Ascondia leant on the tree as she looked down toward Dragons Keep, from here you could see the damage and providing you didn’t know better you’d think it was nothing but a rundown castle in the middle of nowhere.
It also made sense this was where Ceremon held out, Evermore had long since been abandoned by its inhabitants in large parts due to the vile treatment of its people by the Lords of the time, consequently these happened to be Elcarus, generations before Kane.
Ceremon was the last of that pure line, Elcarus bred inside the castle it kept their lines pure but had insane effects on their mentality. It is rumoured that Ceremons father attempted to have Ceremon killed and as a consequence Ceremon left Evermore after burning the village to the ground. No one ever really found the truth of that night as it was long since consigned to history. The only true facts are that Ceremon resurfaced in Dentarius and was a good man until the death of his wife.
Ascondia scraped her knife against the tree setting free a river of dark red liquid as she smiled darkly
“Milady you shouldn’t be so exposed” Alvin stated no approaching her from behind
“And you shouldn’t creep up on a woman exposed and alone, it may set the wrong example”
Ascondia replied dryly “Besides Hades and Aerian are down there and we can go and get them”
“We should wait for Kane and Aishani” The name drew a low growl from Ascondia stopping Alvins sentence, it also stopped his approach as he was now stood on the bank just below her current place, the treeline dropped from there into open ground.
“Kane is far too cautious and will sacrifice both for the sake of that woman, we already know that” Ascondia snapped coldly
“I believe Kane will do what’s right to get his daughter and brother out alive” Alvin replied
“At the cost of what?” Ascondia replied darkly “What will assaulting a heavily fortified castle, with more traps and insane folk that any real person goes up against Alvin? I should not have come, I am Queen of the Everlands and one of the most powerful beings in the realm, I am by definition a target and that troubles me”
“Which is why you’re not going in there” Kane replied now striding up the bank and crouching looking down over the open ground “You can get us home so you stay put and when we come running across that field toward you, you open a portal to Elvera and you get the hell out of here, we can’t travel another fortnight in the other direction with Hades and Aerian in the state they are you know it and I know it, we need them back in Elvera as quickly as possible”
“If you step foot in Elvera” Ascondia snapped
“I know, one thing at a time” Kane replied softly as he waited on Aishani and Virra “Shadow will watch your back, you’re our way out”
As Kane spoke to Ascondia, that is when the mouth-watering presence announced Aishani walking with Virra at her side up the bank, Shadow skittering after. She lowered herself to Kane's side in a crouch, three fingers splayed to assist in her stance, while the golden hue was fixed on the ruins of the castle below.
Virra remained standing with her arms folded over her chest, the tethers were gone now. Those piercing black eyes lingered on the damning structure below. "As far as trips, tricks and wires...those all have been disarmed by myself initially on the sneak into the dungeon from that hidden entry..."
"Good. You already know of the locations, to each, then it would not be a trigger. You will have to do the leading, Virra. This is an extent of trust, waste it and I will hang you by the very skin on your body..." Aishani spoke in a casual purr, the corner of her plush lips tugged in a smirk. "As for Shadow covering Ascondia, that is entirely up to her, but, I think Ascondia may feel better with Alvin between--Oh, I mean covering her ass." She chuckled darkly, it was a tease on the Queen but needless to say, poked at her.
Ascondia growled in reply before raking her knife through the tree once more then storming off down the snow bank. Kane watched her just for a moment before checking his bow. Slowly he edged along the treeline and down toward the castle below. The hidden entrance was off the south just out of the treeline, but far less open than the area before them.
“Virra I need you to get Aerian out, I suspect I will need to deal with Hades” Kane spoke softly his words low “Aishani will cover the middle ground while we extract the relevant prisoners.
Aishani withdrew her throwing knives and even her daggers to apply a solution to each from a phial and even offered some to Kane in order to apply to his arrows, would he desire such. Virra acknowledged Kane's words with a short nod, but, her eyes remained fixed on the ruins of the castle below.
