I couldn't help but just sit and stare at the two strangers who had come to rescue me. At the same time though, I couldn't help but be a little suspicious. Why me?
He sighed, still smiling though and took a small set of metal rods from his pockets. "Come on now, no time to just sit there and gawk at me. You can thank me later. The guards will be back soon."
I watch him as he began to use the set of metal rods to pick his way through the locks of my shackles. After a few slow moments he managed to unlock one and took it from my wrist. He started on my other wrist without any hesitation. It was only a few moments later that both the shackles are off. The young man helped me to my feet gently. My legs were still tired and shaky.
"Sasha, would you mind holding her other side. I don't think she will last long standing by herself."
I push them both off of me. "I'm fine."
I felt like I should have been showing more gratitude towards the people who were getting me out of this place, before Leon had a chance to harm me no less. I didn't know who they were though or why I was being rescued specifically so I had a valid reason to be wary of them.
The man shrugged. "Suit yourself."
He grabbed my hand anyways and began to lead me out of my cell slowly. I felt a little light headed but it was nothing I couldn't overcome and work through. The events of the day had finally caught up to me. I was exhausted but I had to get out.
"Who are you?" I asked as we continued down the corridor.
"We don't have time for introductions." He said firmly.
I stopped, causing him to stumble a little. "I'm not going anywhere with you unless I know who you are."
He groaned in frustration. "My name's Damon. Can we save any other questions until we get out of here? We are running out of time. The guards will be flooding these corridors any moment."
I wasn't satisfied but he had a point. I nodded. Whoever this Damon was, he was getting me out. And as far as I was concerned, that was all that mattered for the time being. Damon lead me carefully down the corridor, Sasha was right behind me. We checked every doorway, every cell but there was no one. Not even prisoners. I had never heard a single person apart from guards in this corridor but I had still assumed I wasn't alone. Maybe I had been this entire time. As we round another corner I began to feel a little excited. It was so far so good. No one had seen us or found us. We hadn't been stopped. Maybe I would actually manage to escape.
We made our way down that corridor and rounded another corner. As if to contradict my previous thinking, we found we weren't alone in the corridor. One of the patrol guards had spotted us.
"Hey! What do you think you're doing?" The guard called from the opposite end of the corridor. His eyes were firmly on me. "You're not going anywhere."
He started towards us, pulling his sword from its sheath. We stopped. My heart hammered against my chest, my previous excitement was gone, only to be replaced by a heavy, anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach. Damon pushed me behind him and drew his own sword. Sasha pulled me behind her. I didn't see any hint of fear on her features. How could she be so calm? What if the guard set off an alarm or got reinforcements?
Just as the guard reached us, his sword raised above his head, he struck down at Damon. I flinched away as the sword came down but I heard nothing but the scuffling of feet. When I looked back Damon had just dodged his attack. The guard turned, the veins in his forehead bulged. He took to Damon again. Damon again dodged but this time managed to knock the guard off balance. Raising his sword quickly he dealt a deathly blow to the guard's skull. I flinched away again, covering my eyes with my hands. I'd watched my uncle's death and the aftermath of my mother's. I wasn't squeamish. It just brought my reoccurring nightmares to the forefront of my mind. Damon grabbed my hands from my face, causing me to jump.
"There's no time for pity. Just think about all that the bounty hunters have done to you. They deserve whatever they get." Damon snarled. Venom dropped from his voice, his hatred obvious. His tone made me think Damon had had prior dealings with them.
Sasha put a reassuring hand on my arm as Damon turned to walk away. "Come on."
I nodded and followed them through the corridors towards what I imagined was access to the lower floors of the prison and access to the door that would grant me my freedom. Hope bloomed in my chest again. This was it; my freedom being returned to me. At the same time though, I found myself feeling anxious. We had gotten this far but we still had a long way to go. It was likely that that would not be our final encounter with a guard.
We continued hesitantly down the corridor, being particularly cautious when rounding corners after the incident with the first guard. I started to remember more about my journey into the prison as we found our way towards the way out. From what I could remember we were almost to the staircase that would lead to the main foyer and the lower levels. We walked around a few more corners. All of a sudden we stopped.
"What is it Damon?" Sasha whispered.
Damon just shushed her and listened. "There is a group of guards on the lower levels. If we're quick, we might be able to slip down the stairs and get out without being noticed. The guards are in the corridors around the foyer. They're close to the foyer but not actually in it. We should be ok if we leave now."
I frowned. "And you got all of that from just listening? I didn't hear anything."
