Chapter 21: Perveniet
“Where are the tunnels?” I ask Alpha Kaine and he pulls me along behind him. His hand is clutched around my wrist as he directs me through the hallways of the building he calls home. “Why are we rushing?” I add as he picks up.
“I don’t want people to see us leaving,” he says, checking around the corner before pulling me around the side of it. “If someone sees us we could be on the news and I really do not want to have to face any of those fucking reporters.” I suppose that it never occurred to me that Alpha Kaine might not like the reporters. They portrayed him as a brute and villainized him to the people while simultaneously praising him for his annihilation of the human race. I always thought he was a fan of the dark side they showed to the media. If it kept the people in line it didn’t really matter anyway.
“Can’t be seen with a human?” I try to joke with him but he stops dead in his tracks and drops my wrist. He pulls the suitcase closer to him and switches the arm he holds it in without turning to look at me.
“That wasn’t funny, Anita,” he mutters darkly. “Don’t say shit like that again.” I don’t know why it set him off. Was he not the one not too long ago that was preaching about how humans did not matter as much in Slethia as the Lycans did?
“Sorry,” I whisper. He continues ahead of me and opens the door across the hallway with a key, pulling me inside and locking it shut behind him.
“We don’t have to worry about being seen anymore,” he says to me as soon as the room is encased in darkness. I stick my hands out in front of me, feeling around for a light switch of some sort to give the space at least a dim glow so we can see where we are going.
“What are you doing?” He laughs as my hands brush against his arm before slapping to the wall next to him. I roll my eyes and continue to feel around, moving my arms above my head in case there was some sort of cord to pull to get the room the light it needed.
“I’m looking for a light switch. I can’t see anything,” I grunt as my foot slips off the edge of what is apparently a drop to the rest of what I assume is a staircase. Alpha Kaine’s arm wraps around me and pulls me back to him, grabbing the suitcase from me so it doesn’t tumble down the stairs like my body almost did only seconds ago.
I can’t see him, but I can feel him. His arm moves me to the other side of his body, his arm wrapped firmly around my waist as he guides my hand to the suitcase that he pulled from me.
“There is no light switch is there?” He is quiet for a second and I wonder if he’s shaking his head at me or if he too is at a loss for the location of the stupid switch.
“No,” he says, clearing his throat through the word. “We don’t need one.” I nod, my eyes rolling once more. Sometimes I forget that he’s part beast.
“Right, night vision,” I say. “Might have been nice to know about that before I felt up your wall like an idiot. Just saying.” He laughs. “I, however, am a lowly human and can not see in a pitch black room. I would be ever so grateful if you would help me find my way.” I adapt the damsel in distress role, bringing my hand up to my forehead and parting my lips as I look away.
“I’ll protect you, Anita. Always," I nod once and let him resume his little journey to the underground tunnel. “These tunnels are for the royal family only. No one else is allowed down here unless we give them special permission. If you need to go anywhere in a rush, don’t hesitate to come down here and ask for an escort. Our chauffeurs would be more than happy to provide you with assistance in that matter.” I’m thankful for his offer even though I have nowhere to go and no one to visit. It makes my time here seem less like imprisonment and more like a willing stay in a house that was way bigger than it needed to be.
“Thank you,” I say. We shift positions then. I step in front of him and he takes my hand like a parent would hold their child’s hands as they walked down the steps for the first time. Every few seconds he mumbles the word step in my ear and I adjust my footing accordingly.
It seems to take longer this way than if I were to just get a flashlight so I could see where I was going. As we near the bottom of the steps I hear the sound of rushing water and the small hum of a boat running somewhere off in the distance.
“Is it dark on purpose?” I ask as my foot lands on the next step.
"Step. Yes, it’s to keep the prisoners from escaping. Step. A lot of our prisoners would not be able to navigate the tunnels even if they got the key. Step. Not just the humans, the Lycans too. Step. If you don’t transform and use your abilities for a while they deteriorate. Step. It makes them easier to keep detained. Step. Only a few left, Anita,” he says. I can’t even imagine how ridiculous I look right now.
“How often do you go out and transform?” I haven’t ever heard him enter or exit the room beside mine late at night, which I would assume is the prime time for Shifters to go out and exercise their abilities to turn into a literal monster without scaring the children.
“Most nights. Step. I haven’t in a while, though. Step. I’ve been a bit busy with something else.” Me. He means me. I’m the one that requires so much supervision that I keep him from doing his Alpha Duties and weakens the District as a whole.
“Do you feel yourself become weaker?” I ask. “Is that possible for Alpha’s?” He laughs a bit.
"Last one. I don’t really have problems using my abilities. I do enough that I don’t think I would ever be able to truly lose touch with that side of me. I can’t imagine going without using my abilities for an extended period of time.” I nod. ’We’re almost to the boat,” he tells me. “I’m going to go set our things inside them come back for you.” His hands move down to squeeze my arms before his fingertips slowly ghost away from me. My suitcase is slowly pulled from my fingertips and I close my eyes tightly to try to make it more bearable.
