Chapter 23 (Escaping the palace)
Roffor dragged the man she loved — the man her sister stole from her — to the edge of the room then returned to the pedestal. She rolled the map up and stuffed it into her Drunkzard vest. Why did he have to start frothing at the mouth now?
Despite the spikes being destroyed, the bells’ violent vibrations still shook the room. A grinding, metal-on-metal sound pierced the bells’ screaming voices.
She spun to glare at the door as large black bars slid across it. Her heart slammed into her chest, trying to escape. Her chest heaved.
Kkaj jerked to the left and flopped to the ground convulsing. A howl bled through his gritted teeth. What was wrong with him?
The metal bars edged closer to the opposite doorframe.
Chilly fingers danced down her back, and a tremor rippled through her body. She squealed then took a deep breath. Calm down. Her hand shot into her Drunkzard vest.
What? Roffor felt along her vest and groaned. Had she really left this morning with only a flask of whiskey? Spoiled eggs. How could I be so stupid? She pulled out her lone flask and drained the contents. It wasn’t much to work with.
The metal bars reached the other side, and another set of metal bars began sliding back the other way, filling in the gaps.
She extended the metal energy and wrapped it around the lower bars, creating a magnetic field.
Creak! The metal bars slowed, but the still continued forward.
Sweat dripped from her brow. Why was it so hoy in this room? She scanned the floor.
Lush carpet extended to each of the four bells, though an older carpet sat around those massive noise makers. On the ceiling, above where the spikes had been, hung a yellow barrel. It inched lower into the room. The blistering heat seemed to intensify. No. It had always been this hot.
“Get up, Kkaj!” She knelt over him and shook him by the shoulders.
A smile split her face. “It’s about time you —”
His muscles slacked.
“Moonshine!” Her eyes bulged, and her hand shot across her mouth as she gasped. Did I just say that?
The barrel lowered further into the room. The metal bars moved a bit more across the door despite her magnetism.
She hoisted Kkaj into a sitting position then wrapped her arms around his waist. After dragging him over to the closest bell, she crafted a pry-bar and tilted the bell up. She shoved him inside it.
He moaned as the unfiltered clangs of sound rippled across his flesh.
Roffor crafted a small knife and threw it across the room, severing the three yellow wires in one of the panels.
The barrel fell. An inferno wrapped around it as it descended.
Her mouth dried, and her joints locked up. Her gaze affixed to the expanding ball of fire.
The room spun.
Focus! She gathered herself and threw herself under the bell with Kkaj, letting the monstrous noise maker fall back into place. Her racing heart beat once.
Ba-boom! An explosion ripped through the room, shaking the bell and walls alike. A splintering crack followed. Silence.
Using most of her remaining metal energy, Roffor flipped the bell over without burning her hands. She dragged Kkaj over the ruined carpet and towards the broken door. How can you weigh so much? I saw you naked, and — Her blood turned into a fire of its own, and heat climbed up her neck. A glowing inferno sat behind her cheeks. Her breaths came in ragged bursts, but she grinned.
In the hallway, seven guards surrounded the room, pointing pistols at her.
Spirits, forgive me for harming these men. She reached out with her remaining metal energy and turned their guns into shrapnel bombs.
A few gasps preceded screams of pain as all seven guards fell.
She dragged Kkaj further down the hall at a vulturesnake’s pace.
On the other end of the hall, several more guards barreled around the corner. They aimed pistols and fired.
Roffor scrambled backwards, hauling Kkaj into the corridor on the left.
The corridor deadened with a staircase going up. The standard two sets of antique armor surrounded the only room before the staircase.
Please say you brought some liquor other than that rum we wasted. She reached into his Drunkzard vest, letting her hand rest on his tight chest for several seconds beyond proper. By the time she retrieved a flask, she was out of breath, panting.
The blue label on the flask marked it as whiskey.
Her stomach turned. More of this awful tasting stuff? She moved to grab a different flask when the stomping of boots across carpets sent a jolt racing across her skin. I guess they’ve reloaded. She drank.
The thick liquor burned on the way down.
She gagged. Why did whiskey have to taste so rotten? Couldn’t it be sweet like rum or tequila?
A guard stepped around the corner; his gun trained on her. “Die, thief!”
Metal energy coursed through her veins.
The guard pulled the trigger. Bang!
Roffor created shield of magnetism.
The bullet zipped forward and slammed into the shield. It bent around her and crashed into the wall. The guard’s eyes bulged, and a gasp leaped from his mouth.
She expanded the magnetic shield.
Four more guards turned the corner. The first one’s gun spun to point at the newcomers. A five screamed.
Flexing her magnetism, Roffor destroyed his gun and sent metal bits into the guts of each of the five guards. With her leftover metal energy, she grabbed one of the suits of armor and wrapped it around Kkaj. She lifted him into the air and towed him up the stairs at the end of the hallway.
Grunting from below. How many guards did the king have? Or better yet, how long would it take the king’s Drunkzards to show up?
Roffor bit into her lower-lip and scanned the second floor room.
A bed. Three tables. A window.
She dragged Kkaj to the window and glanced outside.
A long way down, the main gate just below. Thumping footsteps in the stairwell behind her.
I’m going to be hungover after this. She downed the rest of Kkaj’s whiskey and shoved the suit of armor out the window. Once she climbed atop it, she lowered herself and Kkaj to the ground, expending the last of her magic.
Thump! A throbbing headache replaced the spirit of Rage’s attempts at controlling her body.
She stumbled to the right and braced herself on the wall.
Armor clanked, and Kkaj sat up. “What’s going on?”
“No time to explain.” She helped him up and out of the ancient armor. “We have to make our escape. “She took him by the hand, and together, they fled the palace grounds.
Next: Chapter 24