Chapter 27: What Happens Now?
“Find her,” I heard Seth say. “Never mind,” he added when his eyes spotted me. “Where were you?” he asked me.
“Well, it was you who left me there,” I reminded him.
“And, then when I went back, you were no longer there,” he said, as if that was all my fault.
“You are acting crazy,” I said, raising my voice. It was time to playact. “And, I don’t want to sleep with you tonight.”
“You are not going to him,” he said. His tone was sharp and dangerous. “I will not allow it. We just had a fight, it’s nothing, it happens,” he said, shrugging.
“Maybe for you, but not for me. I want some space. I’ll sleep somewhere else. I need to think. I mean it,” I declared.
“Sierra, please,” he said, now panicking. He threaded his fingers in his hair, desperation driving him restless. His hands were slightly shaking as he took a step towards me. I took a step back. He looked lost, forlorn, like a little child as he fixed his eyes on mine, his gaze speaking volumes in a silent plea. I almost gave in. But, in the end, I didn’t.
“Are you willing to give me the information?” I asked, hoping he’d changed his mind, and I no longer had to carry out the horrid deed.
“No,” he said.
So, he was still unwavering. “Then, I want to sleep somewhere else,” I said.
“You’ll sleep here with the crowd where you can be protected. I’ll go somewhere else,” he said, in a low tone.
“You are right. I may need protection. I need a gun,” I said, straight-faced. If I could pull this through, I wouldn’t be depriving Elvan of her gun.
“Yes, indeed,” he said, finally giving up. “Fileas,” he shouted. “Fetch me a gun.”
And, it’d been that easy to acquire one. He left the room, dragging his mattress, his body posture screaming of frustration and desperation. Well, he had brought this upon himself, he was a victim of his Drakon stubbornness and his failure to trust me.
I waited for Elvan to come to me, she had something wrapped up in a piece of cloth, I couldn’t understand what it was, but it looked to be heavy.
“Take this, and I’ll bring you the gun,” she whispered.
“I don’t need the gun, I already got one,” I said.
“Oh? Good, for you,” she said.
“Thanks, Elvan, for everything. And, most importantly, for believing me.”
“Sure, good luck,” she said, as she walked towards her own mattress on the floor.
The light in the room was finally turned off and I waited to hear the snores in the room. I was still very much disturbed sleeping with other people, and now that Seth’s arms were no longer wrapped around me, I probably would not have slept a wink anyway, regardless of the task ahead of me. I waited for a few hours to pass, each minute dragging on me like an anchor dragging in the heavy mud. When I couldn’t take it any longer, I got up slowly, trying not to make any sound. It was dark inside, but I had mapped the path to the exit in my mind. I would crawl slowly in a straight line, feeling by hand, and by my knees, the edges of the mattresses on both sides, and use those as a guide. This would make it less likely for me to fall down, and wake up others. After all, Ozy’s attack had made everyone more sensitive to the sounds in the stillness of the night.
It took me about ten more minutes to drag myself out of the room, the hallway outside was thankfully lit, and I easily found my way to Rocco’s prison by stealing the precious gaslight in the hall. The light shone on his features when I entered his prison, and he got up, stretched his limbs, as if in expectation of his escape. Though I was holding the wrapped tool, I still had no idea what it was. I pushed it towards him, “Now, tell me what I need to know,” I said.
He unwrapped the cloth, the chains giving him little mobility in the act. It was a hammer.
“A hammer?” he asked, raising a mocking eyebrow.
“I had nothing else, you need to work with what you got.”
“It will take some time,” he said. “And, I can’t move much, so you will have to do it.”
Great, that was simply great! I moved closer to him, keeping the gun hidden and tucked behind my pants. I took the tool from him and started hammering the chain, it took all my strength and perseverance to keep doing it, minute after minute despite my hands blistering, bleeding and hurting like hell. Yet, I didn’t stop, not until I finally saw the chain snap.
“You do the next one,” I said, giving him the hammer as I moved away to a safe distance and drew the gun from my back, holding it firmly towards him, making sure he knew not to try anything nasty once he was freed from those chains.
He laughed. “You’re not taking any chances, are you?” he asked.
“No. And, I’ve done my part of the deal. Now, it’s your turn,” I said. “Where exactly is the heart? And how do I get there?”
“Oh, I have every intention of carrying out my part of the deal, honey. The place you seek is in a mountain cave, called the ruins of Rawonia. You need to go to the Palace to get there, it’s very close by. And perhaps you’d like to pay a visit to your parents in law, they’d be thrilled to meet you,” he said, laughing heartily.
Whatever, I was not going to be part of this joke. “How do I get to the Palace?” I asked.
