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D.T - Irene the Sly: chapter 7

The final chapter of our sly theif

Irene the Sly: Chapter 7

"So we just going to ignore what happened at the hot springs?" Samhal whispered to Myre while they climbed the long spiraling stairs.

"I don't know, I just got more important things to worry about right now," Myre said keeping her focus ahead of her.

"Like what?"

"Like that freckled red-haired whore who is trying to move in on my Caleb."

"Oh my god not this again," Samhal said exasperated. "Look guys are clueless, if you want Caleb to notice your affections for him, tell him directly. And if you don't and he likes the new girl 'Irene' more, and is happy then who are you to get in his way of being happy?"

Myre scoffed, "That girl is no good for him at all; she's no good for anyone."

"Oh fuck it you clearly lost it I'm going to try and talk to someone more sensible." She then moved on past Myre and began conversing with the twins.

As they stepped onto the next floor, they could hear the distinct sounds of howling wolves coming in from the pitch dark area off to the right. They stopped and grabbed their weapons and watched the dark area in anticipation. The waited, the wolves howled, and still nothing emerged from the darkness.

They moved forward with caution hugging the close wall on the left, keeping an eye out in the dark area. "You think maybe it's just a trick?" Nethlen asked.

"Maybe," Adelea said, "this floor is rather small; at least in the areas that are lit up." She then turned to the twins and said, "See if you two can light up that darkness with your fire sparks."

Hesitant the twins moved away from the group and to the dark where the wolves howled ever more. They clapped their hands together creating a huge wave of red sparks that leaped into the dark and died out as if swallowed up by it. "Well then that was anti-climatic," Theo said.

"Wait, guys, I think I see the path up there in the wall," Myre said pointing up to the wall at the far end.

Looking up they indeed saw an open path tunneled into the wall itself. It was high up but there were numerous holes in the wall that could easily be used to grab hold and climb up. As they all moved to the wall Adelea saw the deep red liquid starting to pour down from the tunneled hole in the wall.

"Hold up," She called out to everyone. "There's blood dripping down from the tunnel."

The others saw it now too, it was easy to spot, but their minds were more preoccupied with the howling of wolves beyond the darkness. "So maybe there was a scuffle up there, and someone got stabbed," Nethlen said.

"Maybe," Adelea said uncertain. She took another look at the darkness where the wolves still howled endlessly; going off every few seconds. "Still something doesn't feel right about this whole thing... Everyone stay here until I get back and no one go up in that tunnel without my say so; not even for a peek."

They all watched anxious as Adelea stepped into the darkness from where the wolves called out. When she didn't return right away Caleb wanted to chase in after her, short sword held high with bravado, but Irene stopped him. The minutes passed by like days and nights at a crippling pace but still they waited.

After an eternity, in their minds, Adelea finally emerged from the dark; not a wound on her nor a bead of sweat. "I was right in my suspicions," She said, "There are no wolves here."

"Then this floor is a test," Irene said. "And the tunnel in the wall up there, is it a trap or something?"

Adelea turned her gaze to the tunnel up in the wall and said, "Probably, anyways the stairs are just through the dark veil, follow the wolf call and you will find the other side easy enough."

She then stepped back into the darkness expecting everyone to follow her. Soon enough they all did but they locked hands with Caleb taking point. Despite their instincts telling them to turn back they followed after the howling wolves in the pitch dark until they came through to the other side where Adelea was waiting impatiently for them.

After coming out of the darkness, the twins jumped with joy. "Oh did I ever think I'd miss the light so much," Theo said joyously.

"Oh and I second that brother!" Nethlen exclaimed.

"Congratulations you two," Adelea said sarcastically. "If you want you can stay here celebrating but I, and the rest of us, are getting the fuck out of this eerie ass floor; join us if you like." She then began ascending the stairs, the others following right behind her.

"Come on Caleb admit it, you was just as terrified as we was in that dark." Theo said.

"Aye c'mon admit it," Nethlen said.

"Scared?" Caleb scoffed. "Hah... I was petrified," he grinned, "thought for sure I'd be eaten by wolves."

