It was as if concentrated sunlight had filled the chamber. In the glance I was able to take, I noticed about a dozen shapes standing close to the lights. I really hoped they were human. With my eyes closed, the familiar darkness had once again place its shroud around me. I expected to stand in silence for a while longer, when a booming laugh echoed through the room.

“I offer you light and yet you choose darkness by closing your eyes.”

I heard footsteps. The person talking to me was now pacing the room. From the sounds of it, he seemed to be about ten meters away from me. My eyes were still closed.

“Well then, as you seem to believe you are a guest at my court, I would like to welcome you to the Fort.”

A snort followed the sentence.

“You have the privilege of staying my guest as long as you please.”

Another laugh filled the room.

“Of course, that does not mean you can go whenever you’d like. It just means you can stay as long as you want.”

“Where am I?” I asked weakly.

“I’ve already told you.” The tone of the Chosen One was sharp and condescending. He did not tolerate stupid questions. “You are at my court at the Fort. From here I will conquer all of Illusio.”

The sound of footsteps drew closer.

“You should open your eyes and see the light. You shouldn’t choose darkness. Open your eyes.”

My curiosity got a hold of me. I desperately wanted to know with whom I was dealing and more importantly, how many of them I had to deal with. Only one voice had boomed through the room.

“Why don’t you introduce me to yourself and your court first?” I said. I didn’t have the courage to open my eyes just yet. Maybe I was scared it would still be too bright. Maybe I was just scared of what awaited me.

“Well, I think you know who I am. And you also know names are powerful. But well, if you open your eyes, I think we can all be properly introduced.”

The tone had now changed. It was more cheerful and inviting. I drew a deep breath and tried to open my eyes. The initial brightness had subsided and I was able to look around comfortably. The room was illuminated by dozens of spheres of lights, all floating through the air slowly and deliberately. I was stunned by the display. I had never seen anything like it before.  The spheres were of many different sizes. Some resembled footballs, while others were as tiny as golf balls. The brightness of them all also differed. A few radiated with a warm light, others filled the room with a haunting white. Together however, they filled the room with the light and warmth of the particularly beautiful summer day. My eyes followed one particularly luminous sphere of light for a second before my thoughts were grounded by the voice.

“Didn’t I tell you the light was a better choice?”

I moved my look to the person standing in front of me. The man was a head taller than me with a full head of blond, curly hair and clean-shaven face. His figure was slender, but muscular. He had taken the time to sit down again. An impressive one-handed sword with a richly decorated hilt lay across his lap, but he was not wearing any armor. Instead, he was wearing dark pants and a characteristic grey shirt. His shirt had ebony buttons and I noticed it almost shimmering in the bright lights. I assumed he had put some sort of magical protection on the shirt in case I would have picked up some magic on my journey so far.

Unfortunately, I was weapon- and useless. A smile appeared on the man’s face. He seemed to be thinking of what to do next, making the unconscious gesture of brushing his button nose with his thumb. Then he made a sweeping movement with his arms to both of his sides.

Standing at the walls of the room were more shapes than I expected, about twenty. A minority of them were wearing heavy armor and the others were clothed in dark grey clothing with other colors worked into their outfit. The woman to the right of him was wearing a long, grey robe with dark green linings, while the woman to his left was wearing the exact same robe with brown linings. A few men standing motionless at the sides wore ascots in red, blue or black. They didn’t seem to have chosen their color due to the fashion of the Fort. Each color either had to signify a rank or skill valued at his court.

But while I took a close look around, no words were spoken. Not by the man sitting in his large, throne-like chair and not by the very disciplined men and women at his court. For a second I wondered if he had rendered them mute.

“Well. Have you seen enough?” He ended his question with a theatrical sigh.

I looked at him confused. Before I could answer, I heard another word being whispered sharply.

Again, we were surrounded by darkness. I felt my arms being jerked back and only heard the man speak again, his voice quiet and stern: “We will speak again tomorrow.”

Then, I was dragged away, again through the maze of the fort, through dark corridors and down countless steps until I sat there, alone and despaired, in a little, dark cell.

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Thank you very much for reading! I hope you enjoyed and please like, share and subscribe.

Have a great weekend!

Sincerely yours,

Albert

Chapter 26: Darkness

You can read the first 25 chapters of “An Elusive Hero” here.

I stepped into the room expecting to finally lay my eyes on the person everyone had been telling me about since I had stepped into this world. Instead, I saw nothing.

Complete darkness surrounded me and my head started turning. It felt as if I was taken back to when I had been confined without light due to the poison. My captors held their breath. They weren’t expecting the complete darkness as well. But the leader of the group found his footing immediately and began to speak:
“We have what you were looking for.”

My eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, but I couldn’t make out a single face. I thought I saw the silver of a blade flash, but that had been an optical illusion. The Chosen One didn’t feel like it was time to show his face just yet. I wondered if he was alone on his makeshift throne or if he had any advisors and guards by his side. Not that it mattered. I was weaponless and felt like a fish out of water. I just kept my gasping for air a lot quieter.

The person who was supposed to be in the room hadn’t said anything, leading the leader to yank me forward to present me. Still no audible reaction. I noticed a dagger hanging by the side of the officer. It was shining at me conspiratorially and wanted to take me a risk, to take a leap of faith. But behind me, my two others guards stood ready, slowly getting used to the absence of light. Their hands were holding short swords and they were ready to pounce at any disturbance.

I looked around the room, trying to find a source of light or a window, but I had no such luck. The room seemed to be completely on the inside of the fort, some sort of panic room. No windows and I couldn’t even see if the walls had mounted torches. The only sounds piercing through the darkness was the breathing of the men and women present. I could make out the breathing of my captors and there seemed to be at least three more persons in the room. But I couldn’t really tell by the rhythmic breaths all around. At least twenty people could have surrounded us.

The leading officer had enough of the uncomfortable silence and addressed the room:
“We have arrived with our prey.”

Again, silence and darkness all around. This was not how anyone had expected it to be. The guards behind me started to retreat slowly, wondering if this was one big trap they had been lured into. The leader tightened his grip on my arm and I could feel my shoulder aching under the swaying movements I was forced to take.

“Hello, is anyone here?”

The self-confidence in his voice had wavered and while his left hand didn’t let me go, his right one now went to the dagger at his side. From up close I could see the worried look on his face. What had he gotten into? He had walked into the room, fully expecting to be handsomely rewarded for a job well done. Instead, he found a discomforting darkness and no words to soothe him for his trouble. No words to commend him for his actions. And most disturbingly, no pot of gold waiting for him at the end of the rainbow. Only darkness and silence.  He waited another heartbeat and then slowly, as if he thought he had led into the wrong room, he turned around.

The guards were now in front of me, opened the round red door and stepped outside, letting in a shimmer of light. But it was enough to make out any of the figures in the room. But there were definitely more than three persons present. When the leader of the group attempted to push out of the narrow opening of the door, a deep voice boomed through the room with authority. “Your prey stays here.”

The officer turned around in disbelief: “What?”

“You heard me.” The tone was friendly and encouraging, but at the same time full of force and authority. My arm was released immediately. The captor kept a curse to himself at the last moment and mumbled through his gritted teeth: “I’ll be waiting outside.”

“That won’t be necessary.” And just like that, I stood in the room alone.

It seemed that the presence of my initial captors had given me some kind of security. After all, they couldn’t kill me because they needed to deliver me to the Chosen One. Now I was here, standing in the middle of the windowless room of a massive fort, surrounding my unknown persons (were they really persons?) who were definitely not on my side.

Another familiar wave of despair washed over me, but the words of the officer stuck with me. “Stand up straight and show some respect”. Respect for whom? Respect for myself. Two nights ago I had made the decision to stand up for Sophia, Seraphina, Laurenar and everyone who had brought me along on this journey. I was not about to crumble due to the creepy show effects. I took in the stale air and felt my confidence growing on the inside. Another breath later I was ready to address my unseen opponents.

“Is this how you treat all your guests?”

One quiet and lonely chuckle was the only reaction. Nobody in the room had acknowledged what I had said except for the stranger with the deep voice.

“What makes you think you’re a guest?”

I stretched my arm as well as possible. A moment passed before I answered. The theatrical breaks made it seem like I knew what was I doing.

“Well, our mutual friend gave me an exhausting tour of the fort while making sure my companions were shown their quarters. You seem to be the host as you’ve excused him to discuss our business, leaving me free from shackles or guards.”

My short speech was again met by a chuckle and the disturbing silence. My eyes had gotten used to the darkness, but it was such an utter and complete darkness that I still couldn’t make out anybody in the room. The voice had a soft echo, when it spoke in that calm tone. However, I wasn’t skilled enough to find out if that meant the room was tiny or large. I heard someone standing up. I braced myself for an impact, but no further movements were audible.

“I think I can take care of you by myself just fine.”

Just as he finished his sentence, I heard him whisper a word forcefully.

A second later, I was blinded by lights.

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Thank you very much for reading! I hope you’ve had a great start to the Christmas Season. Please like, share and subscribe!

Have a great weekend.

