The Fanged Throne

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Chapter 3

The walls crushed loudly around Elora; the air was becoming too difficult to breathe. She lifted her shirt to cover her mouth from breathing in the thick smoke. Her eyes had started to water, leaving long trails down her filthy cheeks. Shouts were rising from downstairs, she could hear the startled and terrified cries of the prisoners locked in their cells. The clanging of metal against metal meant that the prison guards were fighting back against whoever had attacked them.

A group of prison guards ran past her locked door, their furious words mentioned insurgents. Over the years there was talk about an attack by insurgents from the east of Wirenth, they were opposed against King Ylyndar’s oppressive rule. No one had believed that an attack would happen, and now it seemed to be happening.

Desperately, she banged her fists against the door, she couldn’t stay in here any longer, the smoke had become too thick. The glass in the window shattered as another boom shook the grounds of the prison, this time stronger. Ignoring the door, she ran to the broken window and looked down. The drop was too far, she wouldn’t make it. Her heart pounded erratically in her chest as the frustration and terror threatened to swallow her. She needed to get out. Now!

Again, she returned to the door. Using all of her power she rammed her shoulder into the door, over and over again. It barely budged and her shoulder was in pain. The desperation clawed up her throat as she fell onto her hands and knees, her vision becoming blurry.

She wasn’t sure how long she had been lying there before an almighty blast had blown open the entrance to her room. Dazed and confused she looked up to see a figure wearing a dark cloak. Her blood stilled; this isn’t an insurgent… Before she could react, the cloaked figure reached toward Elora and she felt their ice-cold fingers wrap around her wrist. The moment their hand made contact with her skin, white-hot pain coursed through her body, arching her back. The pain rushed through her body up to her head, Elora groaned as she tried to pull her arm away. The pain in her head blossomed and she tilted her head back, trying to get rid of it. Rapidly before her eyes, the room melted away.

Elora’s whole body froze, she now stood in a dark room.

The only light came from a small dirty window high near the roof. The sun casting a golden glow into the room. The walls were dark and seemed to be moving. Tilting her head, she studied the wall, it almost looked as if it were breathing. Her foot stepped forward against her own will, screaming in her head for her body to turn away, she walked up to the wall and pressed her hand against it. A terrible sound filled the room, loud and shrill. It was coming from within, she was screaming. The walls weren’t just moving, they were alive. The dark red substance running down the walls were warm and throbbing, bubbling and gurgling through the cracks in the stone wall. The wall, like a muscle, contracted against her hand. She felt a choking sensation as the hot, warm metallic smell suffocated her senses. Something cold touched her bare feet. She stood frozen as a single black snake slithered over her feet and disappeared into the dark corners of the room.

Suddenly a flash of pain tore through her vision, bringing her back to reality. Gasping she fell to her knees on the floor, her hands clutched her head. When the pain had subsided, she glanced up, looking for the cloaked figure. They were gone.

Barely clinging to consciousness Elora pushed herself up and forced herself to move. The shouts of the guards fighting against the insurgents were loud. Quickly she yanked on her leather slippers and stuffed the paper and coin in her pockets. This was her chance. Quickly she sprinted down the hallway and the stairs. Some of the steps were completely missing and the walls around them had crumbled, letting in the icy wind. Her foot missed a step and she went hurtling down the stairs, landing roughly on her side at the bottom.

Eyes closed in pain; she rolled over onto her back gazing up into the trembling roof of the prison in a daze. Sitting up slowly, Elora now noticed that the distinct sound of fighting swords was silenced. Cries of agony replaced the battle cries; the attackers had left.

But what had they come here for? Not wanting to waste any time she stood up, ignoring the shooting pain from her fall. The smoke from the fire still filled the air and the dust from the rubble added to the haziness of the building.

A group of prisoners entered the hallway and ran past her, bumping her shoulder as they went. She could hear the guards running behind them, shouting at them to stop. Not wanting to get caught, she ran after them. Her feet nimbly step over the loose stones on the floor, making sure not to trip. The guards’ voices were getting louder behind her as they got closer. Elora searched around the hallway for somewhere to hide, she needed to separate herself from the rest of the escapees. Up ahead she could see some of the prisoners running towards the entrance. Predictable! She scoffed to herself. Unlike the other prisoners, she turned right down another hallway, heading towards the staff quarters. The smoke wasn’t as thick in this part of the prison and was visibly empty. Slowing down a bit, she lightly jogged past the various rooms and into the small courtyard at the back of the prison.

Towards the center of the garden was a small set of wooden benches and tables, their legs wobbly and bent. The far end of the garden had a shed where the supplies were stored, a few bare shrubs lay wilting alongside the wall, barely poking through the thick snow. The black night made it difficult to see clearly, but at least it covered her footsteps in the snow. The door to the supply shed was unlocked, they probably didn’t expect any prisoners to be in this area. When she opened the door, a damp moldy smell hung about the small room. She would wait it out here.

The first warm tendrils of the sunrise poked through the shed’s windows woke Elora up. Squinting out the window, she saw that the courtyard was empty and the wooden carts that were usually resting against the wall were gone. Perfect! Checking one more time for people, she exited the shed and ran across the garden into the building. It would be faster if she went through the courtyard and into the stable yard, but it was far too exposed. There would be nowhere for her hide, and at this time in the morning, the place would be crawling with guards looking for prisoners trying to escape through the perimeter walls. No, her best and safest way was to sneak her way back through the prison, using the staff hallways.

Taking a deep breath, Elora swung open the door into the hallway, waiting for someone to shout at her. Nothing. As quiet as she could, she made her way down the hallway, her shoes tapping lightly on the ground. Up ahead she heard some prisoners being led up the stairs they had been caught. Waiting for them to pass, she sprinted, keeping her head down, through the room. The door to the stable yard was beckoning at her in the distance. Glancing behind her once, she hesitates, briefly, then sprinted as fast she could make her legs move towards the door. Holding her breath as her hand wrapped around the door handle, she pushed the door open.

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