Birdcage

Reads: 1237  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 3

More Details
Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 19 (v.1) - Chapter XIX - Wildfire, or: the locked door

Submitted: September 17, 2019

Reads: 12

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 17, 2019

A A A

A A A

Late one night, the scent of smoke filled the small room at the top of the tower. I woke the others and we unlocked the princess’s door. She was asleep. Her room wasn’t on fire. We were confused until we looked out the window.

 

A blazing inferno burned a mile south of the city. The overgrown plains, dried out from weeks without rain, had somehow caught on fire. “Keep calm men, the fire hasn’t reached the wall yet,” Cross said. “The Knights should be able to clean this mess of before anyone is put in danger.”

 

The princess awoke from her slumber and yawned. “What’s going on?” she asked.

 

“Everything is on fire,” Cas said.

 

“Ignore him, it’s just a small fire south of town,” Pollux said.

 

“A fire?” the princess said. She walked over to the window and stared out at the night sky. “Huh.”

 

“What?” I asked.

 

“The fire, it’s beautiful, don’t you think?”

 

“I’m not really sure what you mean.”

 

“Fire is unpredictable, animalistic. Every moment it changes, shedding its former form and becoming something new. It spreads endlessly, destroying every barrier that stands before it. It is dangerous, yes, but there is something beautiful to be found in the flames: an embodiment of freedom.”

 

“That’s certainly an interesting take, princess,” Cross said. “Still, you mustn’t forget, fire is dangerous. Get too close and it will give you pain unlike anything else.”

 

“Perhaps,” the princess whispered.

 

“Hey Captain, can you hand me the telescope?” Cas asked. “I think I see something weird.” Cross handed him the telescope and he looked at the edge of the flames. “Well, that isn’t good.”

 

“What?” I asked.

 

“Part of the fire is moving. Not spreading, moving. Like, walking towards us,” Cas said before handing the telescope back to Captain Cross.

 

“The fire isn’t moving,” Cross said as he looked through the telescope. “The creatures within it are. It seems some monsters have gotten caught in the blaze, and are now fleeing towards the capital, bringing the flames with them.”

 

“Fire covered monsters, that sounds fun,” Pollux mumbled.

 

“Are you going to go out there and fix this?” the princess asked.

 

“No, the other Knights should be more than capable of dealing with this situation,” Cross said.

 

“Aren’t half of the Knights at Stonecage right now?” Cas asked.

 

“Yeah, and none of the ones here are even close to as strong as Cross,” I chimed in.

 

“Okay, I see where this is going and I’m just going to jump in before this goes any further,” Pollux interjected, “We aren’t going to go fight flaming monsters. And this isn’t me trying to avoid fighting; lest you forget, we already have a mission.”

 

“I don’t like this,” the princess said. “There are innocent Knights out there, fighting for their lives, and you can't go help them because you’re too busy babysitting me.”

 

“Princess, protecting you is our duty,” Cross said.

 

“No, your duty is protecting the people of Cieleta. A country that, if I’m remembering this right, contains more people than just me.”

 

Cross sighed. “Alright, I’ll go,” he said.

 

“We’re going to go fight flaming monsters?” Cas asked, a wide smile covering his face.

 

“No, I am going,” Cross said. “The three of you are to stay here and protect the princess.”

 

We walked out of the princess’s room and locked the door behind us. Cross put his keys back in his pocket. “Captain, what are you doing?” I asked. “If you have your key with you, we won’t be able to get in if the princess needs us.”

 

“Sorry, I was being absent-minded,” Cross said. He pulled two keys out of his pocket and handed them to me. “There’s my key and Cas’s key. I’ll be back as soon as this fire situation is handled.”

 

Cross left to go fight the fire. We sat by the princess’s door for a while, bored. Cas pulled his pouch of magic powder out of his tunic and began playing with it, creating snowflakes in the air above his head. “What are you doing?” Pollux asked.

 

“Entertaining myself,” Cas replied. Pollux ripped the bag of powder out of his hand. “What did you do that for?” Cas shouted.

 

“This stuff is expensive, don’t waste it like that,” Pollux said while putting it in his pocket.

 

“I liked your snowflakes, Castor,” the princess said through the grate.

 

“It’s the middle of the night, you should be asleep right now,” Pollux said.

 

“I know, but after the commotion with the fire, I’ve been having trouble falling back asleep,” the princess said. “When I was younger, my mother would give me a glass of warm milk before bed to help me sleep. Pollux, would you mind fetching one for me?”

 

Pollux chuckled. “Oh, I see what you’re thinking. You want me out of the way because you know Cas is stupid enough to let you out and falsely believe Ernest is foolish enough to go along,” he said.

 

“What do you mean, stupid?” Cas said.

 

“What do you mean, foolish?” I said.

 

“I said falsely believe, stop complaining. Let me finish gloating,” Pollux said.

 

“You really think I’m some conniving genius, don’t you?” the princess said.

