The lightening was happening at regular intervals, thin strands of white that searched the ground like hands. Any sane man would stay inside.
But they weren’t sane, they were desperate. Oren looked down just at the moment the lightening struck the water and saw an enormous head of a blinded fish staring at him. Which caused him to realize he didn’t have a single weapon; he hadn’t been weaponless since he was a young lad.
Quinn, as if reading his thoughts, said, “Under the seat, you’ll find a knife. And a whip.”
The boy shrugged. “It was all I could steal. Came out of one of those dark rooms.”
No more time for questions for they were coming into the far shore. Quinn had rowed patiently across without complaint. Not a small feat in the pouring rain and Oren watched in admiration as he now threw out an anchor. The boat buffeted by the rain, swayed back and forth, but held.
“This is as close as I can come. You’ll have to jump,” he said, apologetically. “When I planned this escape, I wasn’t expecting company.”
There was perhaps three feet between the moat and the shore but the rain kept beating the boat back. Oren looked over his shoulder at the castle and thought it looked cursed. On a wild night, it was bad to be unarmed. Oren picked up the whip. He’d always felt whips were for cowards; now he coiled it under his arm.
“You’ll have to jump,” repeated Quinn. “Wait. Let me throw out the anchor again. Something keeps tugging the boat back. I don’t understand.”
“You don’t have to understand it,” roared Oren, above the rain. “I’m jumping now.”
The Whitehair stood, bending at the knees as best he could. He knew the “something” that was pulling them back to the castle shore. The air was full of spirits, something foul was afloat. Had he wanted, Oren could have brushed the entities aside like gnats. But he reminded himself that he wasn’t susceptible and so listened to their unintelligible chatter even as he tried to stand. His legs were sore but uninjured. He squatted in the boat, then jumped, making it to shore easily enough.
Quinn was right behind him.
He had his life when he should have been dead.
“I owe you a debt,” he said to Quinn, and then, “You planned this?”
“Not the rain, but the escape, yes.” He pointed to the window where he’d sat only hours earlier, watching as the light faded and the storm clouds came in.
The room was lit which was unusual for this time of night, and brightly so, which was even more unusual. Quinn knew where every torch holder was placed and judging from the brightness spilling from the window, every rush had been lit and then some.
They must be searching for something. Idly, he wondered if it was him.