Return to Everly

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Fantasy Realm


Rescue day has arrived. Rescuing Sara from the castle does not go without its hitches and she learns a little more about her friend, Sharese.

Chapter 5 (v.1) - Chapter 5

Submitted: May 04, 2018

Reads: 67

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Submitted: May 04, 2018

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Rescue day. It dawned bright and sunny, with a wonderful fragrance on the spring breeze.

As Sara opened the window of their room, she looked out over the land below. Green covered most everything she could see outside the city walls and what wasn’t green, was brown. Some of the fields were freshly plowed and ready to be sown with whatever life giving plant the farmers decided was needed. It might be corn, it might be wheat, but the land would give whatever the farmers bade it to.

She heard the door open and turned to see Sharese leading a couple of kitchen help in with the morning meal.

"Good morning, m’lady.” they said as they bowed.

She nodded to them and after they left, she and Sharese sat down to enjoy their breakfast.

"So, today’s the day.” she said as she spread some jam over a biscuit.

"Yes, m’lady. By mid-day meal we should be well away from here.”

"Yes and I shall be in the company of my parents again.”

She stopped for a second and thought about what she had just said. Something in those words brought a pang of guilt to her soul.

"What’s the matter?” asked Sharese as she looked at her friend.

"Oh, nothing. It’s just that, in our world, a girl my age is almost expected to act a little rebellious when it comes to their parents. I’m beginning to see that I may have been wrong in that.”

Sharese looked down at her plate and said, “I would give my life to able to see my parents again.”

She looked up at Sara and shook her head.

Sara said, “We’ve never talked about your family. Where are your parents.”

Sharese bit her lip and then said, “They are dead. Died when the king’s troops came to our town and battled with the people there.”

Sara’s mouth dropped open.

"Bennifort’s troops killed your parents?”

Sharese looked at her with moist eyes and nodded.

"Oh, just one more reason for me to hate that man. I’ll tell you one thing, Sharese. The days of me bowing down to him are over.”

Sharese’s eyes were now filled with fear.

"And don’t you tell me to watch out for myself.” said Sara. “Your days of bowing to that asshole are over, too.”

 

~~~~

 

The morning broke across Alan's face as he laid in his bed in the one room cabin. He opened one eye and looked up, seeing some small slivers of light coming through the slats of the roof and he knew he would have to do a little work to make the roof watertight again. Then, he almost laughed to himself as he realized that was about the dumbest thing he had ever thought. It wasn't like he and his family were going to move into this cabin.

He took a deep breath, thinking back to the feeling of the moist grass under his body as he and Lynne made love under the stars the night before. They hadn't had time for that kind of passion in such a long time, he was beginning to forget what it felt like. Maybe it was being back in Everly that had awakened the passion in their hearts. All he knew was, he hoped that feeling would never go away.

He rolled over, wanting to gaze upon the face of his beloved, but found himself looking at a wholly unexpected sight.

Sitting in a chair, at the table, was the grizzled old man, Kendric. He was smoking his pipe and just looking at the sleeping prince.

Another thing he realized was a large, empty area in the bed next to him. When he had closed his eyes the night before, it wasn't empty.

He sat up and swung his feet off the bed and onto the cold floor. The cold stones under his feet caused him to lift his feet momentarily, but then he set them back down and let the icy stones wake him up.

"Not exactly what I was expecting to see this morning." he said as he rubbed his eyes.

"What? You don't find my face as inviting as that of your wife?"

He looked at the old wizard and laughed.

"Kendric, I love you, man. But, I still prefer my wife."

He looked around and asked, "Speaking of my wife ...?"

"She decided to storm the castle by herself and retrieve Sara."

"What?!"

Kendric started laughing and said, "Relax. She went down to the pool to bathe."

Alan let out a sigh of relief. Not that Lynne was at the pool, but that he knew very well that she was quite capable of storming the castle by herself and he wouldn't have been surprised if she really had gone there.

"Very funny." he said as he reached for his boots.

"I thought so."

"We don't pay you to think."

"You don't pay me anyway."

Alan finished with his boots and stood up and said, "I think we need to remedy that when all this is settled."

"Sire, I ask for no money. I ask for nothing, but a clean, safe place to sleep and some food at meal times."

Alan smiled as he picked up a towel and his sword. As he walked to the door he said, "Then you shall have those things in abundance, friend."

He lifted the latch and stepped out of the cabin, closing the door behind him. As he stood in the open area just in front of the cabin, he looked up and saw the sunlight filtering through the trees. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath and felt the fragrance of the forest swell deep into his lungs. He could hear the birds in the trees, singing and flitting around in the branches.

Opening his eyes, he set off down the path, leading to a small pool in a creek. He remembered the times when he was a younger man, when he stayed in the cabin for weeks at a time and would spend mornings at the pool, getting clean and refreshing his soul in the cool waters. he smiled as he began to anticipate that feeling all over again.

 

