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D.T - Irene the Sly: chapter 5

Irene the Sly: Chapter 5

The next floor was just like the previous one but with more trees in it. Soon as they got up there they broke a hard right and hugged the wall going on until they were all out of breath. They stayed grouped together this time as Adelea said, "Alright everyone stay low and keep quiet, very quiet."

They did as she said, but Samhal argued quietly, "Yeah for all the good that did us last time."

"The last time they caught me way off guard and led us into a trap. This time I know they're coming and can keep us under their radar."

"Well, since we have to wait again, you care to elaborate on that this time?" Caleb asked irritated with her.

Adelea sighed and said, "The wraiths use magic to detect the presence of a body much like myself. They're collectively stronger than me but since I know it's coming, I can make ourselves invisible to that magic; for a time."

"If that's true then why weren't you doing it before?" Yuesen asked.

"Because concentration is a bitch and I didn't know that anyone from that cult was still fucking alive. So how about everyone go back to being silent so I can concentrate; and wait until I say it's safe before doing anything."

They kept silent after that and didn't move around much at all. All they could do was go through the brown sack Irene snagged back and sorted out their weapons. Most of the weapons were common daggers mixed in with a short sword or two, from what Irene could tell none of them had a whole lot of practice with those weapons.

Although thinking about it, Irene realized she wasn't one to judge them much on their handling weapons. She wasn't some great knight with her dagger either. In fact taking a closer look at everyone, she realized they all shared something in common, something she found she could relate to in a way.

She may not have known the circumstances or if they were always how they were, but while waiting there in silence with them, Irene came to realize everyone there was an orphan.

The wait became excruciatingly boring for them to be so silent and still, but eventually Adelea said, "Well they finally moved on."

"Maybe we should wait a little longer," Myre said partially fearful. "I mean, how do we know they won't be waiting ahead with a trap for us?"

"Aye maybe she's right," Nethlen said. "I mean, look at what they did to Rowen, I don't ever want to run into them again without the element of surprise."

"He's right, our little sparkling fire trick will only throw them off once, we won't make another daring escape," Theo said.

"We already eluded them once and they got an even later start than us when coming in here," Adelea said. "Trust me they won't waste any more time on us, they will move on ahead and find some other unknowing people to use for their sacrifices." She then got up and started walking ahead of them all , Irene included, followed.

"You seem to know an awful lot about these people who you claim don't exist anymore," Yuesen said suspiciously. "Care to tell us why or should we just wait until we're endangered before you bother clueing us in on anything?"

Adelea stopped suddenly and turned around to face Yuesen. "And just what the hell are you implying?" She asked aggravated.

"I'm not implying anything; I just want to know what you know about the fucking monsters that murdered him. I think I deserve that much at least; I think all of us do in fact."

Adelea glared down Yuesen for a long moment of tension before saying, "That's none of your business." She turned back and walked on again.

"It became our business when one us died because of you; because you, like always, didn't tell us anything. It wouldn't be the first time your secrets put us in danger."

Adelea stopped again but didn't turn around. "Dredging up the past won't help us at all in the future."

"Yeah, that's always like you when your past or your decisions come into question. You sidestep it and work us around the problem until we just drop it. But we're not kids anymore, you can't just step around this one; you owe us answers."

Adelea turned around now and stepped close to Yuesen; staring her down. "Or else what? Hmm, what if I don't give you those answers?"

Yuesen wasn't intimidated by her at all as she said, "Or I turn around and walk away. You know me and Rowen didn't want to come here to the tower, but we didn't know we could trust you with our friends. We thought you would lead them to their doom, just like you did Jaer; turns out we were right."

Adelea said nothing and just stared at Yuesen in cold silence. When this went on for well over a minute Yuesen smirked and turned away from her. Now addressing her friends she said, "Adelea will be the death of all of you. We may not have had a dream life back in Dorgal, but together we had something all of us always wanted: a family.

"This place, Adelea, none of it's worth the effort or our lives. We're all chasing a wish promised by a dark demon; you guys don't see it now, but this place and she will be the doom of us all. I'm leaving while I still can; I strongly urge all of you to do the same."

She then turned and walked away from them all. Samhal tried to go after her, but Adelea stopped her and whispered something in her ear. After that Samhal looked down at her feet, no longer watching her best friend walk away.

As they moved ahead, they all remained quiet and didn't speak after that incident with Yuesen. All except Caleb, who was talking with Irene at the back of the group. "You know things aren't normally like that," Caleb said, "in fact, that's the worst they have ever been. I can understand it if you don't want anything at all to do with us given recent events, but the offer is out there."

Irene didn't answer right away. She walked in silence for a few minutes until speaking at last, "I lost my vanishing cloak and my best means of getting ahead in here. I will keep with you guys until we move on past those scary people in the red cloaks. After that I'm going off on my own again; it's better that way for me and everyone else."

"Alright fair enough, who knows, maybe by that time we will have worked our charm on you and you will change your mind entirely." He smiled at her.

"Who say's we're allowing her to join us in the first place," Myre asked resentfully.

"Well, she did save our asses from those wraith people when she could have moved on, so this is by far the least we can do for her," Caleb said.

Myre yawned and moved closer to Caleb, leaning her head against his shoulder as they walked. "Well, we're going to be taking a rest soon, so if she's still around when we wake, we can all put it to a vote or whatever."

And sure enough, Adelea stopped everyone to call for a long rest; to eat and sleep. They ate in silence and when Adelea finished her fruit she sighed. "Alright, I guess I do owe you guys something about me after all we been through," she said. "I won't give you everything, just what I think you should know."

They all turned their heads and listened intently to her.

"I was ten when the red wraiths snatched me and my elder sister up. They kept us locked away in separate rooms until they needed us. It was days before I saw my sister again. They used magic on her to keep her awake but stopped her from moving at all. Then they put her on this stone slab (shaped like a coffin) and while chanting some language, I didn't understand they stabbed the knife into her chest."

"When the dagger was pulled out her blood started rising unnaturally and was black instead of red. Next thing I knew, it came right at me and set my whole body on fire. Her tainted blood consumed me in the darkness. And in that darkness I saw a demon that looked almost like a man, with talons for hands, bat wings, and those yellow piercing eyes."

Adelea shivered just thinking about it all. She paused a moment to gather herself before continuing on.

"The demon said nothing, just grinned at me with its sharp row of teeth and then jabbed my forehead with its talon fingers. I woke up after that to find the wraiths dead bodies sprawled out on the floor, mixed in with a couple of magisters wearing the king's symbol on their robes.

"Several more magisters representing the king of Dorgal were also in the room, weary from the raid on the wraiths they just made. These men and woman were kind and took me home where my parents grieved the death of my sister. I tried going back to a normal life after that, but in a few short weeks, I soon discovered I had magic powers; just like the Dorgal knights.

"Now the thing you have to understand is back then every child was tested for magic capabilities. My whole family has only ever produced one magical offspring in several generations, but still we were tested. I failed that test and so did my sister. But whatever had happened to me that day my sister was sacrificed, I had magic, and I was strong.

"I joined the Royal Army after that, honing my abilities and spent half my life researching about the red wraiths so I could get revenge for what they did to my sister. Funny enough, while I was out hunting down the few wraiths that remained, Dorgal went into civil war and the king fell.

"When I wiped out what I thought was the very last of the wraiths, I returned home to find my home was in fact destroyed and my parents were dead. The king who I swore allegiance to was also gone, same with all my friends. I was now nothing more than a ghost wandering around trying to find purpose."

"And that's when you found us," Caleb finished her story for her.

Adelea looked up and grinned. "Yea, uh that's when I started finding you guys. Look we're all here because we have something we so greatly desire from that wish that we risk all peril to climb this tower. But before now I don't think you fully realized just how dangerous this would be.

