My eyes trailed after the guard as he made his fourth pass. He had been the only guard patrolling this abandoned dungeon whenever I came. I smirked. They must not have expected anyone to find this place.
Peeking out from the mud-caked corner, I waited to stop hearing the clanging of the guards’ armor. Once he passed, I raced down the east corridor. Light trickled in through the tiny, caged windows. With each step, my feet sunk into the moist dirt. The air smelled of stale earth.
I slowed down once I reached a fork going north and south. Cells lined both passages. These were the last ones I had to check. If Evelyn’s brothers weren’t here, I was out of leads. Choosing the south passage, I looked over the cells on the left.
All the cells had rusted bars and crumbling stone walls. The ground was littered with puddles of water. I raised an eyebrow. A pair of hands grasped the bars of one of the middle cells.
Pulling one of the halves of my naginata free, I crept down the line. Someone hummed. I cut short a foot away. I stretched my neck to check the cell. My eyes connected with sharp green ones.
His eyes narrowed as his lips pressed into a firm line. The other, rounder male in the cell noticed his shift. He backed away from the bars. He gave a half smile as he tilted his head, “You ain’t one of the usual guards,”
“Are you Wylie and Lyle?”
The one with the shorter hair growled. He kicked off the wall. “Why are you here?”
“Relax Ly,” The other male grabbed him by the shoulder, pulling him behind him. “I am Wylie. Why do you ask?” He stepped towards the bars and leaned against them.
“Evelyn sent me to get you out,” I approached the cell. I kneeled in front of the lock. It was tall and narrow. The tip of my blade would fit into it.
“Is she alright?” Lyle squeezed the bars, his green eyes bored into mine as they met. Lines creased his forehead. He just had quite the mood change.
“Not really, given the circumstances…” I stood up and guided the tip of my blade into the hole. I didn’t think anyone would be ok with their family being kidnapped and used as ransom.
“So, how do you know Evelyn and who are you,” Wylie asked.
I paused. I adjusted my grip on the handle. They might know I was her soul mate, but if they knew that they probably knew everything. And we didn’t need an argument right now. “Fletcher,”
Thrusting my blade down, something popped. Pulling it out, the cell door creaked open. “Looks like we can get out of here,” I opened the cell the rest of the way.
Wylie grinned. He clapped my shoulder on his way out. Lyle stopped in front of me and glared into my eyes. His body was rigged, his flesh taking on a reddish hue. “Is your last name Zuric” His eyes now stuck on to my right wrist covered by my sleeve.
“Ly, let’s get out of here,” Wylie reached for his brother’s shoulder, but Lyle smacked his hand away.
“No! We ain’t going anywhere with this scum,” He spat into my face with each word.
Wiping my face with my free hand, my grip on my naginata tightened. “You should listen to your brother,” I hissed.
His eyes bulged out. He drew back his left arm. Wylie grabbed his arm and swung him to the left into the wall. Lyle tried to push off the wall, yet Wylie dug his right heel into his right calf.
“Lyle, stop! He’s trying to get us out of here, so he’s not all bad,” Wylie eyed me while stating the last part.
I slid my naginata half back into its holder and clasped my hands behind my head.
He gave me a slight smile.
Lyle growled, thrashing about. “How can you defend him after what he did to Evelyn?!”
“What about you right now? You are just blinded by your anger, not even thinking about her. She likely sent him here to help us escape and you are resisting. If we stay captive you know she ain’t going to leave,”
Lyle instantly stilled. He shut his eyes. “Your right, sorry,”
Wylie released and smacked him on the back. “It’s alright, let’s get going,”
Lyle stood up straight, casting a glare my way before heading down the hallway. Wylie nodded his head at me, following behind.
My eyes locked onto the back of Lyle’s head and narrowed. Was there something going on between him and Evelyn? Had I already lost my second chance? Or maybe I never had one at all.
My eyes felt heavier than ever before. More than when I was tired or from the other beatings. Maybe he had finally succeeded, maybe this was what death felt like. Where your fighting to stay awake, but your body’s betrayed you and has no strength left. And no matter how much willpower you have, you can’t restore it.
Fresh tears blurred the hazy blue of the sky further and chilled my cold skin. With each labored breath, the aches in my body dulled gradually. The stench of the manure stung my nose no more. The once whipping wind sounded like a distant echo. I could only move my fingers in little twitches now.
My eyes eventually shut. Guess we would be seeing each other sooner than either of us expected mom. I just wish I could’ve met my soulmate, so I could have told you about him.
“Hey, kid, wake up… you ok?” Something faintly warm pressed against my face.
My eyes blinked open a view times. An unclear male hovered over me.
“Lyle get that healing potion now!”
Something continuously tapped my cheek.
“Kid, if you can hear me, nod your head,”
I slightly dipped my chin down.
“Alright, now keep doing that each time I say something ok? You have to let me know you’re alright,”
I dipped my chin again.
“Good, I am not going to leave you ok? I’ll be with you through all of this,”
I bit my lip as I repositioned my weapon belt. This was the last stage of the competition. If Fletcher didn’t find them, this was it for all of us. I’d die trying to get them out of here before leaving them.
My ears perked up when I caught a low whistle faintly over the roaring audience deeper in the arena. Striding over to the marble railing, my eyes scanned the sparse people around me. No one I recognized.
My palms rested on the cool, swirled marble railing. My eyes searched over the five levels above me. The low whistle came again. My eyes snapped to the level below me.
Craning my torso over the edge, I examined the left side. Peering from behind a trio of columns near the railing was Wylie and Lyle. Wylie gave an eyebrow wiggle before yanking a frowning Lyle back into the shadows. I let out a sigh. My lips spread into a small. They were ok. At least they would get out of here.
Fletcher had made good on his word. Where was he though? I glanced around the pillars and saw him leaning against one while watching me. I mouthed thank you as my collar was jerked back. It was time to meet my fate in the arena.