I have no clue how I got into this situation-well, yes, I do, but only somewhat. I can't remember anything from before a week ago, but I know every poor decision that led to me being stuck on the ground with a knife through my hand while I watch one of my friends fight on an airship. I just really wish I didn't.
See, a week ago I woke up in a cabin in the woods. It's never a place you want to be, especially in the middle of the night, but I had no control over what happened. Actually, I probably did and just don't remember it. That's not the point.
I woke up and there was a knocking on the door. Being dumb and clueless, I answered it. Of all the bad decisions from the past week, that was probably the worst.
The people on the other side were monsters or something. They certainly didn't look human. I'm pretty sure one of them was a fae, and another was a werewolf, but I didn't get confirmation during our conversation, which went something like this:
"Hello, we're here from a nearby camp, do you have a car we can take to the city?" the werewolf guy asked.
"Sure," I said. I had neither sense nor sanity, I grabbed a purse and led them to a car. I'm still not sure if the car's mine or not, but I've been using it, so it's mine now, at least.
After we started driving, they began asking more questions.
"Can you give me your name?" the fae-like one asked.
"No," I said.
"Uh... Honestly, I have no clue what my name is. Or where I am. Or who I am. I think I have amnesia. I should not have started driving."
Neither of them seemed concerned, and just told me they knew where they were going and gave me directions. I started getting suspicious when I noticed we were definitely heading away from the city lights and started ignoring their directions.
"Where are we going?" they asked.
"I just remembered how to get the city. Either you two forgot or you're serial killers or something."
They sat awkwardly in the back, so I'm pretty sure they were planning to kill me or something, but they didn't do anything during the entire ride to the city. I left them in front of a hotel, then started wondering what exactly I was supposed to do. No memory, no phone, middle of the night-all I had was a distinct feeling that people had just tried to kill me, and that didn't help out much.
I just walked into a nearby fast food place, suddenly aware of how hungry I was. It felt like I hadn't eaten in days. Inside were the type you'd expect at a place like that so late at night. Two people hiding in a corner, one person with bags under their eyes drinking just coffee, a few teenagers talking about smoking, and a visibly overworked cashier.
I ordered some fries and sat at a table as far away from the other people as possible. It did not take long for the two in the corner to run up to me.
"Uh... hi," I said.
They just stared at me, and I tried my best to ignore them. After I finished, I got up and left. Unnerving does not begin to the describe the feeling of those two following me.
I tried to tell myself it was a coincident for the first block, but after that I gave up all hope and accepted my death. If the universe wanted to kill me that bad, then let it. It's not like I'd have a life to miss anyway.
I stopped walking. They took the chance and ran at me. They grabbed my arms and started carrying me somewhere. I didn't even struggle. Though I heard some gunshots (I think), I quickly lost my grasp on consciences after they grabbed me.
When I woke up again, I was in a small room with a group of three, none of whom looked like the two who just tried to kill me. One of them had a gun, and the other two had knives. For the third time since I woke up in the cabin, I feared for my life. I mean, at that point I'd accepted it, but still, death.
"She's awake!" a girl with a knife exclaimed when she saw my eyes open.
"Do you remember anything after those vampires grabbed you?" the one with the gun asked.
I just shrugged.
"Okay-any idea why they clearly wanted to take you somewhere?"
I shrugged again. He sighed and put his gun down.
"Well, we're getting nowhere with this. Let's start with names. I'm Cannon. You are?"
I shrugged yet again.
"Well, we've got to call you something. Let's see-you had keys, cash, and a business card for a bakery, so from now on until you give us an actual answer, your name is Bake."
"Works for me." It's not exactly like I know my other name. Bake's good, though. I like it.
"Wait a minute," a knife guy said, "aren't you angry or something? We literally went through your stuff."
"I don't think I really care at this point. My day has been pretty strange."
"Really?" Cannon asked, "tell us about it."
"Well, I woke up without any memory if that says anything. Then, for whatever reason, some people showed up asking for a ride. Now that I think about it, they were probably monsters. That, or serial killers. Anyway, I got food and those guys chased me and now I'm in a room with some random people."
"No memory huh," knife guy said, "probably not a good sign. Where did you wake up?"
"Some cabin the middle of the woods."
"Could you take us there?"
"Sure," I said, "do you have a car, or is mine here?"
"Oh, we stole your car," knife girl said, "we didn't have a lot of other options for transportation. I'm Kalie, by the way. And the other guy you don't know is Jay."
I nodded and Cannon threw me my purse and keys. I looked at him, confused.
"Well, you know the way, and honestly..." Cannon sighed, "none of us know how to drive. It's a miracle we got the car here without crashing it."
I certainly did notice a few scratches on the car that weren't there earlier, but I'm mostly just glad we have a way to get there. It also gave me something to do, and a few people to talk to who aren't trying to kill me, so I'm grateful.