"I think now would be a good time to seriously consider the danger ahead and if your desire is worth the tremendous risk to your life. I know this place will only get worse, the higher we climb, and it's not just the wraiths we have to worry about. None of you are particularly talented at what you do and only the twins and I have magic power.

"I know it was selfish of me to bring you here, but I didn't feel right just leaving you all alone back in Dorgal. The truth is, I don't think I will be able to protect you guys here. It would probably be in your best interests to go back down with Yuesen before it's too late. But don't decide right now, sleep on your decision."

She then turned her focus to Irene. "And you uh..."

"My name's Irene," Irene said feeling a little embarrassed to be the center of attention now.

"Irene, you really saved all of our asses back there and though we just met if you want I will gladly let you join us. Or if you don't wanna be here anymore you can catch up with Yuesen and tell her I told her to allow you to join her home. She owes you as much as any of us and you earned yourself a place in our-"

"I'm either getting the wish, or I will die trying," Irene interrupted Adelea. "I lost my vanishing cloak saving you guys, so I will accompany you until we get past those wraiths, and then I'm moving on ahead of you guys."

Adelea smirked and said, "Fair enough. Now though would be a good time for us all to finally get some rest."

Irene tossed and turned trying to fall asleep, but given the recent events, her new companion and the loss of her vanishing cloak, it just wouldn't happen. So she got up to keep watch and try and occupy her mind when she saw Caleb sitting up; leaning against a tree keeping his own watch.

She sat next to him and he asked, "Couldn't sleep either huh?"

"It was hard enough before but now it feels impossible," Irene said.

"Yea this place creeps me out too. Hey um, I have a strange question for you... Why did you risk so much to save us in the first place? I mean it's not like know us or anything, we also barely met like the day before."

Irene shrugged and said, "I don't know, I was following you guys around for a little while after our first encounter."

"Wait you were following us, why?"

"Because I saw something in you guys, something that felt familiar to me and I wanted to know what it was."

When Irene didn't explain right away, Caleb asked, "And what was it?"

She looked down a little shy or even ashamed to answer. "All of you are orphans, just like me."

Caleb frowned and asked, "How did you know?"

"The signs are everywhere and I saw enough orphans to know. Besides, strange as it may sound, you remind me of a friend of mine."

"And this friend, why is he not with you now?"

"He's dead," Irene said with a tear rolling down her cheek. "He died before he could even come to this place. He was going to leave me to chase this wish. I thought he was happy with me, but I guess I wasn't enough for him."

They were silent for a time after that until Caleb thought of a different subject to talk about. "So if you got the wish, what would you wish for?"

"I don't think I have known you long enough to say."

"Well, I would wish that no child in the world will go hungry again, forever. It would just be physically impossible for children to starve."

Irene looked at Caleb, he was sincere. "That sounds very generous," she said cynically.

"I have seen too many friends of mine fade away to starvation."

"Why didn't you just steal your food, or the coins to buy it?"

"We tried best we could, but when you live in a town where the majority of people are magisters, it's much harder to do. I would always hear rumors of the orphan homes in the larger towns and the cities. But we never knew where they were so we didn't bother risking our lives to journey to them.

"I would have starved myself if not for Adelea. She took me into her home with the others here and raised me. When I told her I wanted to be one of the few non-magical knights in all of Dorgal, she made me a wooden sword and helped me learn to use it.

"I would spend hours a day practicing swordplay; most times by myself. What about you, what sort of dreams or aspirations did you have for your future?"

Irene hesitated to answer. "I never really thought about my future, didn't think I had much of one to be honest. But can I ask you, what are you guys planning to do if all of you make it to the top of the tower before anyone else?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well only one wish is granted, so how are you going to decide who gets it?"

"Hmm, our plan is to word the wish into one big one so we all can get what we want."

"And if that doesn't work?"

"I guess we would vote on it then. You know you could journey up the tower with us, you don't need to rush ahead."

Irene didn't answer, so Caleb turned to her and saw she had fallen asleep. He smiled thinking she looked even cuter while sleeping.

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Copyright © © Jake Pendragon all rights reserved 2015

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