He turned. "I'll explain everything after we get out of here."
Despite my frustration with the limited information I was being told, we walked quickly into the corridor. Down one end of the corridor I spotted a staircase. It was the staircase that would take us down to the foyer and out the door to freedom. Damon looked around the corridor as we walked, taking in our surroundings. Though there wasn't much to take in. One end of the corridor was the staircase. At the other end was a plain, open window.
He turned back to me, smiling. "Just down those stairs."
I smiled back gingerly. However it was short lived though as Damon stopped and pushed us back behind the corner we had just come around, putting the staircase out of sight.
"What are you doing? We were almost at the staircase!" I started to shout before Damon pushed me against the wall and cupped his hand over my mouth. His face was only inches away from mine but his smile was long gone. He glared fiercely at me. I didn't move. I didn't think I could. I began to worry that I was making a horrible mistake going with this him. He had been so reassuring and nice only a moment ago.
"Do you want to get us all put in cells, or even killed? They're coming up the staircase now. All of them." He hissed, removing his hand from my mouth. After a moment of glaring at me his features softened again. He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you."
"No, you didn't." I lied but I wasn't convincing. My shaking gave me away. "I-I just don't want to go back in the cell. I won't."
Damon let go of me. "I wouldn't be doing my job if we got captured. It's just going to be a little more difficult than we thought it'd be." He thought for a moment. "There shouldn't be too many. Maybe we should just face them head on."
"Are you insane?" Sasha hissed. "There are too many of them for the two of us."
Damon looked to her then back to me. "Not if she uses her magic."
I shook my head without hesitation. "No, I just can't do it. I can't. I won't."
I didn't want to get captured but I didn't trust myself with my magic. The little burst of magic before I fell asleep was alright but anymore… No, I couldn't. Especially after this long since I really used it. It effected in more ways than just the rush I got from the magic in my veins.
"No," I repeated. "I won't. I can't."
Damon groaned. "Just give me another moment to think then."
"We don't have a moment." Sasha growled.
He sighed. "We have no other option but to face them head on."
"Damon, we can't…"
Before Sasha could stop him, Damon stepped into the corridor and into plain sight of the guards. Sasha let out a frustrated groan before we stepped out with him. The group of guards were just making their way to the top of the stairs. They spotted us immediately. The group of guards stopped.
"What have we got here?" His voice sent shivers down my spine. Leon made his way to the front of the group. The look on his face was a mix between surprise and fury. He starred daggers at me.
Damon stopped and pulled out his sword. Sasha joins him in front of me, acting as a human shield. She drew her weapons too. They weren't swords though. There were two of them, one for each hand. They kind of resembled oversized forks with an elongated middle prong. I was pretty sure they were called sais.
Leon draws his sword from its place on his belt. "I don't know where you think you're going, Evelyn and company, but I'm afraid you're not going anywhere."
Sasha leant over to Damon. "What now? What's the next step in your great idea?"
Damon looks back over his shoulder. I followed his gaze. What I saw scared me as much as the incoming group of guards. It was an open window. We were on the second story of the prison. Sasha and I shared an uneasy look as it became clear to me that the open window was our only way out. Damon gestured for us to move towards the window.
We'll have to move fast, I heard Damon's voice in my head again. He hadn't even moved his lips though. I hadn't been around many magicians in my life but it astounded my how many different abilities magicians could have.
Leon chuckled as he started his approach. "End of the line, Evelyn. You and your friends will be here for a very long time."
I was not going back into the cell. I wasn't going back to hell, especially with Leon's promises of pain. I looked over my shoulder towards the corridor and the window. I just wanted to run. My intention must have been obvious to Leon. When I looked back to Leon he was smirking knowingly.
"You can run all you like, hide if you so desire but the only way out is this staircase and we both know you're not getting through here." His smirk grew wider. His eyes were hungry.
Damon scoffed. "That's not the only way out."
Damon grabbed my hand and Sasha's and we ran towards the window. We heard shouting and footsteps behind us. Sasha jumped out first without even a moment of hesitation. I watched he disappear into the black ocean. It lapped at the side of the ocean, hiding Sasha in its darkness. I didn't want to follow. Jumping was insanity. I knew however, if I waited any longer that Damon and I would be caught. My legs shook. I didn't think I could do it.
