Elian, Shard and Laya left Mera tied in the camp, and made their way into the city. Shadows crowded, the moon shone bright above. They moved quickly through the alleys and soon arrived at the palace. The walls reached high above them, towering over them.
Elian quickly scaled it, followed by Shard and Laya. He readied his bow, located a night guard and loosed an arrow. The guard fell, clutching the gaping wound in his throat. Another fell soon after, then another. Laya fired a throwing dagger into the darkness and it was met by a yelp. One more.
They quickly dropped to the ground inside the walls. Catlike, they crossed the courtyard. A guard loomed from the shadows, and Shard dispatched him with a swipe of his sword. They moved to one of the large windows and crouched outside it.
“Are you sure you know where the holding cells are once we are inside?” Elian asked Laya.
“Yes, I am certain I will be able to guide you to them”.
“Okay”. Elian stood and smashed his elbow through the window. He stuck his head in, looked around quickly, and then pushed himself through. He reached back and pulled Laya through after him, and then Shard followed. Laya stood and brushed herself off. She began moving down the corridor in a crouch. As they reached the corner, she halted and glanced quickly around. She held up two fingers; two guards around the corner.
Elian dropped into a lower crouch, unsheathed his rapier and slid around the corner. He moved quickly, then lunged, stabbing one guard before slashing the other’s throat. He whistled and the others rounded the corner, following.
After several more twists and turns, they stopped once more at another corner. Laya looked around and turned back to the others.
“There are twelve of them. It’s her cell they’re guarding”.
“Then let’s take them out!” Shard said.
Elian nodded in agreement. Shard held his sword ready, Elian did the same. Laya produced a knife from somewhere, and they moved as one. They stepped around the corner, blades flying. Metal clashed on metal, the sound deafening. The guards dropped one by one, they had no chance.
As Shard eliminated the last guard, Elian and Laya stopped outside Aria’s cell. She lay on her bed, a bedraggled mess.
“Aria”. She looked up at Elian’s voice, her expression glazed. The Ani-vamp and the Sprite sat in the corner, also staring at their rescuers.
Laya bent to the lock and produced a sliver of metal, and began to pick the lock. It soon clicked open, and the trio entered. They stood looking at the three inside.
Evie raised a hand and pointed behind them. Two more palace guards had arrived.
“Drop your weapons now!”
Elian, Shard and Laya did so, slowly lowering their weapons. When they rose, the guards stepped closer.
“Now turn around”.
The other two began doing so; Elian slipped his hand into his cloak and felt it close around the hilt of his hidden dagger.
Elian spun on his heels and slashed....