|5.| ▪The Revelation of Betrayal▪
The gates of the castle bang louder by the hour.
The eerie feeling and humming coming from that place made me wonder where I’ve seen something similar.
I stood there studying the structure of the place. It didn’t seem like we would be able to go in and save Mila so easily. So there had to be away.
After that fog took Mila away, we stayed waiting for a signal that she was alive. To our surprise, she was.
“Are we staying here?” one of the temple knights asked.
I shook my head and turned my back to the castle.
“We have to report to the pope. Send men back and ask him to send reinforcements. Also, let the pope know the saint has been captured by the enemy,” I explained.
The knight excused himself while I headed towards the carriage.
“We are heading to the saints old home,” I ordered.
Everyone gathered their things.
I had the location of where Mila used to live. And just as expected, her house was there. Unexpectedly it looked fine, better than the rest of the town, but why?
I crooked my head in confusion.
“Be careful, Bishop Archer,” the leader of the knights whispered.
I nodded and stepped into the wooden house. Its silence told me no one had been here for a while.
I signaled the group to come over. A few things remained on the ground, while others were still organized.
As I head up the stairs, we hear a small bang.
The entire group froze and looked at each other.
I waited for the knights to scout the place before making another move.
“Do you think someone is here?” I asked.
“Impossible,” the knight answered. “The whole town is empty. How could someone be here?”
I shrugged my shoulder. Something was telling me someone was here.
Following the group, I frowned when we reached the basement of the house.
We could see the shadows moving from the other side of the doors.
I quickly gripped the knight’s shoulder. He looked at me as I shook my head.
“Hello? Is someone in there?” I asked. My voice is firm. “Hello?”
The shadows had stopped moving. Now everything was silent.
“Hello? We are here to help,” I explained in hopes that whoever is in there could come out. “We are looking for someone.”
I moved closer to the door as the knights grabbed their weapons.
“We won’t hurt you. We are from the temple,” I said, grabbing the doorknob. “We came to help.”
We remained still waiting for an answer. Finally, after a while, we heard something unlock.
The door slowly creaked as a man peeked through the cracks.
“Hi,” I greeted. “I’m Bishop Archer.”
The young man eyed us, but seeing who we were; he finally opened the door.
I frowned, seeing it was only him.
“Finally, someone,” he said in a hoarse voice. “Have you come to help us?”
We exchanged looks, and I sighed.
“There’s no one. The entire town is empty,” I explained. “We came to check on things since the pope received word that something was happening here.”
“Yes,” he said dejectedly. I felt terrible for him.
“What’s your name?” I questioned him.
“Ezekiel,” he answered.
“You’re Ezekiel? The saint’s friend?” the knight leader asked in surprise.
“Saint?” Ezekiel asked, frowning.
“Mila, you remember her, right?” I said. His eyes widened.
“Yes, where is she? Is she safe?” Ezekiel asked worriedly. I grasped his shoulders and smiled at him.
“She’s been looking for you,” I said. “But we have an issue.”
This time everyone was looking at him.
“Let’s take a seat and talk, shall we?” I said, pushing the young men to a chair in the kitchen.
We sat in silence while I served some brewed tea I carried with me.
I was surprised he had survived.
“Where is Mila?” Ezekiel asked. His hands grasped the warm tea.
“She is in the castle,” I sighed. Ezekiel raised his eyes and frowned.
“In the castle?” Ezekiel said. “Why?”
“It’s a long story,” I said, smiling sadly.
I briefed Ezekiel on what had happened so far. He seemed in shock but relieved somehow after my explanation.
“So you were sent by Mila?” Ezekiel asked.
“Yes,” I smiled. “May I ask you something?”
“Yes?” Ezekiel said, looking at me intently.
“How did you survive?” I asked softly. My voice was trembling.
I hated feeling like this, all weak and useless.
Though I was part of the temple, I was not as strong as the saint or pope. I had my magic powers, but it wasn’t enough.
“It happened so suddenly,” Ezekiel whispered. “That fog came out of nowhere. Dragging everyone away.”
I frowned at his words. So they were not dead?
“Drag them?” I asked with curiosity.
Ezekiel nodded while sipping on his tea. His dirty face looked tired.
“It dragged everyone to the castle in a similar way it took Mila,” Ezekiel sighed. “I don’t know if they’re alive, though.”
I nodded and drank my tea.
“So you ran away?” I asked the question that’s been bothering me.
