The sun was gone. Katie rode alongside Richard. She feared to loose him. She looked to her left and saw Ridley riding next to her. He looked over and smiled. She smiled back, but it vanished in an instant.
They could see Hellio. It was only a few minutes ride away. They had been able to pass through the forest without incident. Katie was relieved for that much. Now, they were coming to the truly hard part of their mission.
But Richard had been able to break in before. She wondered how they had been able to do it. She had never asked them. She made a mental note to ask them after they rescued Brianna.
“We should leave our horses out here,” Richard shouted. Katie nodded as she slowed her horse down with the others.
As their horses came to a stop, Katie jumped down. She pulled her horse to a nearby tree that had low branches. She carefully tied the reins to a low branch. Ridley and Richard followed her example.
Ridley reached into his saddlebag and pulled out a bottle. He handed it to Katie. She took it.
“What is that?” Richard asked.
“A bottle of holy water,” she said. “In case we need it.”
“It heals wounds,” Ridley said when Richard looked at him.
“I didn’t know that,” Katie said with wonder.
“It does,” he said, smiling. “She just hasn’t had much time to teach you anything.” Katie shook her head.
“How are we going to get in?” Katie asked.
“I’m not sure,” Richard said as they started off.
“We can get in the same way I got out,” Ridley said.
“How did you escape?” Katie asked him.
“Fought off the guard when he came to feed me. I went looking for you, but when I got to your cell, you were gone,” he answered. Katie smiled.
“How did you get out of the building?” Richard asked.
“A hidden doorway just outside the cell rooms,” Ridley said. He started walking adjacent to the direction they had been walking. They followed him. Ridley was searching the ground. Katie had no idea what he was looking for.
Ridley walked slowly along with his head down. Katie scanned the ground, but saw nothing. She looked over at Richard. He was carefully watching the ground too. Katie sighed and looked up at the sky.
“Here!” Ridley shouted. Katie looked down and saw nothing unusual. Ridley reached down and lifted the grass up. Katie gasped. Ridley had found a secret hatch door.
“Quickly,” Ridley said. Richard jumped into the hole. Katie slipped down into the ground after him. She stepped forward and placed a hand on Richard’s back. She felt Ridley land behind her.
It was pitch black. Katie couldn’t see anything. Ridley shuffled past her and in front of Richard. She heard him mutter something to Richard. A moment later, the tunnel filled with light.
Ridley straightened, having leaned over and touched something on the ground. Katie looked up at the ceiling. It wasn’t very far above them. Only a few inches above her head. Richard and Ridley had to lean over a little. There were lights attached to the ceiling.
“How long have you known about this place?” Richard asked Ridley.
“For a few years,” Ridley answered proudly. He started forward. Richard followed. Katie looked up at the hatch. It appeared to be gone. Ridley must have shut it as he came down.
Katie started after them. When she caught up, she placed a hand on Richard’s back. He smiled over his shoulder. A sudden thought came to her.
“Richard,” she said. He and Ridley stopped and looked over at her. “Do you think we are suppose to connect the ring and sword before you fight Zarha?”
“I’m not fighting him,” he said.
“But don’t we have to use the ring and sword?” she asked.
“Well,” Richard started.
“Zoey told me something,” Ridley said. “She said that the best way to get into the prison would be through here. She said: ‘the ring will show the way in darkness.” he said. “I don’t know what she meant.
Katie looked up at the ceiling. The lights appeared to be shining brightly. She wondered what Zoey meant.
“She is talking in prophecy,” Richard said. “I don’t care what she was talking about. Prophecy is not what I want to rule my life.” Katie nodded. She understood. Prophecy was bothering him more than anything.
Ridley turned and started down the tunnel again. Richard gave her one last look and turned down the hall. Katie watched him for a moment before following after him. A thump behind her made her look back.
She saw something in the distance, near where they had entered. She couldn’t tell what it was. It was small and skinny. It leaned down.
“Richard!” she shouted. They were plunged into darkness.
“Katie!” he shouted back. She could hear him moving towards her. He and Ridley must have been moving quickly when her back was turned. “What happened?”
She heard the sound of feet on the ground. The creature that had jumped down the tunnel was running at her. She pulled free her sword. She sat back in a crouch, ready for whatever the creature was.
“There’s something in the tunnel!” she shouted to him.
“What is it?” he shouted, coming towards her quickly.
“I don’t know,” she said. The creature was close to her now. She could hear its ragged breathing. Then it stopped. For one wild second, Katie thought it wasn’t real. Then it collided with her. She fell backwards and her sword left her hand. The creature slashed at her stomach with unseen claws. She cried out in pain when its claws met her skin.
“Katie!” Richard shouted. It was too dark for him to see her or what was attacking her.
Katie reached down and pulled free her dagger. She slashed at the creature. It fell back. Katie stood, but fell to her knees again. She cried out in pain again. Her stomach burned.
And then the tunnel was filled with light. The light was coming from inside her. Her magic glowed a pearly color around her body. She was healing herself. The light was her magic flowing over her wounds.
“Katie!” Richard shouted again. Sh felt his hand on her back. She still sat on her knees. The creature, which stood in front of her, was brought into view. When it saw her light, it scurried back down the tunnel. Ridley chased after it.
The light was growing dim. Katie shivered as if she were cold, but, in fact, she was very warm. Her body seemed to swirl with the fuzzy warmth of her magic. She felt a smile touch her lips.
