Chapter 27

They both held their breath, afraid releasing it would create a mass of chaos that would not end well for them.

Don’t move. Don’t even blink. Even the slightest movement and they will know we are here. What are we going to do?

Riley couldn’t keep the thoughts from tumbling through her head. She figured those same thoughts were going through Saber’s because she stood as still as Riley.

“Come. Enter. This is the great hall, and you are now in the presence of your king.”

The loud voice echoed off the high walls that ended in a domed ceiling. What they could see of the room was beautiful. As they both walked farther in, Saber’s and Riley’s heads spun, trying to take it all in. The ceiling sparkled with gold, the stone walls decorated with ornate drawings that were too far away to make out. Pillars spanned the room, running from floor to ceiling to obviously keep all that gold above them from crashing down.

Of course, it was hard to see most of the room due to the insane amount of guards surrounding it, all standing as still as statues. There were at least five rows of them, all tall and standing shoulder to shoulder. What would Saber and she do if they started to attack?

Saber was only a few steps into the room, but must have thought the same thing because she pulled her sword up, ready. Riley looked back at the door, wondering if they could make it out of there before they attacked. The first row of guards was twenty feet away. Could they make it in time?

That was when she noticed the door behind them was closed, two guards standing next to it. They were trapped. There was only one direction to go.

Toward the king, who sat on a large throne at the other end of the great room.

Riley nudged Saber, who had yet to relax her stance. She was ready to fight, Riley could see it in her eyes, and Saber might have gone against odds like this before. She wouldn’t get hurt, but Riley could. That being the case, Saber was not about to turn away from the guards to look behind them.

“Saber…,” Riley hissed.

“What?” she hissed in return, still keeping her eyes on the guards.

“The door.”

Saber took a quick glance over her shoulder, then spun. In the few seconds that Riley had looked away, the guards had doubled, their swords drawn.

“You are not getting out that way. Come forward so you may present yourself to the king,” the loud voice said.

They ignored it, their gazes locked on the four by the door. As they watched, the four became eight, the new guards appearing before their eyes.

Riley blinked to make sure her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her. Then she remembered she was in a dream, so blinking didn’t mean that she was actually blinking. She grew frustrated with herself.

They were now almost surrounded. It would be easier to go through the king than the door just a few yards away.

“You are not getting out that way. Come forward so you may present yourself to the king.”

“I can get us through them,” Saber whispered, obviously seeing the fear on her face as Riley looked back and forth between the guards and the king.

“No, you can’t. I could get hurt.”

Saber repositioned her grip on her blade and readjusted her stance. She then did it again. Halfway through the third time, the blade disappeared. She quickly snapped the handle back onto her belt.

“You’re right.”

She was obviously unhappy, but Riley still felt the sting of the wound on her shoulder. She was grateful Saber wasn’t as crazy as Riley had first thought when they’d met.

Who am I kidding? I’m the crazy one. I took down Deadman’s Curve. So how can I be the one to say no?

The stinging in her shoulder was how. She just didn’t like it. It wasn’t right. She wanted to tear apart these fools herself. She’d used her force armor once, which was pretty cool. It worked then. It could work again, right?

Riley’s fingers twitched. She sensed the tug of wanting to feel the weight of the axe in her hand. When had she put it away? She didn’t remember, but realized it wasn’t there shortly after entering the room. If she conjured up a weapon, she knew Saber would draw hers. They could take them. She just had to pull free the axe and ignite the blade.

How had she done that before?

“You are not getting out that way. Come forward so you may present yourself to the king.”

They both turned and walked toward the king on the far side of the hall.

As they approached, the throne seemed to grow higher, the king becoming larger and towering above them. Riley couldn’t help but notice the similarities of his throne to the one on the popular HBO show. The king was of such large girth, the rolls of fat could not be contained by his robes and seemed to overflow the chair. It was like the human equivalent of Jabba the Hutt.

“That is close enough,” came the loud voice, speaking for the king, but Riley couldn’t tell who was talking. The king watched them, but not once did his mouth move. The large, red lips stayed closed, his small, beady eyes never straying from them.

Those lips… What was this king’s diet? Blood? They looked like he had just been fed and was ready to feast on more.

You’re his next meal. Run, Riley. Get out of here before his guards stop you.

Riley wished that little voice in her head would just shut up, but she felt like it was right. Looking at those eyes glaring at them sent a shiver down her spine. Maybe they could take on all the guards around them.

Then she remembered the dungeon. The guards had kept coming until they took out their boss. How many would keep reappearing until they had done whatever they needed to do in this room? All of them, until they talked to the king.

“Bow before the king and present yourselves.”

Riley looked at Saber, who shrugged. Riley bowed. “I am R-” Saber nudged her in the ribs before she could finish.

“She is Axe, my king,” Saber said. “And I am Saber. We are here to ask for the release of our friend we have been told is locked in your tower.”

The king nodded, shifting his immense weight. “Are you here to kill me?”

“We are here only to free our friend.”

“And who is this friend of whom you speak?”

“We are here to free Raz.”

“And what if I do not wish to release him?”

Riley was surprised at how calm Saber was and how quickly she fell into whatever character this video game…dream needed her to be. She guessed it made sense. Saber was used to doing this on a regular basis, but it was strange to Riley. If Saber wore a long, flowing dress, she would look like a visiting princess making a request of the king.

Riley, on the other hand, couldn’t keep her hands from flexing, wishing she held her axe.

“Why did you lock him up?” Riley blurted, frustrated that she felt so helpless.

Saber glared at her before she turned back to address the king. “Your gracious king, he is our friend, and we wish to save him.”

“Your friend came to kill the dragon. He wanted to slay the beast that has burned our villages, our fields, our livestock. I agreed and sent him to kill the beast. In the end, your friend failed, the beast doing more damage.”

“So you locked him up?” Riley yelled, upset by the dream logic that said it was okay to lock someone up just because they failed.

“I put him in the tower after he tried to flee with my daughter. He will die soon, just like his friends who have come to save him,” the king said, then nodded to the guards.

Riley had been watching the king, so she hadn’t noticed the guards had closed in around them. They swarmed, two grabbing Saber’s and Riley’s arms before they could engage their weapons. The rest stood around them, swords at the ready.

“Now, friends of Raz, you will die. Off with their heads!” the king bellowed as the guards forced Riley and Saber to the floor. “Off with their heads, then bring me the one they call Raz. We will kill them all.”

Published by JasonRDavis

Author of the #zombie apocalypse trilogy Invisible Spiders and the Edge of Darkness series.

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