Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Clock Strikes Sure
“Zack I’m inside the castle” Everette spoke lowly through the radio in her hand.
She was hidden, crouching behind an archway leading to a room she didn’t care to take note of besides if there were threats or not.
She waited idly for Zack’s reply as she took in the entrances and exits around her just for the off chance she needed to escape or take cover quickly, even with her training and countless small missions- solo or not- she felt more anxious than ever.
It could be the fact her best friend’s life was on the line as well as not having any backup close by in case she was caught or imprisoned with no way to reach out to the team.
“Do you see Helena?” Zack replied
“No they must be keeping her in a room somewhere, I don’t know if they have cells or holding places but maybe in the cellars? I don’t know Zack I’m running blind right now”
“Take your time and stay hidden” he said
“I will just wait for my signal”
“We will, stay safe”
He heard the static of the radio and indication she pushed down the button, a syllable of her voice began but was drown out by the loud explosive sound of gunfire before the line fell dead.
As she heard the shot she ducked into the nearest doorway cursing to herself as she heard Zack’s desperate voice calling to her from the radio on the floor that she dropped.
She hunkered down behind the door closing it almost completely behind her, leaving just enough space to peek through at the running figures of the King, Halda and the Kings guards escorting Horatio’s men out the main doors of the building.
“Everette? Everette, can you hear me? Are you Okay? What’s going on? Everette we’re on our way, find Helena and sit tight” Zack spoke through the radio before it fell silent much like the rest of the building except for Everette’s hasty breathing and thrumming heartbeat.
* * *
As first light began its dull awakening and the brisk chill of morning air stung his skin, Kaydence rode.
The relentless thudding of hooves had long ago sent him into a daze of thoughts, worries and scenarios of every possible outcome for Mayfel that repeated and convoluted into gruelling horrors.
Lost in his own mind he hadn’t noticed the drop in temperature through the night, the tearing winds and mourning skies of grey ceasing the joy and warmth of the golden rays that usually graced the lands and tamed the rough seas.
There wasn’t even the winking of orange in the distance that usually warmed the look of the cold stone of Crestfold.
From what Wren had spoken of Crestfold had fallen, a mass slaughter had wiped out the city and there were little to no survivors.
Anxiety riddled his body with the apprehension to step foot through the archway of the once-great Stronghold and set his sight to the disaster.
Even being weighed down with trepidation he rode on, their pace had slowed but this steed still kept up a relentless speed almost like it shared Kaydences own determination to get everything over and done with and get back to Mayfel’s side.
To his left, as he approached the gateway his sight set upon the sight of dust, plumes of dirt from the road rose into the air like mock smoke before it drifted back to the ground settling and relieving the humid air.
Multiple vehicles were tearing up the dirt road towards him raising the anxiety from the fluttering in his stomach to a movable pressure on his chest.
“We’re almost there, show me everything you have left Amicus” he spoke encouragingly to the Stygian Arabian steed.
And it did, the speed picked up in a last burst of energy up through the archway and into the main road of the city, the familiar clicking of hooves of cobblestone echoing around them.
Shops abandoned, windows shattered, homes with broken door latches and worst of all the bodies of the previous owners and occupants of said shops and homes lay sprawled and bled dry in the street and doorways.
Reaching the top of the hill was what sent his stomach churning and his face paling, Wren had not lied about the massacre, that much was for sure and he noticed amongst the deceased lay a woman he recognised, a woman who had shown him kindness even after the horrors of war she had lived through, a war that many blames on the Aer Clan.
Bile threatened to rise into his throat, his breathing grew ragged and uneven as he looked down upon the grim display of crimson pools and white corpses.
Dismounting hastily he staggered up the street as small droplets fell from above like the skies were crying for their loss but he knew they were fake tears, the skies had no remorse for them or their disasters.
“Solon! King Solon!” he yelled. “It’s me Kaydence, I heard you were here and I came to help!” he continued.
He looked to the castle before him seeing a large group of countless men crowded together, weapons drawn.
He caught sight, over Halda’s head, of the King who seemed to notice him too by the look of many emotions displayed across his aged skin.
Halda’s figure got closer until it was blocking his entire view of the King and the crowd, two hands met his chest and he was pushed backwards sending him stumbling to catch himself.
“What are you doing here fallen, we don’t need your help you’ve caused enough problems. When will you leave things alone and just go home” he hissed, anger in his eyes burning bright.
