I had very little idea what time it was when I reached the prison, but I knew it took me less time than I thought it would to reach it. That was understandable though, since I never set foot on that island before.
With that in mind, I decided it would be better if I took more time to study the place before trying to break into it. I was in the trees, trying to sense as much as I could about the prison. Once I got as much information as I thought I could, I sat down and plotted how I would enter the prison.
I thought through my options while the cold night air blew harshly. After thinking through all of the possible outcomes I could imagine, I came up with my plan.
I walked quietly through the trees that were rather spread out, thinning out until they stopped near the prison walls. I stopped at the edge of the trees, double checking where all the guards were. Finding that there were none very close, I decided that it was time to head in.
I ran out of the trees with silent swiftness; I made it to the wall within a few seconds. I wasted no time finding handholds in the stone and using them to hoist me up. I quickly made my way up the side of the building. It was a large wall, but it was rather easy to climb for me since I had climbed so many similar walls. Plus, since it was rather old, it had decent handholds after the wall got weathered down over the years.
I made my way up and stopped right near the top of the wall. I hung there as a group of guards made their way to patrol the top of the walls. There were only four of them, but I couldn’t risk anyone hearing me take them out or finding them before I finished all I wanted to do in the prison.
The guards just walked by. I sensed they were all human, which meant that their senses were terrible at night. But even if they were creatures that had decent senses at night, none of them bothered to look down to see if there was anything suspicious happening, so it would have made no difference.
Once they passed, I made sure that there was a good amount of distance between the guards and me. When the guards were far enough for my liking, I crept up the rest of the way, slipped onto the narrow walkway on the top, and then slid down the other side of the wall. As I climbed down, I tried to sense if anything was off, but everything seemed to be going on just as before. That indicated that I was unnoticed so far.
I swiftly made it into the courtyard. When I hit the ground, I was able to tell that there were a lot more guards inside the courtyard and the actual prison than outside of it. I guessed that it made some sense, since it was more likely that people were going to try to break out instead of break in. There was a group of guards fairly close by. There were only four, but I decided that it was best to avoid them.
I had entered the courtyard at the place where the wall was the closest to the actual building. I silently sprinted to the building and then grabbed some handholds, lifting myself up to the window on the second story. No one reacted at all, which implied that no one noticed that anything was off.
I had to marvel that humans were attempting to guard the prison at night. Since their senses were so terrible, they couldn’t tell anything was off once it got dark. Even if I was quiet in comparison to other creatures, I still found it crazy how limited they were in their ability to sense.
I reached the window in no time. After I used my senses of hearing and touch to make sure that there were no guards around to cause problems, I hoisted myself up onto the small ledge.
I tried to sense if there was any magic around. There didn’t seem to be any magic in the upper part of the prison, but I sensed that there was some further down in the prison. Since I wasn’t entering and exiting in the lower part of the building, I wondered if it would cause me any trouble at all during entry. I certainly hoped that it wouldn’t.
Satisfied enough with my quick inspection, I fished a magical artifact out of its container in my pocket that a sorceress gave me to help in completing the mission. It appeared to be a metal rod, but I could tell that it had a decent amount of magic in it. The rod was created to make nonliving things it touches break apart, which would be helpful with the metal bars covering the window.
I rang my metal rod across the bottom of the window’s bars. There was only a quiet popping sound as the bars came loose. I then grabbed on the bars with my left hand before using the rod to disconnect the top of the bar. I then collected the bars like that until I had all the nine bars off the window. I then slipped inside the building.
I slid the bars back inside the window to find that they seemed to stand up okay. If there was a stiff wind, it might have blown the bars over, but they seemed stationary enough to remain there until I was done. I just didn’t want someone to find a window without bars, allowing them to find out I was there. That would immediately cut off my escape route.
I searched my surroundings to find out where all the threats were. There weren’t that many threats on the floor I was on because it was the top floor that was just used for storage, mainly weapons. The floor beneath me was the guards’ quarters. Below that was all the cells where the prisoners were kept.
All of the cells were in different floors underneath the ground. Magic was used to help build all fifteen floors underneath the ground, while making sure that they were stable and that there couldn’t be any tunnels made to get out of there. The more dangerous a prisoner was the further underneath ground they went. I was probably going to end up going all the way down to the bottom level of the building.
I better get moving, I told myself before I slipped further into the prison’s confines.