They laughed then the twins turned to the girls and asked, "How about you ladies? Were you scared even knowing that us strong men would protect ya in there?" Both of them then raised their arms and flexed their biceps with a smirk.

"Well, if you see any big strong men you boys be sure to keep an eye out aye?" Samhal asked mockingly.

"You two are barley boys," Myre said to the twins. "But Caleb is man enough to make up for it, isn't that right Caleb?" She turned to see Caleb and Irene in their own little conversation now.

Enraged, she stormed over there and suddenly put herself between them and wrapped her arms around Caleb; pulling him in for a kiss. He broke off from her a moment later surprised and a little annoyed. Before he could say anything, though, Adelea pulled everyone apart and said, "All of you stop your fussing and keep your backs to the wall." They were still on the stairs.

"Great what is it now?" Samhal asked agitated, though she complied with Adelea.

They waited in a line on the stairs, leaning their backs to the wall, for a couple minutes, whispering to each other, until another group came up the stairs. There was seven of them, mostly guys but a few woman too, they were all rugged and tough looking with worn clothes and armor.

The larger man in the front with an eye patch and stout look on his face stared down at Adelea, he was two heads taller than her. "We don't want trouble and we won't start none either." Adelea said to him.

He took a good look at all of them, Adelea and Caleb were the only ones who kept their eyes dead set on his as he did. Then he asked, "Tell me how does a group such as yours make it so far in here?"

"We're stronger than we look," Caleb burst out before Adelea could answer.

The man took a couple steps down to stand in front of Caleb and stare at him. He grinned, "I believe it." He then offered his open hand to Caleb. "Names Griff."

Caleb took and squeezed hard as he could though Griff nearly crushed his hand with his grip. "Caleb."

Griff grinned and said, "Well then good luck to you young sir."

He then started moving on until Caleb broke out of the line and asked, "Were you a knight?"

Griff turned back around and said, "Aye I was, once. Used to be Griff of Aladorn, served under King Abaron for many good years; in fact that's how I lost this here," He pointed to his eye patch. "During the great invasion attempt on Evercain."

"I thought knights were sworn for life?"

Griff chuckled amused by something Caleb didn't understand.

"They are, but my service ended years ago." He turned away again and moved on up the stairs with his people.

"So we stopped to let them pass us why?" Nethlen asked.

"Because I had no idea what they would have done if we were in their way. All I knew is they were not far behind us and I didn't want us to have to fight in such an enclosed area." She then turned to glare at Caleb. "And you, what the hell was with that outburst and all those questions?"

Caleb crossed his arms and asked defensively, "What, a man can't be curious?"

Adelea scoffed. "A 'man' won't live long enough to be a man if he asks a man like that all them sorts' of questions!"

"I wonder how many times they're going to use the word 'man' in this argument," Samhal whispered to Irene.

Irene's mood was still fowl from what Myre pulled earlier, but a grin broke through to her face all the same.

"I never saw the harm in asking the right questions, it's how you learn isn't it?" Caleb said still trying to justify himself.

"I know Caleb, that's what I taught you, all of you. But places like this tends to bring out the worst in people; and even just being in the area of said person is enough for them to try and kill you. And I'm not done looking out for all of you either."

Caleb dropped his arms and his attitude and said, "I know, I know you're always protecting us and all that."

"And that's why we love you," Theo said.

"But can we move on now?" Nethlen asked.

Adelea smiled and said, "Yup let's go."

The erupting cries of battle mixed in with a few screams of terror suddenly echoed down from the top of the stairs. Caleb made a dash to go up there and see what it was but Adelea was quicker and stopped him; Myre helped in holding him back too. Irene however was too quick and moved right on past everyone even though the twins and Samhal tried to stop her.

She dashed up the stairs fast as she could pulling out her dagger. When she got to the top, she saw Griff' and his group struggling to fight the men in the red cloaks, or 'wraiths.' Her heart skipped a beat in fear, and she ducked at the top of the steps barely peeking her head over enough to see.

Everyone but Griff himself was held down by an invisible force, as a dozen of the wraiths stood around them with their hands held out. She could see their boney fingers curled slightly, and their sickly yellow tinged flesh; these people, (if they could even be called that) were very disturbing.

