#NaNoWriMo 2013 Chapter 7
“Alana, I don’t want to do this,” Oralee begged, down on her knees and only the tip of her head appearing from beyond the window. She was frightened one of the archers would see her and she would be murdered with an arrow through the head as Wyborn had threatened. She was ready to start crying if Alana kept pushing.
And she did. “Oralee, you need to get your butt out there and out of the castle,” Alana hissed. “We don’t know what happened to Lena and I don’t want to lose you like I did my parents. You have to live.”
“What about you?” Oralee asked. “Why are you staying?”
“I am not abandoning the castle to them,” Alana said. “I will think of something. My only priority right now is getting you out. The rope is sturdy, I promise. All you have to do is climb down and run. Run like you never have before.”
Oralee gritted her teeth and looked down at her ruined skirt. Alana did her best to cover her to some level of decency while making movement in the dress easy.
The candles and torches had been put out in Alana’s room, leaving it lost in darkness. Their only light was from the torches outside and the moon overhead, and even that left them mostly cast in shadow. Alana was praying that the archer would never see Oralee come out. Oralee’s dark hair an dark clothing should leave her mostly disguised in the darkness as long as she was quiet.
No one had snuck past the warriors yet. A few men had tried from the village. Some had died, some had simply run away after the confrontation, but none had made it past from what Alana and Oralee had gathered from tidbits of conversation outside of the door.
Alana only prayed that Oralee would be the first.
Alana slowly pushed the windows open. The glass reflected along the torch and she held her breath, waiting for the archer just out of sight. He either did not notice or was simply waiting. She took the risk and gathered the make-shift rope and slowly began feeding it out of the window. Oralee’s head popped up again and big brown eyes watched the once-dresses swing down. If she moved to her left she could lose herself in the burned gardens. If she moved to the right she would go past the kitchen and straight to the wall that lead to the path that would take her to Ackerlea.
Ackerlea was the closest noble home they could trust. Oralee barely knew her way, and only because of maps that Alana had shown her through the years. There were no maps now, and Alana had been forcing her to memorize the directions for the last three days. Oralee was frightened she would screw this all up. One wrong turn and she would never find her way anywhere. She would wander the woods until she starved to death. She was no scavenger.
“Are you sure you can do this?” Oralee asked of her sister. “You have not eaten in three days-”
“Stop it,” Alana insisted. “You need your strength more than I do right now. Take what little you have and bring it with you.” But please, just don’t get caught.
Alana did not say the words, but it was all she thought as her heart pounded and she ran out of rope. She looked down and cursed. “It’s too short.”
“I guess I can’t go,” Oralee said.
“Nonsense,” Alana countered. “Drop the rest of the way.”
“Are you crazy?” Oralee hissed.
“It will only hurt a bit. Aim for your butt.” Alana twisted the end around her hands tightly and took a deep breath. “Now go.”
“This is stupid, Alana, they are going to-”
“Go!” Alana cried, even while keeping her voice low. “This is our only chance. If Lena escaped she’ll be in Ackerlea. Adare would have taken her home. You’ll be safer with them.”
“I’m never going to make it.” Oralee was near hysterics as she was pushed and pulled and forced to grip the rope they had made. Oralee looked down, and looked at her drop. It was not terribly far, but if she fell wrong she could seriously hurt herself. Alana was willing to take the risk, but Alana wasn’t the one who had to make the drop. “I don’t have the upper body strength for this.”
“You better hope you do,” was Alana’s reply.
Oralee sneered and gripped the rope and prayed. She did not want to die with an arrow in her back, it sounded painful and slow. When she was still breathing and Alana was not screaming because of something Oralee could not see the girl took her first move to actually going down the rope. She let her hands travel the rope, hanging her down the wall and she squealed. She slid down, feeling her hands ready to give before she squeezed tighter. She held on with all of her might and looked up. She did not fall nearly as far as she thought. If Alana reached down to her she would still brush her fingers along her sister’s.
Oralee’s entire body was tense. She was afraid to move.
“You have to go,” Alana hissed.
All of Oralee’s fears were pulled tight around her like a cloak, but she did as she was told. At this point she did not have the strength in her arms to pull her up those few inches, and Alana would never help her back through the window.
Oralee was halfway there when the first arrow whizzed over her head. She heard it and for a moment paused in absolute fear that it would strike her. It struck the rope and sliced into it. She felt it start to give from the force of the blade.
Alana let out a curse from overhead and then disappeared. Oralee panicked, feeling the dresses tearing. She moved quicker down but saw what was charging towards her, waiting for her.
My only hope, she thought to herself, is that they don’t want me dead. It might give me a fighting edge.
Not know where Alana had disappeared to, Oralee watched the men gather under her feet. She watched them smugly waiting for her to fall. This was going to hurt.
Oralee pressed her feet to the wall and pushed. Her light body swung far enough out that she fell behind them, landing on her feet before feeling the shock of the landing go through her ankles. She cried out in pain and fell to her knees.
The barbarian reached for her, and Oralee kicked out futiley. He went to grab her before he was knocked away from her. Oralee glanced up and found two large figures standing over her, but these large men were not made in the same material as the barbarians.
“Harding!” Alana screamed out from her window.
Fergal reached down and snagged Oralee from the ground and put her on her feet. “Can you move?”
“Yes, I think so,” she lied. Her ankles were aching, but if she needed to run, she would run. Fergal nodded and Oralee grimaced before turning from Harding and Fergal and charging herself towards the fallen bricks that were once a beautiful wall surrounding the castle. She winced and cried the entire way, but Fergal and Harding were doing their best at avoiding the arrows being shot down at them and at fighting off the barbarians coming towards the commotion.
Oralee was nearly caught by another barbarian, but a knight she did not know as well as the other two came through and knocked him down. “Keep going,” he called to her.