I moved down the stairs to another level. There was only one more row after this. I had managed to get past the other levels undetected with some difficulty. It had involved a lot of hiding, climbing, waiting, and a few objects thrown at high velocity.
As I crept forward, I could tell that there were guards at the bottom of the stairs. I couldn’t find a way to move past them or to distract them without them seeing me. I just thought to myself how it had to happen eventually and how I was rather fortunate it had taken this long.
I analyzed the situation. The two guards were both armed with a just sword. They seemed awake and alert. Their swords were sheathed at the moment, indicating that they weren’t expecting to use them anytime soon. I made my plan of action.
I slowly pulled out my sword with my left hand while pulling out one of my twelve knives with my right hand. I once again felt fortunate that I was ambidextrous. If I wasn’t, my job would have been so much harder.
I crept down the stairs, footsteps nearly silent, weapons ready, breathing regular, and heartbeat was normal.
It happened just a second before I timed it. The man on the left could see my shadow appear from the torch behind me. The other guard still hadn’t noticed. The man on the left turned, raising his weapon, while drawing in a breath to warn the other guy.
That’s when I struck. I lunged forward. The man on the left was swinging his sword down towards me. I used my sword to block it as I smashed the hilt of my knife against the man of the right’s head. He went down.
The man on the left was starting to draw in a breath to yell loudly, as I swung my knife’s hilt into his left lung knocking the air out of him. He staggered back, as I then hit him in the head with my sword’s hilt. He also hit the floor.
I listened. No one was coming. I presumed that it meant none of the guards heard the small commotion take place. I moved quickly, not knowing how much time I had until they woke up.
I started examining the cells on the floor. When I got to the seventh cell, I realized that it was the cell I was looking for.
A man was lying asleep in there. He was around average height but rather thin. I could tell that he had been beaten up badly during his time here. It was obvious that he had, once again, gotten his nose broken with the way he was breathing as he was sleeping. His left arm was sticking out at an unnatural angle. The good news was that he had only been in there for a week.
His aura was strong with work. It gave off a smooth, calming effect as if it were trying to numb my senses.
I knocked somewhat loudly on the door.
“Time to wake up, Carn,” I told him in a quiet voice, but loud enough so he could hear me. He woke up, and sat up rather quickly.
“Oh, they sent you?” he asked. We didn’t have time to chat though.
“What’s keeping the evils at bay?” I questioned.
“A concealed sun in the north,” he replied.
I started to use the rod I was given on the door. It took repeatedly running it across the lock, but it was starting to break the door open. I could have started immediately, but first I wanted to make sure it was really Carn.
“What did you find out?” I questioned him as I worked.
“Just as the Leaders expected, there’s a secret prisoner in the bottom level,” Carn informed me. “A few of the guys on this floor saw him when they brought him in. They think he’s a human, but what type of human, or even if that’s true, is debatable. Said he looked rather average. He’s in his late teens. They say the clearest thing about him is his eyes. They are apparently ‘a dark green that can pierce right through you.’ He’s been here about a year.”
I continued to chip away at the door and its lock, as I asked, “What’s he in here for?”
Carn started to stand up as he told me, “No one knows for certain, but everyone seems to think that he’s an enemy to our beloved King Tark.”
I almost stopped working as I thought through what he said. Eventually I asked, “Why did you call him beloved? Everybody hates him.”
Carn sighed and informed me, “I was being sarcastic.”
“You didn’t change your tone of voice at all,” I murmured. “Isn’t that what you are supposed to do when being sarcastic?”
“Where’s the fun in that?” Carn replied in his usual tone of voice, which I could never place.
At this moment, I finished breaking through the lock. I had also finished coming up with my plan of action.
“I’m going to see about this secret prisoner,” I told Carn. “I’ll be back up once I have him. Don’t do anything until then. How bad are you injured?”
“I’m not sure, but nothing very pressing, I believe,” Carn answered.
“You believe?” I asked.
“Hey, it’s hard to know how injured you are when you’re immune to pain,” Carn informed me.
I shrugged, thinking it was not worth talking about. “Who did the harm?”
He made a grunting noise and answered, “The Warden. Nasty piece of work there.”
I nodded and replied, “I’ll be back in a few minutes, so get ready to move.”
He leaned next to the door as he told me, “I’m so glad they sent such a compassionate person to help me.”
I wondered how he could think that anyone like me had compassion, but I shrugged it off quickly as just something else that didn’t make sense to me about other creatures. Leaving the confusion behind, I simply just moved on as I always did.
