Crucible Vows

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Chapter 18

Disgraced. I would forever be known as a disgraced Knight of Obrenor. But King Rory wasn’t trying me for treason. But I was expected to spend a period of time in the dungeons. My rank, my armor, my weapons, all confiscated for helping an Elf. An Elf I heard express how she used me. I never considered Elora the type to manipulate like she claimed she did. And on the morrow, she would be executed by burning. A stabbing pain came to my chest at the thought.

I forced myself to sit up on the small hard bed in the cell. Something didn’t feel right. Elora was a kind individual that cared more for others than herself. Was her words just another way of protecting me? One thing I knew for certain was that despite what had happened, she still didn’t deserve death. I had to get her out. The biggest challenge was the fact that we were in the middle of the Capital. There were Knights everywhere. How could I get us out without raising suspicion long enough to get a head start? An idea began to form in my head.

I stood up and walked to the bars and rested my arms through them and waited. Eventually, a Knight Captain came around the corner and I smile to myself.

“Must be nice to know you were promoted due to my actions.” I taunted.

He stopped and looked at me. “That was your own fault, and you know it Luna.”

“Come on, Xander.” I responded. “You’ve always longed for my downfall so you could rise in the ranks. You were always jealous.”

“Yet, look who’s the one behind bars.” He sneered.

I cocked an eyebrow. “You’ll never accomplish anything on your own. You always just be a vulture waiting to steal what people left behind.”

He growled and began to stomp over to me.

“Actually, you’re lower than a vulture.” I continued. “You’re a leech who builds yourself off of other’s success.”

He reached through the bars to grab my shirt, and I acted. I grabbed his arm with my hands and pulled towards the bars with a force that caused him to crash into them with a hard clang. The force was enough to knock him out. He slumped to the ground and fell limp. Crouching down, I reached through the bars and grabbed the keys on his belt. Finally, free when I unlocked the door, I grabbed Xander and pulled him into the cell. While he was unconscious, I removed his armor and dressed myself in it. Luckily, he had some shackles on his belt that I used to bind his hands behind his back. I also made sure to gag him so he wouldn’t make as much noise.

With that, I bundled him in the thin blanket available and placed him on the bed, making sure to hid who he was. I left the cell and locked it behind me. I quickly put on the helmet and pulled down the visor to hide my face. I just needed to go and find Elora. I passed her cell as I was brought to mine. So, I knew I’d be able to find it quickly.

I began to walk at a slightly faster pace but held back from running to prevent rising suspicion. I kept my face forward until I got to her cell. She was also laying on a hard wood bed, facing away from the door. I resisted calling out to her as I went and unlocked the door, acting as though I was commanded to take her to the King. At the sound of the lock turning, she looked back at me. Opening the door, I walked in right as she moved to sit up on the edge of the bed. I said nothing as I grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet.

Once outside of the cell, I closed the door again and grabbed a set of shackles from the table close by. She didn’t resist as I locked them around her wrists. I grabbed her arm again and lead her out of the dungeon. I kept following a route that looked as though we were heading to the King. But when I had the chance, I pulled her to the side and found an empty room for us to hide. I left her in the room for a moment while I stood in the hall for a moment to make sure the way was clear.

When I knew it was safe, I opened the door and waved for her to follow me. She had a confused look but did as I asked. I knew of a passage that would get us to the stables. With any luck, Zealot would be there and we could escape with his help. We continued a little dance of making some small progress through the castle and hiding when unwelcomed eyes would see us. We got close to the door to the stables before I had to suddenly pull Elora out of view. I pushed her behind a tapestry and covered her with my body just in case anyone saw us. We were silent, holding our breaths as we heard several footsteps pass by us.

She looked up at me and made eye contact with me. “Luna?”

I covered her mouth with my hand and held up a finger to my mouth to silence her. I glanced out from behind the tapestry and saw it was clear. I grabbed her hand and pulled her through the door to the stables. That’s when we began to run. But it didn’t last long until I had to push her into a stall and follow her. I closed the door behind us and ducked as a pair of Knights passed. Heavy panting caught my attention and I looked back to the young woman. Silently, I maneuvered over to her while staying low to the ground and grabbed one of her hands. My other hand went to her cheek. My thumb rubbed her skin trying to get her to calm down.

Grabbing the keys from my belt, I unlocked the shackles and let the drop to the ground. She instinctively began to rub her wrists. I gave her hand a squeeze before I heard an all too familiar whiney of a horse. I carefully looked over the partition of the stall and saw Zealot. I quickly glanced to see if there were any Knights close by. With a wave of my hand, Elora and I sprinted Zealot. I quickly saddled him and got Elora up onto him. I quickly followed and commanded the horse forward in a gallop. Leaping over the door to the courtyard, we took off. That’s when people began to notice us. But there wasn’t really much other option.