~~~~

 

Lynne swam lazily in the water of the pool, letting its powers wash over her and strengthen her. As she floated in the water, she wondered if Alan even knew the power of this water. She giggled to herself, knowing that he probably didn't. He would only know he felt better after swimming there. She remembered how he used to speak of the pool when they were younger and he would return from his times away from the castle. She had never accompanied him on his little trips because that just wouldn't have been proper.

But, she knew that down near the bottom of the pool, there was a layer of rocks that had a magical quality, imparting peace and strength to anyone that bathed in its waters. She could feel the power of the stones emanating through the water and soaking into her body.

She just floated in the water, closing her eyes and enjoying the feeling, but she didn't realize there were more eyes on her than just those of the birds.

Snap!

Her eyes flew open and she raised her head up and looked around. The birds in the trees don't break twigs on the ground. She began moving to the edge of the pool, toward her clothes, but more importantly, toward her sword. She climbed out of the water, moving toward the pile of clothes on the rock near the water's edge and when she reached for her sword, she found nothing.

"Looking for this?"

She looked up and saw a king's soldier standing there, holding her sword, while he let his eyes wander up and down her body. He hadn't seen such a fine looking woman in years. Even though he could tell she had birthed a child, she still had a body that was fit and taut, like that of a young maiden. His lips curled up in a crude smile.

She stood up and made no effort to cover herself as she looked directly into his eyes. He was young, maybe just a few years older than her daughter, but she could tell he was old enough to have manly thoughts. He had blonde hair and blue eyes and as she sized him up, she realized that he wasn’t at all hard to look at.

"It would be best, young man, if you were to just hand me that sword and turn and walk away. Your very life may depend on it." she said with about as much coolness as the water behind her.

"Turn around and walk away? After finding such a beauty swimming out here all alone? I don't think I'll be walking away anytime soon."

She looked right at him and her eyes narrowed. One thing he was feeling was a bit of fear that this woman didn't seem to be afraid of him. Not like any of the other women he had been with.

"What makes you think she's here alone?"

The eyes of the soldier widened as the tip of a sword set down on his shoulder, grazing up against his neck. He could feel the cold steel blade pressing into the soft meat on the side of his neck and he knew it wouldn't take much for blood to be drawn.

"Turn around and stop looking at my wife."

He slowly turned to find himself looking at a face he hadn’t seen in many years. The last time he saw it, he had only been a young boy.

"Prince Allain."

Alan pressed the point of his sword into the base of the soldier's neck and said, "It's just Alan now."

Lynne had slipped into her clothes and then she reached out and took her sword out of the hand of the soldier. She stepped up behind the soldier and tapped him in the shoulder and when he turned around, she smashed the hilt of her sword into the side of his face, knocking him out cold.

As he crumpled to the ground, Lynne looked up at Alan and shook her head.

"What are we going to do with him now?"

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"Well, we can't very well let him go. He'll head straight to the castle and sound the alarm. If that happens our chance of getting Sara out of there will become zero."

"Well, we're not going to just kill him either."

"I'm not saying we should, but we need to make sure he can't get to the castle until we've done what we came here to do." she said.

He looked at her and knew she was right. They were tough and capable of many things together, but he knew killing this man was not one of those things. At least, not without cause and leering at his wife was dangerously close, but didn't quite rise to a good reason to die.

The solder began to rouse and Lynne reached down and pulled his sword from its scabbard and stepped back. As the soldier rose to his knees, he rubbed the side of his face, which was turning a rather lovely shade of purple.

"Why did you do that, m'lady?"

"You threaten to have your way with me and wonder why I would cave your face in?"

"I was only making light of the situation."

"Making light of this situation," said Alan, "could very well get you killed."

"Well, let's hope not. At least not until we go and see Kendric."

Lynne looked at him and then at Alan.

"What did you say?"

"M'lady, I am here to discuss the events of this coming afternoon with Kendric."

"Those events being?" asked Alan.