“Back off, don’t touch me again. I am here to help the King not you and because of them, I have no home” Kaydence growled shoving Halda back.
Escalating, Halda drew his sword and pointed it to Kaydence to which Kaydence dealt back, drawing Acuere and pointing it to the chest before him.
“Halda step aside and sheath your weapon, he means us no harm I promise you that” Solon said from behind them both.
Neither moved but Kaydence could see the look of needing to obey the King in Halda’s eyes even if the man was trying to fight against the urge.
“Halda that means now, sheath your weapon and step aside that is not a request it is an order” he repeated his tone stern.
Halda broke eye contact and sheathed his sword before stepping aside letting Solon take his place with a more welcoming aura.
“Kaydence I have to admit I didn’t expect to see you again so soon and definitely not here. What brings you to the capital?”
“Mayfel was hurt, I got him to Salatia it’s a long story but I heard what happened here so I came to help” he explained.
“Thank you at the moment we need all the help we can get, Braylen’s mundane troops are over there but their leader Horatio is missing, he escaped our custody and is armed and dangerous.”
“I think he might have called for help my King, there are vehicles, maybe five or more on their way not too far out by now” Kaydence said.
“We need to get ready, Kaydence go and inform the guards, Halda we will see if we can fortify the city a little to hold them back and delay their attack” The king said, the rain grew heavier as the clouds grew darker.
Kaydence nodded in agreement and began his steps to the crowd.
“Halda let’s go”
“Where? There’s nowhere to go, My King” Horatio spat, stepping into the street from a joining alleyway.
“My King look out!” Halda called as Horatio raised, cocked and fired his gun.
Diving before Solon, Halda took the bullet to his shoulder before forcefully landing on the ground.
The guards dropped their duties rushing to protect their King and captain of the guard, they swarmed the King others stepping forward closer to Horatio.
“May the mundanes rule over you all. Today we fight, Boys get your weapons ready!” he yelled before repeating his movements and shot the guard closest to him between the eyes.
The gunfire sparked the war in everyone and soon mundanes and fae were at war once again but this time it wasn’t the Aer Clans fault.
* * *
Stepping stealthily down the stairs, she descended further into the dark.
Clinking of metal more specifically what sounded like chains rattled on and on repeatedly hitting against the stone of the floor or walls, if she was stuck listening to the droning on of the clunking metal she’d go insane from that alone not to mention the small space and lack of daylight.
“Helena? Are you down here?” Everette called out cautiously, keeping most of her voice reserved and hushed.
Receiving the only reply of the incessant clink, clink she continued further until she reached the bottom of the steps and peered around the corner taking into account the possibility of guards being there.
To some surprise the corridor was empty.
“Helena?” she called a degree louder to which the clinking responded by halting for a moment then continued.
Again Everette stepped closer and closer, reaching the first- of what she presumed was a cell door- she peered in seeing it dim and mostly empty save for a shawl discarded in the corner.
The second and third contained the same cold and bare look too including an item of clothing left behind which made her question who else had been down here.
She began losing hope that any of the other three ahead would actually hold what she was looking for or rather who, but a little flicker of hope still occupied her mind as the clink clink clink continued on aggravatingly.
Looking into the fourth room, expecting to find nothing she nearly missed the dark-haired girl sat in the far corner of the room, chain in hand as she lifted and dropped it repeatedly.
She wasted no time in getting her lock-picking tools from her bag which happened to be one of her hidden specialities that not many other than Helena knew, she didn’t hide it because she was embarrassed about it but quite the opposite, she was proud of it and found it amusing to occasionally slip into others rooms and move a few things around to start some drama.
She made quick work of the lock and soon heard the light click on the lock sliding open, she pushed open the door silently and looked at the seemingly bored and deflated girl.
“Should have known it was you causing all of the racket” she said, to which Helena’s head whipped around.
“Everette Is It really you?” she breathed, hope gleaming like the sun in her eyes.
“The one and only” she said smiling widely at her friend who had taken to her feet and began running for her.
The reunion was sharply cut short as Helena tripped and almost completely fell flat.
Everette noticed then the restraint around Helena’s ankle, the skin rubbed raw and bloody from most likely her trying to pry it off.
“Good to see you were keeping busy as well as keeping them on their toes.” Everette commented.
“Would I be me if I didn’t give them some grief?” Helena replied with a light-hearted chuckle.
Everette set to work on the lock once again simply wanting to get out of the place as quick as possible, things were about to get even more complicated with Zack and the team joining in on the already tense situation and from what she’d heard upstairs, things had already started to take a turn for the worst and Zack hadn’t arrived yet.
