Chapter 2 – enter the keep
I hurried quietly on tiptoe through the narrow streets, as the first rays of sunlight pierced the morning sky. My stomach clenched with hunger at the smell of fresh pastry from the neighbouring shops floated through the air. I ignored it, I needed to hurry, and there wouldn’t be much time. As I made my way towards the centre of the twisted metal jungle where the ominous black keep towered far above the tallest building, thoughts flickered across my mind, shadows and images and sounds. The questions to which I sought my answers. The mysterious void which I longed to fill, my past. My shattered memories.
The sun had fully risen into the bleak sky, as through the 90 foot blackened steel gates, arrived the black parade. About 40 or 50 black stallions charged through the opening, a stampeding nightmare crew. The princes guard. They rode their steeds furiously, their scared faces hidden beneath the metallic silver armour. The only glint in a dark and shadowed city of despair. A city that once belonged to the people, in a time long ago.
In the centre of the evil swarm there rode the figure feared by so many, murderer of millions, and the leader of this retched city, the cruel and cold blooded insect that has my secrets locked away inside an unfeeling heart. How I loathed, the black prince. His broad sword glinted razor sharp at his side, his massive black horse, galloped along at breakneck pace. His long matted jet black hair flowed out behind him, a freakish contrast to his pale skin and cynical smile, and those cold dead black eyes.
The people watched them pass, drawing away as they drew close, pulling their children back, hiding their faces, and peering through the crack in the shutters so tightly bolted. It gave me the perfect cover; I slipped round past the crowds, right up to the perfect smooth clean black marble horizontal wall that towered far above me, the keep. Glancing around quickly for any sign of guards, I placed my hands against the cold surface. I concentrated, and slowly but surely, I could feel it. The metal claw like spikes that pushed their way out from the palm of my hands, covering them in what looked like sharp metal fur that dug straight into the solid rock like butter.
Quietly, I began to climb the perfect shining surface, pulling my weight up with my hands. It was hard going; my strength was not at its best after running all the way here, and I knew this simple task would drain the last of my moon energy. I had to find a source of elixir, or I wouldn’t be able to escape. I’d have to play for time, create a distraction. I sighed, resting for a moment. I had wanted to avoid as little violence as was necessary, but it had to be done.
I reached a small window, and thanking the stars for my small frame, dropped lightly into the polished corridor. There were several portraits of past princes starring severely down at me from their black metal frames. I was in the deserted corridor of kings. Suddenly coming towards me, I heard the echoing footsteps bonce from the walls, two people, by the weight of their footsteps, heavily built. I ducked behind black silk curtains that hang by the window which I just made my entrance, just in time before two guards came around the corner, laughing between them, idle chatter. Easy prey.
As they drew closer, I picked up snatches of conversation. “So…Ember….think?” “no.” laughed the other “work…annoying” the both laughed, and I twitched as they past, the curtain moved. They both stopped talking, and the footsteps stopped. “Who’s there?” I heard one clearly call out. The curtain was thrown back, I leapt high into the air, back flipped over the two of them, and landed lightly, spinning round quickly and using a turning kick to smash into the side of the left one and an axe kick to floor the other. One reached for his sword, but I trod on his arm, and stamped down hard on his face with my combat boots, breaking his nose. Leaving him to writhe in pain clutching his bloody face, I kicked the other in the stomach so he was lying on his back, knelt on his arms and put my hand over his mouth, glaring at him. He starred back silently, his eyes wide with fear.
After a moment or two, I said slowly “I want information.” I watched for a response, and got none. In the same slow tone of voice I said “you’re going to tell me two things, in exchange, you will keep your miserable life. The first, where is the black princes chamber? The second, where can I find this keeps supply of moon elixir? When I uncover your fat mouth, you are going to tell me the answers quickly and quietly or else…” I presented my other, metal spiked hand. “I will throttle you slowly and painfully with this. Nod if you understand” he guard nodded quickly, growing pale.
“Good.” I said and uncovered his mouth. “You…you’ll find…elixir on the balcony, first floor,…and prince…prince black…top floor…” he babbled, his voice panicked, terrified even “please…please don’t kill me” I hit him hard over the head, knocking him unconscious. I turned to his friend standing up, who was trying to silently crawl away “where do you think you’re going?” I murmured, kicking him sharply to the back of the scull as I passed leaving him also, unconscious. Good. I had the information I needed. I ran silently along the corridor in the direction of which the guards came. A perfect plan. All that was left to do was execute it.
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