“Captain Vailos?” King Periphral tried to smooth out his wrecked nerves as he called for his most trusted advisor. “Do you- by any chance- think that Morteus sent that messenger?”
“Morteus?” Captain Vailos’ expression was a tactfully concealed mask, but his tone indicated that he was surprised.
“Perhaps,” he mused, scratching at his chin, “It doesn’t seem likely, though.”
“Mmm,” Periphral sank into deep thought. Morteus. Where could he be? “Where’s Commander Violetta? Is she back yet?” His thoughts suddenly jumped to her, and he exclaimed frantically.
“No,” Captain Vailos replied. “She’s still searching for Morteus.”
There was a silence and Captain Vailos knew that the king was struggling- struggling with himself. He bowed his head, letting Periphral have some time to collect himself.
“Just… Just give a call to the guards if you need me,” Captain Vailos beat a retreat. King Periphral gave a small nod, rubbing the sides of his head.
Captain Vailos closed the door silently behind him and looked to the guard clad in green outside the door. “Where did they bring the messenger?”
“The first holding room on the right,” the guard answered, saluting him.
“Thank you,” Captain Vailos murmured and walked down the red carpet, taking large strides. Holding up his robes so he could walk faster, he hurried past the banisters and outside to the adjoining tower. Picking up speed, he nodded curtly at the guards placed outside the tower, and entered the solid stone tower.
This tower was wholly unlike the main one. It was much less exuberant, with stonewalls and brick floorings. True, it wasn’t entirely uncomfortable, but the aura of mystery and insecurity sent shivers down Vailos’ spine.
He knocked on the first bolted metal door. “Hello?” He heard the sound of ragged breathing coming from within.
“Are you alright?” Captain Vailos asked and knelt down, pressing his ear to the door. He strained to hear the messenger.
There were a few moments of silence.
“I’m fine,” the messenger replied in a clipped tone.
Captain Vailos paused for a second. “You were foolish, and you went too far trying to blackmail the king. You know that, don’t you?”
Silence came from within.
Captain Vailos shook his head after a few seconds and got up, turning away from the door. He’d have to deal with him later. He exited the tower, breathing a sigh of relief as he was showered with the drizzling rain.
“Everything fine, captain?” The guard directly outside the door inquired.
“Everything’s just fine,” Vailos replied, pulling a dark cloak over himself to shelter from the rain. He rushed hastily down the stairs and followed the path linking all the towers within the castle down to the back gate.
He gazed at the menacing clouds overhead and shivered as a flash of lightning blazed through the sky. He gathered up his robes and hurried towards the gate, where there was only one guard standing.
“I have private business here today,” he whispered, “Stay away from here for the time being,” he discreetly slipped a few notes into the guard’s front pocket.
The guard nodded and slipped away towards the main tower.
A gust of cold wind battered Vailos as he ventured out the back gate, making his robes flap about ridiculously. His eyes darting back and forth, he spotted the dark carriage, hidden in the recesses of the carriage wall.
The carriage had an eerie, spine-chilling, foreboding undercurrent to it. The steel bars that curled upwards to form the carriage had spikes protruding from it. Even the horses were black, with inky-dark cloth draped over their backs. The black-on-black scheme sent chills through Vailos, and it had nothing to do with the pouring rain.
“Vailos,” a smooth voice startled him.
“Ah, yes,” Vailos quickly hurried over to the carriage, where a dark man held the reins, his face concealed underneath the swirl of black robes. “You said you had information regarding the whereabouts of Morteus?” He had to raise his voice to shout over the loud whooshing noise of the wind.
The dark man nodded slowly.
Vailos replied with an urgent and pleading look on his face, though his voice couldn’t be heard in the increasingly relentless screeching of the wind.
“Go… Find… Command…” Only a few words could be heard over the wind and the torrential rain.
“Noon tomorrow,” Vailos finished, watching as the man nodded and lashed at the horses. The carriage drew forward and turned at the bend.
Captain Vailos watched on silently.