I knew something was wrong as soon as we arrived in Silenkian’s room. The air smelled of copper and death. There was a pool of blood spreading out on the floor from the other side of the room. I watched in shock as one of Ris’ men rushed to what must have been the ill disposed of body of Silenkian’s valet.
“He’s gone,” came from the barely hidden corner only moments later.
It was then that I took a moment to look around. The room looked like it had been ransacked and one tapestry on the near wall was hanging up by only one corner. Behind where the tapestry should have been hanging, a hidden passageway was revealed.
I must’ve been in more shock from finding a dead body than I realized because what seemed like barely a second later, I felt Ris shaking me gently and saying my name.
“Be, come on. Snap out of it.”
I shook my head to clear away whatever trance had briefly taken me over.
“Yeah…yeah. Ris, I’m all right.” The barest smile tugged at his lips as I used my nickname for him.
He nodded at me and ordered his men to grab torches and follow us. Then Ris took my hand in his and led the way down the hidden stairwell.
The chill seemed to swallow us as we marched slowly down the stairs. The passageway must not have been used very often because even with the dim flickering illumination of the torches, Silenkian’s foot prints in the dust made an easy trail to follow.
At the bottom of the stairs three tunnels branched off at right angles to each other – each a shockingly even corrider that had to have been carved from the rock with magic. The trail of foot prints lad into the eastern tunnel.
“The only thing in that direction is the stables. We’ll go back up and head there through the castle,” Ris began as he pointed to me. “You follow this tunnel and make sure he doesn’t double back.” The guards snapped a salute and began their march, boots sounding eerily on the cold stone as they disappeared into the distance.
Ten minutes later, after a mad sprint through the castle, Ris and I found ourselves in the stables. It was immediately apparent that Silenkian had escaped on his horse only moments before. The stable boy was groaning back into consciousness and the other horses were still agitated from the disturbance.
I followed one step behind Ris as he made his way to the room that stored weapons and tack. He yelled at the stable boy to sadle our horses as we strode by, going directly to the weapons wall.
I watched, briefly impressed, as Ris armed himself with a heavy long sword and plethora of small knives secreted about his person. Then he reached for the pair of medium sized spiked hammers.
As he gripped them, he turned a questioning look in my direction and asked, “Are you ready to fight with these for real?”
I was pretty sure the answer to that question was no but there was not a chance in all the Hells that I was letting him fight alone so I nodded and spoke with false confidence, “Yes.”
He let me get away with my lie and merely watched as I slid the hammers, handle first, into my belt. It wasn’t an ideal way to carry them but it would have to do for now.
Ris looked me over, nodded, apparently satisfied, and then turned to go back towards the stalls.
All of the sudden he jerked to a stop, turned, and took two quick steps to where I was standing. Before I could even register what was happening, he had his hand threaded through my hair and body pressed against mine.
In one more breath, his lips were pressed hard against mine. My heart did a joyful flip flop as it sped up and I managed to get my hands on his hips as his tongue forced its way into my mouth. Another breath and he had slammed me back against the wall. His heat spread through me like a wild fire as he took possession of my mouth.
I gave it all back in full measure.
Finally, and entirely too soon, Ris pulled back. He kept his hands in my hair and gently pressed our foreheads together – the tenderness contrasting with the violent passion of moments before. His eyes were closed as he struggled to get control of his breathing.
His fingers tightened in my hair as he spoke, “Be, please don’t get killed.” The strain in his voice was apparent.
I shook my head to break his hold on me, lifted my fingers to his chin and forced him to look at me. “I won’t if you won’t”
Ris’ eyes blazed as he nodded fiercely, stole one final kiss and strode gracefully back towards the horses.
To be continued.
Stay tuned for part 8!