 

“Oh, I think you think that you are. Unfortunately for you, I’m a smart adult, while you’re a dumb child.”

 

“I’m only two years younger than you.”

 

“Unlike my friends, I’m smart enough to know the King will kill us if anything happens to you, and actually take this guard thing seriously. So no, princess, I will not go get you a glass of milk.”

 

The princess laughed. “This isn’t some scheme,” she said. “I just want a glass of warm milk. Is that too much to ask?”

 

Pollux smiled. “Okay. Cas, go get the princess some milk,” he said. Through the grate, I saw the princess frown. Pollux smiled a smug smile, proud of himself for seemingly outsmarting a fifteen year old. Cas began his long journey down the endless stairs.

 

While we were arguing about warm milk, an enemy was approaching through the dark. He walked beneath the river, weighed down by hundreds of pounds of armor and machinery. He breathed through a long tube, one end of which floated atop the murky water.

 

As Cas began his descent, Eric Darkholme climbed out of the river and into the docks. The docks on the west side of the Capital, used for the launching and docking of the ships that brought us supplies, were the only part of the city not closed off by the wall. And, because of the fire, no one was around to guard it.

 

Eric sat down and caught his breath. He looked up at the princess’s tower and groaned. The heavy machine attached to his back ensured the upcoming climb would be unpleasant.

 

Eric pulled out a syringe and jabbed it in his arm. Dark energy spread through his body, restoring his stamina and filling his muscles with power. Eric charged at the castle. He grabbed two climbing axes, one with each hand, and plunged them into the brick wall of the castle. He ripped one out and swung it back at the wall, a foot higher this time. Eric repeated this process, climbing higher and higher. Before long, Eric reached the open window at the top of the tallest tower in the city and crawled inside.

 

He sat down by the windowsill. Beads of sweat poured out through the bottom of his helmet and rolled down his armor, coming to rest on a cape soaked equally by river water and sweat. The princess stood before him, holding a cup of tea. “It is nice to see you again, Eric,” the princess said.

 

Eric snatched the cup of tea out of her hand. He turned his head away and lifted his helmet slightly, enough to get a good sip. Eric spat the tea out and gagged. “That was awful,” he said.

 

“The Knight’s don’t let me have anything to heat the water with,” the princess said.

 

“Then don’t make tea,” Eric said.

 

“You’re in a bad mood.”

 

“Sorry. I’m tired. Why did they have to make this damn tower so tall?”

 

“I don’t think they thought about the poor people who’d have to scale its side when the built it.”

 

“No, they probably didn’t,” Eric said. He undid the straps on his back securing the machine and stood up. He stretched. “That is, quite literally, a massive weight off my shoulders.”

 

“What is that thing?” the princess asked.

 

The machine was a mess of rope and gears, unlike anything the princess had ever seen. “That, dear Tera, is the secret to your escape,” Eric said. “This machine uses an assortment of pulleys to slowly lower people down to the ground.”

 

“Couldn’t you have just brought the rope and lowered me by hand? That way you wouldn’t have had to carry all of this weight while climbing.”

 

“No, because I didn’t think of,” Eric said. “It’ll take me a few minutes to set this thing up. Did you get rid of the guards like I asked?”

 

“Calvin is busy fighting the fire and Castor is down in the kitchen, but Ernest and Pollux are still here,” Princess Tera said.

 

“That’s fine, Calvin was the only one I was really worried about. Keep an eye on them while I get this thing set up.”

 

Princess Tera snuck over to the door and stared out at us. Pollux was sitting at the base of the door, spinning a rock like a top. I was half asleep, staring up at the dark ceiling. Pollux yawned and stood up. He looked in the grate only to see Princess Tera standing on her tiptoes, her face completely filling the grate. “What are you doing?” he asked.

 

“Nothing,” Tera said.

 

Pollux nudged his head to the side, trying to get a better look. Tera followed, blocking off more of the grate. Pollux sighed and flicked Tera. She recoiled back, giving Pollux a quick look at the man by the window.

 

“Ernest, wake up!” Pollux shouted. He grabbed his key and undid one of the door’s locks.

 

I jumped to my feet. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

 

Inside the bedroom, Eric walked away from the machine. “Tera, move for a second,” he said.

 

A blast of energy exploded through the grate, sending Pollux flying back. I caught him and felt his throat. He was alive, but injured and unconscious. I gently laid him on the ground and walked over to the door. The blast had been dark magic, undeniably. Eric Darkholme was back and I knew it.

 

Crouching breathing the hole sitting where the grate once sat, I pulled my key from my pocket and undid its lock. I repeated the process with the two keys Cross gave me before coming to a dark revelation: one lock remained and I was out of keys.

 

Calvin had only given me two of the three keys he held. The princess was locked in with Eric Darkholme and there was nothing I could do about it.


© Copyright 2019 Casey Jarmes. All rights reserved.

Chapters

Add Your Comments: