Tap tap tap.
The sound echoed throughout the endless hall, nagging at the edge of his consciousness.
Tap tap tap.
This time louder, as if the sound itself were an angry beast, tearing away at the fabric of his imagination.
Tap tap tap.
“Gi’ yer ass up, elf”, the voice was thunderous. Valyn opened his eyes to the best of his ability but remained on the floor. The metallic taste in his mouth and constant throbbing in his arm were overwhelming as he struggled to remain conscious.
“I say gi’ up!”. A wave of icy water came crashing down on Valyn as the jailer continued his storm-like howling. How long have I been here? he thought as he got to his feet. “Ú-aníron ceri han…” he managed to say, propping himself up against the jagged darkness. Standing seemed to worsen the pain in his arm and his head began to swim. “Ye ‘ave a visitor. Don’ die on ’er” he bellowed.
The thick, sour stench of the jailor was replaced by a heavenly combination of vanilla and jasmine and Valyn’s heart skipped a beat. His senses became more alert in an instant as he recognized the scent and the throbbing pain in his arm seemed to subside to a dull ache. “Scarlett…” he whispered, dried blood cracking around his lips.
“I told you not to go to the elders! They would never allow a human and an elf together in the society” she said as she began to sob. “I tried to stop them from hurting you more but they wouldn’t listen. I’m so sorry.” A sick feeling kicked at Valyn’s stomach as he recalled the events prior to his incarceration. It was she who had denied their love to the elders. “Why did you lie to them?” he asked coldly, holding back his own tears.
She stood there, silent as a ghost, seemingly searching for an answer that made sense. “I… I don’t know. I was afraid, I guess. I never meant for you to be hurt, Valyn.” she managed after a time. Little did she know that the words she uttered in front of the elders hurt far more than any physical wound they could inflict upon him.
The pain in his arm began to throb more as he struggled to keep himself up. “Why are you here?” he questioned. She stifled her tears and a flash of that beautiful smile appeared and vanished just as quickly. “I’ve come to get you out of here and I mean to run away with you. After seeing what they did, I do not wish to be here anymore” she said to Valyn’s utter surprise. “Quickly, the guard won’t be gone for much longer.” she whispered as the cell door creaked open.
“We need to find another way out.” she said as they exited the cell. Scarlett’s scent was intoxicating, fueling his willpower like wood for a fire. Every step he took was with renewed vigor as his strength slowly returned. “How badly are you hurt?” she inquired after they rounded the first corner of the torch lit labyrinth. “Not bad. It’s mainly my arm and a terrible headache.” he responded as they rounded another corner, their shadows dancing ahead.
“In there” she said, motioning to a cell down the hallway. When they stopped, she told Valyn to sit down and she took something from her hair. With deft precision, his wrists were unbound and the shackles fell to the floor. “Now let’s see about that arm,” said Scarlett, as she rolled up his sleeve. Muttering something softly, a faint glow appeared from her hands and she pressed them onto Valyn’s arm.
They were nearly scalding as a sharp pain shot through his body and subsided a moment after and then the pain was gone. “That’s incredible! Why didn’t you tell me you were a healer?” inquired Valyn as he flexed the former injured arm. “Now’s not the time. We have to get out of here before they find out we’re gone” she said, standing up and peering down the hall for sentries.
Valyn could no longer stand it. His thoughts were more clear and was mostly pain-free except for the aching in his chest. “I have one more injury that needs to be tended to” he said as he moved closer to her. “Can it wait until we’re safely outside of the city?” she replied.
“It cannot wait another second.”
Their mouths collided in a passionate, aggressive kiss as they stood in each others arms. Wave after wave of emotion washed over Valyn as their tongues danced.
Tap tap tap.
“What was that?” Scarlett asked as they broke their embrace. “We have to move. Now.” he responded. They left the cell hand-in-hand, continuing down the corridor, carefully navigating through the dungeon.
Tap tap tap.
Their pace quickened. The sound of frantic footsteps were joined with labored breathing as they continued searching for the way out.
Tap tap tap.
Rounding yet another corner, a dark mass stood at the end of the hallway, blocking what looked to be an exit. “’Ello elf. Goin’ some’ere?” it bellowed. The jailer was frighteningly large for a man, if it even was full human. Valyn searched for a way around the beast but could not see anything. “Can we make it back to the entrance before he does?” he asked Scarlett, hoping for another way out. “There are guards outside, they would most certainly catch us if we went that way.” she replied.
Fear and anxiety replaced the joyous emotions that Valyn had experienced just a moment ago. “Stand aside and I shall let you live” Valyn told the jailer, stifling the uneasiness that was dancing in his stomach. The laughter it emitted nearly shook the walls of the prison as it found Valyn’s request most amusing. With that, the creature’s laughter stopped and it charged them. Without hesitation, Valyn reached into the depths of his consciousness and pulled forth a magical spell. “Namárië!” he screamed. A tide of magical weariness erupted from Valyn and struck the jailer as it came to a halt mere inches from the couple, appearing asleep.
With the creature in hibernation, Valyn and Scarlett made their way towards the exit, only to find the door to be locked as they reached it. “Let’s check the jailer to see if he has the key” Valyn said as they made their way back to the towering beast. Carefully searching its many pockets, he came across a keyring with many keys on it, the word ‘Marty’ was engraved on it. “One of these is bound to be it” he said as they turned back towards the door.
At the sound of the jingling of keys, the beast awoke with a roar. Valyn and Scarlett hurried to the door, frantically searching for the right key. The creature charged, running at full speed towards the exit. Desperation gripped Valyn’s emotions as he searched for a spell, any spell, to use.
“Hantalë!” he screamed. A frigid bolt of purple energy appeared in Valyn’s hand and he sent it straight at the jailer’s face. It struck with elf-like precision as the beast came to a skidding halt, dead. “He needed to ‘chill’ out, anyways” Valyn said, feeling triumphant from the victory. As he turned back towards the door, he noticed Scarlett slouched against the wall, motionless, with a crossbow bolt protruding from her chest.
Only then did he notice the other two guards at the end of the hallway, reloading their weapons for a repeat attack. Valyn panicked, wrestling the keys from Scarlett’s lifeless fingers and attempting to unlock the door.
Two bolts ricocheted off the door as the guards continued their assault. By the third key, the barrier was unlocked with a click and he burst through into the night. The bitter cold smacked him in the face as he breathed in the fresh air, shutting and locking the door behind him.
His new found freedom was bitter-sweet. Sorrow gripped him tightly as the force of what just transpired took full effect. She was gone. He dropped to his knees and pounded the earth with his fists, screaming at everything in range. He couldn’t help blame himself for her death but now was no time for regret, he needed to get out of here safely before they found him again.
Navigating the streets with as much haste as he could manage, Valyn reached his foster parent’s house without disruption. He grabbed a few supplies and whatever gold pieces he could find. He scribbled a note to his caregivers that he intended on paying them back when he could and that he was sorry for their daughter.