The drive back is mostly uneventful, though for the last stretch, I was worried I'd gotten lost. Luckily, I was just paranoid and we made it there no problem.
"Was anyone here when you woke up?" Jay asked.
"Aside from the two who asked me for a ride, no one."
We went inside and looked around. I didn't see much when I first woke up, especially since it was so dark, but they turned the light on and I was a little less disoriented.
The cabin was mostly bare. There was a bathroom, a kitchen with no food, a few bookshelves that only had survival books, and the most important find: a piece of paper by the bed.
"How did you not see this?" Jay asked.
"In my defense, it was dark, and I was confused."
The note said:
"In case I'm not back by the time you wake up, here's a note. If you're wondering what happened, it's simple: I rescued you. I'm currently trying to lead them away from your trail, so you don't have to worry. There's a city nearby you could get some food from, but you may want to disguise yourself first. I shouldn't have to tell you, but apparently, I do. Until I come back, please law low. I know you hate hiding, but it would have solved a lot of issues in the first place. So, DON'T leave the cabin and especially DO NOT open the door. If it's me, I can get in through a different way.
See you soon (hopefully),
"Who's Peter?" Kalie asked, "and why didn't he want you to leave?"
"How should I know?"
I may have no idea who he is, but I can't help but feel a little upset. He didn't even include my name in the note. "Peter" isn't much to go off of either.
"Well," Cannon started, "it's a bit too late for you to lay low, but you can stay with us for now. It sounds like you're supposed to be hiding from something, so it's probably the safest thing to do."
I nodded. It's not like I had many options at the time.
"If you don't mind."
"It's not a big deal. All three of us are hiding for something or other. Mostly treason."
I nodded again, unsure of how to respond to that.
"I feel like we're ignoring a lot," Jay said, "I mean, she literally woke up-"
"Wait, are you a girl?" Kalie asked.
"Yeah, I think so."
"Okay, carry on, Jay."
"As I was saying, she literally woke up without any memories, but it's clear she didn't go to sleep with none. Peter obviously expected her to be fine, so something must have happened between when he left and now, but she isn't even injured! Aren't you guys curious?"
"Of course!" Kalie exclaimed, "but we don't really have any way of figuring this stuff out."
"Besides," Cannon said, "if some monsters really did find her earlier, then we should probably get out of here. Whoever's looking for her might come here."
Yeah, I really shouldn't have answered that door.
It didn't take long for us to climb into the car and drive back to the city. We went back to their base, which was hidden under an old movie theater. I parked in the back (out of view of the road), followed them through the back entrance, and climbed down the ladder hidden under a cloth in the corner.
Now that I paid attention, I noticed a few blocked off rooms and a lot of scratch marks on the walls. The others ignored everything and just went back to the room from earlier.
"Uh..." I began, "what exactly is this place?"
"An ancient dungeon. Someone built a movie theater over it, and then that closed, and it's way too old to be in any records, so it's the perfect place to hide," Cannon said.
I still believe that place is haunted, but none of the others believe me. They say ghosts don't exist, but I'd like to argue that literally anything can exist. Until, like, two hundred years ago we didn't believe in vampires or fae or anything else supernatural or magic, but now we know they're all real. Heck, a family of vampires took over the government apparently.
"So," I said once we made it to the room, "you said you guys are wanted for treason?"
"Yup!" Jay exclaimed.
"How much do you know about this country?" Kalie wondered.
"Let's see... It's called Helviti, but other than that, I have no idea. Sorry."
I really can't recall anything. I mean, there are a few facts in my head, but no memories attached to any of them.
"Well," Cannon began, "almost a hundred years ago, Helviti switched from being a democracy to being a monarchy. A family of strong vampires took over. I know the stereotype is that vampires are immortal, but they're not much different from humans. They just have more physical strength and hypnotic powers. Other than that, they're pretty much the same."
"Go on, Cannon," Jay said.
"Oh, right. So, anyway, the family took over, and pretty much immediately all humans were screwed over. The ones this far away from the capital are okay, but the closer you get, the worse it is. Humans are used as slaves, normally. Best case scenario, they're pets, so most humans left that area and went to places like here, far away from the city. Then, the vampires got some wizards and witches and make a barrier around the capital. Now, humans can only leave if they're with a non-human. The situation has only gotten worse over time, and now even out here, humans need to be careful that they aren't kidnapped and taken there."
Suddenly, I realized what exactly the fae and werewolf planned earlier.
"So, Bake," Kalie said, "the three of us used to be in the capital. Jay and I were slaves, but the family we worked for was relatively nice. That didn't make it much better, but we knew we were lucky."
"We're all wanted for treason because Cannon saved us, and the three of us went back together and saved a lot more humans. I'm pretty sure the total was somewhere around five-hundred, but we never counted. We just got those guys out and ran like hell. They saw our faces, though, so now we're wanted."