Aishani glanced behind her with a lingering gaze set on Shadow, the large spider appeared to understand the silent communication and went after Ascondia and Alvin to be their protection from those hidden that would encroach.
She straightened after concealing the phial and returning each weapon to the designated location on her person, while Virra glanced to her then to Kane.
The trio was ready. It was time to recover Hades and Aerian from the clutches of Ceremon and Z'ress.
Kane finished tipping half his arrows with the solution, as they made their way toward the not so hidden entrance. He held the group with a wave of his hand before pointing along the path which vanished among a pile of rubble.
“Once we’re through we don’t have long, Virra may have disarmed the physical traps but the detection spells will be up, once we go through they will know, we’ll bar the cell doors as long as we can but we need to be as quick as possible” Kane breathed slowly “Be prepared for a fight!”
Aishani stood at Kane's side, while glancing to him with her daggers removed from the sheaths with a spin, the hilt resting on her palm in a grip that was about business. Her scent appeared to grow strong with the luscious aroma, which at times fuelled a darker side within Kane. Virra stood on the opposite side of Kane, holding up a small leather fold, this was her silent signal of a lock pick wallet.
"Let's do this then. Quick. Precise. Virra, you take up the lead to take us to the portion of the dungeon, walk in step with Kane." Aishani purred softly, as the transformation from the calm exterior, there was a sense of excitement in her voice, husk of arousal to the anticipation moving forward.
Virra flashed her dark eyes to Aishani, then to Kane. She stepped forward to begin to lead the path.
They followed down as they reached the entrance the sound of steel on leather as Kane drew his sword one flick showed years of training with the weapon, one slight adjust on his bow at his shoulder and he stepped down, the corridor was cold and the walls ran with liquid and green mould.
Kane took a step forward as they picked their way through the old cells, Kanes blade never so much as twitched merely remained in hand tip a few inches from the ground, the knowledge of Aishani beside him was a strange comfort and strength to him, his focus on the task not wavered or second guessed something alone he would have done a dozen times by now.
As they reached the door to the main cell block Kane halted them leaning against the door to listen just for a moment. “You said two wolves’ two vampires on the other side of this door? Together or separate shifts?” Quietly he placed his blade on the ground and knocked an arrow to his bow he drew the string half back and waited for Virra to open the door.
Aishani by this point had sheathed on dagger and adorned a small fan of throwing knives on her fingers, when they stopped before the door. She was poised to pounce at any moment, her ashen skin and dark hair literally blending in with the darkness of the tunnel, but, her golden eye gave way her location.
Virra glanced to Kane, keeping her voice to a whisper and moving closer to him, while whispering barely above a breath. "Rotations. Two werewolves and human during the day. Two werewolves and a vampire at night." She removed her lock pick set, working with two picks, fiddling round while then a catch was heard and the click with a flick of her wrists. The door was unlocked.
The second the door opened Kane let fly the Vampire not even seeing the arrow until it split through his chest sending him to the ground, by the time he had hit the ground Kane had already shouldered his bow and collected his sword and was on the Werewolf beyond, he went for the closest knowing Aishani would take the second, they had entered under cover of darkness giving them the best advantage.
The werewolf manged to claw Kanes shoulder only for him to return the favour with his blade across the upper thigh then ducking behind to drive his blade through the werewolves chest, as the wolf rose Kane caught him square with a forearm into the wall knocking him out cold.
“Virra go get Aerian” Kane was already working on the lock to hades to cell, the second the lock opened Kane was struck by the door as Hades burst out, pinning Kane to the wall arm locked around his throat. Kane kicked at his knee pushing him off enough to get words out “Hades no time for a play fight” and with that he shoved his blade in his hand and pulled his bow taking a vampire who was already on his through the door sending the ones beyond scattering for cover “OUT OF TIME!” Kane barked in warning
As Kane surmised, Aishani already spit a series of throwing knives upon the second werewolf, while the image of Aishani disappeared to reappear only to glide her dagger across the gullet of the creature, spilling guts in a slosh to the floor. She kept her stance and rushed to the door leading down to the dungeon, pressing her ear against it and listening.
