As we neared the vault Arion told us about the defenses that were in the vault. Outside the vault were a bunch of guards, and inside the vault was a lot of magic defenses. It sounded like Arion could handle shutting down the magic defenses a lot easier than dealing with the soldiers.
After some conversation, Arion commented, “So you are suggesting we go into the outer vault with the lynphoma, turn off the defenses, hope the crowns are out there, if not break in to the Steward’s section of the vault, set of all the protection charms in the process, and then try to get out of there without being captured or killed.”
Artemis nodded and answered, “Basically. I think it’s a nice plan.”
“I think it’s barely a plan,” Arion murmured.
“Those sometimes are the best though!” Artemis replied. “They’re easy to adjust on notice and don’t cause you to think for hours on end through every single detail.”
“Well, there’s not much we can plan for in specific, I guess,” Arion grumbled. “There’s too many unknown variables to come up with a more specific plan. What do you think, Raven?”
“I can’t really think of a better plan, so I see no harm in going through with it,” I answered. “Although I would probably say, we should sneak up at night. We’ll be in advantage there since you have me.”
“True,” Arion commented. “We should analyze the place and decide where the best opening will be when it’s light out and then move a few hours after dark.”
“There we go,” Artemis said. “It sounds like it’s going to be nice.”
“It’s only slightly better,” Arion stated.
“Well then, let’s keep making it slightly better,” Artemis told him.
They continued to talk about the plan as I analyzed our surroundings. It was mid morning, and we would reach the vault by midafternoon. If things went well that night, we would be leaving the area the next day. That was what I thought about as we continued to move on through Ranvier’s forests at that time.
We quietly moved right next to the west wall, where there were fewer guards. We thought that bringing Shade along would complicate things, so we decided that it would be better if he stayed behind. He didn’t like it, but he stayed behind.
Artemis was holding the lynphoma.
“Ready?” she whispered. Arion answered by grabbing her hand (which was decided to be the best way to maintain contact) and grabbing the lynphoma with his other hand so he could put it on for her. I awkwardly grabbed her hand. I felt strange holding on to her cold hand, but Artemis didn’t seem to mind.
Arion put the lynphoma on Artemis, and the world disappeared. I tell where anything was except Artemis’s hand, since I wasn’t on the same level of tangibility as the world around me. The only sounds I could hear was our breathing and my heart beat. It was starting to beat faster, so I tried to get it to slow down but couldn’t. If it weren’t for Artemis’s hand, there would have been nothing for me to cling onto with my senses.
The others moved, and I struggled with them. I could tell when we were passing through the wall because it all the sudden felt as if I were passing through something very thick. With my senses the way they were, it was like Artemis and Arion were leading a blind man through heavy fog.
It felt like an eternity, but in reality it was only about a minute. All the sudden I understood while Shade ran off when he experienced the lynphoma’s power. I felt like doing that, but instead I clutched onto Artemis’s hand so that I would be able to survive this experience.
We reached the inner chamber and I let out a sigh of relief. Artemis took off the lynphoma so that Arion could set off the outer chamber’s alarms. I felt free as my regular senses flooded back to me.
Arion started to hit a bunch of bricks in a specific sequence that caused the magic to lower in the room, as he murmured, “Man, when you are at a different tangibility, I never thought it would be that hard to see, hear, and, well, experience every sensation.”
Artemis nodded as she commented, “It’s like lowering all of your senses.”
“But now that’s done, let’s see if we can find the crowns,” Arion whispered as he finished with the room’s protection spells.
Once he was done he wasted no time heading off, and Artemis and I just followed him, since he knew the vaults better than we did.
We searched the outer chamber for about an hour. Since this is the vault where Ranvier’s government high officials have only been allowed to go into for decades, I had always imagined it would be packed full of money. Instead it was just a bunch of dangerous magical artifacts and other dangerous materials. It was structured kind of like a library. It had just rows of what is best described as bookcases, each filled with a lot of artifacts on the shelves.
Arion explained that for years the vault was filled with magical artifacts that could have caused massive havoc if left to their own devices in the outside world. They were kept there because it was unknown how to destroy them. Although some were more dangerous than others, and the less dangerous ones could be used after going through a proper authorization protocol.
“One thing I was taught when growing up is to never take an object from the vaults,” he whispered. “I’m not even supposed to do so by law unless all of the council and the steward of the kingdom agree I can. However, I can take stuff from my section of the vault if I want to though.”
“You have your own section?” Artemis asked, her voice rising in the end in a way that seemed different than other questions. I couldn’t tell what though.
Arion nodded as he explained, “Only the royal family can enter that section, and I’m the only living member of the royal family, so it’s basically mine. It’s just filled with items that my ancestors had. The steward family also has their own section, which we are getting more and more evidence that it is the place where Tark hid the crowns.”
“I thought that we were guessing it was in that section in the first place?” I questioned.