"That's awesome!" I exclaim, "but how did you guys get out? You said humans couldn't leave the capital."
"I'm actually a vampire," Cannon said, "and the family they were forced to work for was mine. I couldn't stand it, so I-well, you know now."
"You don't look like a vampire," I said.
When I think of vampires in my head, I think of pale skin, fangs, and bloody mouths. Cannon had darker skin, and he had some fangs, but they were barely noticeable.
It doesn't take me long to regret my remark as Cannon goes into detail about how vampires are actually more diverse than fiction leads you to believe. I already know most of what he said. The only really surprising thing was that vampires didn't need to drink blood. It was just kind of like the equivalent of meat for humans. Some vampires loved it, some didn't, it was healthy to a certain degree, and they could abstain from it entirely. That I did not know. Apparently, they can eat the same things as humans, though they did need some meat in their diet if they didn't drink blood.
By the time Cannon had stopped talking, Kalie and Jay had fallen asleep.
"Well," Cannon said, seeing their bodies, "it's almost morning, and we need to get up soon, so let's get some sleep while we can."
I nod silently and fall asleep on the floor. Only six days until the absolutely insane night on the airship, and none of them are much better.
Somewhere else entirely:
"Are you sure she was here?" someone asked.
The fae and werewolf nodded.
"We definitely saw her! She didn't even remember anything, like you said."
"And she left, I'm guessing?"
He sighed. He thought Peter was making it too easy to find them, but he thought he was just lucky.
"You two can just leave. I have two vampires to talk to as well, and they may have a better clue about her location. Thanks for your help, but next time, don't let get away."
They nodded quickly as he left for the hospital. She certainly wasn't making it easy for him, but he wasn't about to stop.
Back with Bake:
Waking up is less than pleasant considering I've been sleeping on the floor. It's not made better by the fact that I only had, like, an hour of sleep. Then, of course, the other three woke up and woke me up. I mean, I can't be too mad at them. They did wake me up for food.
Jay somehow got less sleep than I did and still managed to wake up on his own to go out and get some breakfast for all of us. I scarfed mine down pretty quickly, but somehow the other three were even faster.
"So," I said, "if you three are all in hiding, then why do you need to wake up so early anyway? Couldn't you just get food when you're hungry and stay down here the rest of the time?"
"It's been like that for the past year," Cannon said, "but we're changing soon. See, a bunch of small groups like us are meeting up to form an alliance. There are a lot of resistance groups out there, but we're too small to really qualify as that, so we're all teaming up!"
"Cool," I said, "does that make me a part of your group?"
"Sure," Jay said, "at least until you get your memories back."
"And maybe even after then!" Kalie exclaimed, "we could really use all the help we could get."
"I'm happy to join."
"Nice!" They all exclaimed.
"We, uh, may want to disguise you though," Kalie said.
"How come?" Jay asked.
"Just to be safe! In the note, Peter made it seem like someone was actively looking for her. I mean, we're all wanted, but our faces aren't well-known. If she couldn't even answer the door, then she probably shouldn't be walking around anywhere."
Apparently, throughout their year of hiding, they accumulated a random assortment of things. One of those things was makeup. I don't know if I used to wear it, but I do know that I hate it now. I hate it now but I need to apply enough every day so I'm not recognizable. They don't have wigs or hair dye, though, so they settled with just cutting my hair. I don't particularly care, but it took some getting used to. Finally, my clothes. There aren't a lot down here, but there are enough that I can borrow some of Cannon's. Unfortunately, Kalie isn't my size. Her and Jay are, like, thirteen. Neither of them is certain, but they certainly look thirteen. Cannon is seventeen, and I'm around his size.
Actually, I'm lucky we all woke up so early. We had plenty of time to make me look completely different. They were planning on leaving so early because they thought they would be walking. Now that I was with them, though, I could drive them and get them there much faster.
Just from the rearview mirror, I could tell that I looked very different. I also decided to make a conscious effort to speak with a slightly deeper voice. I'm still not sure if it was necessary, but hey, it wasn't that difficult, and better safe than sorry.
Cannon gave me directions as I drive through the city. When we reached city limits just outside city limits, there were a few cars parked to the side of the road, right next to a pretty large manhole. I didn't need to be told where to stop.
We got out of the car, and at the same time, the manhole was lifted up and shifted just enough to the side that we'd fit down.
After climbing the ridiculously long ladder down, we were greeted by a group of about twenty young adults. There were also five young kids, but they were standing at the back of the room.
"Cannon," someone with a bandana said, "you said your group consisted of three."
"Yeah sorry about that," he replied, "Bake here joined up last night. She's not a spy or anything, if that's what you're worried about."
"I know; I trust you. I'm just annoyed that I need to introduce myself again. You guys are the last to arrive, and since I already know you, I thought I'd be free. Well, whatever." she turned to face me, "hello, Bake, I'm Fran, the leader of this meeting. Nice to have you."