She watched as the other wraiths struggled with Griff now. Though they greatly outnumbered him the former knight fought on relentlessly, his massive broad sword cutting through them in show of violence and gore; hacking off limbs or just plain cutting them in half.

Even as their invisible magic brought Griff to his knee's he hacked at their ankles and stabbed their feet. Breaking free from their grasp he rose up again and continued his enraged slaughter of them. Eventually they decided he was too much to handle when he started making his way over to aid his comrades.

A bolt of thin searing red fire shot from the fingers of one of the wraiths and pierced through Griff's chest. He stopped in his slashing and hacking and slowly turned to face the wraith who hit him. In his final act he chucked his great sword right at the wraith as it buried into, what Irene assumed to be his or her face (as she couldn't see through the veil of the hood).

Griff fell after that, surrounded by well over a dozen wraith's corpses; or what remained of them at least. Afterwards the wraiths took Griffs comrades away. Irene didn't move once until they were long out of her sight.

The others had soon enough come up after Irene slowly walked into the next floor; still shocked by all the carnage around her. She never before seen anything like that, and it seemed neither had the others as they had the same look on their faces she did. Only Adelea kept calm and un-phased by all of this.

"Irene what happened here?" Adelea asked her crudely.

Irene hesitated still a little in shock, and when she did talk she spoke a little soft and slowly. "The man with the eye patch, Griff. The red cloaks were waiting for them, and Griff just hacked away at them... They tried to capture him, but he was too strong, so they had to kill him."

Adelea scoffed, "Guess it's a good thing we let them get ahead of us then. Come let's move on from here now."

Irene said something so quiet that Adelea barley heard her make any noise. She paused and turned to Irene, "You have to speak up dear I can't hear you."

"You knew they were here," Irene said once more but loud enough for them to hear.

Adelea sighed, "Irene can we at least move away from here before playing these weird games."

"You knew the red-cloaks were up here that's why you kept us back," Irene said accusing her.

The others stopped now to stare at Adelea, their suspicions growing: especially Calebs.

"Irene I already told you-"

"That there was a group coming up the stairs," Irene finished for her. "Yea and we waited a good while for them to come pass us by before moving up ourselves. If they were such a threat to us it would have been better to dash up the stairs and aim for the next floor to hide in instead of meet them on the steps. But you waited on purpose for them to pass us by and tried to get them ahead of us as quickly as you could."

"Irene you just witnessed a traumatic event, you're not thinking clearly."

"Oh I'm thinking clearer than I ever have been my whole life, and I finally understand you. You used these people to get through the red cloaks trap, and you will use us too. I knew people like you my whole life, adults, who use children to get what they want; I can't believe I didn't see it earlier."

Irene then dashed away before Adelea could say a thing. Caleb rushed after her too; this time with no one close enough to hold him back.

She ran and ran until bumping into something invisible and falling on her butt. She looked up to see one of the red cloaked people abruptly appear in front of her, though she knew now he was there the whole time and using magic to conceal himself. "Ahh the little fox returns to us." The man said from behind his hood.

He kneeled down and reached a hand out to grab Irene. She was quicker and, acting on her primal fear and natural reflexes, grabbed her dagger and stabbed it right into the man's neck. He suddenly grabbed at his throat, the mixed sounds of choking and gargling sounded through his hood.

Moments later he fell to his side unmoving, and Irene got to her feet taking quick and shallow breaths when a hand grabbed hers. She turned around quickly and blindly jabbed at whoever it was behind her.

Caleb moved with lighting reflexes and managed to avoid being stabbed in the face by Irene, though her dagger still grazed him across his cheek. She gasped and whispered, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry I didn't mean to."

Caleb shook his head then pulled her into a hug gently whispering, "It's okay now, it's okay." He broke off their entanglement and said, "We need to get out of here right now though got it? There may be others around so we need to get far away before they notice this one gone. "

He then took her hand and the two fled south away from where they ran from and where the wraiths were going towards. They went until they couldn't go anymore and hit behind some of the thicker violet trees.

