He shivered as a wave of goosebumps flowed over him, the hundred and eighty-third wooden key had turned the lock. He watched in stunned silence as the cell door glided open, was this an illusion? Had the queen somehow figured out his escape plan? He took a hesitant step forward, he didn’t connect with bars, he was truly free! Goosebumps rushed over his skin again as he looked back into his small cold hole; stone and rotting straw bed, no window, no light except the torch mounted on the wall outside his cell. Grabbing it he spun around looking down the dark haunted corridors, which way was out?
“Drathis? What have you done?”
Unable to concentrate past his erratic heartbeat, excitement and doubt he turned to look at the prisoner in the cell opposite him. The man was in his last days on Relangathian having given up on life, he had been imprisoned for stealing to feed his family for the past seven years. It’s what most men said when passing through these dungeons, after twenty years he had grown tired of the same stories.
“You still alive?” Drathis mocked pulling the key out his cell gate hoping it might work in his, the man was far from the murderers and demons he had shared years with.
“For now,” The prisoner lifted a hand to cover his eyes from the firelight as Drathis stepped nearer, he slid the key into the lock and turned it, it didn’t budge. His heart sank as he looked from it into the elderly man’s face.
“Don’t be sorry for me, you tried.” Came a weary smile.
“I can try get the keys from the guards,” Drathis grunted in frustration trying to force the wooden key to turn, feeling it begin to crack in his hand.
“Where will I go?”
A door opened far off one of the corridors echoing voices of the new patrol about to begin. He pulled the key out quickly looking back down at the man, he hadn’t had many friends over the years, but seeing the glisten in the man’s eyes knowing there was no hope for him, killed him inside.
“Go Drathis, they will catch you standing around like a fool.” Came a small weak voice, weak smile, sad eyes.
Sure enough, the boots were marching nearer hitting cell bars of wailing prisoners shouting at them to shut up, he could see the glow of firelight begin to reflect shadows from around a corner. The queen had made sure his cell was to be checked every hour on the hour. Placing the torch back on the wall looking at his friend one last time he sighed, how was he to save him? How was he to say goodbye?
“Leave before I scream.” Came a defiant warning from his friend.
Drathis nostrils flared, he understood then, goodbye was going to be too painful for them, this is how it was done, giving his old friend a final nod he took off running in the opposite direction, his chest begun to cramp with grief, they would never see each other again.
Passing three more patrols he weaved his way out the dungeon, bursting through the door into a room of stunned guards. Adrenaline high he used the hesitation to his advantage smashing the nearest man’s face into a table, spinning away from swords being drawn he unhooked a set of keys. Lacing his fingers through a few he ducked narrowly missing a sword, jumping back up bashing another’s face seeing tooth followed by blood spray out the mouth with the force of which the keys sunk into the skin. Releasing his grip, he grabbed the dropped sword deeming it a cleaner death than having to pick keys out of teeth and kicked them through the door towards the nearest cell. He was no fool the keys on that chain would not unlock his friends cell, there was no way his luck was that good. But perhaps just maybe one of the inmates would as he watched a hand through the bars grab them.
Slicing his way out the room he ran up two flights of stairs and stopped, listening for footsteps, voices, anything behind the door he was about to open. He took a deep breath in smelling the fresh air, he hadn’t gotten a taste of that in far too long, he wondered again if this was a game? Did the queen know he was free? After all the years of torture and tormenting him, was this a new test?
He opened the door slowly bracing himself for an attack, but there were only a few sleeping guards. Entering the hallway, he was again at odds with himself, left, or right? He had been dragged down to his cell as a kid, he hadn’t been focused on the way in, left it was.
“Hey!” An arm grabbed him from behind, completely caught off guard he shoved the man back and a burst of green power erupted from his hand turning the human into dust. He looked from his hand to the other man, terror in the guard’s eyes before bolting. Drathis pointed his hand out after him and the guard noticed beginning to scream for help, nothing happened though, whatever power had flowed from him was gone again. Power, yes, he had it in spades, how to use it though was another question, something his brother was going to help him learn, before, well before they had been ripped apart. Being the only magical being of his kind in the dungeon had him bashing his head against a wall constantly trying to find out how to use magic, all he had achieved was illuminating his pupils when he was pissed off, hooray, a very helpful tool for if ever the gods, he or the entire Relangathian ran out of torches.
Running through the castle he heard the different bells go off, activity picking up, the scared rat had woken the entire Black Maser Castle just for him. Skidding to a halt before a black stone fireplace he spotted a massive decorated sword displayed above it, reaching for it he missed the pulsing energy it was giving off catching a glimpse of himself for the first time in the display mirror behind it.
He hadn’t seen himself since, well forever; Black long hair, strong jawline, rich emerald eyes. He looked so much like his brother, had, just a bit more muscle. Reaching for the sword his hand felt a magnetic pull to the handle, and before he could retract, it moulded to his palm vibrating wildly.
This was the queen’s sword, the cursed blade that had legends behind it, the sword which had won countless wars, if he took this, she would never let him live. He smiled wrapping both hands around the hilt turning to face the room filling up with soldiers, he would like to see her try now.