The Callindra Chronicles Book 2: The Rise of Evil – Chapter 16

“We have to find that secret door.”  Tryst said, “Ignore the girl, she isn’t our first priority.”

They moved into the bathing room, checking for hidden triggers and eventually located a section of wall that slid sideways to reveal a narrow servant’s stair.  As promised, it led directly to a hallway that went to the stables on one side and the wine cellar on the other.

“If she wasn’t lying about this, odds are good she was telling the truth about the rest.”  Vilhylm mused, “Perhaps we should go and investigate this Guild eh?”

“Gods and Demons she wasn’t talking about The Order was she?”  Cronos swore, “I don’t think we can stand against the Weaponmage’s Guild.”

“I am sure I can talk to them.  My religious order has quite a bit of influence in this city.”  Tryst sighed, “Besides we don’t even know if that’s what she meant or not.”

“Time’s wasting.”  Vilhylm said shortly.  He had taken off his mask but seemed to be nearly uncontrollably twitchy.  “Let’s move.”

They ran through the streets, eventually arriving at a section of the city that had Chapter Houses facilities for various mercenary companies.  They stopped in front of a courtyard with high walls.  The symbol of two whips crossed behind a huge hammer was painted boldly on the door.  Tryst went to knock on it with a maile clad fist, but Cronos pulled him back.

“Wait brother.  We should think about this first.  If they’ve captured Callindra, they’re not to be trusted.  We shouldn’t even give them the benefit of thinking that they’ll play fair.”

“How else are we going to get in?”  Tryst demanded.

“There’s always another way in.”  Vilhylm said with a vulpine smile.  “Usually a side or back entrance.  Let’s see what secrets this place has to give up.”

The back of the compound was a working forge.  Errand runners came and went bearing sacks of coin in and leaving with leather wrapped bundles, warriors brought weapons to be sharpened and armor to be mended.  It was easy to slip into the stream of people coming and going.

Once inside, they took stock of the busy courtyard.  There were three forges working full blast, the air was hot and dozens of people stood around waiting for their turn to have weapons sharpened or armor repaired.  The boys and girls striving at and around the forges paused for a moment as a side door opened.

A pair of men walked from the door, a huge ogre of a man with a massive hammer strapped to his back and a slim blade of a man with a whip coiled on either hip.  What brought their attention was the fact that the skinny man had a small, brilliantly white flower tucked behind his ear.  Brightstar flowers didn’t bloom this time of year.

“Did you see-“ Cronos began.

“That flower-“ Vilhylm said.

“They have her.” Said Tryst grimly, “I don’t know where but they have her.”

As one, Vilhylm and Tryst started for the pair but the usually hot headed Cronos restrained them.  “Hey.  They’re leaving.  Now might be our only chance.  If she’s still alive that is.”

The other two restrained themselves and managed to stay inconspicuous enough that the busy people around them ignored their presence.  There were enough other folk clamoring for their attention that the workers in the yard were happy to ignore them.

Cronos led his brothers up to the door and to his amazement found it unlocked.  They quickly slipped through into a spacious, quiet foyer.  A fountain that looked like a quite realistic erupting volcano, complete with heat and sound stood in the center.  Murals covered the walls, showing fantastic scenes of landscapes where trees, grasses and stones were made of small humanoid figures bent and twisted into impossible shapes.  The floor was polished granite and, as impossible is it seemed, appeared to be one solid piece.

There were two exits, one a grand archway and the other a simple, small door camouflaged to match the painting so closely they wouldn’t have seen it had it not been for the dim lighting of the foyer and the dull glow of light shining through the crack.

“She’s behind there.”  Cronos said in the dry, cold voice of his Master.  “I can feel it, and she is necessary for this fight.  You must save your battle sister or be forsaken by the Gods themselves.”

Tryst shivered, feeling the full force of the old man’s eyes staring out through the young man’s face.  “Of course we’re going to save her.”  He said, his voice sounding strained.  “That’s what we came here for.”

“Then be about it damn you.”  Said the voice that wasn’t Cronos’s, “This kind of thing takes a toll upon my apprentice and I would think it a shame for him to perish because of your slothful behavior.”

“How do we open the door?”  Vilhylm asked, “I can’t pick the lock, that kind of thing was more Callindra’s style.”

“I certainly don’t know anything about that.”  Tryst said, “We can’t break it down without attracting attention.”

“Have you tried just opening the god rotting door?”  Cronos said, reaching out an pushing the door open.  “Come now, my time is limited and I fear you shall need my assistance.”

They entered, finding themselves in a hallway lit by matching sets of torches that lined the walls.  Closer inspection revealed that what had at first appeared to be torches were actually whips, the wrapped leather hanging down and glowing with flickering golden flames.  The last set had guttering emerald fire instead of gold.

“I don’t like this.”  Tryst said, looking at the last pair of whips.  “I really don’t like this.”

“Grow a spine.”  Cronos rasped, “They’re just dying weapons.  Now if I am feeling the Power here correctly there is a circle nearby that will transport you to another portion of this place.”

They moved ahead cautiously and found a circle of silver set in the solid granite of the floor.  Cronos walked confidently ahead and vanished.  After a moment’s hesitation, the other two followed.  The room the found themselves in was brightly lit, various implements were laid out in neat rows on clean white marble tables.  Tiny knives, saws, pliers and other instruments that could have been for surgery, torture or dissection shared space with dozens of hammers and other heavy tools that were obviously designed for work on a blacksmith’s forge.

Cronos was halfway across the room, heading for a doorway that glowed a dull red instead of the bright white of the one they were in.  The other two hurried to catch up, and upon passing through the doorway stopped in shock.  Callindra was strung up by her wrists, hanging from a fine shining silvery chain that connected to a pair of manacles of the same metal.

To one side was an anvil set up next to a sluggishly moving river of molten rock.  Drips of lava fell from a crack in the stone ceiling of the chamber, falling with a sizzling hiss on the girl’s forehead.  She was naked but for the multitude of Brightstar vines that grew and twined about her, trying in vain to heal the terrible wounds that cut across her body.

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