"Rescuing your daughter, sire."

"Good grief. Get on your feet, now!" said Alan.

"Yes, sire."

He scrambled to his feet and then looked at Alan.

"And I apologize for casting my eyes on your lovely wife in the way I did. It was very much outside of proper behavior for me."

Alan took a deep breath and then let it out.

"Let's go." he said as he stepped aside to let the soldier pass and head back to the cabin.

As Lynne stepped up beside him, Alan leaned over and whispered into her ear, "I wanted to gaze upon your body this morning."

"Later, tiger."

As they walked into the small clearing in front of the cabin, Kendric stepped out and looked at the trio as they approached. He looked at the soldier and then shook his head.

"Balin, what the hell happened to you?"

"M'lady happened to me."

"Oh yeah, that'll happen when you're around her."

Lynne gave the old man a look of "kiss my ass" as she reached out and tapped Balin on the shoulder and handed him his sword.

Kendric turned and opened the door to the cabin and ushered them all inside. As they walked in, the smell of breakfast hit them full on and they all realized just how hungry they were. They took their seats around the table and as they began to eat, Balin filled them in on the plan for the afternoon.

"She'll be in the marketplace this afternoon and when she reaches the stall of the blue stone jewelry maker, we will set the plan in motion."

"How many are ready to take part in this plan?" asked Kendric.

"There are about a dozen, master."

"That's a lot of people to bring into this, hoping nothing goes wrong." said the wizard.

"Well, sire, it is a little more complicated than we first thought."

All three of them stopped eating and looked at him, as he continued to eat the breakfast that had been set in front of him.

"And that would be?" asked Lynne.

"Your daughter, m'lady. She's adding a bit of complication herself. She is refusing to leave the castle without her friend, Sharese."

"Okay, I don't see a problem with that." said Alan.

"The problem is, we only planned on getting one person out of the marketplace. It will be difficult to do that as it is. Adding another person to the rescue, doubles our chances of getting caught."

"And there's no chance she'll leave Sharese there?" asked Kendric.

"No, sire. Sharese has become as dear to her as a sister. She will not abandon her."

Kendric looked at Balin and nodded, as if he knew something the others didn’t. They didn’t pick up on it though.

They all sat there for a moment and then Balin went back to eating his breakfast. It became quite obvious to the others that the king's soldiers weren't used to eating this well. They let him finish before continuing.

"What do we need to do to make it happen? Rescuing both of them?" asked Lynne.

"I'm not sure what we can do, m'lady." said Balin.

Alan spoke up and asked, "What if we went into the castle and helped with the rescue?"

"Absolutely not!" said Kendric. "You can not set foot inside the castle. If you were to be captured, this whole plan would be for naught and all of you would be put to death."

Balin agreed and said, “Sire, there is a standing order from the king, that you and your wife be put to death on sight. After that, your daughter would follow you through the veil.”

The two parents looked at him, knowing he was right, but very much wanting to have more of a role in the rescue of Sara.

"Sire," said Balin, looking at Alan, "adding one to the rescue makes it more difficult, but it does not make it impossible. We shall get both of them out of the castle."

"And where is it we are supposed to be when this is going on?" asked Lynne. "Hiding here in the cabin? I don't think so."

Kendric shook his head and said, "No, m'lady, you will not be here at the cabin. As a matter of fact, when we leave here this afternoon, we will not be coming back here."

"Then where?" she asked.

"We will be waiting just outside the city walls with horses and a handful of men loyal to the prince.” said Balin. You will be waiting at an encampment a couple of hours south of the castle. Once Sara and Sharese are under our protection, we will head south and meet with you at the edges of the Forest of Trelland."

She looked across the table at Balin and said, "You promise me right here, right now, that you can get them out of the castle safely."

"M'lady, on my very life, they will be in your arms before the sun goes down this day."

Conversation stopped at that moment and they looked around the table. Then Alan began eating again and Lynne followed.

"Master Kendric. Anymore?" asked Balin.

Kendric laughed as he got up from his chair and took Balin's plate to refill it. As he set it back down in front of the soldier, he said, "Eat up young man. We need you healthy and strong for this afternoon."

Balin dug into the second helping and Alan stood up and said, "I'm heading down to the pool to get cleaned up. I don't know what it is about that pool, but I always feel so much better after a swim there."