“You can ask your mate, sweetheart. I’m done with giving you answers. And, I’m out of here,” he said, grinning as he broke the last chain which was holding his other arm.
I held the gun steady to make sure he wouldn’t attack me. But, he was not even steady on his feet, it was obvious starvation and torture had weakened him, so he posed little threat to me. That’s why I was way too relaxed and, completely unprepared for what was to come.
I saw too late, the approaching form of Fileas who was accompanied by Brian. Fileas, too, was carrying a gas light, which to my dismay, increased the visibility in the room, shedding light on the ongoing crime.
“Stop,” he said when he saw Rocco was freed. “What’s happening here?” Fileas asked, trying to understand my role in this scheme. “Where did you get the hammer from?” Fileas asked Rocco, suspicion marring his voice.
Shit, I was caught in the act. This was not in the plan, I was freaking out, trying to find ways to get out of this nightmare.
“Where do you think?” Rocco said. “You will not imprison me again,” he said, attacking Brian. Fileas raised the gun and shot him, just like that. Rocco fell on the floor, barely moving, his blood spreading on the floor weakening him by each passing second. Brian jumped at me while I was watching in horror my escape plans go awry. He had caught me by surprise, and I dropped my gun, which he kicked away with his leg. Then he held his own gun at me, freezing me on the spot.
“You are under arrest,” he said.
“Damn,” Fileas said. “Damn, what did you do, Sierra?” he asked, with extreme agitation and frustration.
“Rules are rules,” Brian said. “There should be no exceptions. He said so himself!”
Fileas cursed. “I’ll keep watch over her,” he said. “You go and bring Seth. He was on his way here to interrogate the prisoner.”
“Why, Sierra?” he said, again. “You put me in an impossible situation. I can’t let you go because Brian will sing like a bird and that will jeopardize Seth’s legitimacy and rule. “Damn, it. He will not take this lightly.”
“Take what lightly?” Seth said, looking at us, Brian grinning next to him as if he was privy to some juicy gossip. He disgusted me. “What’s going on here?” Seth asked, his eyes taking in the scene, Rocco writhing in pain on the floor, the broken chains, the hammer, the tool of crime lying next to the chains, and me on the scene, awake at this time of the night, standing just a few feet away from the prisoner.
“What’s she doing here?” Seth asked Fileas.
“I...” I said.
“I’m not asking you,” Seth interrupted, his voice chilling. Oh, he was extremely mad, and he was barely holding his anger in check.
“She was helping him escape,” Fileas told him as he cracked his knuckles nervously.
“I see,” Seth said.
“What do you want us to do?” Fileas asked, as the ongoing sounds of knuckle bones cracking shattered the silence.
Crack, crack...The sound began to grate on my nerves as I waited for Seth to speak.
“What else?” he said, curtly. “She’s caught in the act, there’s nothing to be done, is there?” he raged, his face deprived of any other emotion.
Fileas shook his head in regret. “Okay, I will restrain her,” Fileas said, still waiting for Seth to deny the sentence. He didn’t.
“Here?” Brian asked, enjoying this way too much.
“No, of course not. Not in this filth!” he spat. ” Fileas you take care of it. You know what to do,” he said, sighing. He looked at Brian as if to kill him. “You are free from today’s guard duty. Go back to bed before I wipe that grin off your face,” he said, snapping at him.
“It’s treason,” Brian said, too enthusiastic to name the crime.
“I know,” Seth said, his voice bitter. “Get out of my face before I have your miserable hide chained, too,” Seth shouted at him.
“But, I haven’t done anything,” Brian protested.
“Do you think I care?” he said, making his warning clear.
Brian finally took the cue and disappeared from Seth’s sight.
There was the sound of a moan on the floor, right where Rocco lay. Seth knelt down, realizing he was still alive. Rocco’s lips were constantly moving like a broken disc, but his words were not audible. Seth held him by the collar, pulling him close to his ear. “Speak up,” he yelled when Rocco was coughing blood. Then Rocco’s lips, though bloodied, and weary, moved again, and I saw Seth’s face change color as understanding settled on his features. The muscles in his face were rigid, and he closed his eyes, as if he couldn’t believe the veracity of Rocco’s words. “Are you lying to me you fucking Drakon?” he questioned, shaking his body. But, Rocco’s lips moved no more, he’d given his last breath.
Seth got up. He didn’t look at me. He didn’t say anything. And, that’s how he walked away. This time though, it was far, far worse.
Damn, what had I done? How was I going to get out of this? I was in Ozy’s situation, arrested for treason, and Seth was intensely angry at me. Things didn’t look good. Not good, at all.