I moved down to the bottom level. There were two guards at the stairs. I knocked them unconscious rather easily. There was only one cell occupied on this floor. There were four more guards outside of it. I took them out. One of them managed to let out a fairly loud yell, but he was too far down for anyone to hear it.
I could tell the man that Carn described was inside. He was already awake. He turned towards me, studying me. His aura hinted at nothing really powerful—he was just a regular human. But his aura gave off a hint of intelligence. It was as if I could sense he possessed a lot of knowledge. I studied him for a few seconds as I debated how to begin the conversation.
“Dark elf?” he asked.
On the inside, I was surprised by how quickly he figured that out. Most people didn’t assume I was an elf, even though I had the pointed ears along with the tall and thin body type that all elves had. I also shared the elvish speed, strength, flexibility, and stamina that was superior to almost any type of creature.
The only reason people didn’t assume I was an elf was because my skin was a dark ebony color as opposed to flawless, ivory skin that most elves possess. My hair was also raven black and kept around chin length with long bangs, instead of the long hair that every other elf has that goes well past the shoulders and is either brown, blond, or red. My eyes were completely black instead of blue, green, or brown. I was the usual for a dark elf, but not a normal elf.
On the inside, I wondered how he could tell the difference so swiftly.
On the outside, I nodded.
“Secret prisoner?” I asked.
“Enemy of Tark?” I questioned.
“Yeah, he made me his enemy,” he answered.
I nodded and inquired, “So, how did you get in here?”
He sighed and told me, “I trusted him, found out I shouldn’t have when he betrayed me, and I ended up here in consequence.”
“Okay then,” I replied as I fished the rod out. “So, if I try busting you out of here, you won’t try stabbing me in the back when I’m not looking, right?”
“Why would I stab the person that rescued me in the back?” he asked me as he tilted his head. I tried to remember what emotion was associated with people tilting their heads. In the end I couldn’t remember.
“I don’t know,” I told him as I started breaking through the lock. “Living creatures do weird things.”
“Well, I won’t stab you in the back,” he told me.
“Okay then,” I told him as I worked on the door. “How are you at fighting?”
He waved his hand in the motion that suggested he was mediocre and told me, “I’m decent with a sword.” He seemed like he was fit enough to use one. I guessed he did what little work out he could in his cell like sit-ups and push-ups.
I finished breaking through the door’s lock and opened it. I immediately held out my sword to him.
“If you damage or lose my sword, I will hurt you,” I told him. I wasn’t threatening him; I was stating a fact that would be good for him to know.
“Okay then,” he replied, as he took my sword in his hands.
“Let’s move,” I told him as I started heading down the hallway. He followed behind me quickly enough, even though I wished it was a little quicker.
We went back up the stairs and got back to Carn’s cell. I opened the door and popped my head inside.
“Can you walk?” I asked Carn.
“With support,” he answered.
“I can support him while you lead ahead,” the secret prisoner suggested. I nodded because it sounded like a good plan.
“Hello,” Carn greeted the newcomer, “Who are you?”
“Your friend called me the secret prisoner,” the prisoner grumbled as he started to lift Carn up.
Carn opened his mouth to talk more, but I wasn’t in the mood for his constant questions, so I announced, “We better get moving, and he’s not my friend.”
Before they could say anything, I was already heading out the door.
“Now that you are out, it’s only a matter of time before they notice,” I informed them. “So we are aiming more for speed than stealth. But that doesn’t give you permission to cause a huge racket. Although you humans are surprisingly loud and deaf at the same time, so maybe we won’t have anything to worry about.”
I started back up the stairs, not giving them a chance to delay us any longer. They followed close behind me. We weren’t moving as quickly as I would have liked, and we still had a lot of flights to go.
We met our first resistance about three flights up. I knew we didn’t have time to try to sneak past them, so I studied them quickly. There were three guards, each armed with a sword. I motioned for the secret prisoner to let go of Carn. The secret prisoner propped Carn up against the wall and stepped towards me.
“Which hand do you use?” I asked in a barely audible voice.
“Left,” he answered.
I told him, “You take the one on the right. I’ll take the two on the left. It will be quicker that way.”
He nodded as he readied my sword.
We both moved around the corner. The guards were unprepared, but were still able to react quickly to our attack.
I lunged forward with a knife in each hand. I parried the middle guy’s blow with my right knife while kicking my right foot underneath him, knocking him off balance. I then used my left and right knives to block the left man’s overhand swing. During which I also kicked the middleman’s head knocking him unconscious.