As he turned and headed out the door, Lynne looked at Kendric and smiled. She could tell the old wizard knew about the rocks and their magical powers. A few minutes later, she stood up and headed out of the cabin, deciding that she needed a bit of a power boost from the waters, herself. She left Balin in the cabin with strict instructions to stay away from the pool.

"Yes, m'lady. It's about time for me to head back to the castle anyway. Enjoy your swim." he said with a big grin on his face.

 

~~~~

 

As Sara and Sharese wandered through the stalls of the marketplace, Sara couldn’t stop looking around, wondering what was going to happen.

"Please, m’lady. Stop looking around.” whispered Sharese. “The guards will begin to wonder what you’re looking for.”

"Sorry, I’ve just never needed rescuing from a castle before.”

"Just be ready to move when the time comes.” hissed Sharese.

They moved through the marketplace, stopping at almost every single stall and browsing. They could tell the two guards with them were getting a little bored with their duties, which was exactly what they thought they needed. Bored guards become inattentive guards.

Sharese guided them toward a stall where a jewelry maker had his wares on display. Sara stopped to admire the workmanship. She picked up a necklace made of deep blue stones, set into a gold chain. The stones look like sapphires to her eyes.

"These are quite beautiful.” she said to the artisan, who just nodded his head and smiled.

Then he looked past her and nodded to someone behind them. As Sara went to turn around, Sharese stepped up and put an arm through hers and whispered, “Don’t turn around and get ready to move.”

Behind them a couple of local women stumbled into the guards, giggling and laughing. The guards tried to brush them off and send them on their way, but it was no use. The women turned the guards around so they had their backs to the stall.

Zelda, have you seen such fine men?” said the rather buxom redhead, as she ran her hands up the chest of the taller guard.

"No, sis, these are two of the finest men I’ve ever laid eyes on.” her sister said, doing the same thing to the other guard.

The guards were caught with their minds in places they shouldn't have been and when they finally extracted themselves from the two ladies and turned back around, the reason for their being there was nowhere in sight.

The taller guard charged forward and looked into the stall.

"Where is she?” he demanded of the jeweler.

The jeweler looked suitably scared and pointed to the left.

"They walked that way, sire.”

The two guards took off in the direction they had been pointed and disappeared into the crowd.

At the back of the jeweler’s stall, in a small tent, two very scared young women were busy shedding their silk dresses and donning a more peasant wardrobe.

"I shall miss these fine dresses, m’lady.” said Sharese, as she stuffed her dress into a trunk.

"Don’t worry about it, Sharese. When all this is over, you’ll be back in beautiful dresses again.”

"Promise?”

"Absolutely.” said Sara as she stuffed her own silk dress into the trunk.

She looked at the two dresses for a second and felt a pang of sorrow, herself. She had grown accustomed to wearing her mother’s beautiful dresses. Even if she was kept in the castle against her will.

They both put on peasant’s cloaks with hoods and checked each other out, to make sure everything was in order.

"Ready?” asked Sharese.

"Let’s go, sweetie.”

Sharese giggled and Sara asked, “What?”

"I just like it when you call me that.”

Sara smiled and leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and then turned her to the flap of the tent. They ducked through the flap and straightened and Sara squealed in fright.

Standing right in front of her was a king’s guard. At any other time she would have been quite taken with his blonde hair, blue eyes and sturdy look, but now was not the time. The dark purple bruise on the side of his face even added to his rugged good looks.

Sharese immediately turned and clamped a hand over Sara’s mouth to keep her quiet.

Y"ou two ready?” asked the guard.

"Yes, Balin.” said Sharese.

He turned and started walking away from the tent, going deeper into the back alleys and cubbyholes of the marketplace. Within a couple of minutes they were well away from the main gate of the castle and heading along the wall that separated the castle from the lands outside.

As they walked, Sara kept looking at the back of the guard, wondering where she was being taken. It never occurred to her that she might have just walked into a trap, being led there by Sharese, of all people.

They came to a place near the southern wall, where they were hidden from view by a lot of brush and small trees. Balin and Sharese ducked down and behind a group of bushes and she followed them, still starting to wonder if she had made a mistake.

Then Balin stopped began pulling some brush and ivy aside, revealing what appeared to be a heavy wooden door, which turned out to be just that. There was a broken lock on the latch and it appeared that it had been broken recently. He looked around and then lifted a heavy latch and pushed the door open. It creaked and groaned with age and Balin winced at the sound.

