Chapter 25

The two exited the chamber and then went down the middle hallway. From the base of the stairs they could hear Tabia fighting the statues. Martell would have liked to go up and see what her methodology was for fighting such beings but the search for Lady Nattan and her men was more pressing based on the message Tabia had given. Down the middle hall they went, it was smooth stone walls all the way. The quakes had not phased the infrastructure here. At the end of the hall they found a room with several doors off of it. They were all open, but Oren and Martell could not see in to any of them from their standpoint. Martell took initiative and headed right in the lead. She looked into the first room. It was of simple furnishings with a bed in one corner and a table next to the bed. There were no windows and if the door had been shut the only way light would enter was a small window in the door. Oren followed behind Martell; as she was checking out the room, he took a defensive stance so as they could not be sneaked up on.
They searched three rooms this way till they got to a door that had a stairwell further down. A quick check of the other rooms confirmed no one else was in the area and the only place to go was down the stairs. The two debated on whether to proceed. They checked around for any marker as to what was further down, but to no avail.
The two made their way cautiously down to the next floor, uncertain as to what to expect. When they reached the bottom of the stairs there was another room with a hallway leading out of it. Oren motioned quietly to Martell that he heard noises down the hall. It sounded like someone was moving chains. Whoever was working ahead let out an “ouch” before the chains continued to move. Oren and Martell quietly moved down the hall closer, they left their torches in the room so as to not be seen.
When they got close enough, it became clear it was Katsutaka and the other guard. They had broken through a couple locks and were now undoing chains that crossed over a door. “Lady Nattan, we will have you out shortly. We just need to remove one more barrier on the door.”
“Thank you”, said a voice unlike anyone Oren or Martell had heard before. “You shall be rewarded for your efforts.”
Oren and Martell ran in weapons drawn. Katsutaka drew his sword, “Get our Lady free. I will hold these two.” Katsutaka thrusted his sword at Oren, he parried the blow, but not before it nicked him on the arm.
Martell lunged at the opening only to strike air as Katsutaka sidestepped her. He brought his sword back for another assault on Oren. Oren parried again with his staff and countered hitting Katsutaka’s shin. Martell ceased her assault on Katsutaka and moved past him to prevent his colleague from opening the last lock.
Oren continued his assault on Katsutaka, pivoting his staff in his hands to land a strike on the jaw and then a blow on his gut on the opposite side.
Martell slashed at the fingers that were prying at the lock. The man withdrew them before she could cut him. He drew out his sword and prepared for her next slash.
The door shook as Lady Nattan pounded on it. Martell then heard one of the words she had heard up at the battle near the altars. She jumped back in time as the door shattered and wood and stone went flying everywhere. Lady Nattan’s allies got hurt just as badly as Oren and Martell. It was mostly scratches and cuts. More than likely there were a few bruises and splinters that would not be felt till later.
When the debris cleared out a woman was left there. She looked to be about forty, and was wearing a dress. She had shoulder length light red hair and glowing copper eyes. “Enough of this fighting,” She spoke. “I am going to walk out of here and Oren you and your friend are going to let me and my associates leave. “ She was very intense, as if focusing on something as she spoke this.
“I will not yield to you Nattan, nor will she,” Oren motioned to Martell. “You are not to leave this room.”
“Curious, Oren.” Lady Nattan seemed vexed, as if something was not happening the way she thought it should. “If you do not bend to my will then I shall need to remove you as a problem.” She pulled out two balls and tossed them at Oren and Martell. She uttered a different word than they had heard before. The balls expanded into lightning emitting spheres.
Oren, almost reflexively, called on spirits to shield himself, when he saw the spheres come out. With the speed they answered his call; he also attempted to protect Martell from the impending assault. Oren’s quick move spared him and Martell the shock that would have followed. Instead they dissipated with loud thunder following, but no harm to the two of them.
“Well, are we not full of tricks Oren?” Lady Nattan mused, slightly annoyed. “You may not be able to get out of this one.” She tossed another ball, into the air above her this time. He heard her mutter a new phrase. And with that all went dark, followed by a resounding slamming of doors shut.
When Oren could see again, he was in a small room with Martell. There was a vent in the door where he could see a small flicker of a flame dancing on a torch.
“You will not be a bother to me in there.” Lady Nattan’s voice could be heard. “You will enjoy the same fate my captors gave to when they realized I would not bend to their will. The chains across the cell door each ward against a different enchantment. If I was unable to break out without them being removed by someone else, neither will you. It took me five hundred years till I found someone willing. You will wait much longer since no one even knows you are here.” With that the torchlight went out. Oren could hear talk coming from down the hall. “Katsutaka you did well in serving me. This will eventually be yours, but we have one last place to go. Besides, what good is a keep like this if there is no garrison to staff it and no farmers to feed it.” Darkness settled in. Martell and Oren sat in it thinking, locked away.
“Martell?”
“Yes Oren?”
“Do you know any way out of here?”
“Nope, you got any ideas?”
“One.”
“That is enough if it is the right one.”
“How long until they will have left Erridda?”
“Couple of hours…?”
“Okay, we can talk about it then.”
“Think they will be back?”
“No, worried we may have to fight them again is all.”
“So sit in the dark till then?”
“Yes.”
“Oh.”

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