“Are the others here with you?” Helena asked, rubbing her ankle as it was free from the shackles.
“No I came alone but they’re on their way and we need to be out the city before they get here” she replied putting away her tools.
“What’s going on? I heard what sounded like a gunshot earlier”
“I’ll explain later on but right now we need to go because things are about to get much worse. Can you walk?”
“Yes I can walk, but wait Everette I heard another voice, a day or so ago I think it was, it sounded a lot like Rowan” she explained
“Rowan? Are you sure?”
“I can’t say for sure but I think we should check just In case, we owe it to him” she said.
“Okay but you stay here I’ll go and look for him”
“Like hell am I staying here Eve I have been locked in this dam room for god knows how long and I want out so I’m coming with you” she complained.
“I wish you weren’t so stubborn” Everette sighed
“Come on you’re wasting time”
With Helena determinedly leading the way, they proceeded to the last door and both peered in curiously.
Laying in the middle of the cell, beaten and tattered was a man neither of them recognised all too well.
His clothes were torn and barely had anything to them anymore, his hair as well as his facial hair was outgrown and wild, skin pale and hugged his malnourished bones as his bruised nan cut body scavenged what it could of itself to survive.
“Rowan, is that you?” Everette called out.
“Depends who’s asking” came a grumble in reply.
“It’s Everette and Helena, we work with Zachariah Quill. You created out resistance group, the Ravens. Do you remember?”
“I do indeed recall those memories, I presume you are here to capture my wife” he said as he willed his body to sit up.
“No actually I came to save Helena here and now you too so get up we have to go like right now, we really don’t have time.” she said while rushing to unlock the door.
“If you possess food and beverages then I will freely go with you” he replied getting to his feet and stepping over tot he door which swung open to allow Everette’s keen arm to link with his and yank both Rowan and Helena down the corridor.
“Everette pass me a blade, we can’t both rely on you to protect us I can handle a blade trust me” Helena said
“Fine but only because I know you won’t take no for an answer” she replied handing one over form her array concealing on her belt.
The three proceeded up the staircase until they reached the door to which Everette peered out.
“The place looks clear but keep up your guard” she whispered before opening the door and walking out scouting the corridor while the others stepped into the open”
“Where next?” Helena asked quietly.
“Out the main doors, that’s the only way in or out”
“Braylen!” Rowan called out drawing both Helena’s and Everette’s attention to the meeting room to which she was now escaping through behind a tapestry that hung on the right wall.
Braylen’s turned her attention to the noise to see her husband, a cruel glint twinkled in her eyes as a smug smirk grew on her lips and just like that she was gone, the only sign she’d been there was the slight movement of the material.
Rowan made a move to peruse her but was easily halted by Everette.
“Not now, she’s gone and we have more serious things to think about right now Rowan, we need to go” she clarified.
With the help of Helena they managed to move him to the entrance, they stopped to prepare for what was on the other side.
“Everette are you there? If you can hear me we are approaching the entrance to the city, have you got Helena?” Zack called over the radio which until now she’d forgotten about.
Pacing over she grasped it and pressed down the button with a gloved finger.
“I’m here Zack I have Helena and we have Rowan too, everything’s kicked off up here though. Zack you need to-” she tried to inform him but was grabbed from behind, the radio taking yet another ungraceful tumble to the ground this one causing audio to cut out completely, the screen going blank obviously damaged beyond repair for that moment in time.
Driving an elbow into her attacker’s ribs she gained enough leverage to seize her assailant’s hand and switch their positions, with the arm-twisted into a nearly unnatural position she grabbed a knife and drove it into his back, twisted the blade and let the body fall to the ground knowing full well he had his last breath with a severed spinal cord.
Breathing heavier than usual and tucking a lock of hair that slipped free of its restraints, she looked up to see an impressed smirk on Helena’s features but a rather startled one from Rowan who seemed to never have seen such violence.
“We should go our position here has been compromised” wiping off the blade in the dead man’s shirt she carried on to the door opening it just enough for them all to slip out of.
As she did the muffled sound of gunshots and calls became clear like she’d emerged from below the water.
“Helena watch our backs I’ll focus on the front”.
A determined nod form Helena later, they’re jogging to the side of the battle dodging fallen men and fae as well as weapons and bodies diving for them to which they cut down skilfully without a second thought.
Slowly but surely they were gaining ground.