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Chapter I: Prison Break
“You want to break out?” Renik said, amused by the bravado, “Not saying I ain’t dreamin’ for the day I get out of here, either, but how do you expect to get out? Break down the door?”
Argent thought for a moment, then turned to the monk, “Hamish, can you break down the door?”
He shrugged, “Probably. Never tried to rip apart metal door, but is worth try.”
“Wait!” Renik said, leaping up to his feet, “You can’t just rip the bleedin’ door off its hinges! Every guard in this place will be on you in seconds!”
Argent again thought for a moment, “That’s what, a dozen at most? Two at the top of the stairs and two at the front door. I imagine they’ll have a few in reserve, but any more for just us would be overkill. We can manage that, if need be.”
“Yes, but we should avoid killing,” Jezran said, “We know what’s coming and we need every able bodied warrior ready to fight.”
Argent sighed, slightly annoyed, “Well, we can’t wait here.”
“Before we break the bars,” Selene offered, “Maybe I can try something?”
“Shadowstep?” Jezran guessed.
“Shadow—what?” Renik said, confused.
Selene ignored him and nodded, “I can get out and find the key for both our doors. Then we can get out of here together.”
“That will only delay the conflict,” Jezran countered, “Once we try to get up the stairs, we’ll have to fight everyone to get out of the prison.”
“If we do not raise alarm, we might subdue quietly. Avoid injury, both for them and us,” Hamish offered.
Jezran looked like he was about to retort, but relented. He sighed, “Not like we have a lot of options.”
“Then it’s settled,” Argent declared, turning his gaze to Selene, “Just remember, we can get these doors open another way. If it looks too risky, just come back here.”
“Okay,” Selene nodded quickly. Her tail swished back and forth beneath her cloak, excited by the prospect.
Turning toward the bars, she closed her eyes. I know my target. Need to find that key, then we can all get out of here.
Taking a deep breath, Selene stepped forward.
Only to be met face first by iron bars a moment later.
“Ow,” Selene said as she massaged her nose.
“Something wrong?” Argent asked, concerned.
“Yeah, I can’t do it,” Selene pouted, “I don’t understand, I could do it before when we were in the cave and when we fought Lendrig.”
Argent sighed, “That’s okay. Thank you for trying. Now Ham—”
Argent was cut off as Ari pushed past him and grabbed Selene’s shoulders.
“Oh, this is perfect!” Ari squealed in excitement, “I was wondering just how I was going to get you to this point, but you’ve already done it for me! Explain to me how you used Shadowstep before, Selene. Don’t leave anything out.“
“Well…let’s see,” Selene said, trying to remember, “I remembered using it that first time on the street. I figured out that I needed a goal or…something…I could focus on. Something I need to get or…something I refuse to give up.”
Ari nodded thoughtfully, “What was your goal?”
“Survival,” Selene said, “Is that the problem, then? I’m not in danger?”
Ari frowned, “Perhaps…is that the only goal you’ve used to perform Shadowstep?”
“Uhhh,” Selene felt heat rush to her face as she remembered the time she first used it on the streets of Lendrigol, “Maybe?”
Jezran cut in here, “Selene, this is important. You learning to better control your magic might really help us out here, so please don’t leave anything out.”
Selene sighed, but nodded. Not wanting to admit her theft for the wizard to hear, she leaned in close to Ari’s ear and whispered, “When I used it the first time here, I took Jezran’s coin purse. I think it has something to do with that?”
Ari’s eyes widened as her hand clasped her mouth, holding back a chuckle. She then whispered back, “I see. Let’s keep that between us, okay?”
Selene smiled, and nodded.
“Well?” Jezran said, “What was it?”
“Oh?” Ari eyed him from her periphery, then smirked, “I believe I’m her teacher, Jezran. She only needs to tell me.”
Jezran was about to retort when Ari turned back to Selene, “Your powers seem to come out with strong desires. My powers actually are rather similar, so I understand where you’re coming from. I’m guessing you were thinking about the key before?”
“Yes, I was,” Selene said, then thought for a moment before adding, “Was that the wrong idea?”
Ari shook her head.
“No, but it’s likely you don’t want it enough or it’s too distant a goal,” Ari then turned Selene around so she was once again facing the bars, and whispered, “You can do this. Focus on the goal in your reach. It doesn’t have to make sense, just pick whatever pulls you the strongest.”
Selene looked back toward Ari and nodded, “Got it.”
The strongest…what’s my strongest…?
It did not take Selene long to realize it.
I want nothing more than to get out of here. I want my freedom…
…and these bars will not contain me.
A deep breath, and time slowed. Then the shadows took her. The bars were a hindrance no more.
The first thing she saw as her vision returned to normal was the bulging eyes of the ship captain. He sputtered for a moment, mumbling curses under his breath before saying aloud, “Artem’s Beard, horngirl. Didn’t know you could…you know.”
Heat rushed to her face as she fiddled with her hat, “Yeah, it kinda popped up when I was out there. Apparently I’m—”
Argent cut her off, “You can explain later, for now, I recommend you get moving. You’ll want to find the key to our cells, but you should also look to see where our supplies are kept. After that, bring the key back here and we’ll find a way out together.”
Selene nodded, “Right, you can count on me.”
She approached the door to the staircase on silent steps. Listening intently, she could tell nobody was on the other side of the door. As she opened the door slowly and made her departure, she made one last glance back at her friends.
“Hang on tight, guys. I’ll be back before you know it,” Selene grinned as she shut the door behind her.