Chapter 23: Into the Castle
Ryland could finally see the light. He crept toward it, with Emali still holding tight to his forearm. He peeked out from between the branches.
The line of trees ended just as the patio started. For Ryland’s luck, no one had been on the patio; otherwise they would have been caught.
Emali poked her head out next to Ryland’s. The flagstone patio went on for about 20 more feet then stopped as the next line of trees wound around the castle. Freshly manicured grass grew from the patio to the small forest of pine trees at the fence.
A small spurting fountain dominated the center of the patio. It was an intricate sculpture of a beautiful mermaid, and a flow of water came out of the tips of her graceful fingers into the basin below.
Few flowers grew along the edges of the patio. Pinks, purples and whites gave the backyard a splash of color.
Where the castle wall met with the stones of the patio, a door stood center in the middle; directly across from the fountain. The door was plain dark wood against the light patio and the white rock of the walls.
Emali’s hand felt behind her, and Syra grabbed it. Carefully, Ryland stepped onto the hard stones. With batted breath Emali waited for something to happen to her best friend as he casually crossed the space to the door. She griped Syra’s hand as he hesitated outside the door.
Ryland’s head was level with a tiny window on the door. Through it he could see a deserted corridor beyond. Although he did not know how deserted it would be in a few moments, but he took the risk. His hand grasped the bronze handle and pulled.
Cold air blew at him, making him almost retreat to the trees, but no one noticed the door opening. He sighed a breath of relief, as did his companions.
Now that they were this far into the mission, Syra realized their plan was mediocre. Any moment someone could look out and notice the unannounced visitors. Although every ounce of her screamed to run far away, she knew they had to carry out the deed.
Ryland looked back at Syra and Emali, hiding in the safety of the trees. He could tell them to go home now, and let him go on alone. But even as the thought crossed his mind he knew it was worthless. Emali would never abandon him. And he could never take away her adventure. Although he didn’t want too, he gestured for them to follow his lead.
Emali saw the gesture and stepped cautiously onto the stone and follow Ryland into the building with Syra close behind.
The corridor was lined with soft carpet, and beige walls. Tapestries and paintings hung on the walls.
The three walked along. On Ryland’s right side was a door. He remembered vaguely that this door would lead him to the front entrance. From the front entrance, there was a door down to the basement. That was where they suspected the prince was being held captive.
Ryland got down on his hands and knees, as planned, and looked out the crack between door and floor. His eyes could see no one, but who knew if someone was on the banister above?
Again, he took his chances and opened the door. Again, luck was on their side. The entrance was empty.
Now all they had to do was sprint to the door across the hall. Ryland took to the walls and blended in with the shadows. The walls were made of soft grey stones all concreted together.
Emali followed without a word. Syra, on the other hand, stood frozen, looking out at the entrance. It was like déjà-vu. She had seen this place before, although she could not remember where. She was only brought back to earth by Emali’s small cough.
She fixed her mistake, and hurried after the two.