Virra was already working on the lock to Aerian's cell before Kane spoke, working through the lock that was much more complicated, but, her dark eyes were fixed on the movements and feel. Abruptly the lock clicked and she pulled open the door and rushed into the cell. Skimming through the darkened corners for a sign of the red head, then fixed on the make-shift bedding, rushing over to nudge with her foot. "Hey. You."
Aishani glanced over her shoulder with the indication of incoming as Hades pinned Kane to the wall, she decapitated the vampire that was shot by Kane's arrow, ensuring the end with a cross scissor of her blades, sending coagulated blood to splatter upon her. "We have to get out of here. They will be here soon. VIRRA hurry up!"
Aerian backed into the corner, her feet flat to the wall as she shrank as far into the shadows as she could, her eyes fixed on the woman now calling to her. The clashes outside of chaos she knew were her father but her need to run was not allowing her to “Get my dad out of here, they are coming to kill him, take Hades and go” Aerian breathed the panic in her voice all too clear “I don’t want to go”
Virra glanced over her shoulder to the chaos outside the cell then to Aerian, moving close to her, but not before a dagger could be seen with the pummel driven into the back of her head to efficiently knock her out. "I'll be fucking damned, if you stop my protection." She moved out, calling to Kane for him to enter within. "We have to get her out of here. I'm sorry, but, I had no choice."
Aishani glanced over her shoulder, narrowing her gaze to the cell door, but, covering Kane and standing at Hade's side to fight. "Time's ticking, Kane. Get her out of here and I will cover the back."
Hades grunted as he took down a werewolf who had broken their lines, an awkward motion before snapping his neck clean “Get her!” he barked
Kane growled as he scrambled through the door, he handed Virra his bow before dragging Aerian to his shoulder, a nod and headed for the exit, staying focused on keeping Aerians weight balanced as he made for the exit.
As they burst out of the tunnel Kane stumbled sending them both into the snow, Kane simply rolled to his stomach and into a crouch preparing a fireball as the other cleared the exit Kane unleashed the blast collapsing as much of the tunnel as he could behind them “It wont hold them, there’s at least 3 mages with that last group with far more power than I have to hold them” he breathed slowly
A loud scream cut the air as Aerian stirred “Send me back” she screamed her nails biting into Kanes arm “Kane we have to go” he heard Ascondia snap as she emerged from the trees “And please don’t argue you would never have made it back to our position I chose to wait here instead.
Aerian screamed as she pulled to her feet Kane barely had time to react as she snapped a blade from his hip another moment and the blade was sunk deep into Alvins throat “Let me go back, or I will kill someone else” Kane closed his eyes just for a moment as in a burst of flame he vanished appearing behind Aerian “I’m sorry” was all he said as he himself caught her in the back of her head with his own blade rendering her back unconscious.
“Get the vortex open we need to go” Kane sighed softly another moment and Ascondia had opened a swirling purple mass, Kane quickly ushered Ascondia through followed by Hades and Virra who between them had Aerian, slowly Kane looked to Alvin his hand rested on his chest for a moment “Forgive me old friend” before he stood and stepped toward the portal the blast on the other side of the fallen tunnel notifying them they had run out of time.
Aishani blurred behind and in front of their broken lines, her daggers were nothing but sparks of metal against flesh and fur, covering Hades at one point on their push. Her face was twisted into the gore of battle, bloody with her clothing glistening from the crimson stains, difficult to tell if such was her own or the opponents. Her and Hades covered the rear of the group as all of them rushed through the dungeons to the escape route of the passage. Once outside in the snow, Aishani's steps were soaked in blood while her chest was rising and falling, panting.
Catching the glint of the dagger that was in Aerian's hand in which she ended honourable Alvin's life in that single moment, she exchanged a glance to Hades while crouching, preparing to defend but it was when the crumble of the entrance came crashing down, that Aishani straightened. Never relaxed for a moment, keen and aware always looking around the area, with Aerian left unconscious again.