Shouts of attention caused any Knights in the area to try to stop us. I kept us moving though, finding different routes to get us to the edge of the Capital. As we got closer to the exit, I pressed Zealot to go faster. A line of Knights blocked the way, but I noticed a set of stairs to the side. Guiding Zealot to them, he ran up and I suddenly lead him off of them. He leapt and cleared the Knights, allowing us to run past the wall and into the woods that greeted us. I didn’t stop though. I made sure to keep going for a while and eventually ran off the path until I couldn’t see anyone pursuing us.

I pulled Zealot to a stop and let out a breath of relief. Though we could rest for a moment, we couldn’t stay in one place long though. We were fugitives of the law. And we would be pursued until we could get to Alovia.

I stepped off of Zealot and helped Elora down. We hadn’t really said anything to each other since I got her out. She probably had questions, and I knew that I did too. I turned away from her and placed my hands on my hips. As I looked around, the lion crest on the tunic caught my eye. I reached up and harshly ripped it off. I also reached over and grabbed the shoulder plate that bared the same crest. And threw it to the ground.

I turned abruptly to look back and stopped when my eyes met purple ones. Elora was watching me with concern written in her features. I let out a breath and turned away. Her hand reached out and grabbed my arm. I looked back at her and we stared at each other in silence for a moment. A concerned smile came to her lips before she bent down and grabbed the shoulder plate. She reattached it to my armor and looked back to me with eyebrows raised.

“You’re going to need all the protection possible.” She spoke to me.

I hadn’t realized how much I missed hearing her voice until that moment. As I gazed down at her, her hands hesitantly reached up towards my helmet. I grabbed her forearm as she began to pull it off, and she stopped. She stared into my eyes until I felt comfortable enough to let her continue. My hand dropped and she slowly pulled the helmet off my head. She let it drop to the ground and she took in my features.

One by one, her hands went to my face, and she began to trace my features with her fingers. She lingered on my scar across my eyebrow, but there was nothing in her expression that said she was scared or unfamiliar. Eventually, her hands rested on my cheeks and I couldn’t help but lean into her touch. After what had happened that day, she was the only friend I had and could count on.

“Why did you get me out?” She asked as sorrow entered her eyes. “After what I said…”

I reached up and grabbed one of her hands. “I made a promise to get you to Alovia. I keep my promises.”

She bit her naturally rose-colored lip. “I didn’t mean a word I said. Everything I told the King about our relationship, I lied.”

I pulled her into a hug as she continued.

“I never manipulated you. I never lied or tricked you or used you.” She sobbed. “You are my dearest friend. But I had to protect you. If it meant you lived, I was okay with it. I couldn’t let you die because of me.”

“Hey,” I pulled away to look her in the eyes. “It’s okay. I never thought you would be that kind of person. Stop crying. I’m okay, and we’re alive. Just a few more days, and we will get to Alovia. But because of what happened, we will have to stay away from most villages and towns. I know we can go to my home and my parents will help us, but after that, we’re on our own. We’re going to Alovia, and you’ll be safe.”

Her eyes dropped for a moment. “Luna… There’s something I should tell you.”

“We don’t have time right now.” I stopped her. “We need to keep moving and find some shelter for the night.”

I took her hand in mine and began to walk. Just before we left, she stooped down and picked up the helmet again. I grabbed Zealot’s reigns and felt Elora hand me the helmet. I placed it on my head and began to lead us through the woods. We stayed close enough to the road to know where to go, but we were far enough in the woods and hidden enough that most people wouldn’t notice us traveling. As night began to fall, I found a small cave that we could hid out in for a while.

I led us in and left Zealot and Elora long enough to find some firewood. After some trial and error, we were able to get a blaze going and it began to warm the area. Zealot got comfortable behind Elora and dropped his head as he rested. I pulled off the majority of the armor and sat down next to her as well.

“Go ahead and get some rest,” I told her. “I’ll keep watch.”

She nodded silently and leaned into Zealot. Her eyes closed and quickly fell asleep. The day was exhausting. I expected such a reaction from her. It wasn’t long before she shifted and fell against me. Glancing down at her, I smiled. I changed my position and got comfortable myself. I was certain that I was a light enough sleeper that if anything happened, I would wake up with enough time to protect us. I fell asleep with the warmth of my horse behind me and the warm feeling I had whenever I was with Elora.

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