I stared at the Faun in front of me with wide eyes. She looked as surprised as I felt. She was thinner than I remembered her to be, and her hair was no longer sleek and shiny. Her eyes suddenly filled with tears, and she threw her arms around me and began crying. I stood there, frozen and uncomfortable when she suddenly drew back and peered down the hallway I had turned into. She dove for the knife then jerked my arm and led me down the hall I had originally been in. We moved at a surprising pace, and the maze of hallways had me lost in less than a minute. She went down a flight of stairs and threw open a door. I was suddenly staring at a group consisting of members of every race, both male and female. Every face turned to me.
“I told you she would come!” Laetitia crowed after the door had shut behind us.
There was a murmur that rippled through the group as they stared at me. Some looked curious, some looked distrustful, but all of them looked surprised. My eyes dashed around, looking at each one there. I finally looked back at Laetitia who was beaming happily. I was confused at who these people were and why Laetitia was even there.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"You do not know?" one male Dwarf asked.
I shook my head. "No."
"We are the servants of the Dark Ones," a shy sounding female replied.
"All right then. Now what are you doing here, Laetitia?"
"Terryn and I were captured on our way back to Stonemere by those flying creatures. They brought us here, and we were told we were now their servants."
"Where is he then?"
The crowd parted and Terryn stepped through. He looked haggard and tired, but very pleased to see me. He bowed slightly then straightened.
"Filynora. You do not know how good it is to see your face."
I stared hard at him. "Where is Elthinor?"
"He is not in his cell?" Laetitia asked, though it sounded more like a statement.
"No. Gabrithon and Pinnathir told me he was taken to be beaten in front of you."
"Then they have not summoned us yet," Laetitia sighed. "It is hard to watch, but if you look away you are beaten."
I growled. "Take me to him. Now."
"I do not know the castle well enough. I cannot and neither can Terryn."
"Then get me somebody who can." I knew I sounded mean, but I was scared of what was going to happen to Elthinor.
"I can," a masculine voice said as a tall red and purple Elf stepped forward from the back.
"Great. You're with me. Laetitia, you take the rest of them, and any more that are in the castle, down through the dungeons. There's a way out. Tell Valtrak I sent you and that you are to collapse the tunnel behind you and head back to Greensage as fast as you can."
Laetitia was about to answer when the door behind me opened and I spun to see a Vampire, who stared at me with wide eyes. I moved quickly before he could sound the alarm, my sword in my hand before I really thought about it. I stepped into the hallway and ran him through then swiped his head off. I heard a gasp and turned to see another Vampire; he turned and began to run down the hall. I got my bow, nocked an arrow, and shot him down. I slowly approached him to kick him onto his back. He lunged up at me, but I fired a second arrow through his skull. He dropped, not moving again. I could feel shock radiating off of the group of servants. They were staring at the dead Vampires and then all eyes were on me.
"Laetitia. Go. Now."
She nodded and gestured for all the servants to follow her, handing me my knife as she passed by. They hurried past me, and I was left with the Elf. He stared at me intently and smiled when I met his eyes. I gestured for him to lead the way and we took off at a good pace down a maze of hallways. He really seemed to know them quite well. We stopped outside a pair of double doors, and he nodded at me. This was it. I slowly cracked a door, peeking in. Or really out. It was a balcony overlooking a large courtyard. Standing in the middle of the balcony was Nolan, Elthinor lying at his feet. I felt sickened at what I saw.
The poor Elf's back was to me and was crisscrossed with raw looking stripes, overshadowing his beautiful designs. His skin was blackened in places, no doubt deep bruises that would cause agony whenever touched. He was curled up and shivering from pain, I thought angrily. I wrapped my hand around the hilt of my sword, rage filling me to the point of no return. I slowly pushed the door open just as Nolan demanded that the Aswang and Vampire standing to either side of him go and see what was taking so long. They turned and shrieked in surprise at seeing me. Nolan turned and gave a yell, but I had already lunged forward, swiping my sword through the Aswang's too thin middle. She dropped, so I turned and pinned the Vampire to the wall with my sword. He began crawling up it to get to me, but I held it with my hip and did as I had done with the other Vampire, firing an arrow through his skull.
Nolan suddenly grabbed me from behind to yank me back, my sword clattering to the ground. I struggled and screamed my rage at him, the sound echoing in the empty courtyard. A sharp pain suddenly slashed across my right side, making me cry out in surprise. The Elf who had assisted me to the balcony was suddenly in front of me, and Nolan gasped, dropping me and the knife he had been holding. I spun around to hit him across the temple. He collapsed, blood oozing out of a split in his skin. I kicked him hard for good measure and turned to Elthinor, who had watched everything with an open mouth. He struggled to his feet, and I noticed that only his hands were chained, which was good because we needed to get out of there immediately, and there was really only one way. I could already hear the pounding of feet coming in our direction. I picked up my sword and sheathed it before slamming the doors closed and blocking them with the two corpses.
"How are we getting out of here, Filynora?" the Elf asked me.
