I found the room where I had been separated from Ben, and a small group of prisoners stood behind me as we waited a few feet from the door. The only thing that was between me and Ben now, was the wooden door, which gave little privacy to the room, because I could hear every scream produced by Ben from inside. Every time Marissa's voice raised, he gave a shout of pain, and cackling followed, undoubtedly from Courtney or Kayla. And it caused me physical pain every second. I could tell by the way Tawny watched me wince, that she understood how I was feeling. She too had a grim look on her face. Melody was back with the other prisoners, preparing to ambush the front of the dungeons if we needed a quick escape.
It was up to us to get Ben and find the King.
After an excruciatingly-painful sounding cry from Ben, I couldn't hold my emotions in any longer.
"We have to do something. Now." The group didn't look at me- they knew it was true. There was no more time to waste. Surely the guards would be waking up soon (one of the prisoners had put them to sleep temporarily with their Talent), and realizing that all of their detainees had escaped.
Tawny sighed. "You are right. I will go first, distract them, and then you must get Ben. Alright?" I nodded confidently, but one of the men in our group spoke up.
"You are putting the responsibility of rescuing our Prince in the hands of this girl?" He spit out girl like it was poison. "And is she even a Waterperson?" Tawny started to say something, but I cut her off.
"How do you think I got down here in the first place if I wasn't a Waterperson?" I whispered furiously. The man still glared at me. I could feel my hands burning, and his eyes suddenly flickered down to them. His face turned into a mask of horror, and the entire group backed away.
"You-you have a Talent? But fire is forbidden!" I grimaced. I knew that, of course. I had just...momentarily forgotten.
"It's not like I cannot control it! I would never hurt anyone with it, ever!" I insisted, but the man, and everyone still looked as if they did not believe me. The man stepped forward again, seeming to find a second wind of bravery.
"So you claim. What happens if, when we go in their, you suddenly turn against us and fry us to shreds? There is no water in there, we'll die! How can we trust you?" How could they trust me? I had no answer for them. There wasn't any way to convince them. I knew Tawny and Melody trusted me, but I still doubted if the prisoners would believe an overthrown queen and her child daughter. So, I told them the only thing I could.
"Ben trusted me. He trusted me enough to tell a mortal about his life. He trusted me enough to invite me into his kingdom. I'm not about to betray that trust by leaving him here." I looked the man straight in the eye, daring him to interrupt me. He didn't. "So you will either have to trust me, or turn your back on your Prince and your kingdom." I hadn't realized that my voice had increased until Tawny took my shoulder and 'shushed' me. I took a step back and followed her to the door, preparing myself for the fight.
I smiled as I heard the hesitant footsteps behind me.
"Tawny?" I whispered. She didn't turn around, but I knew she was listening. "How are you going to distract them?"
"I have a water Talent, Jenn. I'm going to use it to short out the heat light in there, and it will be very dark. You will need to use your fire to find Ben, then I need you both to get out." I nodded even though she couldn't see it.
I was surprised at the lack of butterflies in my stomach- I wasn't even afraid of Marissa anymore. I just wanted Ben back.
We were now halted before the door, and I saw Tawny tensing up, which meant that she was going to attack at any moment.
With a wave of her hands, the water all around me started to bubble, then rushed to the door. It fell like a brick and shattered from the weight of the water. We darted into the room, and there were cries of shock from both sides. Those behind me cried at the stifling heat coming down on us, and those already in the room were taken by surprise at the uprise of their prisoners. I saw Marissa, hunched over Ben's body in the middle of the room. He didn't have a shirt on, and I saw his body was red from the heat. Marissa's black hair was streaked with gray, her lips in a taut frown, and her pointy red fingernails gripping Ben's now platinum blonde hair. His eyes were closed, and I realized with a start that he was unconscious.
Tawny was in front of me still, shooting pointed darts of water at the ceiling. With every contact, sparks flew and darkness fell. The stone room was suddenly pitch black, and golden sparks still floated in the air. All at once they died out, and I felt the cold rush of saltwater flood the room as the weight of the ocean fell on us. I let the current carry me to the middle of the room and produced a small glow from my hands, just enough for me to see.
Marissa still sat over Ben, but she was looking around furiously, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. She didn't seem affected by the icy water, but Ben's eyes popped open and he started panting like a dog. I could tell he had been dehydrated by the way his hair started turning blue. I rushed over to where they sat, and with all the force I could muster, kicked Marissa right in the jaw, sending her flying backwards. She still couldn't see her attacker, but I knew we didn't have much time.
All around me fights were ensuing, screams of pain and grunts of effort sounded all around me, and I quickly ducked to avoid a body tumbling weightless through the water.
"Ben!" I said, leaning down so he could hear me. "It's me, Jenn." He didn't answer...or couldn't. "We have to leave, now!" I took his arm and went to the door, dragging him. As soon as we were out of the room, I felt the weight lift and Ben was next to me, fully alert.
"What happened? What's going on?" he asked as he tried to stop me from running.
"We have to keep going! Your mother said!"
"My mother?" he asked, surprise in his voice. "You mean my mother is back there, fighting? How can you expect me to leave her there?!" He let me go and ran back in the other direction.
"BEN!" I shouted, and held out my hand. A whip of fire thrust out from it and wrapped itself around Ben's running figure, and yanked him back to me. He shouted in protest, and only when he came back did I realized that it had scarred his torso. "I'm so sorry," I whispered and stepped back, covering my eyes with my hands. My Talent horrified me, and my lack of control horrified me even more. With shaking hands, Ben approached me, and grabbed my shoulders.
"It's okay, but I really need to go, and you need to come with me."
"Ben, don't you see what I did to you? I could hurt so many people, too many people, people on our side!" I took a ragged breath. "No, we both need to leave. I was supposed to get you out of here, before you got hurt! And now look what I did!" I didn't want to cry, but the tears just evaporated into the water.
Ben looked confused. "But, my people are in there, fighting for me." He pointed his hand at the door. "They're fighting for my kingdom. I cannot leave them!" He laughed softly, incredulously. I took his outstretched hand and held it close to me. I was already blistering from when he tried to escape my fire.
"You can leave them! You can! You can come with me, and we will be safe!" Was I being selfish? No, I decided. I was following orders. Orders that were given to me from the Queen herself. If the kingdom and royal family was overthrown, Ben would be their only chance, and I had to make sure he lived, so he could take that chance.
"Jenn," he said softly. He stepped towards me and took my other hand in his. "I belong with them." I knew he meant it in more ways than one. I looked into his eyes for a long time. It felt like an hour. But he finally dropped our hands, and I let him go. In more ways than one.