Chapter 7 Desperation Barvelle Temporary Prisons The dungeons of Barvelle were normally far underground, but a strange fungus contamination crawling up from the sewers made it impossibe to keep people in the area safely. All prisoners had been relegated to temporary holding cells, only a couple of levels below the populated area of Barvelle. The "cells" were just rooms, the doors reinforced with steel and magic. Only the vigilance of the guards made them secure holding chambers. Wolfsin lay in one such cell, clothed in nothing but a tattered shirt and ragged pair of pants. He had not woken since his potion had failed him and the beast had emerged to attack the Archon. His body and mind healed from the wounds they had received in sleep, and the guards left him to do just that. Wolfsin barely stirred at the sound of the heavy wood door that guarded the temporary prison opening, and slept unnoticing through the sound of gold changing hands. Then the prison door closed, and a masked figure stepped up to his cell. The door unlocked quietly at the turn of the key, and it hinged open. Still Wolfsin slept. And sleep was all he would ever do from this point on. A dagger emerged suddenly from within the folds of the stranger’s robes, and he kneeled down next to Wolfisn. It took him a moment to roll the sleeping man onto his back, but soon the warrior was in position, and the dagger was being raised over his heart. It plunged in quickly, burying the sharp blade up to the hilt. Wolfsin’s eyes flew open, and he barely had a chance to let out a suprised and pained gasp before he collapsed back to the ground. The stranger extracted the dagger and wiped it clean on Wolfsin’s tunic, before exiting the cell. Wolfsin lay, surrounded by a pool of blood. It would be hours before the guard on duty found him dead. But the report would never make its way to the ears of the Archon. The Towers Eirene was in something very similar to a state of shock. Not that she would ever let anyone know that. After Wolfsin’s sudden transformation, the near death of Ethelwen, and his subsequent astonishing recovery, Eirene had been quickly escorted from the room by a horde of guards, who had escorted her safely to her rooms in a high tower of Barvelle. There she had found her Steward. The old woman had been worried out of her mind, and quickly tended to Eirene, brought her a bowl of hot soup, and tucked her into bed. It had felt like the ministrations of a mother, and for once Eirene had allowed herself to accept it. She had slept long and deep, unknowingly helped by the drugging tincture slipped into the soup. But when Eirene woke she was all business again. She had to consult with the merchants, make sure that the relief caravan was still being sent out, and figure out what to do about the report that Kaustir was moving into the Cheronese. And Ethelwen. She had to talk to Ethelwen, even if it was just briefly. The anima, or whatever he was, had saved her life, and she owed him a deep debt of gratitude. There was no time for her to be in her room. But when Eirene tried to get through the door, she found it locked. It only took her a moment to realize that the door had been sealed from the outside by some sort of arcane lock. She was trapped in here. Her advents were useless for escape, and there was no way for her to force through the magic that kept the door sealed. One thorough search of her room later, and Eirene was forced to admit the truth. She had been imprisoned. It was a lavish prison, one fit for a goddess, but a prison nonetheless. And there was nothing that Eirene could do to get herself out. Barvelle Proper ”The Archon cannot be disturbed at the moment.” Coul had been standing at the bottom of the tower for almost half an hour, desperately trying to see Eirene, but for every move he made the guards at the bottom of the stairs blocked her own safety. “This is absurd!” Coul was a calm man, but even he was starting to lose his patience. “I am the General of Pegulis, and I must consult the Archon. Do you not understand what I am trying to tell you? Kaustir is invading the Chersonese, and I need to discuss with the Archon what we are going to do about the potentially imminent invasion.” “For the safety of the Archon,” the guard repeated for what must have been the hundredth time, “She is allowed no visitors.” “Allowed,” Coul spat. “Is she your prisoner?” “For the safety of the Archon, she shall remain in her room.” “Gah,” Coul whirled on the guard, nearly striking him, but staid the blow at the last second. The way things were looking right now, these men would arrest him for such an action and throw him down into the dungeons. Barvelle was no longer the place he had once known. Without another word, he turned and walked away. Right now, he was the only one who could protect Pegulis. He would have to make his choices without the Archon. “I’ll keep Pegulis safe, Eirene,” he whispered to the air. “I promise.” Ilium help him. Ilium help them all.