“Yes, but there was the foolish hope that we could have gotten lucky, and it was out here,” he replied with a tone of voice I couldn’t quite tell what it was, but my main guesses were either being exasperated, disappointed, annoyed, or sad. “That would have been nice, since we can’t easily go to search in there. If we had tried to go there while intangible, the vault’s defense system would have still sensed us by the time we reached there. So, I had to go tangible in order to set the alarms off in the outer chamber. If not, the system would have found a way to magically restrain us before we could reach the steward’s section.”
I nodded at his explanation. It made sense to me.
The outer vault showed no sign of the crowns. So, it looked like we were going to have to break into the steward’s section of the vault.
Before that happened though, Arion started to head into what appeared to be a wall, except I could tell that there was some magic around that area. When I tried to pay extremely close attention with my senses, I could tell that it was a gateway or an arch there, but I couldn’t tell what was on the other side. It was a little interesting not being able to feel something I knew should be there.
“I’ll be back in a moment,” Arion said before going through the seemingly real wall.
Artemis whispered, “I guess that’s where his part of the vault is.”
Out of curiosity, I went and pressed my hand up against the wall. The magic that created the gateway blocked me, as if there was a wall there, but all I felt was air. I was touching the air but couldn’t make my hand move forward.
A moment later, Arion came out with a sword in his hand. It was well-crafted by elves. But unlike my sword it was shorter in order to be styled more for a human, while mine was made the regular blade for an elf. Arion took off my sword he was wearing and handed it to me.
“I thought you might want your sword back,” Arion told me.
“Thanks,” I replied as I put my sword back into its sheath on my belt’s right side. It felt nice to have that familiar weight back, especially after the weight of my knives disappeared.
Arion then murmured, “So, now we just break into the steward’s vault, which will set off the alarms in there, grab the crowns, and rush out in what most likely is an extreme hope that we can get out before the security system is activated.”
“Let’s do it,” Artemis enthusiastically whispered.
We walked to the other side of the vault to reach the Steward’s section. It was a lot like the royal family’s side, especially with the magic being used.
“So how do we get in?” I asked Arion specifically. I had no idea, so I hoped he would.
That’s when it registered to me that Arion was a few feet away staring at the artifacts, as if he were looking for one in particular. He sighed with frustration and moved to the next group of artifacts.
“What are you looking for?” Artemis asked.
“A key,” he answered.
Artemis shifted positions as she asked, “There’s a key to the vault?”
Arion shook his head as he stated, “No. It’s a key that when used can open anything. The vault has strong magic, but the key should leave a thirty second gap for us to get inside and grab the crowns before the magic that locks out all people who aren’t members of the steward family starts up again.”
I now felt around searching for the key. I used my sense of touch for this.
What people didn’t understand, that dark elves did, was that every object was always moving. Nothing was ever completely still.
Dark elves had a sense of touch and feeling so strong that we could sense how all the world around us was moving. We could feel them moving as they stood in what others perceived as still on the ground. This was how we mostly moved in the dark. We used this sense of touch to feel where everything was, and we used our superior hearing to fill in the gaps.
With that ability, I felt around for vibrations in the shape of a key. I found one at the edge of my finite (where I could sense the objects perfectly) sense of feeling, which was about twenty-five yards away.
The farther away something was the harder it was to pick up vibrations. They started to become hazier like how the farther away an object was the harder it was to see. My sense of feeling was almost equal to a regular human’s eyesight, except more exact up close.
I walked up to the key and then asked, “Is this it?”
Arion walked over and grabbed it saying, “Yes, Raven. Yes, it is.”
It took me about ten seconds to find the key.
Ready or not, we all stood in front of the gateway. Arion used the key, which just needed to be turned when saying a special phrase. I then felt the room behind it come into my field of senses. It wasn’t large like I had expected it to be. It was the size of a regular citizen’s bedroom, which isn’t that large.
Tark made no effort to hide the crowns. They were front and center in the room. They were surprisingly plain and simple. You would think the king and queen would have complex, fancy crowns, but they were basically just a band you could wear on your head.
Arion ran in and grabbed the crowns. I could feel a nice, warm magic radiate off them as he grabbed them. He rushed out and started heading down the rows of artifacts.
“So it only turns gold whenever you touch it?” Artemis asked as she followed after him. I also went after them.
Arion nodded and said, “For everyone else it’s just an ugly brownish green color. Also the crowns are warm to my touch, and for everyone else they’re just ice cold.”
A few seconds later, I could feel the passage reseal up, and a cold wind started moving through the vault. No discussion was needed; we just continued to run through the vaults towards the wall we came through.
After running for about a minute, I felt some of the parts of the ground start to move and shake.
“Shouldn’t we use the lynphoma right now?” Artemis asked.
“No, the vaults will then start to try and break the spell, we don’t want it to break it before we can get through the wall,” Arion answered as if the answer was obvious. He was stuffing the crowns in his travelling bag he was given.