Her light faded and vanished. She felt her own warm blood on her hands, but her wounds were gone. She was amazed that her magic acted on its own and so suddenly. She was glad. There was no more pain.
“Katie, are you okay?” Richard asked in the darkness behind her.
“Yes,” she said. She stood and winced. Her stomach ached in a dull pang. She felt Richard’s hand on her back, turned and came into his arms. As soon as she came into contact with him, the ring at her neck glowed a brilliant shade of violet. She gasped. His sword glowed a bright orange color.
“What’s happening?” Ridley shouted from behind them. Neither of them answered him.
“Pull it free,” she said to him. He wrapped one arm around her waist and used the other to pull free his sword. Its blade glowed brighter. Katie watched as the glow started at the hilt and moved down the blade towards the tip.
As the light slide down the sword, its blade changed. It transformed from steel to what appeared to be diamond. Its sharp edges reflected lights all over the ceiling. When the tip of the sword turned to diamond, a loud concussion shook the earth. Katie would have fallen over, had Richard not been holding her close.
The light faded. Katie could hear Richard breathing hard. She tried to look up at him, but it was too dark to see him.
“Are you okay?” she asked him.
“Wonderful,” he whispered.
Light flooded the tunnel again. Katie blinked and looked around. Ridley was standing straight again. He had turned the light back on. His sword, which still sat in his hand, was bloody. The creature, whatever it was, was lying, dead, next to him. He walked back over to them.
“A dark elf,” he said. “Nasty creatures. Are you okay?” he asked Katie.
“Thanks to my magic,” Katie said. She looked down. She was covered in her own blood. At least her wounds were healed.
“Your sword?” he asked Richard. Richard held it up. It was a deep blue color, and yet she could see through it.
“Amazing,” Ridley said. “You truly are the man sent by the Gods,” Ridley said. Katie smiled. Richard starred at in wonder for a few minutes.
“I wonder why it didn’t do that before,” Katie asked.
“I don’t know,” Richard whispered, grinning. After a minute, Ridley cleared his throat.
“Shall we?” Ridley asked. Richard and Katie nodded and allowed him to lead the way again.
Richard kept Katie close. They walked through the tunnel in silence. It was nice to have Richard’s hand in hers. After a few minutes, Ridley came to a stop.
“This tunnel leads to many places,” Ridley said. “This is where we want to get out.” He pointed at a hatch above his head. “We should be able to find Brianna easier if we got out here.”
He reached up and pushed the hatch open. He jumped up and grabbed the edge. Slowly, he was able to pull himself up and out of the tunnel. Richard gently lifted Katie up and helped her out of the tunnel. She stood up and moved away from the hole. A moment later, Richard climbed through. Ridley leaned over and shut the hatch.
“This way,” he said, pointing to the right. “Keep an eye out.” They walked in single file down the hall. Katie walked after Ridley and before Richard. She looked around whenever they walked through an intersection with other halls.
Ridley stopped and turned back. “These are the prison cells,” he said, pointing to a door.
“She won’t be there,” Richard said.
“What?” Katie asked. “How do you know that?”
“Because Zarha wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. You were able to escape. He doesn’t want her to escape.”
“Then where is she?” she asked him.
“We’ll have to search the prison for his rooms,” Richard said.
“How could you possible know that he has her in his rooms?” Ridley asked him.
“I don’t know. Just something that came to mind,” he responded.
“Zoey said things like this would happen,” Ridley said.
“What ‘things’?” Richard asked in irritation.
“You would know things without knowing why you know them,” Ridley said. Richard nodded with a look of confusion.
“Do you know where Zarha’s rooms are?” Richard asked.
“As a matter of fact, I do,” Ridley said.
“How do you know that?” Katie asked.
“I know a lot about this place. I have been here many times,” Ridley said, wincing. He turned and started off. They walked father down the hall. “First, we have to find the stairs.”
“I though you said you knew where everything was,” Katie accused.
“Generally where everything is,” Ridley said. “Not exactly.” Katie nodded and followed closely behind him.
They traveled further down the dark hall until they came upon an opening, which went into a large room. The room was huge, with nothing in it. Other halls came into the room. A large staircase met into the room as well.
Ridley crossed into the room and glanced into a few of the halls. He turn right and ran down a hall. Richard grabbed Katie’s hand to make her wait. She was wondering what he was doing.
He came back. “There’s no one around,” he said. “Don’t you guys think that’s strange too?” He sounded suspicious.
“Strange,” Richard agreed.
He grabbed her hand and gestured for Ridley to keep moving. Ridley quickly ran up the first couple of stairs. As Katie and Richard reached them, something smashed into the stairs right in front of them.
Katie and Richard were thrown back by the force. Katie landed on her back and the air left her lungs in a whoosh. She banged her head on the linoleum floor. Stars swum in her vision. She sat up, causing her head to spin.
“Richard,” she whispered as she climbed to her feet. Her vision was a blur. Richard’s hand reached out to steady her.
“How could you!” he shouted at someone. Katie could see an outline of someone, but she couldn’t quite tell who it was.
“It was easy,” came a familiar voice. It was a sweet voice with an evil ring in it. It shot shivers up and down her back.
“No,” Katie whispered. Her vision finally cleared.
Brianna stood at the far side of the room, exiting a hall, a huge grin sitting on her lips and her arms pointing towards the staircase.
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