“To be honest, I did run away, but this is what kept me saved from that thing,” Ezekiel said, pulling something out of his pockets.
My eyes widened as I saw the bracelet. A small blue rock hummed softly.
“Who gave you that?” I asked, staring at it.
“This was a gift Mila gave me for my birthday. She called it a protective charm,” Ezekiel said as he smiled.
I raised my eyebrow as I studied the kiddo. Was it me, or did he have feelings for Mila?
“So that gave you an advantage?” I asked.
“Yes, and since then, I’ve been locked here,” Ezekiel said and put the bracelet away. “So why did Mila send you here?”
I put the cup down and stood from my seat.
“She sent us to look for clues,” I explained to him. “Do you know if there’s a bookshelf or anything?”
Ezekiel seemed to be thinking about something.
“The office on the end of the hallway,” Ezekiel pointed out. “I went twice in there.”
I nodded and walked towards the room. Ezekiel followed but didn’t ask anything.
As I step in, I suddenly take a step back. The room hummed like it was in pain.
“What’s happening?” Ezekiel asked worriedly. Rushing footsteps from the knights were heading our way.
I raised my arm and chanted some words. Then, a puff of smoke appeared as swirls appeared on the floor.
What was this?
I looked as it turned dark.
“Black magic?” one of the knights whispered.
I glanced his way and then at the floor. He wasn’t wrong; this was some protective spell. But it was something only a black magician could do.
“Are you all right, Bishop Archer?” the knight leader asked.
“Yes,” I muttered in confusion.
What was the meaning of this?
Feeling confused, I stepped into the room.
“Is it safe to go in there?” one of the knights asked.
I nodded and crouched to touch the swirls. They were still warm from the activation.
“Help me look for clues,” I told Ezekiel, who seemed in awe of the place.
If my guess wasn’t wrong, he didn’t know much about magic.
“I will check the desk; you look for anything talking about magic on that shelf,” I pointed out.
Opening the drawers, I scan each piece of paper in it. Some were old drawings but nothing related to magic.
Why did Mila send me here for?
I kept opening it when I noticed something in the last drawer.
“It’s locked?” I mumbled, frowning. Ezekiel glanced my way, checking what I was doing.
Using magic, I unlocked it. There was a stack of letters inside it.
I pulled the entire drawer out and discarded everything over the tabletop.
As I move it, I hear something move inside the same drawer. I glanced at it and noticed the small latch.
“Is that a hidden drawer?” Ezekiel said as he approached me.
“It seems,” I frowned.
I knocked on it twice before it opened and some other letters fell from it.
I set the drawer on the side and opened the letters. My eyes widened as I read one of the secret letters.
What was this?
My entire body went cold as I opened the rest and read the contents. This had to be some mistake.
“Did you know who Mila’s father was?” I asked without looking at Ezekiel, who just watched me.
He shook his head as an answer.
I felt anger, betrayal. Did the pope know this as well?
“What’s the wrong, Bishop?” the knight’s leader asked as my hand crumbles a letter.
“We have been betrayed,” I groaned.
Everyone looked at me confusedly.
I forced my breathing as I tried to remain calm and think clearly.
“Let’s head back to the castle,” I said, but the knight leader shook his head. “Is something the matter?”
As he was about to answer, two knights rushed in.
“We have a problem,” one of the knights said breathlessly.
“What?” I asked, my voice sounding angry.
“Monsters,” he said. “Two beastly monsters had appeared, and they are surrounding us.”
“Monster?” I said in disbelief.
“They’re not monsters,” Ezekiel answered this time.
“What do you mean, young man?” the knight leader asked.
“That’s the fog. It can morph and turn into a beast,” Ezekiel explained.
A piercing scream has us looking out. We all rushed to find one of our men getting captured by the beast.
“Don’t let him leave,” I ordered and pulled my cloak off.
Walking towards the beast, I raise my hands and wiggle my fingers as I chant.
I write in the air a spell, and light emits from my hands. The beast screeched and let go of my knight’s legs.
“They’re backing away,” someone yelled.
I continued chanting while the beast recoiled in fear.
Once they left, I drew a circle on the ground to protect ourselves from any other beast fog creature.
“What are we going to do?” someone asked. I stared at the dark forest intently.
“We wait for the night,” I mumbled. “We have to head back to the castle.”
I turned and picked my cloak. Everyone stood there confused, but I wasn’t about to explain to them why I wanted to return.
I think I found why the pope sent Mila here and why the fog fears her.