When he got the door open, he again, looked around, hoping no one had heard the sound of the door opening. Then he ushered the two ladies through the door.

As he was about to step through the door, they heard, “Stop! Stop right there!”

He turned to Sharese and said, “Take her and go!”

They could hear the pounding of feet coming in their direction and Sharese could see the fear in Balin’s eyes.

"We can’t leave you.” she cried at him.

"Go now!”

She turned and grabbed Sara by the arm and pulled her ahead and down the short tunnel they were in. Behind them they could hear the clashing of swords and some yelling. Sara could hear Sharese sobbing as they ran.

They could see some light up ahead and as they drew closer, they found their way blocked by bushes and ivy. Sharese reached out and began pushing the foliage apart and another set of hands began pulling from the other side. Within seconds, Sara and Sharese stepped through the opening and found themselves in the company of three more castle guards.

One of them looked at Sharese and asked, “Where is Balin?”

It was then Sara saw the tears streaming down her friend’s face as she pointed back down the tunnel.

"We were discovered. He remained so that we could escape.”

The guard turned to the other two and nodded toward the tunnel and they immediately disappeared into the darkness.

"You should call them back.” begged Sharese.

"Losing our brother was not part of the plan!”

"No, it wasn’t, but it was always a possibility.”

Sara stepped forward and put a hand on Sharese’s arm.

"Your brother? You mean your brother in arms? Something like that?”

Sharese turned and looked at her, with more tears rolling down her cheeks.

"No Sara, Balin is my brother, as is Tristan here.”

Sara looked at the guard and quickly saw the resemblance between him, Sharese and Balin.

Tristan reached out and took them by the arms and turned them.

"We need to get away from the wall and into hiding.”

"What about the others?” asked Sara. “We can’t just leave them.”

Tristan looked at her and said, “They know where we are going and where to meet with us. If they survive, we shall see them again shortly.”

"If they survive.” said Sara softly. Then looking at Tristan she said, “Suddenly this plan seems a whole lot less than what I would have wanted.”

"Did you really think you would be allowed to just stroll out the front door? Rescuing you from the castle always had a certain level of danger, including that of death to those who participated.”

"That’s a price I’m thinking is much too high.” she said, looking at Tristan and then at Sharese.

"No, m’lady, it is not.” said Sharese.

Sara looked at her, her mouth hanging open.

Tristan spoke up and said, “You are the Princess of Everly. No price is too high to pay for your safety.”

"Princess? Now I know you’ve all gone bonkers.”

Tristan started hustling them down a path and in a couple of minutes they found five horses tied up and saddled, ready to ride.

Tristan walked them to one of the horses and Sharese immediately climbed up in the saddle, as if it were the most natural thing for her.

Then Tristan helped Sara up and into the seat behind his sister.

"I hope you’re not afraid of horses, m’lady.” said Sharese.

Then Sharese yelped, “Ow!” as Sara punched her in the shoulder.

"We are no longer in the castle, Sharese. Call me Sara now and every other time we talk. As a matter of fact, do you have any sisters you haven’t told me about?”

"No, just two brothers.”

"Well, you have a sister now.”

Sharese looked over her shoulder at her and Sara could tell there was a fresh batch of tears about to fall. She reached up and wiped her sleeve across her friend’s face and dried them.

"Stop your crying, sis. We’re almost out of here.”

"I cry because you are my friend and also, because I have one brother still in harm’s way.”

"And I pray for his safe exit from the castle.”

Tristan jumped into the saddle of another horse and then he called to them to follow him. He took off down a path through the trees and they followed close behind.

They rode for about an hour, heading south and away from the castle. They stayed to the overgrown forest path instead of the well traveled road about two hundred yards to their left. It didn’t take Sara long to realize why.

Every few minutes, a small group of castle soldiers would go racing along the road on their horses, obviously in pursuit of someone, that someone being them.

Tristan told both of them to stop talking for awhile because the sound of the voices could carry quite far in the forest. They rode on in silence with only the clip clop of the horse’s hooves to break the quiet of the forest.

An hour later, they descended into a small valley between two ridges and Sara could smell the smoke of a campfire. As they reached the bottom of the incline, she saw they were walking into a small camp, with a handful of tents and a couple of small campfires.

Tristan brought his horse to a stop and jumped down and then he helped Sara down and then Sharese. Sara looked around and saw a couple of other castle soldiers, but nothing else.

Then the flap of one of the tents pushed aside and a tall, beautiful, blonde woman in castle battlewear stepped out.

"Mom!”


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