All of a sudden I felt a pair of hands on the small of my back and then I was falling. Damon had pushed me. My breath caught in my throat as I flew from the window towards the darkness. I hit the water hard. I hadn't managed to go in feet first due to being unbalanced after being pushed. The water was cold, freezing cold but it was peaceful. It was quiet in the water. Would it really have been that bad if I had just let myself drift off into the water? I felt a hand on the collar of my tunic and I was pulled to the surface. I gasped for breath. My hair completely covered my face. I was pulled to shore. We reached the foot of the island where Sasha was already waiting. It seemed Damon had pulled me out.
I coughed all the water I could out of my lungs and collapsed on the beach. I breathed heavily.
Damon rushed over and put a hand on my back. "Are you ok? I thought you weren't going to surface. You were under for quite a while."
"I'm just tired is all. I haven't done this much running or swimming in quite some time." I spluttered out.
Damon helped me to my feet. "I'm sorry I pushed you. We were running out of time. The guards were almost to us."
"It's ok. We're out now." I paused and let that soak in. "We're out."
I looked around. I was outside. I was on the beach, right on the water's edge. I wriggled my toes in the sand. It was much nicer than the muck and dirt of my cell.
Damon smiled. "Haven't been outside in a while, have you?"
I shook my head. "It feels like it's been forever since I've been connected with the earth. I feel like this great pressure has been taken off my shoulders."
Sasha cleared her throat, bringing our attention back to her. "I'm sorry to ruin this moment. I understand that you've been robbed of the simple joy that being outside brings but we really must get going. The guards are going to be out along the shore looking for us soon."
Damon nodded. "There's a boat along the short. Let's get going quickly then. You're right, we don't have much time before the guards will have made their way down the building." I took a few exhausted steps before I fell. Damon helped me to my feet again. "Are you going to be alright walking?"
I nodded and clumsily got to my feet. Between my escape attempt that morning at the auction and all this running this evening when my last month had been completely idle, I had barely any energy left. I almost felt like I wouldn't be able to summon the energy to get to the boat, that my legs wouldn't carry me anymore but I hadn't gotten this far to stop trying. I would get away. I would be free again.
We took off along the shore. Running as fast as our feet would carry us towards the place Damon said the boat would be.
"There they are!"
I turned around for a second to see that the guards had made their way down to the bottom of the prison and were running after us.
"Don't focus on them." Damon instructed, grabbing my hand and pulling me along.
When I turned to face the front again, I could see the boat in the distance. It was a small boat. It wasn't long before we were at the bow of the boat. Damon helped my aboard, quickly running to the side of the boat and trying to lift up the anchor. He grunted as he began to pull.
"We have a little problem!" He called out. "The anchor won't come up and they're getting closer."
My heart stopped. I looked over the edge of the boat, the glow of flaming torches were getting closer. I couldn't let them come closer. I couldn't go back. After a moment of thought and inner conflict I decide on what I'm going to do. I hadn't come this far to go back.
"I'll distract them and you two sort out the anchor," I say.
"Stay on the boat!" Damon shouts.
"Concentrate on the anchor!" I shout back.
My heart felt like it was doing little flips in my chest. I concentrated on the guards. The rush of magic through my body calms by raging nerves. I pictured the heat being emanated from the flaming torches. I imagined it spreading. After a few moments one of the guard's torches began to grow in size. I willed it further and it grew to a point where the guard's sleeve caught alight. He dropped the torch and I heard his cry of alarm. With a little push the flames caught onto the sand and surrounded the guards, forming a ring of flames. It burnt brightly and fiercely. I heard Leon roar in frustration.
My head began to pound. I grimace at the pain. I hadn't used this much magic in a long time and this much magic require energy. Energy I didn't have. My head began to pound. This wasn't going to stop me though. The magic made me feel content, strong. The guards were just like ants, trapped under a magnifying glass. That's all they were. They were insects, animals, humans, and they had brought this hell upon me. I made the flames grow higher, burn more fiercely and slowly close in on the guards. They deserved to be hurt, to die. I was angry, I wanted them to hurt. I didn't want to stop though but the pounding in my head grew more intense. My surroundings began to spin.
"Just a few more seconds…" Damon shouted, his voice strained.
I try to hold on but the strain was too much. I could see the flames slowly flickering out. I heard a sudden click and Sasha and Damon exclaim happily. Blackness clouds my vision and I collapse in an exhausted heap on the floor. My body ached. As my head spun I could hear the furious roar of the guards form the shore.
"Evelyn!" I felt Damon's hand on my shoulder.
"Have we left the shore?" I managed to whisper. My eyelids were too heavy to keep open much longer.
"Yes, we're away."
I sighed with relief and let myself fall into unconsciousness.