The left man tried to disengage, but there wasn’t enough room. I used my left knife to push his sword aside while driving my right knife’s hilt at his skull, knocking him unconscious. All that took place in the matter of a few seconds.
Meanwhile, the prisoner next to me was doing just as well. He blocked the man’s stroke and then used a disarming move—that’s hard to master—where you let your sword swing in a circular motion while deflecting the other blade then twisting to the flat side to smack the man’s hand in order to disarm the man in front of you. Any mistake could have lost any one of them their limbs, but the prisoner performed it with perfect accuracy. Then he knocked the guard out with a right hook to the face.
“I’d say you are more than decent with a sword,” I told him.
He shrugged and answered, “I’m not an expert.”
I thought it through quickly and told him, “That might be true, but you seem very close. Let’s move.”
Without any more pause really, we set off again. Up and up the levels we went. Time was running out. After what felt like hours but really wasn’t even close to hours, we finally got to the ground floor.
“Go up those stairs and find the second window on the right where, if you’ll look closely, you’ll find the bars are actually disconnected,” I whispered to them. “Pull those bars out and start heading down to the ground outside, and watch for guards.” I turned away from them.
“Where are you going?” Carn asked.
“To take care of something. I’ll be back in three minutes tops.”
I quickly hurried down the hall. My path was clear to where I wanted to go, so it was no trouble.
When I turned the corner, I sensed that the Warden was still awake and in his office. I quickly knocked the guards unconscious and slipped inside. My entrance surprised him.
“Who are you?” he demanded in a loud voice.
“That’s unimportant and irrelevant right now,” I answered quickly. “What’s relevant is that you torture and kill your prisoners for fun. You keep innocent men locked up for no apparent reason other than obeying that poor excuse you have for a king, and kill those same innocent men if they are about to be cleared of their false crimes. You shouldn’t be allowed to keep doing that.”
He lunged for his weapon, but it was too late. I threw one of my knives, and it struck him right at his heart. He fell back and was dead before he hit the ground. I walked forward and pulled my knife out. As I then went to join the escaping prisoners, I wondered if the prison would be any better with him gone. Only time would tell though. The guards were still out, making my trek back to the escaping prisoners easy.
I reached the escaping prisoners. They just touched the ground beneath the window when I got there. I slipped out the window and with little noise hit the ground. I searched for the nearest guards. None were close enough to interrupt what I was planning.
“I hope you’re good at climbing,” I whispered to the secret prisoner.
Before he could respond, I hoisted Carn over my right shoulder. I then dashed towards the opposite wall. I heard the secret prisoner right behind me. For a human, he was quiet, but, to me, it seemed as if his footfalls were the same volume as a hammer hitting nails.
We reached the opposite wall. The prisoner leaned forward slightly and was breathing rather heavily. But I didn’t waste any time and immediately started climbing though. With a small sigh, he started up after me. I was near the top for about thirty seconds before he was.
I listened and felt around. A patrol was starting to pass the area. Luckily the prisoner noticed I wasn’t moving and stopped climbing. We waited as they passed. I then darted across the narrow walkway with the secret prisoner right behind me. We then scaled down the other wall. The secret prisoner was starting to breath even harder. Meanwhile, my breathing and heart rate were still regular.
“Follow me,” I whispered as I was starting to run away from the prison and into the coverage of the wooded area next to the prison. The secret prisoner still managed to keep pace behind me. When we reached the woods, since no one was following us yet, I slowed our pace to a brisk walk.
The prison was built on a moderate sized island. It was big enough to have a small forest that was difficult to navigate through. Even if someone did, it was a good ten miles to the mainland. It was the ideal place to put a prison for the prisoners you thought it was too risky to take a chance of them escaping.
When we were about a hundred yards within the forest, I heard the alarm bells go off. I didn’t even need to say it; the secret prisoner and I both started running simultaneously. I still had Carn hoisted over my right shoulder. I took the lead. I ran deeper and deeper into the forest while looking for the escape place.
It was about four minutes until we arrived there. I stopped next to a pit. Not wanting to waste time, I pushed the secret prisoner inside the pit. He let out an involuntary cry as he fell in, landing on his knees.
I jumped in after him. I landed on my feet with Carn still on my shoulder.
“Oh great,” the secret prisoner murmured and he stood up. “Out of the prison cell and into a pit. I’m guessing you have a reason for this, right?”