"Alright I think if we stay here for a few hours and move on ahead quietly we can spot the wraiths before they spot us." Caleb whispered. "What do you think?" He turned to Irene to see she was passed out now sleeping peacefully.

He smiled at the site; she was always so cute when asleep. He removed his coat and gently placed it over her like a blanket.

When she awoke later, Caleb smiled and plucked some fruit for her. They ate slowly, enjoying the peace and the privacy of each other's company. After they had finished eating, Irene said, "We should get going now."

"We should," Caleb agreed.

Neither of them got up or hardly moved. Caleb chuckled a little and said, "Maybe the only time we get to be alone together for a while."

"The only time we been alone together," Irene corrected.

"Yeah uh, Myre keeps getting between us every time we try to get close."

Irene looked away, "I noticed. What's the deal with you two anyways?"

Caleb sighed, "We had a very small thing about a year back, but I never thought of her romantically and told her so. I thought she had finally moved on from it but apparently she did not."

Irene looked back up at him and asked, "So you won't mind me doing this then?" She then leaned in toward him getting her face closer to his. Caleb closed his eyes and leaned his face in to meet hers too; their lips but a couple inches apart.

"There you two are!" Adelea half shouted at them.

They both jumped at her sudden intrusion on them. "I been searching for you for a while now, you had us all worried sick."

"Thanks," Caleb said sardonic. "Not like we were in the middle of something."

Adelea scoffed, "Yeah well thanks to you two the wraiths have finished their rituals and have now moved on! I know you don't like how I used those people to trigger their trap, but the only way we were sneaking past those wraiths was when they were preoccupied with their fucked up sacrifices. We might not get another chance to slip past them, and if we can't get around them they will beat us to that wish."

"Yea, then why not just leave us behind and sneak around them?" Caleb asked cynically.

"Because you little prick, we're all still a family and I would regret leaving any of you behind in this place. Though now you're starting to make me regret not leaving you behind."

"Fuck you."

"Alright now both of you stop," Samhal said. "We can't be fighting amongst each other in a place like this, especially not with such frightening enemies just ahead of us; and lord knows what else is further on ahead in here."

"Aye she's right," Nethlen said. "Our only chance-"

"Is to stick together," Theo finished for Nethlen.

Adelea sighed, "Alright everyone look, I think the sudden fear of the wraiths being so close has sparked back our memories captivity with them. And because of that we're all rather panicked and a little frightened. So how about we just camp out here for a while, rest up, and work things over in the morning... or whatever fucking time it is. And thanks to the wraiths I know where the stairs are in here so won't take too long to move on up to the next floor either."

Caleb broke his cold stare of Adelea and looked around to his friends. Reluctantly he said, "Sure fine, whatever we'll stick together for a while longer."

After a good long rest and eating, Adelea led them ahead. Caleb remained just a few steps behind her at all times now.

Coming within sights of the next stairs they saw the neatly lined up bodies of Griff's companions; they formed a circle. "I thought they would have mutilated them for their sacrifices," Myre said.

"No, it's worse," Adelea said. "They stab their victims in the heart with some weird dagger and for their final moments of death the ritual is enacted. They never scream but you can see it in their eyes the excruciating pain they're going through. And the cruelty of deaths release being right there but kept out of their grasp until the wraiths are finished with them.

"That was a huge part of the problem in tracking these people down: they may often leave the victims' bodies behind but there was no sure way of knowing if it was them or someone else mimicking them. And when the persons dead for too long the signs of magic used on them fades; I would have hours at most before a victims corpse was useless to me in hunting them."

"Thanks for the history lesson, now let's go," Caleb said sarcastically as he climbed the stairs.

The next floor they found was another irregularity (they began calling the floors that didn't have the violet trees and spongey ground Irregular floors. As if anything in that tower could be considered regular). The floor was a mountainous rocky terrain with a roof resembling the sky and even sunshine. The air smelled fresh and clean too.

"Now this is a floor I can enjoy," Samhal said basking in the warm light.

"I've never been to the mountains," Irene said, also enjoying the warm light. "Is this what it's like?"

"I never been either, but it's how I'd imagine it."

"Well you lot keep your imaginations," Theo said.

"We're going to explore!" Nethlen finished.

The two were then off and running ahead; throwing all caution to the wind. Before long the others joined in the spontaneous and random exploration, except for Adelea, who chased after the twins frustrated.

And after a few hours of everyone’s randomly exploring around Nethlen shouted, "You guys have to come see this!"

The area was rather large but finding each other and grouping back up wasn't too hard. Nethlen, Theo, and Adelea were at a lower range of the mountain floor. Nearby was a dark tunnel that was pitch black. But the thing that had all of them gathered around was the demon frozen in a block of ice.

But there wasn't just the one grey skeletal demon frozen over. No there were several all-around that tunnel area. Most of them were in a group, with their sickle-like arms raised in positions of attack.

"How long do you think they been here?" Irene asked no one in particular.

"It's hard to say, it could have been hours it could be week," Adelea said. She took a closer look at the frozen demons, putting her face just an inch away. "There's something strange about this ice, though."

Slowly she reached her hand out to touch it. Her finger tips gently making contact when she pulled away suddenly and yelped in pain. Everyone turned to her.

"What's wrong?" Caleb asked concerned.

Adelea looked down at the edge of her fingertips. They were welted purple and numb. "The ice it, it gave me severe frost bite just by grazing it. Whoever did this is insanely powerful; might not even be human."

She shook her hand a couple times, she would be fine. Then turned her attention back to the others. Her eyes grew wide in sudden shock and horror.

The twins were hacked down in a spray of blood that hit everyone. The grey skeletal demon had come up behind them silently, and with its scythe-arms cut them both into two separate pieces. The girls screamed in sheer terror when they realized what had happened, and Caleb was frozen for a moment.

When the demon went for Irene, next Caleb broke out of his shock. As it raised its arm and swung, Caleb tackled her out of the way, and the demon missed them both.

"Caleb!" Myre shouted rushing to him.

The demon twisted around extending its arm out. With a single swing, it chopped her head clean off. Samhal ran, and the demon chased.

"Adelea help us!" Caleb cried out.

There was no response. He looked around; she was nowhere to be found. "Fuck!!" Caleb shouted in frustration.

He and Irene got to their feet as the demon was coming back for them. They turned to the tunnel to run inside when two more demons emerge. Blood dripping from their arms.

They turned around to flee back, but another demon was now in that path too. They were surrounded. Caleb pulled Irene close to him, holding her head to his chest. He closed his eyes and said, "It will all be over fast."

They held their breath and waited. Seconds later they heard the shriek of one of the demons. They dared to open their eyes and turn their heads towards it.

In the path, they came down from lay one of the demons, dead. Standing triumphantly over it was a large man with an eye patch, worn armor, and a dark beard. He wielded a broadsword almost as large as Caleb. "Griff?" Caleb asked astounded.

Griff rushed at the demons without hesitation. They ignored Caleb and Irene and turned their sights on him now. The first one reached him, and Griff slammed it down with a strong kick.

The other two had swung at him from the one side, and he blocked their arms with his blade and a single hand. They struggled to overtake him, but he was too strong. His main focus was still on the other demon.

It moved, and he raised his right leg and stomped down on its knee; shattering the bones inside. The demon screeched in agony, and Griff turned his focus onto the other two demons.

He grabbed his sword with the other hand now and threw his body weight forward. The demons retreated a step and Griff used that opportunity to leap back. With the connection of pushing against Griff suddenly lost the demons were wobbly for an instant and Griff seized the opportunity to plunge his great sword through the mid-chest of the closest demon.

He pulled his blade, and the demon collapsed. The second demon swung its arm at him, and Griff blocked awkwardly at the last possible moment. He managed to stop the attack but was knocked to the ground as his sword scattered away.

Quickly hopping to his feet Griff tackled the demon before it could raise its arm to strike down at him. He then punched its shark-head jaw so hard several sharp little teeth were knocked out of its mouth and scattered to the ground. He then started ferociously punching its head down into the ground

The rocky ground itself caved in before the demon's head as Griff punching it before cracking its head open in a small burst of yellow brains. He stood up casually after that and retrieved his broadsword. Looking over to Caleb and Irene, who were staring at him in shock, he grimaced and raced towards them.