I nodded. Fran's pretty cool, but I get the feeling that maybe she should have been more concerned about where I came from. I didn't really care at the time, but she didn't even bother asking where I came from or where they found me. I guess she really does trust them.
"Well, now that all of us are here, let's get started."
The leaders of each individual group (apparently there were five) went into the back room while the rest of us waited. Jay and Kalie knew the kids apparently, so they watched over them and left me with the others.
We mostly waited in silence, though one of them tried to start a conversation.
"So," he said, "what's your story?"
"I have no idea." I decided I may as well be honest.
"I can't tell if you're being closed off or if you have amnesia."
He didn't say anything else after that.
Eventually, the leaders all came out together.
"Okay," Fran started, "I'll be honest. We didn't get much done. But we did manage to set up a meeting with the group from the capital!"
"Well, one of their members will be here," Cannon added, "apparently they need our help with something. We're the only group this far out, and they can't get enough people from other places to come here."
Fran enthusiastically nodded along.
"We'll get to do a mission for the largest resistance group in the country! Make sure you're here in two days!"
I had no idea who they were talking about, but Cannon explained it to me later:
The capital may find and stop every resistance group anywhere near it, but there's one group they can't do anything about. They're made up entirely of half-human creatures. They have far more rights than humans, but they're forced to live in a different part of the city, so it's easy for them to hide what they're doing. Apparently, they've been investigated a few times, but they have yet to be caught.
Because they're in the capital and so close to the royal family, they know a lot about different events to sabotage. This and the fact that they're in contact with basically every other resistance group makes them pretty much the leaders of the rebellion.
Anyway, after Fran gave us the news, we had to find a way to leave discreetly. The group with children left first, but then we had to wait an hour before anyone else could leave. Since we were the last ones there, Fran made us wait until everyone else was gone before we could leave. During that time, the guy who tried talking to me earlier tried again.
"So, how much do you remember?" he asked.
"Nothing before last night."
"Do you know what happened?"
"Do you have any theories?"
I just shrugged. I'm a bit curious about my past, but I'm not about to go on a long journey to figure out who I was.
"You are really difficult to talk to."
"I know. What's your name, anyway?"
"Which group do you belong to?"
"Fran's. It's just the two of us right now, but we could really use a third member. Our faces are too well-known for us to go into the city at all. Honestly, I'm kind of hoping to steal you from your group."
I wonder what they could do to be so well-known. Cannon, Kalie, and Jay literally set hundreds of slaves loose and they can go around the city for short intervals as long as they don't draw attention to themselves.
"Sorry, but I'm kind of their ride," I told him.
Birch seems nice, and Fran seems really nice, but I doubt I'll leave these three. Birch took it well, but still tried to talk to me. I gave responses at first, but I eventually just ignored him. He did not get the hint and kept talking.
Eventually, our group got to leave. We climbed in the car and drove back into the city. The sun was just starting to go down.
"Hey," I said, "I don't think I know what this city is called."
"Amarillo," Kalie answered.
"Okay-when we get back to Amarillo, want me to buy us some dinner? I still have, like, two hundred dollars in cash."
"Yeah!" Jay and Kalie exclaimed.
We went to the same fast food place from last night, but through the drive through this time. The other three pretended to be asleep since they weren't wearing a disguise and there was always a chance of them being recognized, especially after they attacked vampires in this area last night. Luckily, no one saw through my disguise and we got food safely. Then we went back to our base.
After we finished eating, I asked them about their weapons from last night. I haven't seen them since we left to go to the cabin. Cannon face palmed.
"I can't believe we forgot to take them with us!" he exclaimed.
"I have my knife," Jay said, taking it out from... somewhere. Honestly, I have no idea where he keeps it.
"I think I left mine behind when I helped Bake with her makeup," Kalie added.
Kalie and Cannon got their weapons and returned to the main room. Cannon was also carrying a bag. He threw it at me, but I failed to catch it and it just hit my head.
I then grabbed the bad and opened it. There was a crossbow inside.
"It's the only other weapon we have," Cannon said, "can you use it?"
I held it, placed the arrow where I think it's supposed to go, then aimed. I considered aiming near Kalie or Jay, but I also knew I had no idea what I was doing. I just aimed for right above the doorway. I took a shot and it landed barely to the left of where I aimed.
"Yeah," I said, "I think I can use it."
I put it back in the bag, and the rest of them did the same with their weapons. Cannon took it away again so we wouldn't sleep walk and hurt ourselves.
It did not take us long after that to fall asleep. It's not like we got a lot the night before. Only five more days left to narrate.
Somewhere else entirely:
"Okay," he said, "so you two found her, had her in your grasp, and you were stopped by a couple of rebels?"
"...yeah?" the vampire was extremely nervous when they answered.
"Can you at least identify who it was that took her?"
"They shot us! We couldn't see them!" the other one defended.
