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  • Writer's pictureFiona Hamilton

Chapter 8: Storm in the Night

  A light knocking came from Rienna’s door. No light came through the window behind her causing the small flicker of a candle to be easily seen through the bottom of the door. She immediately stood up and opened the door. Though she had gone to her room early to try to sleep, she had only managed to sleep lightly for a few moments every ten minutes. She dreamed, in what she knew were dreams since they were only a little deeper than daydreaming, about leaving the peaceful city. She imagined herself climbing the hedge and falling on the other side in what would be a painful landing had it been real. Sometimes she dreamed of escaping through some underground system and being overrun by giant rats. Her most common dream was of course one of being caught by guards and taken to the king to be executed.

All of these dreams, thoughts, worries that Rienna had had flashed through her mind when she opened the door and looked into the glowing light of the candle trapped in a glass lantern. I bet that that isn’t actually a fairy stuck in wax… She thought distractedly and sighing internally. Xio and Xia were right.

“Are you ready?” Jen asked, “It is now midnight.”

“Yeah, I’m ready.” Rienna said, “Thank you so much.”

“Of course. Here, this is a bag I stuffed with food. There are apples, oranges, some carrots, and plenty of crackers that I put in their own container. I hope it is enough to last.” Jen said, handing her a large sack with two straps attached to it.

“Thank you.” Rienna said again, grabbing the sack and pulling the straps over her shoulders like a backpack.

“It’s no problem. Now follow me, I know a nearby way out of Rufdand. There is an underground tunnel that soldiers use to leave. It is not guarded as far as I know.” Jen said. She stepped out of the doorway to let Rienna through, “If we are quick we should get there in just a few minutes.” Rienna was hesitant about going through an underground tunnel for soldiers, especially after her dreams, but she tried not to show it as she followed Jen out of the care center.

The moon was not in the sky to shine any light, so everything was pitch black except for Jen’s candle. It was very much like Vieryen at night; any colors that could’ve been seen by day were turned grayscale only changed by the orange and yellow glow of lamps and candles. There was one noticeable difference though, there was a lot of wind. Rienna’s hair flew wildly into her face as she struggled against the wind. How can there be so much wind? This seems more than just natural wind. There was wind in Vieryen, but it maxed out as a small gust of wind. Rienna had been taught that there were wind spirits outside the Suppression that caused the wind to be more violent. She wondered whether it was true. She doubted it after what she had heard about the sun, but she was certain that magic could be evil after her encounter with the witch.

The two of them trudged through the night in what felt like an hour. Both of them glancing worriedly around, waiting for them to be caught. They did reach the tunnel though. The entrance was an iron bound wooden door on a stone wall. It was unlocked. Rienna and Jen couldn’t see much due to the dark and the wind, but they assumed that the door was also unguarded. They went in and closed the door behind them. They could still hear the wind through the door, and it sounded like howling, but the stillness around them was comforting as well as the warmth that came from being inside.

The candle, which would have been blown out if it hadn’t been in the lantern, grew back into a steady glow and illuminated the stone tunnel they were now in. Almost immediately stairs started leading down into the ground, they went so far down that Rienna and Jen couldn’t see where they ended. The tunnel was a comfortable width and height, at least for the two of them who weren’t really that claustrophobic. It was about five feet wide and over eight feet tall, and everything was made of stone brick. However, it wasn’t well maintained, and the pair started noticing moss growing in between cracks as they went down.

“You know. I have not been outside Rufdand before.” Jen said suddenly, “I am only learning to be a diplomat. I am not one yet.”

“Well, it’s really only grass and hills for a while out there. Plus, it’s not like you are going to be staying out there, you’ll be going back after you help me out.” Rienna said, trying to sound encouraging. She really didn’t know what to say. She didn’t want to sound like she wanted Jen to go away, and she didn’t want to sound like she wanted Jen to risk leaving Rufdand just to help Rienna. “I guess this is kind of similar to how it was for me when I was going through the Suppression.” Rienna added on to her previous statement.

“The Suppression? That is the magical dome around your kingdom, yes? Why did your queen put it there?” Jen inquired.

“Yes, we were told it was put there to keep out magic, but I think it is really there so that out kingdom is as isolated as possible. Also, her title is Sovereign Jenni.” Rienna responded.

“Ah… I see.” Jen said. She didn’t know how to respond either. The two of them continued onward in silence, neither knowing how to continue.

 The stairs stopped and the path turned into a winding hallway. Every ten feet or so an unlit torch would flicker into view on the wall and then disappear into the darkness as the duo passed it by. Eventually the walls got more worn and the floor became cracked and every stone was lined with moss; they were finally reaching the end of the tunnel.

As they continued onward and were able to start hearing the howling of the wind once again there was a loud shudder and the stones above them shook. At first it seemed like just a minor scare, but a few loose bricks started falling, and then more bricks, and then finally it was clear that the entire tunnel was going to collapse. The pair wasted no time before sprinting through the remaining hallway and up a staircase and out the tunnel. However, the storm had only gotten worse, making the two of them stuck in the violent wind with their hair not blowing into their faces only because it was pasted onto their heads and necks from the pouring rain. They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t trust the tunnel enough to go back in to seek shelter, and even if they had dared, the wind was causing the rain to go at such an angle that it was even pooling at the bottom of the staircase. Even worse was that they couldn’t see a thing since the candle had gone out while they had run out of the tunnel. As far as they could tell, they were doomed.

They both tried to ask each other what to do, but neither of them could hear each other over the wind. So instead Jen grabbed Rienna and slowly led her around the entrance to the tunnel and to the other side of the doorway. It was possibly one of the best decisions she could have made in their predicament, where there really weren't any good ones. The door to the tunnel was tall and wide and was placed quite strangely. It wasn’t at the base of a hill like one might expect, instead it was out in the open and disguised as a piece of falling apart wall, which was quite effective when it still had a door attached to it.

So Jen led Rienna behind the door to where they were fairly sheltered from the wind and rain. They sat behind that door for many hours, huddled next to each other for warmth. For a little bit of that time the storm got worse and they had to squeeze towards the very center of the door to avoid the majority of the rain. Fortunately that stage of the storm didn’t last long and only eased up after that point. Sitting together behind the false wall only hoping the storm wouldn’t last long, they each dozed off waveringly as they waited for dawn to come and the storm to ease up enough that they could do anything about their situation.

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