He didn't slow down as he approached them and suddenly tackled them down to the ground. The loud crashing sound erupted just in front of them an instant later. Griff looked up before he got out from under them.

While Caleb glared down Griff, not sure what the man would do next, Irene looked past him. She saw the shimmering blue slab of rock that resembled the sky above that had crashed down right where they were standing moments ago.

"Caleb look," Irene said astonished. She raised her finger to point at the blue shimmering rock.

Caleb looked over to the rock amazed. Above the sky had a massive dark chunk missing from it; a piece of the roof. "The sky is falling," Caleb said quietly to himself.

While he watched the sky, Irene looked at the large cracks splitting the ground apart off in the distance. The cracks spread wide and started erupting faster, racing towards them. Irene grabbed Caleb's hand and started pulling him away from the collapsing ground before them. It didn't matter that she was running back to the stairs leading down, so long as they outran the collapsing floor.

For an instant, it looked like they would make it when another shimmering blue rock crashed down in front of them and tore through the floor leaving a large pit open to the floor below. They turned sideways and stomped their feet into the ground to stop themselves. Their momentum dragged them over the pit, they caught edge with their arms struggling to hang on.

Irene tried pulling the rest of her-self up, but the edge caved in under her. She fell instantly. Her hand shot out desperately for the ledge but was nowhere near it.

Caleb caught her by the wrist. The added weight jerked him down, and he was now hanging on by his fingertips. He looked her in the eyes and smiled. She returned him with a sad smile of her own.

The edge caved in before Caleb did, and together they went down, holding each other in their arms the last thing they knew was the fall.

Slowly Irene opened her eyes. Everything hurt. She tried to move, that made everything hurt even more so she lay still. From what she gathered she was in a small room on a bed, with Caleb on another bed next to her; he looked to be sleeping. She was still very tired and closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

When she woke again, there was a large man who sat in a chair drinking out of a dark wineskin. Something told her it wasn't wine or water. He looked at her then took another long drink.

"You two be lucky I was there to pull your wee asses out of all that rubble," Griff said.

Irene struggled to speak, even that hurt. "I don't understand."

"I'd call you a bad liar if you tried saying you did. I ain't hardly understand me-self. The simple answer: the tower collapsed, and I don't have a fucking idea why. The complicated one-" he scoffed- "Well better be asking someone smarter than me about that." He went back to his drink.

"Why did you save us?"

He paused a moment to look at her. Then finished his drink before answering. "I don't know, something about you two reminds me of my own kids. I haven't seen em since I left fer the raid. I don't want them to see me like this, no I want them to remember me how I was when I left not know me for whatever the fuck I am now."

He stood up from his chair and stretched his arms and legs. "Well I think it's time to be moving on, I called in a favor from a friend. He oughta fix you two up good as new; though it will take some time; you're lucky to even to be alive."

Griff turned and walked to the door. "What will you do now?" Irene asked him as he opened the door.

He smirked and said, "No fucking idea."

A stern old bald man later came into the room to give Irene some soup and do something to Caleb that she didn't understand. He called it magic. Though it wasn't for days when Caleb would awaken. And when he did he was despondent for a number of days: coming to terms with the horrible and tragic loss of all his friends.

It was months before they recovered fully at which time the old man who healed them gave them some supplies and kicked them out of his home. Spring was in full bloom though so they were not too concerned. Caleb started walking ahead right away.

"So where will we go now?" Irene asked.

Looking ahead, Caleb told her, "I'm going to Dorgal, and I'm going to become a non-magister knight. One of the first in history." he turned to her. "Do you want to join me? I'm sure I can find good work for you too; that doesn't involve theft."

She smiled and took his hand as her answer. Together they went ahead, and she looked back to where the tower used to sit off in the distance. Though she'll never get her dear friend Eliah back, she knew that in the end this is what he would want for her: happiness and a real chance at life.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © © Jake Pendragon all rights reserved 2015

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