"We are jumping to the wall and across the roofs of the houses to the outer wall. Then down."
"No time. Just go!"
The Elf stranger went first, jumping lightly over the gap and landing on the wall, which was close enough to be easy. Elthinor was still in shock, so I shoved him over the edge. He was caught and dragged up by the chain connecting his wrist shackles. I leaped over, landing beside them on the top of the wall, and swallowed convulsively when I looked down the other side. It was just a high enough drop that it was scary looking. This time I went first, crouching to get closer to the goal and dropping down to the roof just to get it over with. I landed with a grunt and found myself gasping for air. The Elf, whose name I did not have time to ask for, came down next and held out his arms to catch Elthinor, who shook his head and backed up.
"Elthinor, please!" I begged as I got my breath back. He groaned softly and jumped.
We both caught him and began running across the roofs toward the outer wall. I heard a familiar voice, freezing instantly. I had completely forgotten about the boys! I leaped to another roof to stare down at Kelvin and Jaiden, who were in the center of a crowd of young people. I did not know whether to smile or frown. I whistled, and they looked up at us in surprise.
"We have to get out of the city, now!"
Their faces turned from surprised to serious in a second. When I was sure they were going to run, I turned and began to head for the wall again. This time we were forced to take a running leap, and Elthinor barely made it. We dragged him up again. I heard a shriek and spun to see them coming for us. I whistled sharply and we could only wait as our pursuers got closer and closer. Aswangs were flying high speed towards us in the air, and Vampires were running across the roofs like we had. I pulled out my bow and began firing arrows. Now that I knew how to aim at these creatures, I was actually hitting them. But there were too many for me to stop by myself. Just before they got to us, I heard the noise I had been waiting for: a whinny.
"Rainstorm! Flaren!" I shouted immediately.
Elthinor gasped as water rushed up the wall, and I shoved him over the edge. The water guided him directly onto Rainstorm's back. I called again, this time for Whirlwind. Air rushed up to meet us, and I gestured for the Elf to jump. He gave me an incredulous look so I pushed him. The air guided him onto Whirlwind's back. Now for me, and that was a problem. Fire or earth. I bit my bottom lip and groaned as I made my pick.
The fire horse obeyed galloping partway up the wall before turning around and leaping off. I jumped just before he reached the peak of his arc and landed squarely, if not a little roughly, on his back. I tangled my hands in his almost too hot mane and clicked my tongue. I took off, leading the other three horses and two riders away. I could not worry about Jaiden and the others. They wanted adventure, they were going to get it. I just hoped they all made it out alive. I was grabbed by sharp claws and pulled my knife, slashing at the hand that held me. My knife came away stained with black blood, and the hand was withdrawn. I heard a scream of rage from the direction of the city, so I turned to see Nolan standing on the top of the outside wall. I could practically feel his glare on me.
"We will get you yet, Fily!" he shouted at me.
I noticed the creatures had stopped following us, and it made me uneasy, but nothing bad happened so I looked forward again as we rode. I slowed my horse to a trot when I saw the group of servants hurrying along. Gabrithon, Pinnathir and Valtrak were in the back. I gave a shout, and they all turned. Gabrithon rushed me, going as fast as he could in his weakened state, and swept me off the horse into his arms. I laughed and embraced him, tears of joy brimming in my eyes. He finally dropped me to the ground, and Pinnathir was suddenly in his place, hugging me tightly. He pulled back and bleated happily, mussing my hair. I heard a jingle. I turned to see the red and purple Elf holding Elthinor's chains in his hand, but that was all I could take in before my dearest friend slapped me across the face as hard as he could. There was silence around us.
"Do not ever do anything that stupid again Filynora!" Elthinor snapped then embraced me and began crying.
I wrapped one arm around him and rubbed my stinging cheek with the other. "You are most welcome, Elthinor."
He drew back, his bottom lip quivering. "How could you be so stupid, coming after us like that?"
I frowned. "If you think I would leave you in the hands of that traitor, you are stupid one."
Elthinor shook his head. "I would ask you to promise you would never do something like that again, but I already know your answer."
I smiled and turned to look at Valtrak when he tugged at my sleeve. "Yes?"
"Where are the boys?"
"I did not really have much time to worry about them. Besides, only that one Naga knows them. Nobody else will know enough to stop them. I hope."
"They wanted a fight," Valtrak sighed.
"They might get one," I replied with a nod. "Now, we must get our friends back to town. They need medical attention."
I cupped my hands and helped Elthinor back on the horse then made Pinnathir get on Rocky, despite the Satyr’s protests. Gabrithon smiled at me when I turned to him.
"Do I get a horse, too?" he asked seriously, though there was mirth in his eyes.
"Technically, you are on a horse," I replied solemnly.
We laughed at that and began heading back to Greensage. I silently hoped that the townsfolk would accept Satyrs and Centaurs as well as they had Elves and Dwarves because there were quite a few in the servants' ranks. Oh well, I thought. We would not find out until we got there.