Ascondia was a sight for sore eyes, while Shadow rushed to Aishani's side, as Kane ushered everyone through the portal created by the Queen, Aishani caught his hand to pull him through just as Shadow joined the others. She was not for a moment, willing to depart from him, would he stand his ground.
With a crack the portal sealed behind them, the streets of Elvera far richer than those of Dentarius, the close packed buildings told of a city much further along in terms of technology and lifestyle. It was within moments guards had them surrounded, some checking Ascondia who was quickly trying to dismiss them and have them escort the group to the castle.
The City Guard arrived quickly their spears trained on Kane as he eyed the numbers he shrugged holding his hands before him “Yea I get it” he snapped coldly within moments he was shackled as carriages arrived the group climbing in to be taken to Elvera Castle.
It didn’t take long as they arrived at the castle, Kane was escorted from their carriage as Ascondia was now arguing with the guard “The law is clear if he shows up, his sentence is to be carried out”
“I am the fucking Queen of the Everlands, and he has just risked his ass to pull my daughter out of hell, he will not be executed by you or anyone fucking else, we will take this to the High Council and they will pardon him or I will execute every fucking one of them!” She snarled darkly “Take him to the cells, ensure he eats, and gets any visitors who care to visit him”
“And the rest?” The guards asked
“Put them in the visitors house, they are to be fed and not intruded upon” She turned to walk back to Aishani “Don’t fight them, I will get him out of here, you have free rights to speak with him in the cells, that is all I can do for now” her voice almost carried apology as she turned Aerian was still unconscious as Ascondia looked for a moment “Put my daughter in cell as well, she needs time to gather herself, tend to her injuries nothing more” the guards would probably have argued had she not rounded on them angrily waving them out of her path.
Aishani sheathed her weapons the moment that the guards surrounded them, a brow inclined passively, while Virra's lips were curled into a muted snarl. She moved to stand at Kane's side, narrowing her eyes to the spears that were in his direction, golden eye fiery in silent warning. Shadow moved to the opposite side of Kane, lifting the chitinous bladed legs in a threat. But, the moment that he was shackled and lowered her hand for Shadow to stand down, she stepped back, flicking her tongue across her lips watching as Kane was lead away.
As Ascondia moved to speak to Aishani, the golden eye fixed on her, while her expression remained call, but, that vivacious bite in her glare remained with a click of her teeth to the roof of her mouth.
"That isn't what she nee--" Virra stepped forward to speak to Ascondia when she mentioned Aerian being locked up, her eyes dangerously dark but Aishani caught the young female's wrist in the accusing glance back, Aishani shook her head slowly.
Aishani sighed softly, releasing Virra's wrist, then glancing to Hades. "I'm going to Aerian's cell. She doesn't need to be locked up again. Z'ress no doubtfully twisted her mind...she is an expert manipulator, you were too hard a shell to crack, Hades." She nudged him with her elbow, but, was openly holding her side. Aishani moved to follow the guards to Aerian's cell, Shadow on her tail and moving to remain silently in a corner for her to wake.
Aerian stirred her eyes adjusting as she sat slowly her brain a mash of confusion that would be easy for anyone to pick up around her, as she went to sit the chains caught her keeping her down, Aerian sighed softly.