"Just shut up!" he shouted.
He was shaking and breathing deeply, but he calmed down after a few seconds.
"How many rebels would you say are in Amarillo?"
"A few. They're all pretty small, though, and they usually just hide somewhere."
"Ugh, you really are useless."
So, Amarillo was just like every other city this far away from the capital. He usually didn't care about the rebels down here because they couldn't do much, but this group had really crossed a line. He'd have to stay here for longer than he'd like, then.
"Uh..." his assistant spoke up behind him.
"What is it?" he asked, frustrated.
"We... lost track of Peter..."
If it wasn't for the fact that Melody did so much for him, he would have killed her right there. So, not only did he have to find the kidnapped girl, but he couldn't even punish the person who stole her.
"Let's just go," he murmured, "and don't speak to me until you have some good news."
Melody nodded silently behind him as they left.
Back with Bake:
The past week hasn't been great, but I'd say the third day was the best. I only say that because we slept through most of it. We woke up mid-afternoon, and I left to get us all some breakfast. They requested some boxed stuff from a nearby convenience store.
I stopped breathing for a second when I walked in; the person at the cashier was one of the vampires who attacked me a few days ago. They glanced in my direction after I walked in, but then went back to checking out other customers without a second look.
I let out my breath, realizing that my disguise must still be working. Kalie didn't let me leave without reapplying my makeup, and as much as I hated her, I'm glad she did.
While I was checking out, I noticed the vampire had some bandages over their stomach. I'm pretty sure that's from when Cannon shot them, and I almost feel bad, but then decide that they deserved it.
The rest of the day isn't that eventful. We eat out food (I also bought something we could eat for dinner in, like, three hours), play some card games, and go back to sleep. Now, we're up to the fourth day.
We wake up pretty early again-half to do my makeup, and half because we just got a lot of sleep. Then we set out for Fran's base.
Just like last time, we're the last ones to arrive. Fran doesn't seem to mind as she's way too busy being excited. The guy from the capital wasn't there quite yet, but he was going to arrive at any second.
"So, Bake," Birch said as he walked up to me, "are you sure you don't want to join Fran and me?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. I don't think I could handle Fran."
I hear something crashing behind me, and based on Birch's expression, that proved my point.
Birch went to keep Fran from breaking everything, so I waited with Cannon while Kalie and Jay hung out with the kids.
Only, like, three minutes after we got there, the manhole opens up. The room becomes quiet and all of our eyes are on our visitor.
"Uh, hi," he said once he reached the bottom, "which one of you is Fran?"
"Me! I am!" Fran exclaimed.
I think she was trying to run at him, but I'm not entirely sure, because Birch held her in place.
"Sorry, she's just excited," he said.
"I guess. Honestly, I've wanted to work with you guys for a while; some of you are pretty notorious. There just isn't much that goes on this far out. Oh, I'm Lucan, by the way; a half-werewolf."
"So," Cannon prompts, "what mission do you have for us?"
"Well, I'll give you as much context as we have. A few days ago, Prince Royce suddenly left the capital and came out here to Amarillo."
A few people gasped, but I only had a vague idea of who Prince Royce even was. I know now that he's the only son of the current king and queen. He had an older brother, but he died before Royce was even born, and he doesn't have any sisters, so he's the next in line for the throne.
"He hasn't told anyone yet, but in three days, he'll be making a big entrance. Apparently, he'll be here for a while."
"How do you know this?" one of the other leaders asked.
"We have a spy on the inside; sorry, can't tell you who it is."
"What do we need to do?" Fran asked.
Her face was serious and she finally stopped jumping. Birch, who could finally let go of her, looked relieved.
"There will be a lot of people protecting him, but our mission isn't to get the prince himself; we just need to find his personal witch, Lady Melody, and steal her spell book. See, the one she has she made herself, and she's generally considered to be the most powerful witch alive. We could really use that information for ourselves."
"Won't she be near the prince?" I asked.
"For once, no. He likes to appear by himself when he makes big entrances, so she'll probably be with one of the airships or military cars guarding him. Those are relatively easy to sneak onto, if you're careful. You guys up for the task?"
All our heads nodded once; even the kids'.
"Awesome!" Lucan exclaimed, "I'm really glad you guys can help, but I'm sorry you're stuck with me. We have another member who would be way better, but he's currently MIA."
"You're more than enough!" Fran exclaimed, "besides, I'm a werewolf myself, so I'm ecstatic to work with another one!"
Lucan smiled with all of his teeth barred, and I suddenly saw how sharp they were. Fran did the same, so I guess it was a normal smile for them, but to me, they looked really creepy.
"Wait a minute," Birch said, "someone's missing?"
"Yeah. He's a half-dragon, and he's way more suited to mission's like these, but he just disappeared a few days ago. I'm not too worried, though, since I have an idea of where he went."