This must be why no human escapes Alpha Kaine’s clutches.
The tunnel is suddenly cold. Much colder than it was five seconds ago when he was beside me. I pull my arms around myself and pull my elbows in tighter to my body. “When she gets on the boat just go. I want to arrive there within the next hour. I don’t know how she will fare if we are out here for too long,” Alpha Kaine tells the chauffeur.
“Yes Alpha,” he replies obediently. “We will get there as soon as we can.”
My teeth begin to clatter. “What is wrong with me?” I ask allowed, rubbing up and down my arms desperately to try to alleviate some of the cold. Alpha Kaine’s arms pull me impossibly closer to his body before he picks me up and cradles me to his chest.
“Humans can’t see down here but even without their sight, they could blindly stumble down the steps and crawl into the boat and escape,” he explains slowly as he pulls a blanket over my shivering body when he sets me down on a seat in the boat. My eyelids feel heavy and I can’t tell if the swaying I’m feeling is my dizziness or the boat. “The tunnels have magical properties to them to freeze anyone who doesn’t have royal blood or the King’s blessing. You’ll fall asleep eventually,” he says as he sits beside me, tucking my head into the crook of his shoulder.
“What? Fall asleep?” My eyes close on their own accord and I have to hold them open with my fingers, blinking rapidly to try to keep the sleep at bay.
“The magic puts humans to sleep. It’s the reason why no one escapes. No one can." He seems to notice my struggle because he gently presses his fingertips to my eyelids and closes them. “It will make the trip more bearable for you. Just let it happen. You’ll be okay. I’m here,” he reminds me. I am wary but my body trusts him, pulling me almost immediately into a deep sleep that I couldn’t fight.
“We’re here,” Alpha Kaine tells me as he helps me sit up. We are no longer in a dark tunnel. The boat floats in the center of a river that flows slowly to a dock about fifteen feet in front of us. I blink rapidly as my eyes adjust to the light the sun provides. Alpha Kaine adjusts his positioning to cradle me as I try to wake up.
“How long have I been out?” I ask, knowing full well that I had just fallen asleep into a deep slumber. He pulls the blanket away from my shoulders and hands it to the man on board, who sets it aside and bows humbly to the Alpha before heading back to the wheel.
On either side of the small river were tall mountains. A few people held wicker baskets as they pulled the weeds and flowers away from the sides of the river. Some of them slowed their works as they noticed the boat, others stopped entirely and just watched us with great interest. They were all dressed similarly, nice clothing but obviously a uniform of some sort. The royal seal was easy to make out over their left breasts.
The boat hums softly as we slow to a stop in front of the dock. The dock is relatively short and at the end stands a man wearing a long overcoat. His hands are clasped in front of him and his feet are shoulder width apart. When he sees Kaine he smiles and opens his arms. “Brother,” he greets Alpha Kaine.
Alpha Kaine smiles and rises to his feet, clasping a hand on his brothers back as he rocks him in a hug. “You still wear this stupid thing?” he asks, flicking the gold crown on his brothers head. The servant that was stationed by his brother’s side board the boat. He takes Alpha Kaine’s suitcase and the blanket I had used from the chauffeur before he races off the boat and heads towards the castle.
“It helps me with the ladies,” is his reply. He pulls his brother forward and whispers something in his ear the moment he sees me. Alpha Kaine nods once and looks over his shoulder at me as I pick up my suitcase. “I see congratulations are in order then.” his brother says, ruffling Alpha Kaine’s hair. “Good job, Alpha.” I heave my suitcase up onto the dock and start to climb up the short ladder to reach the top of the dock.
“Anita, what are you doing?” Alpha Kaine and his brother watch me. “Are you carrying your own bag?” I furrow my brows and nod. Alpha Kaine turns to his brother who raises his arms in surrender.
"Hey you," he yells to the servant who is already ten steps ahead of us. The man stops and turns around, his eyes wide with fear. “Aren’t you going to take her bag, too?” He points to me behind him.
The servant gulps and nods, rushing over to retrieve my bag. “I’m so sorry, Alpha. I was not aware that I would be taking both bags.” He bows to Alpha Kaine before rushing off towards the castle before Alpha Kaine could make any more last-minute requests of him.
“Come, Anita,” Alpha Kaine tells me as an afterthought. “This is my brother, Prince Maximus,” he gestures towards him. The teasing tone in his voice is not lost on me as he announces his brother as a prince and not the Alpha.
“Soon to be Alpha,” he replies, bowing and kissing the back of my hand. “The pleasure is all mine,” he says, suavely. Alpha Kaine nudges him in the side and sends him a look that tells him not to push his luck. “Shall we?” he asks, holding his arm out for me to take so he can lead us to the palace.
I hesitantly reach out and place my hand in the crook of his elbow, ignoring the angry looks Alpha Kaine sends to Prince Maximus for touching a human.