Sincerely yours,

Albert

Chapter 25: The Fort

You can read the first 24 chapters of “An Elusive Hero” here.

They didn’t let me out of their sight now that Tyler had managed to escape. Two guards were at my side at all times, even when I needed to relieve myself. Our captors didn’t want to take any chances at all. Drake and Michelle were still struggling with every step along the way, with their breathing short and irregular. My thoughts wandered to their pain often, but I kept my gaze straightforward most of the time. There was no need to let our enemies think we were up to any more shenanigans.

We traversed the forest surprisingly quickly, but because the sun was still hidden behind a thick wall of grey clouds, I couldn’t tell how close we were to the night. The only hints of how much time had passed were the frequent breaks we took to drink or eat. Most of our captors were not used to be away from civilization for such a long time. Their stamina left much to be desired. Drake coughed quietly. His eyes were barely open, but his wounds weren’t infected and he was able to keep up with our speed. Michelle was quiet, saving what remained of her considerable strength for the small steps she took.

Now, the landscape around us was filled with fields of growing wheat and corn. It didn’t match the beauty of the field of tulips, but then again, that hadn’t brought us any luck. The fields were far prettier than the depressing barren stretch of land we had passed earlier. Our captors still didn’t speak much, as especially the two guards on night duty still seemed to be very disturbed by their failure.

My thoughts wandered to Tyler. Where was he headed? Had he understood my subtle hints? Were my hints subtle enough? A wave of fear and despair washed over my body. What if he hadn’t made out of the forest? I tried to think positively and to channel some of the self-help wisdoms adored by one of my teachers back in the real world. It was no use. My brain refused to remember and so I couldn’t do anything but let the image of a lost and broken Tyler pass.

Just when I had succeeded in diverting my thoughts to the yellow colorof the corn, a massive structure came into sight. I squinted, trying to find out what we were looking at, when I heard the relieved sigh of one of my close guards.

“Finally, we’ve reached the fort.”

So that was our destination. From the distance, I could only make out a wooden palisade, which was at least four times my height tall, and two stone towers flanking it. The leader of the group was elated at having succeeded in getting me so close to their destination and our speed picked up considerably. The gasps of Michelle and Drake made me shiver.

I could tell that the evening was near. Temperatures were dropping and torches were being lit on the palisade. I counted ten of them and hoped that they wouldn’t be guarded by anyone. But as we got closer, I could tell that a soldier stood between each of the torches, each one equipped with a massive crossbow. If Seraphina and Tyler wanted to free us with force, they would need an army.

The shining torches finally let me see what was the palisade was guarding. In the background, I could make out a stone wall, which was once again higher than the palisade. The structure wasn’t flanked by towers, so for me, it just seemed like another wall which needed to be walked through.

We finally reached the palisade before I could give the wall another thought. Two soldiers clad in grey chain armor from head to toe guarded the gate. They were holding pikes and opened the gate with a nod as soon as we approached.  We passed through the gates and I immediately saw why they called it the fort. A scattering of wooden huts lay between us and the stonewall. But the wall was just the hull of a massive, impenetrable pentagon building. No towers flanked the structure, but that wasn’t necessary. Should attackers be able to overcome the palisade with its four towers, the pentagon on the inside would be strong enough to withstand an assault without siege weapons.

My heart fell as we were led inside the stone building. The walls of the pentagon were adorned with shields and sigils of powerful houses, torches provided the light and tiny slits tailor-made for crossbows provided the fresh air. It was nowhere as near as elegant as the Lion’s Den. This was a castle made for battle and not for living. Our captors lead us along a corridor, but made sure to obscure our path as often as possible, sometimes backtracking on purpose or using shortcuts through different rooms. They took no chances anymore. After a while, two of the our captors led Drake and Michelle in a away from me. I wanted to protest and just as I wanted to speak up, one of the guards struck the hilt of his sword across my face. It was clear that my opinion didn’t count on the inside of the fort and that I needed to face the next challenge alone.

Three of the guards remained with me: the leader, the sleepy guard from the night before and a woman with a black ponytail. The leader of the pack had short, scrappy brown hair and a clean-shaven face. He didn’t seem to be much older than 30, but judging by his movements and self-confidence this wasn’t his first mission. His colleagues on the other hand grew visibly nervous as we approached our destination. They tensed up, straightened their backs and made the effort of trying to fix up their hair. We came to a halt in front of a round, red door. The leader turned around and stared at me intently.

“You’re about to meet the Chosen One. Stand straight and show some respect.”

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I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Please also have a look at my other posts this week about Catching Fire and Swiss Politics. Enjoy your weekend!

Sincerely yours,
Albert