After that, Lucan started discussing different strategies with the leaders. The other members of the group could participate, but few of them actually said anything. I didn't say anything either, but I doubt they have amnesia that could potentially impair their decision-making skills. They were just lazy.
After several hours, and a few meals, they finally came up with a feasible plan and a few backups. I didn't bother remembering everyone's part, but ours involved sneaking onto an airship that Lady Melody had a chance of being on, and even if she wasn't, the airship had a communication system that could be used to find her.
Since it was pretty late when we finished, a few of the groups opted to stay overnight with Fran, Birch, and Lucan. My group was not one of them because we had to reapply my makeup in the morning. Personally, I didn't care if the others saw my face, but they were worried about me so I went with them.
The day so far hadn't been too bad, although it was kind of boring watching the leaders come up with a plan, but after we got back to the theater, we came across something. Two somethings.
Two people, in the theater, arguing about something. As long as they were in there, we'd have trouble sneaking back into the base. It did not help that there were no lights and the few windows were blacked out. We couldn't see when they'd be looking away, but they'd definitely hear us moving around.
Luckily, at a certain point during the argument, they both got so loud that we could sneak down without being noticed. The life that I remember has had some stressful moments, but man, that was probably the worst.
Once we got back down, we went to sleep as quick as possible. Three days left before our attack.
"I can't believe the nerve of that guy!" Royce exclaimed, "he just yelled at me and flew away! At least we were in an abandoned theater, otherwise we'd have had an audience."
"Well," Melody said, "it's like you said-he's just being overprotective." She really did try to keep him calm.
"I know, I know. I guess I'm just lucky that he showed his face, but he went way overboard! He didn't even try to listen to me!"
Royce didn't know what else to do. He was staying in Amarillo for a few days to keep looking, but if she won't turn up, he might have to go back to the capital.
"Can you try a searching spell again?" he asked.
"It won't change-"
"Just try it!"
Melody did the spell again, but, just like the last few hundred times, it indicated that she was still in the castle in the capital.
Back with Bake:
After waking up, the first thing I realized was that I was alone. The second thing I realized was some chatting from above me.
The trap door was open, so I climbed up and saw the other three looking around the theater. Our guests from the previous night left, but the place was in even worse repair than before. A few chairs had been thrown, some scaffolding was broken, and a window was completely shattered.
"Think this will cause any problems?" Kalie asked Cannon.
"Maybe... this place has been in a bad state forever, but with all this new damage, some people might investigate. We should probably leave."
"We're leaving?" I asked.
"Oh, Bake, you're here..." Cannon said awkwardly, "yeah, we're going to have to leave. At least, temporarily. Those two guys definitely caused a scene last night and we don't want to risk people looking around here. We can carry everything we need in the car, but for now, it might be best to stay with Fran and Birch."
"They have a pretty big base," Jay said, "seriously. It links up to some old catacombs. It's easy to get lost in there, but they have at least three-square miles of space."
"That's a lot for two people," I said.
"They get a lot of visitors," Cannon replied, "usually those kids."
I can imagine kids having fun running around catacombs. I can't imagine any of their parents liking that idea, but I quickly dismiss the thought before I think too hard about it.
Kalie quickly does my makeup while Cannon and Jay move everything into the car. They had a room's worth of stuff, but they manage to fit most of it in the trunk of my car. We just left a few board games and a dictionary.
As annoyed as I am that those two jerks made us leave our hiding place-and what was basically Cannon's, Kalie's, and Jay's home-I can't stay too mad since it's only temporary. People will lose interest eventually and we can go back, but until then, we're stuck somewhere else.
Fran and Birch weren't too annoyed to be hosting us-actually, they seemed pretty happy.
"Then only one group is staying at their own place!" Fran exclaimed, "this is the best feeling ever! I can't wait for two days from now when the prince shows his ugly face!"
"I can," Birch said, "also, I'll lead you to your room. We have a lot of space, but most of it is pretty open. We only have enough rooms for each group and Lucan to have one."
"Where is Lucan?" I asked, "I figured he'd be with you guys."
"Oh, he's been yelling at someone all morning. I think that missing guy turned up."
Birch led us through a hallway, and I didn't have to guess which room belonged to Lucan. He must have been angry, but it sounded more like he was confused to me. Something about the other guy not explaining enough.
When we get to our room, the four of us begin setting our stuff up. We needed to take a few trips to the car, and I was not looking forward to going back and forth that much.
"Hey," someone said, "do any of you guys want to watch the kids for a while? I'm in charge of meals for today and I need some time-"
"I volunteer!" I exclaimed.
That must have been the person the kids were with. They led me into the catacombs and wished me luck before leaving.
In most circumstances, I would have said I made a mistake by choosing to babysit. I certainly made a lot of those. But I still think it was better than going back and forth so much.
"Let's play hide and seek! Ms. Bake has to find us!"
Even if it was just barely.
