Chapter Forty Eight

Chapter 48

Now Quinn was in flight and his escape might have gone as planned but for this: a horrible fight was taking place in the dungeon below. He spied a recess in the wall just to his left and hunkered in. Once, it had held a statue. Now, it held a frightened boy, made more frightened by the savagery of the sounds below.

Mirella’s wailing had been an ear-splitting nuisance; these were sounds of death. Bone against bone, fists hammering flesh, a roar of rage followed by a high squeal (doubtless from a Red Robe), then a sickening thump.

A body had dropped.

Suddenly, he heard the sound of a thickened sole at the top of the stairs and his heart nearly jumped from his throat. Elymas was descending as fast as he could, mad as a bull, muttering curses between his labored breathing and limp.

Quinn threw the gray of his robe over his head and prayed that he not be seen. He’d always hated the gloom of the staircase for the rushes were far between, but now he was grateful. Between his girth and his thickened sole, Elymas was coming fast as he could, looking neither to the right or left, but keeping his eyes on the treacherous steps. Quinn muttered thanks.

He’d not been seen, but he wanted to see. With Elymas safely at the bottom, Quinn crept forward. It was worse than he’d imagined.

He’d not been seen, but he wanted to see.

Six of the Red Robes were standing around the Hunter, grinning hyenas over a downed lion. Elymas looked as though he might explode with rage.

“I did not order this,” he pointed to the unconscious man on the floor. “If he dies, so do you all.”

“But, Sire, he attacked with such—“

Elymas held out a finger and released a greenish light directed at the one who spoke. The Sacred Servant dropped next to Oren, his leg flung over the Hunter in death. Elymas kicked it off and ordered, “Get rid of it.”

The remaining five jumped to obey, but with only the tip of his finger, Elymas held the tallest back. The others stopped, as if they’d been touched as well — which made Elymas more furious.

“Only Root!” he thundered. “Am I surrounded by dolts?”

The question remained unanswered as the four lifted the body and carried it down the darkened hall. They were going to dump the body in the lake, Quinn realized and for the second time that day, he prayed. By All Above, let not find Flight be found.

Elymas and Root stepped apart, speaking in whispers, allowing Quinn a full view of Oren Whitehair. The man was a mess. Oren’s eyes were swollen, one completely shut, and blood dripped from his mouth. His left arm lay beneath him at an odd angle and Quinn knew the bone had been snapped. Already, the bruises from the beating were starting to form. Once they appeared, Quinn knew they would cover his body.

Oren was still breathing, though, that much he could tell from labored rise and fall of the blood splattered vest, but if they weren’t careful, if they dragged him, his neck would break.

Silently, fearfully, the five returned from dumping of the unfortunate Sacred Servant.

Elymas glared at them. They jumped back as if flung.

“I will say this again. Your lives depend on his life. Take him to the last cell with care, and throw in fresh straw. And an unused blanket. Water in the bucket and clean rags. Someone will attend him later.”

The four tried to lift the Hunter and failed.

Elymas sighed. “Root, it appears that you must help the weak. Punish the weak at your discretion.”

“Yes, Mi’Lord,” Oily pleasure rolled through Root’s voice.

Quinn huddled back in the recess and made a decision. It wouldn’t be easy, but it would be right. The Hunter undoubtedly had more broken bones although none of them were sticking through his skin. He would hurt terribly when he moved, and if he remained unconscious, getting him to the boat was a problem Quinn didn’t want to think about.

But he would do it.

Quinn smiled. Somehow, he’d manage to thwart the Earth Skyll.

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