She simply nodded, not knowing if he saw it, and she ran. She was just moving at this point, climbing through the bricks and rushing out into the light of torches that were slowly being lit outside of the walls. One knight stood in the center. Ethen. He had escaped.
Oralee charge to him and he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. “Ethen!” she cried out and sobbed, her body giving out. She fell against him and let him take her up.
“Hello, Princess,” he said. “Sorry it took us so long.”
“Alana’s still in there,” Oralee cried into his shoulder.
“We’re trying,” Ethen said.
“How did you do this in three days?” Oralee asked as he carried her towards the other knights who were gathered.
“It was less than a day,” Ethen told her. “We’ve simply been waiting for an opportunity to get you girls. Lena’s safe, by the way. Some men saw her and Adare on their way to Ackerlea.”
“We can’t retake the castle like this,” Oralee said. Ethen did not put the princess down, simply gathered with the other knights.
“We know,” Ethen promised her. “We simply want you princesses back. They can have the stones.”
“Ethen?” one of the knights asked. It was Dempsey, the man Ethen had taken down just three days ago in a fight. Dempsey did not look great, but he was there, defending his castle. It as an amazing sight to the exhausted princess. “Should you not be in there fighting with the rest of them?”
“Can’t you just go back the way you got out?” Oralee suggested.
“We can get back in the dungeon,” Ethen said. “Sorry, my lady, I do not know the way back into the castle besides direct routes. The dungeon is secure at least in that one way. Luckily for us, the king and queen did not know that there was an escape route.”
“I can’t go fight,” Ethen said, answering Dempsey and looking his companion in the face. “I will not let the princess out of my sight again.”
Oralee blushed and allowed Ethen to hold her close to him. She felt safe with him and had never been so grateful to have someone hold onto her.
Alana stood and watched her sister run through the pattern of barbarians waiting for her as knights she thought had been lost in the fight came to rescue her, helping her through the broken wall. Harding and Fergal were in a tussle with the two barbarians that had been waiting for Oralee to fall. It all seemed so fast, as every fight that had happened recently did. Alana’s head spun. Days of nothing and then a rescue party.
The barbarians were in no way surprised by it. Wyborn and Halvor came tromping into the room. Wyborn gripped Alana’s arm and dragged her away from the window. “You just cost your allies many lives,” he told her, dragging her out of her bedroom.
Alana kicked and fought at him, raking her nails at him. He was expecting it, shaking her and throwing her to the ground.
“I’m not in the mood, princess.” He nodded to Saldis, who had been standing in the hallway with her staff, a terrible grin painted along her lips. “Take her away somewhere they won’t find her. We’ll kill them all if we have to. Especially that… Harding was it?”
Saldis was dragging the princess to her feet by her fiery red hair, but it did not force Alana to back down or lose her fight. “You’ve already taken my parents from me, how much more do you need to take?”
“Everything!” Wyborn roared. “I will take everything, including every stone of this castle. And once it is all mine only then will I be satisfied.”
“You’ll never take it all! As it is your little army is showing cracks.” Alana’s voice was harsh and her face fierce. Wyborn stopped and took her in and for the first time really saw her. This was the heir. There was no way that Kinsey Kenrick was going to take on a task like the one he had without someone in his family knowing. Alana was not only brave, she was minded enough to go down with the castle. Unlike her father she would rather die than betray her family.
But she was still just another woman.
“Tell me what you know,” Wyborn said. “Tell me what you know of the attack on my people and I will let the rest of those knights live. Especially your little Harding you called out for so desperately.”
“You’re insane!” Alana screamed. “You have made up some attack that has never happened. Don’t you think I would have known? That someone but my father would have known? Perhaps if you wanted answers you shouldn’t have killed my father and mother so blindly! There was no attack! If someone betrayed your people it was not us!”
Wyborn yanked Alana from Saldis’s grip. She screamed out in pain at the strength as for a moment both resisted each other. Saldis released Alana and dragged her across her bedroom to the window once more to gaze down at the people. Wyborn’s finger pointed down towards Harding, but not at the man who had given Alana her first kiss. No, his finger moved to the right and to Fergal. “Then why was he there?”
“You’re mistaken,” Alana whispered.
“I’m not, I assure you,” Wyborn said. “You keep thinking I don’t know what I was talking about, but I was there when our leaders were taken out. I was supposed to die out there with them. But I had lucked out in my circumstances and was not there in time. Now, well… You are paying for your father’s mistakes. So tell me again, princess, why the attack happened, or I will let every single one of them die. Including your little sister.”
Alana, for the first time since he had seen her, was calm with her answer, looking him directly in the eyes, pleading for him to see the truth there as she whispered, “I can not tell you what I do not know. There is no war and as far as I know whatever happened that day was a fluke.”
Wyborn pulled Alana from the window and led her back to the hallway where he passed her back off to Saldis. Saldis seemed more than pleased to take the princess.
“Take her somewhere, anywhere, that isn’t the dungeon but is secure enough she’s not escaping.” He turned to Halvor and said, “We are going to retrieve a princess. Try to keep some of the knights alive, because they know something this princesses do not.”
“Then why keep the princesses alive anymore?” Saldis sneered. “They are fodder now.”
“There is still a sister out there we have yet to retrieve,” Wyborn reminded her. “And as it was suggested to me, they would make wonderful trophies for some of our men back home. They are exotic and soft and might prove to be something to enjoy… by many.”
Alana did her best not to show an ounce of fear, though she was trembling. Saldis did not miss it, but only grinned internally. She dragged Alana away and to a room where there were no windows and only a fallen in closet. The room that Lena and Adare had escaped from and the barbarians now knew there was no alternate way of escaping.
Alana was still a prisoner in her own castle.