I didn't know much about the kids, and I really still don't, but after playing hide and seek with them many, many times, I at least learned their preferred hiding places. I only caught the name of Charlie, though, when the others complained about his unfair hiding places. I think he might be a wizard or something considering he was on the ceiling, somewhere, during every single round. I only found him once.
"Hey, Bake." The person did come back eventually, "thanks for watching them."
"No problem, uh..."
"Oh, right! You're new, aren't you? I'm Lillian, the only human leader in Amarillo. I'm also in charge of these kids."
I don't know how she deals with them all the time. We chatted for a little while before I went back to my group, and apparently, the kids were being nice for me. They're usually much worse. I feel for her.
By the time I got back to my group, I'd already missed lunch, but they saved some for me. I ate it pretty quickly.
"Did you have fun with the kids?" Cannon asked.
"More or less. I just don't know how Lillian does it."
"Practice, I guess."
We spent the next few hours playing travel-size chess. I still don't get the rules but I managed to beat Jay, who also did not know the rules.
Once we finished, there was a knock on our door. Lucan came in.
"Sorry for earlier," he said, "you guys probably heard me yelling. Our missing agent turned up, but he's refusing to do anything. I wanted him to help us out, but it looks like he's taking some time off. Just thought I should apologize."
Then, he left. I could hear a bit through the door though, and I'm pretty sure I heard him knocking on someone else's door and apologizing to them. It wasn't easy to make out, though.
I spent the rest of the day talking with the other three in my group, and a bit with Fran and Birch. I wanted to speak with Lillian more, but she seemed busy with all of the kids.
Sleeping was much more comfortable with Fran and Birch considering they had mats for us to sleep on instead of just a floor. Unfortunately, sleep was also hindered a bit with all the kids screaming, but I got used to it eventually.
Only two more days.
The next day was uneventful. Mostly. Mostly uneventful. We spent a lot of time working out the plan to make sure we knew what to do. We also came up with a few back-up plans and escape routes. The kids and Kalie and Jay weren't with us, though, since they won't be on the mission. They're too young.
I wish I could end it there and be like "just one more day" but unfortunately, I can't. Because there was one thing that happened that needs to be mentioned. A small thing.
The kids all went missing in the catacombs. Along with Fran, Birch, and Lillian, they knew the place better than most of us, but they still managed to go too far in and get lost. We spent a few hours searching for them, and it didn't help that only a few of us could go that far in and not get lost. Luckily, eventually, Fran found them and led them back.
So now, Lillian had to stay behind to keep an eye on the kids. Kalie and Jay insisted they could do it on their own, but Lillian didn't back down. Our whole plan had to be rearranged to account for her missing, but we managed.
Now, we're at the one more day mark. But I'm going to call it today, because it's only, like, one or two in the morning.
Prince Royce wouldn't show up until late, but we all had to get into position beforehand. Kalie and Jay were nice and packed us some snacks to take with us.
Cannon, Fran, and I were all one team. We were in charge of searching the two airships for Melody, and even if we couldn't find her, we had to use the ships communication system to somehow get a chat going with everyone. We didn't know how yet, but we figured we'd have to steal a few earpieces from guards.
We waited at the top of a building all day. I'm so grateful for Kalie and Jay because otherwise, we would have starved. Or we would have risked giving away our position to get some snacks.
Eventually, evening fell. The airships went up to prepare, and we jumped on. Well, Cannon and Fran jumped on. I held onto Cannon for dear life. Once on top, it was easy to find a hatch that led into an empty room. There were a lot of windows, and we were just lucky we weren't spotted.
From the empty room, we had to wait for a while. Well, I waited. Cannon and Fran memorized the guard patterns, so after an hour, we could get out without being spotted.
We snuck around for a while. There was a lot of waiting and a lot of memorizing, and the sun went down before we got very far, but we found the communications room before the ship started to move.
"I'll leave you two here," Fran whispered, "I'm going to look around a bit more, then check the other airship. I leave you two in charge of the technical stuff."
Fran ran away before I could try to follow her. Neither Cannon nor I am great with technology. It didn't help that a few guards stayed in the room. I tried listening to them, but they were just talking about timing and stuff for whenever they began.
Then, they began. I could feel the airship beginning to move, one of the guards left for some reason. I stopped listening at that point, but I think they needed him somewhere else.
Cannon and I finally got out from our hiding place and got a good look at the computer screens.
"Uh," I said, "I'm just now wondering if there are any cameras."
"Nope," Cannon replied, "if there were, we wouldn't have come. Melody's here, though, so she's definitely cast some kind of spell that detects any ill will to the prince. Camera's would be useless, anyway, since vampires wouldn't show up."
I guess if there were cameras, we would have been caught a long time ago. Luckily, they trust all of their security with one person.
