“That doesn’t matter now. We have to get out of here.” Vilhylm said, “Now how do we activate this portal?” He stepped across the silver circle in the floor and vanished.
The others followed close on his heels. When they arrived on the other side, an alarm bell was ringing and the sound of running footsteps echoed in the foyer outside. Voices shouted back and forth adding to the chaos.
“Intruders! Just when the Masters are gone!”
“Where could they be? We must find them and put a stop to their thieving!”
“There’ll be a promotion in this for certain.”
“Is this a test?”
“Are they trying to see how we handle an emergency? I’ll show them I can handle myself.”
Vilhylm stood near the door, his spear in his hand. “It looks bad out there.” He said, not turning around.
“You can put me down.” Callindra said, her voice weak but steady.
Tryst incanted a spell, laying more healing magic upon her and let her stand on her own. She gripped Brightfang in both hands, facing the doorway with a determined grimace on her face. In spite of the singed hair and lines of healing scars sutured by Brightstar vines, Callindra looked fiercer than they had ever seen her.
“Nobody is going to lock me up again.” She said in a flat voice, “If we have to fight our way out, so be it.”
“There are too many of them.” Vilhylm said, “Even if they’re weak they would overpower us by sheer weight of numbers.”
“Leave this to me.” Cronos’s Master said in his dry voice. “As long as you do not touch any of them or speak aloud you will be able to pass unseen among them. Please ensure that you bring my apprentice with you; this will likely exhaust him to the point of unconsciousness.”
Cronos’s eyes flashed, and azure power expanded out from him in a gossamer blanket that settled over them all. Callindra blinked in surprise; her brothers faded from her sight completely. There was a soft crash of chainmaile armor and scabbarded swords hitting the granite floor and she groped towards it.
Even as she found Cronos’s comatose form, other hands began to lift him. She stifled a cry, remembering the warning not to speak. One of the others must have picked him up. The door crashed open and a wild-eyed apprentice in hastily donned armor dashed down the corridor, a large hammer held in both hands.
Feeling slightly out of focus, Callindra wove through the mass of running people taking special care to avoid touching anyone. It was surreal and she felt like it was all just a strange dream. She was sure some of it was the shock from her kidnapping, injuries and healing, but being this close to people who were hunting for her and knowing they had no idea how close she stood to them nearly made her break out into hysterical laughter.
She escaped into the courtyard and then broke into the street. Once she was clear, she ran for all she was worth, not knowing where she was going and not caring as long as it was away. After a panicked rush, Callindra ducked into an alley breathing heavily and trembling in every limb. The spell that kept her invisible dissipated.
Beside her, wavering lines in the air flickered and she brought Brightfang up in a sweeping stroke that she only barely managed to stop before it took Vilhylm’s head from his shoulders. He smiled at her, “Looks like we had the same intuition.”
Callindra almost stabbed him when she flung her arms around him, hugging tightly for a moment before letting go and stepping back with an embarrassed expression on her face. “You came for me. Thank you.”
Vilhylm looked surprised for an instant, “Of course we came for you. How could you even doubt it?”
She shivered, “They were so powerful and nobody knew where I was…”
“Easy Callindra, don’t dwell on it right now. Let’s get you back to the inn and get you cleaned up.” He said soothingly.
“I don’t want to go back there.” She said, “Can we just go somewhere else?”
“All your things are there.” Said Vilhylm, “Your armor, your clothes, your money and everything you own other than that sword are there.”
“He is all I need.” She said, her voice hard. “Nobody will ever take him away from me again.”
“We don’t have to go back.” Another voice said, and Tryst stepped into the alley with Cronos over his shoulder. “I will take you to the chapter house. Vilhylm can go and collect our belongings from the Golden Mantle.”
“Let me help you.” Callindra said, moving to his side.
“You can barely walk on your own.” He said shortly, “Just follow along and keep that sword under the cloak. For the love of all that is holy keep the cloak closed and put the hood up, you’ll get us all caught.”
They moved through the town, keeping to alleys and less traveled streets. Once a street urchin approached looking for a handout, but a stern look from Tryst sent him running before Callindra managed to disentangle herself from her cloak and the unfamiliar length of chain now attached to her sword.
Tryst brought them to a small door at the side of an imposingly large structure and knocked with his dagger hilt. A face blocked the light on the other side of an arrow slit, closely followed by a stern woman’s voice.
“If you require sanctuary you may come in by the front gate.” She said, “This door is for the Member’s dormitory.”
“I am Tryst Te’Chern and although I am not a resident here I am in need of shelter for myself and my family.”
“You were in with the Lady earlier today? The one from our Chapter House in Arkasia?” She inquired.
“Yes. My sister was taken by our enemies and my brother was injured in the rescue.” He said, “You’re sister Lacrel aren’t you?”
“Tryst. We don’t need this.” Callindra rasped, her voice rough. “I’ve walked for a mile tonight, I’ll walk another.” She turned to go, the winds gusting weakly around her with weak but insistent anger. Her borrowed cloak blew wide, revealing her naked, wounded body with the chain on her wrist and the strange profusion of flowering vines growing where she had been whipped, burned and cut.
“By the Ancient One!” Lacrel said, throwing the door wide. “Get in here immediately!”
“You’ve changed your mind?” Callindra asked, turning to glare at her. “Just because of these few scratches?”
“I am sorry. I allowed my prejudice to delay your entry and care.” Said Lacrel, “I will submit myself for penance if you wish, but please come inside.”
“Normally I would make an issue of it, but I’m too gods damned exhausted.” Callindra said, “I’ll gladly forgive you if you just give me a safe bed to sleep in.” Larcel and Tryst caught her just before she hit the ground.