“That’s correct,” I answered.
I positioned myself in the center of the pit with the other guys in tow. I then whispered the words I was told and felt the ground open up underneath me as I did. We dropped down into a secret passage that ran between the island and mainland. I landed on my feet and helped the other guy do so, while keeping Carn on one shoulder. The way closed up again above me.
“That’s … a pretty good … reason,” the other guy said as he started panting. His exhaustion was evident. It was no surprise though because he had just escaped from a prison that he was trapped in for a year. In the end, he made no objections as I lifted him over my left shoulder and headed down the passage. It was time to move on, and I wasn’t going to risk still being in the tunnel if they somehow found it.
It took about four hours to get to where the passage let out on the mainland. It would have been shorter, but we stopped to check Carn’s injuries. He had worse injuries before. When we got there, I knew we were in the clear for a bit because I could sense no one in the area.
By then the escaped prisoners were limping along. I was tired, but could have continued a little bit more. I examined the situation and decided it would be better to stop sooner than later. I led everyone towards a clearing in the trees.
“We’ll rest here for a couple of hours,” I told them. They both sat down nearly simultaneously.
After catching his breath, the secret prisoner asked, “Who are you and what was that whole thing about?”
“I’m Carn, and he’s Raven,” Carn started. “I’m a member of and he’s a consultant for a secret organization called The Society of the Concealed Sun. You probably never heard—”
“I’ve heard of it,” the secret prisoner quickly interrupted.
This caught my interest because it wasn’t secret for nothing. I didn’t hear about it until they tried to recruit me. (To which I told them that I don’t work for anyone but wasn’t opposed to doing a few jobs for them, if I agreed to the job.) Everyone I talked to about it was the same way though, never heard of it until they were involved in it.
“You guys work to eliminate the threats, which other people and governments can’t seem to defeat, and work to stop massive conflicts and damage from breaking out,” he continued to say, which stunned me and Carn even more.
“Yes,” Carn continued. He then paused for a moment. “That’s basically what we do.
“So, our people heard a rumor that the prison you were in had one extra prisoner. We knew if that were true, then it would be someone dangerous to Tark, who’s turning out to be a tyrant.
“We want to stop Tark’s reign, but we need to figure out how and what to do after it. We can’t overthrow him without a plan for who is going to be in charge after he’s overthrown, because that would put the kingdom into even greater chaos. So, until then, we are interfering in whatever ways possible.
“So, when we heard the rumor of the secret prisoner, we decided to check it out. I was assigned to get inside the prison. There was no quick way to get in the prison as a guard. We didn’t want to have to wait five years to get someone in the prison.”
“Thanks for that,” the other guy said. “So what did you do instead?”
“So I was sent in,” Carn answered. “I was sent as a prisoner after being caught snooping at the prison records. They interrogated me in the usual manner. However, I’m an enhanced human with the ability to never feel any physical pain, so it didn’t affect me that much.”
Humans came into the realm thousands of years ago. When they arrived, they had absolutely no magic. However, over the centuries, some started to get magic through mating with other humanoid species (such as sorcerers, gnomes, elves, enchantresses, warlocks, and others). These new humans were called enhanced humans because they were still human, just with a magic power added onto them. They were starting to get so common that some were beginning to call regular humans “old humans.”
“So, I got sent to the prison about a week ago to see if the rumors were true,” Carn continued. “I got there, and, within a few days, I heard about you.” He gestured towards the secret prisoner.
“That’s where Raven here comes in,” Carn told him as he gestured towards me. “He specializes in quite a few things, but mostly stealth, fighting, killing, and night missions. His job was to get in, find me, and, if you did exist, to get you and me out. So that’s what happened.”
Carn then shifted position as he said, “Now enough about us. Who are you and why does Tark keep you locked up?”
The other man paused for a long time, over a minute. At first I was wondering why he wasn’t saying anything, then I remembered that pausing was something people did as they tried to think about what to say sometimes. He was just doing a long one.
After what seemed like forever, he finally answered, “I am Arion, the real king of the kingdom, Ranvier. About a year ago, Tark locked me up and stole my throne and most likely faked my death. I can only imagine what he has been doing to abuse his power.”
I wasn’t expecting that to be his answer. I just sat there, thinking over what he said. I wondered if I should believe him, or if I shouldn’t. I didn’t come up with an answer right then. But I also wasn’t looking forward to getting an answer because, no matter the answer, it could complicate my life either way. here…