The two of us spent the next hour (I think) trying to figure out how to get the communication stuff to work. We eventually figured it out, but unfortunately, we failed a very crucial step: we didn't know which of our friends were where. Of course, we had an idea. We did spend the entire previous day figuring all this out. We didn't, however, know where each group would be at this time. We did not want to contact one of the guards accidentally and give everything away.
Our worry was founded, but it was also kind of distracting. We really should have noticed the door opening and people coming in before Cannon was punched in the face.
"What are you two doing here?" a guard asked.
"Uh," I couldn't think of an explanation quick enough, and I got punched as well. Unlike Cannon, I fell on the ground. I then saw us being attacked by three guards
I decided to stay there when I saw Cannon fight. He did much better than I could have. I saw someone sneaking up on him, though, so I used the crossbow Cannon gave me. I brought it with me in case of something like this, but Cannon left his gun behind because he thought it would be too loud.
I shot the guys knees, and he fell down. Then, he tore out the arrows and came after me. I didn't think that far ahead, and couldn't reload in time, so the guy managed to pin me, hit me a few more times, then stab a knife through my hand into the floor. I was not moving.
As much as I was being attacked, it honestly didn't hurt very much. The hits registered as taps, and the knife felt more like a paper cut.
And now, we're on this exact moment. The moment where there's a knife through my hand, my friend is fighting on an airship, and I'm just watching. I am not having the best day.
Cannon's getting tired and I don't know what I can do to help. I'm kind of stuck, and even if I wasn't, I'm not a great fighter. We could probably at least escape if we're fast, but I'm not sure we can get out of this room. Well, I guess I have nothing to lose.
I pull the knife out of my hand. I expected there to be blood, but it almost looked like I wasn't injured at all. I use my crossbow to shoot one of the guards, in his arm this time. I reload a bit faster and shoot a second one before he gets in my face.
I use the knife and cut him several times in the legs. Being on the ground can be an advantage of your opponents are tall and use their hands to fight, apparently. He falls down, and I run over to Cannon, grab his hand, and run out of the room.
"Hey, you're okay!" he exclaims, "wait, what have you been doing this entire time?"
"I shot a few guys, got stabbed, let's focus on getting out of here!"
We make a mad dash through the airship. Those three guards seem to be all the security here, because we don't run into anyone else when we make it back to the empty room from earlier. We open the hatch, are grateful to see that we're right next to a building, and Cannon jumps to safety while I hold onto him.
We don't stop running until we're at the base of the building, though. We wait a few minutes, but we're not being followed. I collapse onto the ground.
"That was not fun," I say.
"Nope, but we still got away. Now, let's get back to Fran's."
I nod and we begin the walk to where I parked the car. Luckily, since I parked it far away from where we'd enter the airship, and since we traveled a bit while on the airship, we actually ended up pretty close to it.
We get back to Fran's and see that Fran and Birch's group were both there, talking to Lillian.
"Uh," Birch starts, "weren't you two supposed to be in charge of communications?"
"There were complications," I explain.
We tell them about what happened, and they don't get that mad. We knew communicating with the others would be difficult anyway, so we didn't make it necessary to the plan.
"What happened to your group?" Cannon asks Birch.
"Oh, well that..." Birch pulls out a large book. "We found Melody and pick-pocketed this! She had a few with her, but we could only get one without being caught."
We celebrate a bit with him. When the other groups finally get back, they celebrate too. The last one to arrive back here is Lucan, who apparently left the group on their way home.
"Let's wake up the kids and party all night!" Fran suggested.
A choir of "yeah!"s echoed, and I finally feel like maybe this past week hasn't been so bad. I made friends, joined a rebellion, went on a mission, almost died a few times, and survived!
Before we could get started with the party, Lucan shows up with someone else. They have wings on their back, and scales in clusters around his arms and face. I notice him turn to me as soon as he enters.
"Guys, this is Peter," Lucan says.
"He's the one who went missing then decided to not help us," Lucan explains, "he's here to talk to you about something else that he was apparently doing instead. He needs your help with-"
Before he could finish, Peter walks up to me, grabs my shoulders, looks me in the eye, and speaks.
A guard rushes into the Prince's room.
"Prince!" the guard exclaims, "there was a threat to your safety!"
"Melody says no one here was going to harm me," Royce says, then turns to Melody, "you've been going through your bag since you got here. Is something wrong?"
"Nobody here wanted to hurt you, but it seems like they stole one my books." Before the prince can even voice his worries, she continues, "not that one. Don't worry."
"Okay, then. Guard, can you please explain how you failed to capture the intruders, then. If you really thought I was in danger, then shouldn't you have stopped them?"
"We were just about to defeat them, but the one that was stabbed-who I thought was just a human-pulled it out! Then she didn't even bleed or appear injured as she kept fighting and ran away."
Royce leans towards the guard.
"Do you know what creature she is?"
"No. I mean, there wasn't even any blood."
Royce grabs Melody's hand and smiles. Then, he barely murmurs.
"About time you showed up, Merylle."