One Month Later, outside a fairly intimidating castle wall
I was prowling the side of the high stone wall, feeling each crack for a weakness. My black cape trailed listlessly behind me. The night air filled my spirit with some kind of fiery hope, a desire that begged to be fulfilled.
"We don't have much time, master. I can take us over the wall if you wish," Nathaniel spoke from behind me. He was in the form of a tall, spindly sort of man. He too wore black.
"No, Nathaniel. We must be discreet. Until we are sure of the strength of the spell, we must not disturb the night. Help me find a weakness in the wall."
We prowled on, keeping a close watch for any guards or sentries that might give us trouble. It was about twenty more minutes before Nathaniel spoke again.
"Master, I have found a sizable crack at the bottom here. I can enlarge it for us."
I nodded, "Yes, do so quickly."
The man's spindly fingers pried themselves neatly into the crack. With some effort, Nathaniel began to expand it. His fingers were like roots, breaking the stone apart from the inside. A nice archway formed, leading into some dark catacomb. My servant stepped back.
"After you, master."
I nodded, summoning a white light from the tip of my index finger. We continued down into an arched stone passageway. It seemed to cross the entire length of the fort, underground.
"Where is the tower, Nathaniel?"
"A number of yards ahead, master; see how the tunnel narrows itself. There must be some kind of stairwell up ahead."
Sure enough, we came to a small stone staircase that spiraled upward. There was no light coming from above. Nathaniel began to ascend.
"Allow me to go first, master."
I nodded and followed him cautiously. These walls were old; the tunnel had been here long before the fort. Small beads of sweat made their way down my face. Once we hit the surface, there was no turning back. We had to follow through.
"Nathaniel, what if this doesn't work? We've tried this before, you know."
"Master, if I might, I think this is different. We will succeed."
I was only slightly reassured by my servant's optimism. The last time we tried to break someone out, it didn't work out so well. Presently, we came to the top of the stairwell.
"There's a door here, master. Shall I break it down?"
"No. I told you this is to be discreet. Pick the lock, if you can."
"That's the problem, master. There is no lock, or handle. It is but a bare door, with only hinges at the side."
I sighed, "Then break it down with care."
The spindly man curled his fingers around the door and allowed them to crush the stone surrounding each hinge. The door fell outward, and Nathaniel laid it down gently upon marble floor. We both walked into a circular room. There were windows all around. Silver moonlight spilled upon the floor and created an ocean of glowing light. It reminded me of that fateful night in the Dark Forest. There were no doors to be seen.
"We're at the top, master."
I looked around confusedly, "Yes, but where is she? She's supposed to be here!"
I cursed and repressed the urge to blow a boulder-sized hole in the floor.
"Master, listen. Do you hear that?"
I craned my neck, "Hear what?"
"It is a moaning. A girl's moaning, at that. It comes from above."
I looked up. The top of the tower curved up into a dome shape with a small spire at the top. It was not the shape of the ceiling which caught my attention, but a dangling iron cage which hung from the inside of the spire many feet in the air. before Nathaniel could say another word, I was off my feet, flying swiftly up to the top of the tower. I reached the cage and was hit by waves of relief, worry and anger simultaneously.
A girl with dark hair and pale skin turned to me. She looked frightened and unsure of her surroundings.
"Who are you?"
"I'm here to rescue you. My servant and I have broken in to ensure your safety. You must be silent and quick. Do you trust me?"
She shook her head, "Not really, but I suppose this is my only way out, isn't it?"
I nodded, "Yes, and we don't have much time. Watch your head."
I cut through the top of the cage, white Energy pulsing from my hands. The girl and the cage fell, Nathaniel at the ready to catch them. He did so and freed the girl. Before she could utter a word, all three of us were hurrying back down the spiral stairwell.
"They've surely seen me cutting you free," I said, "We have to make short work of this tunnel if we want to escape."
Nathaniel led the way down into the tunnel, where we were met by several large stone figures. They roared in rage as my servant's spindly fingers tore them apart. I blasted one apart with my Energy, then we were on our way again. The girl didn't seem too frightened by the combat.
"Why have you rescued me?" she inquired as we sprinted down the stone corridor.
I answered between breaths, "You have something special, Kathleen. I think we would make a very good team."
She shook her head, "The Archon won't accept this. He doesn't let anyone leave the fortress..."
I smiled, "I'm sure he'll be in for a rude awakening, then."
We neared the end of the tunnel, and I could hear a cacophony of agitation gargling somewhere far behind us. Nathaniel pointed ahead.
"The moonlight, master. I think there could be trouble ahead. Steel yourselves."
My servant stepped out into the darkness and was instantly bombarded by fire and Energy. I followed him, signaling to Kathleen to stay inside. There were stone men on all sides, some firing Energy, some making their way towards Nathaniel. He'd transformed into some furry monster and was slashing away at the advancing sentries. I fired off pulses of Energy to keep them at bay, and I incinerated a few who tried to attack Nathaniel. The ground was covered in crumbling stone, and eventually each adversary was struck down. My servant assumed the form of the spindly man once again, and I beckoned to Kathleen.
"Come on! We haven't much time now."
And so we ran; we ran through the thick forest that surrounded the fort. The moon was bright enough to guide us easily between the trees.
"Why don't we fly?" asked the girl, who's hand I was holding as we ran. She had begun to feel slightly cold.
"Because," I answered, "it would be much easier for them to spot us from the sky."
The girl began slowing down. "Hold on, I just need to take a breath or two."
We stopped and allowed her to sit upon the cool grass. Her hand was feeling almost icy in mine now.
"Are you okay?" I inquired with concern.
She nodded, "yes, I'm fine, I think I just-"
"Master, I can see through her."
I jumped up, "What? What do you mean?"
Nathaniel pointed at her, "Ever so faintly, I can see the ground beneath her."
I squinted, and realized that my servant was telling the truth.
"Kathleen! what's happening to you?"
"I- I don't know, maybe-"
"Give me your hand." I leaned down and took her hand, but it simply went through my own. She was like a ghost, and she was slowly fading away.
"What's happening to her?! Nathaniel! Keep her here!"
He shook his head, "Master, there is nothing I can do. It is not within my power to keep her here. Something very strong is pulling her away."
"No! I won't let this happen again! KATHLEEN!"
But as I spoke, she was slipping away. She gave me a look of worry and guilt. She mouthed "I'm sorry" before disappearing completely. I gave a cry and pounded my fists into the earth. I fired a burst of Energy into the night and caught a nearby tree on fire.
This isn't happening.
"Master, I'm sorry... I was confident this would work, but I suppose there is something else at work here that I have not taken into account."
"I don't understand it, Nathaniel. Everything was perfect. Everything was right. There's no reason- GAH!"
In a fit of rage I let a powerful pulse of Energy fire across the forest around us. Ignoring my servant, I flew up into the night sky and soared as high as I possibly could. I planned to stay there for a long time.