“I know you’re there” She spoke softly “And seemingly you got us out, then decided it’d be fun to put me in another cell after getting me out of one, surprised Dad isn’t here though, pretty sure …. Oh” she looked to the floor as the realisation set in “He got mom to get us out, she brought us right to Elvera” she shifted to try and find some level of comfort. “They will never let him go now, and once he is rendered useful to them Z’ress and Ceremon will storm the realm and take the throne, a sad end really”
Aerian sounded almost compliant in her words as if they were truth already to her “He’s a good man, he doesn’t deserve that, but mom always wins” She shrugged awkwardly under the chains “He does love you though Aishani, your mother said that would bring you both down, you should be with him at least while he’s still him, and don’t trust Uncle Hades either, we’re all means to an end”
Aishani stepped from the shadows when Aerian indicated the knowledge of her presence, a hand still pressed against her side. That lonely golden eye fixed on the red head from the position nearest the door, her face was a grizzly sight, splattered with blood, appearing some battle hardened goddess. She considered Aerian in silence. "We have no alternative but to await the outcome, Ascondia is avid on getting him out due to him rescuing you. Granted, I wouldn't trust her as far as I can throw her, but, we all came together to bring you and Hades to safety. Your mother, chose to join us, we gave her the option to opt out. Z'ress is of no mother to me, Aerian. She is a vile woman with one thing on her mind, uncaring on how to achieve such...nor hurt those that I love to use against me. "You do understand the reason that you are locked up, do you not? Well, in case you do not. First, you refused to leave. Second, you attacked and killed Alvin. I understand that Z'ress jostled your brain, though, you cannot let her get that far into your mind. She found your weakness and latched to it like a leech, sucking all the will you had until it was gone and warped your view of her. But, she is not here now. If it was not for Virra, it would not have been such a simple rescue, she helped us even with her own neck on the line not just to Ceremon and Z'ress, but her father and an entire ensemble of bandits."
“Your hurt, you should get that looked at” Aerian stated softly “Z’ress was the only one who hasn’t harmed me, doesn’t that get her something?” Aerian shifted awkwardly again under the chains that held her down “You should get your injuries looked at, then we can talk” Aerian eyed Aishani gently a soft smile hiding the panic behind her, just below were a torrent of emotion so deep so wasn’t sure which to deal with first.
“I want to speak with Virra, I should at least thank her for trying to help me” Aerian fell silent as she watched Aishani her focus quietly on the injury that she was trying so hard to conceal.
"My injury is only superficial, it will be dealt with. Give thought then, to this, Aerian. Z'ress was fully capable to harm you physically, but, while I agree that she didn't. It is the damage of her messing with you at your most vulnerable, which caused us to nearly lose you to her. That is what, I cannot stand. Remember, she is a Matron Mother, the highest position of a house in the Underdark and within the twelve highest houses...she did not get there by not harming or manipulating others to her will. Do not under estimate her, she has a reason to do everything." Aishani glanced to her hand and in the turn, there was a small trickle of crimson that seeped from between her fingers. "I'll be back later, I wished to speak to you not only to ensure you were in a sound frame of mind, unlike that which we last saw. But, I knew, Kane would want to know how you are doing."
She left the cell after kicking the door, stepping through, yet, before the door was closed a female entered. Dressed in fixed leathers, the corset and sweetheart neckline offered ample view of her youthful bosom with the necklace nestled between the valley to each breast. The daggers glistened at her hips, while her dark hair blended in beautifully with the shadows upon the pallet of her porcelain face, ruby lips and those striking black eyes. The door closed behind her, while she remained standing, then removed her own cloak, this offered more a view of her figure. She was not as lush as Aishani, but, definitely held curves that spoke of a female strict training and on the cusp of an adult.
Virra advanced to drape the cloak over Aerian's shoulders, pausing to secure it and sat down before her, ankles tucked beneath her bottom. "Save it. I know, you are thankful. But, the glint in your eyes doubts such."
“The chains prevent me throttling you so, your safe enough for now” Aerian replied softly “She looked to Virra “They chained me down, apparently I’m a risk, but then I did kill Alvin so …. I can see their point” Her voice was calm now as she watched Virra her eyes tracing her body slowly “You’re really pretty, but the problem is now the High Council has my father and my mother has Aishani close at hand, there will be a power struggle now with Alvin gone the High Council will seek to command the Everlandian Army as will my mother, and your father will come for you, quite a whirlwind I’ve brought upon us”
Aerian fell silent as her mind attempted to process the thoughts within “I am thankful you pulled me out, my part in things to come cannot be done if I am puppet to Z’ress, unfortunately the damage is already done and I no longer know who I can trust, even my father will play the cards to his own survival, which he should, but you, you don’t know me yet you risked your life to save in turn saving your own, at least you will IF we make it out of here”
Aerian shifted then snapped back against the chains rattling them “Get them to loosen these, I will not fight so long as it is you who tends me, you have my word, in doing so I will give you all I know to save my father and yourself, after all that is your goal is it not to find the security beyond the borders of Dentarius?”
