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midnight_medusa t1_j9sphzx wrote

The rest of the night was uneventful until after the sun had set. Bael found himself dozing in and out of sleep, the crackling fire and night bird songs soothed his exhausted body. He tried to stay awake but the days of travel were weakening his ability to resist the whispers of the sandman. He thought of his beautiful wife, Mel, and his three daughters. He fell asleep to the image of their joyful faces.

A snapping noise startled Bael awake. The fire was embers and it flickered on and off as if the fire was breathing. The hairs on the back of Bael’s arms were rising as he stumbled to his feet and grabbed for his sword.

You should not have come here,” an amused, high-pitch voice said from the trees. Bael’s eyes looked at every shadow but he couldn’t see who was speaking. He waited and she continued, “No one is to see the Princess. No one is to climb the tower. I must kill you, by order of the King.”

A red whip struck forwards and almost caught Bael’s right leg but he moved just in time and it wrapped itself around air and flickered back. Bael lifted his ornate shield and held a defensive stance. There was a moment of silence and all Bael could hear was the sound of his own uneven breathing. It was hard to see in the dark but the moon was high in the sky and full, so shapes were relatively illuminated. Bael shifted his weight and looked around just as an eerie, thick, grey fog began to billow into the clearing, swept up by the wind like a great wind storm.

“I am here to free the Princess,” Bael shouted in no particular direction, his loud voice echoing around the clearing, “No one should be held prisoner like this. She is innocent.”

Innocent?” the voice sneered as another attack whipped forwards. This one caught Bael’s sword but he turned with it and managed to pull his weapon away before it could be wrenched from his hand. “She is anything but innocent. I warn you, leave this place, or die.”

Lightening struck the ground in front of Bael and he jumped back before it snapped against his pants. His eyes found a figure in the mist and he ran forwards, dodging the whip and deflecting it away. Finally he saw his attacker, a tall, thin witch with black hair, grey skin, and black eyes. She smiled coldly, her thin mouth full of small, sharp teeth, and blew a gust of freezing air towards Bael. He caught the wind and frost in his shield and, activating his Knight Stone, absorbed the magic and threw it back at her. She was caught off guard for a second and Bael slashed at her with his sword. She vanished and reappeared further away from him. Rising her arms she snapped electricity towards him and he dodged it just in time. Bael groaned in annoyance and took his crossbow off his back. He whispered the secret word to it, “Agathenthia” and it began to glow with red light that flickered in the witches black eyes.

Where did you get that?” she managed to say before she was blasted back and stuck into a tree with the bolt sticking out of her chest. Her body spasmed chaotically, red magic rippling through her, before her body went limp and she hung there silently. Bael breathed deeply and fastened his weapon on his back. He spat towards the hanging witch and made his way back to the tower. He tried to sleep but was still awake as the sun began to ignite the land.

End Part Two


midnight_medusa t1_j9splbe wrote

Bael was exhausted and irritated as he busied himself with preparing his contraptions for climbing. Misty refused to leave his side and although this was very sweet Bael was in quite a mood and she was just getting in the way. After the third time she blocked him from reaching the tower in time to connect his contraptions properly Bael sighed and patted her affectionately, “Okay,” he said softly, “I suppose I should take a break and try to have something to eat.”

The birds sung sweetly as Bael prepared himself a quick breakfast of bread, cheese, and the last of his grapes. He checked his pack and realized that he only had four apples left so he tossed Misty one and put the others away. She needed them more than he did.

With his belly only feeling a little satiated Bael began to place the first contraption on the tower wall. He worked on soothing his breathing and containing his fears as Misty watched him anxiously.

“Don’t look so worried,” Bael said, side-eying Misty. “You’re making me worried. I’ll be back before you know it. It’s easy,” Bael looked up and tried to push down the lump in his throat. “Piece of cake really….”