Around then, some of the stones from the ground started to rise up, making a crude humanoid form. It swung its right fist at me, but I managed to duck. I went to grab one of my knives, I then remembered I didn’t have my knives anymore as I hand grabbed onto nothing.
The moving statue managed to kick me in the legs, hard. My legs fell out underneath me, and I was falling down.
I sensed Artemis and Arion dealing with another statue, so I knew I was left to my own devices.
I held out one of my hands to brace my fall and used the other to grab my bow. I swung the bow around the statue’s legs and caught myself at the same time. I then kicked my legs underneath me, so I could go into a squat position. I was rewarded with pain shooting my legs for doing this action. I ignored it though, thinking that I would just walk it off, and grabbed the other side of my bow and pulled.
Most bows would have broken under that type of pressure, but mine was designed and made by elves. It was made with both wood and metal. The metal and wood was combined together to make a material that was strong and flexible. So, as I pulled on the bow, it was strong enough not to break under the pressure, as it pressed against the statue’s legs.
The effect was inevitable. The statue came crashing down into a shelf.
I then put my bow back and got my sword simultaneously. I then stabbed my sword into a crack between the rocks, which separated them by serving the magic.
I checked to see how Artemis and Arion were doing. Artemis managed to pin the statue’s arms behind its back. Arion, while avoiding a kick, stabbed at a crack in the statue’s chest, and it came crashing down. The statues then started to put themselves back together.
As a silent agreement, we all immediately ran. As we rushed forward, I could feel when the statues had finished being put back together.
We then started to reach the wall. Not pausing to think about how awkward this was for me, I grabbed Arion’s hand as Artemis grabbed his other hand. The lynphoma was then put on him, and we were once again vanished from this world. Except this time, I could feel that something didn’t want us in this world, and it fought to put us back into the other.
The feeling like cold mist hit us as we passed through the wall and quickly went through the other side.
We didn’t stop running for a while because there were a lot of guards now moving outside the vault.
I honestly had no idea how long we ran until we decided it was safe enough to take the lynphoma off. Shade managed to see us and just ran after us. When we did take the lynphoma off, all of us basically collapsed onto the ground in the clearing we found. We were all gasping for breath.
I felt around for any pursuers and couldn’t sense anyone coming. It appeared that we had managed to get away.
There weren’t many injuries. My legs had some giant bruises, which actually appeared to be several bruises that were very close to each other. I was lucky not to get a broken bone, or several broken bones, as a matter of fact.
Arion got a black eye and almost dislocated his shoulder. Both were on the right side of his body. I thought he was taking it rather well because he wasn’t moaning or complaining. However, it wasn’t like he was shouting praises either. That would have been strange if he started doing that though.
Artemis was the only one to escape without any injuries, and not because she wasn’t hit. Since she is a vampire only certain things could have caused actual damage to her physically, and stone wasn’t one of them. She could get hit hard, but it wouldn’t leave a bruise. I had a feeling that if stone did injure her, then she would be the most beat up out of all of us.
Artemis and Shade volunteered to take first watch, but Arion argued that his watch was always first. We decided to give him these watches, so he could then get uninterrupted sleep for the rest of the night. Mostly because waking him up would most likely wake everyone else up. I always woke up easily, and you could easily snap Artemis out of her vampire trance she went into instead of sleep.
“So tomorrow we head to the capital Nextar, in order to find the council and prove to them you are still alive, which eventually they will be able to know for sure that you are really Arion because of the crowns, which will put them on your side as you take back the kingdom from Tark,” Artemis stated.
“Yes,” Arion responded.
“We’ll have to move quickly because after tonight there’s no way that Tark doesn’t know that you escaped from prison,” I replied.
“Yes, that’s true,” Arion murmured as he started moving deeper into his thoughts. “You always move fast, but I don’t mind. I kind of like it.”
“Why’s that?” Artemis asked. She always seemed to try and understand what others are thinking and feeling. Unlike me, where most of the time I couldn’t care less.
Arion simply stated, “The quicker I can take back the kingdom.”
Artemis leaned forward as she asked, “Why do you want to be king so much?”
“I ended up caring about others that’s why,” Arion started. “Being King isn’t a fun thing to do. A fun job will be someone who gets paid to read all day. But if you care about others, then you find yourself doing strange things. I guess I care about my subjects, so I do strange things, like try to make a better place for them to live in, take back my kingdom from a tyrant, and not spend my entire life in the library. It’s kind of annoying, but I guess it’s a good thing in the long run.”
“Just maybe,” Artemis told him. “Well, I’m going to go into my energy renewal trance, so good night.”
We wished Artemis a good night, and I then laid down to go to sleep. As I went to sleep, I thought about what Arion said. It didn’t sound enjoyable caring for other people. I had barely cared for people before and didn’t see myself doing it anytime soon. I found myself wishing that I wouldn’t end up like that, doing crazy things because I cared. Before I could think about it much more, I went to sleep.