"Yeah, well, you have a fiery personality, even after all that has happened." Virra tilted her head with the lazy smirk forming upon her lips, yet, the spark in her eyes was mischievous, almost playful when the time wasn't calling for such. "Funny, you want me to get them to loosen your chains, but, just said that such prevented you from throttling me." She adjusted, bending one leg to spread out with the heel of her boot dug into the cold stone floor and a position that defined her flexibility in unfold, crouching. "That is the amusing part. Trust is earned and never given, but, me, I can barely trust my own shadow. Filthy thing, loves to give my position away. Yes, well, your dad, the all-powerful...Pfft. Look, I'll toss around the idea, but, you have to prove to them that you aren't a loaded cannon. I can't do that. Hell, I have no pull with anyone here. One glance at records...I'm a cat-purse in the bag, no pun intended that is." Virra winked to her, leaning close. "By the way, you're welcome." It was in that moment, that Aerian would realize the loosening of her maniacal and chains. "Don't let me regret it."
Aerian sat still chained but having more room she looked to Virra “Thank you” She sat back her body now lent on the wall behind her bed as she eyed the room and back to Virra “You helped and so I shall help you, Aishani will stand with my father regardless of the result of his trial and I use that word lightly, he made my mother pregnant, by the High Council laws that is assault on the monarch and an act of treason, you know how backwards they are about choosing the suitor to the crown, however they harbour this against him because he broke away from their control. In turn away from them, my mother married and divorced him to try and protect him. She also finally set Dentarius free of Everlandian rule to ensure they couldn’t touch him, a one on one bounty hunter has no choice, even less so when an Elcarus is on Dentarian ground. So they don’t bother him on the standing he never returned to Elvera, which thanks to me he had no choice to do” She eyed Virra slowly her eyes meeting Virras the bright emerald green “They will either try to adjust him again, or they will execute him, my guess would be the latter, so you must tell them my secret, tell them without him the Everlands will be consigned to a memory, without Kane and Aishani even my mother this realm and everything in it will cease to be”
Virra leaned back offering her some space, one leg bent while the other was open in a wing, her arm perched. "Oh stop it. You are placing the blame on yourself. Need I remind you, that Hades was locked in the cell as well? I don't know much about Aishani nor Kane or Ascondia. But, Kane and Ascondia are your parents, who gives a fuck about circumstances. The fact remains that plans need to be set in motions. Every action has an opposite reaction." She flicked her thumb nail beneath her index finger with a click. "No one gives a fuck, what I have to say. I'll relay the message or what not. But, I make no promises. Just keep in mind, your father knew the consequences, as did your mother. They had to come together to get you out safely, even Aishani was there."
“I like you, I see why they didn’t kill you outright” Aerian smiled darkly “You will undoubtedly have some say, you’re not in a cell after all” Aerian waved her hand idly around “I’m daughter to the Queen and they locked me up, you are the daughter of a known and highly wanted mercenary and slave trader, rapist too I believe, so remind which of us holds the advantage?” Aerian rose slowly though the chains held her from reaching her full height she at least knew where her limits were, she wouldn’t get to Virra which also amused her “I will furnish you with details on events to come, you will then take them to my fathers trial, you will be heard they have no choice, trust me when I say my father will ensure you are heard”
"Uh...huh." She looked up to Aerian as she stood, rolling a shoulder. "Yeah, whatever, I'll relay the message. Seems, for now, our places have changed in the world." Virra mused, though, stood from her position. "I'll catch you later, don't go anywhere." A chuckle parted her lips to the small joke. "I better watch myself, else, I may get burned." She displayed that mischievous smirk with a wink, turning to make her way to the door, kicking on it. "Hey! You! Yeah, let me out. I've got to visit someone."
The click was heard on the lock, while it was opened and Virra slipped through, only the heavy clank of metal heard in closure.