The Queen in Shadows

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Chapter 45

Warning - The next couple chapters are a bit violent/gory

We jump down into the tunnel and walk in the damp darkness as quietly as such a large group can.

Each Alpha leads his own pack, like military marching formations, we keep tight groups, all in clean rows. Everything is very orderly.

I walk at the front with Celine and Miles, directly behind Alex and Sloane. Watching Alex would make me feel pride if I could feel anything other than sorrow.

In a very short time he has truly become the Alpha King we need. He is fearless. I know that he can lead us through this.

I stumble in the darkness and Celine grabs my arm, holding me from falling.

“I should be able to see, my wolf is...” I try to explain.

“You have been through something unimaginable. It is understandable that you are weak right now, Noelle. Take the time you need to heal.”

“Will I heal?” my lip quivers.

“I’m not sure...”

I appreciate her honesty. I don’t see how I will ever get over this and I don’t want to be told that ‘time will heal the wounds.’

“Be careful here,” Alex turns around, helping Sloane step down against the broken ground. When it’s my turn Miles helps me down into the knee deep water and we continue wading through the tunnel.

The air is thick and moldy making it hard to breathe.

“We’re almost to the point where we meet Dannon and Titus,” Miles whispers to me and I nod.

After several minutes of struggling through the water the ground begins to incline, we’re walking at a slight elevation, out of the water.

A blinking light flashes up ahead.

“That’s them,” he tells me, I can hear the smile in his voice.

When we get to Dannon and Titus I’m surprised by their appearances. They don’t look run down or near death like the rest of us. I guess in order to keep suspicions away they haven’t been exhausting themselves the same way everyone else has.

“Your Majesty,” they bow their heads and it makes my chest ache.

“You don’t have to do that anymore. I’m not the Princess anymore... I have no Prince.”

Celine and Dannon suck in a sharp breath while Sloane’s mouth drops open.

Miles hands Titus the bag and they look at us with determination before running back in the opposite direction.

“We are going up a bit more and waiting for the ‘boom.’ We will be positioned at a grate underneath the kitchen in the castle. From there, you stay with me,” he points to me, “everyone else knows their positions. We are taking this today,” Alex’s voice is low and angry.

“Where are we going?”

“We’re going to the King's private wing. Arius should be there, too.”

I nod.

We continue through the tunnels, everyone creeping extra quietly.

I’m glad to be part of the group that will be going to Arius and the King. I want to see their faces when they see us, when we take everything from them.

I hope they’re at ease right now, waiting for word from the group they sent to tell them that the mission was a success, that we have all been wiped out. We’re below them right now, hundreds of us.

The thought pulls a smile to my cracked lips. Not a sweet smile, but a soulless, rage filled curl to my lips at the thought of their demise.

Alex holds his hand up, signaling everyone to stop. There is a small ladder bolted to the side of the tunnel that leads to a small square grate on the ceiling.

Only one person at a time will fit through.

“We should start going up into the kitchen now, have everyone hide there until the armory is destroyed,” I tell them.

“We don’t want to risk getting caught and having alarms raised before we’re ready.”

“The kitchen will be empty. The King doesn’t eat anymore, it’s not like he will have people in there making food.”

Sloane’s eyes grow as wide as saucers as several people whisper and mutter around us.

“She’s right,” Sloane whispers, “the kitchen should be deserted. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before...”

“Ok, I’ll go up, check that it’s safe, and we’ll start bringing people up,” Alex nods.

He kisses Sloane then quickly climbs the ladder and pushes the grate up. As his legs disappear into the hole in the ceiling Sloane lets out a shuddered breath.

The minutes pass like hours before his arm reaches down,

“Start sending people up,” he calls down.

Sloane climbs up next, then Miles, then me. When Miles pulls me up into the kitchen I blink, adjusting my eyes to the light streaming in through the windows. I guess the sun came up while we were underground.

I join my small group by the doors to the kitchen. A large window looks out over a small courtyard.

“That’s the armory,” Sloane points down the sloping terrain to a gray building.

I watch it, unblinking for several minutes.

“Four minutes,” Alex says and my breath hitches.

I count the seconds in my mind. One to sixty, again, then again and again.

Alex pulls me down to the ground just as the building ignites. The glass from the window shatters and sprays across the room.

“Everyone remember your positions! Let’s move!”

I run behind Alex and Sloane in a haze. I don’t look up from the ground at anything we pass, I watch their feet, following them through hallways and down several flights of stairs.

They stop and I finally look up. The stone surrounding us on the walls and ceiling isn’t unlike the tunnel we just left. I can’t shake the feeling that we’re underground again.

Celine taps my arm and hands me an ornate looking knife. The handle is made of smooth opal stone. I nod to her and look toward the door expectantly.

Alex looks at each of us before he kicks the door in.

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