The annoying thing about being a hero is the fears never go away, you just get better at pretending you don’t feel them. Bael imagined it was a lot like stage fright. Even the best theatre performers say they feel anxious and afraid before a big performance. In his ripe age he was beginning to realize that he would always feel like that worried young man before a battle or a big challenge. Bael took in a deep breath, closed his eyes, held it for a second, and then released it loudly.

It’s now or never, he thought.

Bael carried the rest of the contraptions in a bag that hung off his shoulder and also had with him some basic supplies. He was pretty sure the Princess was alive and well kept up there in the tower, but he couldn’t be certain that her father didn’t leave her up there with nothing to eat.

Bael tested the wire of the first he had placed on the wall, as far as his arm could reach, and it held, so he pulled his crossbow off his back and found the right bolt in his pack. He fastened the contraption to the end of the bolt with the back of it facing the wall. He connected the contraption in the crossbow to the one close to him on the wall and then took some steps back.

Bael aimed, closed one eye, and released the bolt about 50 feet up. He heard the proper clicking sound as the contraption made contact with the wall and nodded.

Bael fastned another contraption to his crossbow, connected his belt to the wire, rubbed his gloved hands together, and began to climb.

Bael knew that there were no traps in the first five feet, but he kept his eyes open as he made his way from one contraction to the next. His belt dragged along the wire that connected the two contraptions. It was enchanted with a locking spell so that if it got suddenly jerked in one direction it would lock into place and instead of falling to his death Bael would hang against the side of the tower.

This was perfect except if there was a trap close beneath him. Because of this, Bael did not intend to fall and hoped he would simply be able to avoid all the traps. He’d planned his route many times and optimized it, but he knew that the King could’ve added more traps or changed things around between the plans he saw and the finalised ones.

Bael promised himself he would not look down so he kept his eyes firmly up. He was approaching the first trap, he suspected, so he took out his crossbow and aimed above him and to the right. This path would hopefully take him between two traps. As he climbed he noticed a hole in the tower and two serrated blades waiting for something to trigger them. Bael was careful about which bricks he placed his hands on to pull himself up. He knew many of the bricks were what activated the traps.

Bael had placed three more bolts and avoid seven more traps when his foot slipped and he sharply fell. In his panic he reached out for the wall but his finger caught the edge of one of the trigger bricks. Suddenly the wall was full of sharp spikes that jutted out and, if the rope had been made of anything else, it probably would’ve broken.

Bael’s breathing was heavy as he assessed his situation. He was hanging just beyond the reach of the spikes, but they were close. He couldn’t use them to climb because they were very sharp. He bit his lip and eyed the situation.

He took out another contraption, put it on a bolt and activated the locking spell on his belt by saying the secret word “bak’ell.” He tested the best and it held firm. Bael put his feet against the wall and leaned back, aiming his cross bow up. He kicked off a little and shot the bow about thirty feet up. He came back to the wall and held onto it with the gloves as he unlocked the spell.

Suddenly Bael kicked away from the wall as hard as he could. While in the air he pulled himself up the wire as quickly as he could so that by the time he swung back he was above the spikes. His boot caught the tip of one of the spikes and he thought he punctured the leather, but otherwise he made it. Bael snuck a look down. He was only about half way up and his arms were getting tired. But he needed to keep going.

Bael made it up the rest of the tower with just a few near misses. He was almost burned into a crisp, almost stabbed through the chest, and nearly lost an arm, but he had reached the clouds and he could see the Princess’ window.

When he finally reached the window the sun was nearly setting and shadows were filling the clearing beneath him. Bael peered through the window but the room was completely dark. He tried to open the window but, unsurprisingly, it was locked. Bael dug in his pack and pulled out another small contraption. He fastened it to the window, pushed the sides, and moved away from it, shielding his face. A small “bang” boomed and the glass shattered. Bael cleared the glass and pulled himself through the window.

He felt an immense sense of relief as his boots touched the ground but that was quickly taken away as he looked around the room he’d entered. This was not the Princess’ chambers, and Bael was afraid he’d have a long way to go before he actually found her.

End Part Three