After being locked in the magical cylinder of energy for so long, Nisa’s legs had gone numb and it was a struggle to walk beside the guards, especially with how long their strides were. It all resulted with them just dragging her behind them. In front of her, they led Aleyr through the door, into an open room completely filled with dozens upon dozens of cylinders. Some of the people in them had their hands cut off, others had other missing parts—ears or eyes—so Nisa forced her gaze away. That was when she realized and fully understood the structure. They had been in the warden’s private office, not in the main section of the prison with the other criminals. But why?
Did the warden just love to torment the poor man back there and is that what he planned to do with her and Aleyr with this was over? Dread and horror made Nisa gasp and pant, especially as the guards dragged her and Aleyr through the front door and out into the open streets.
The warden lifted his hands as the guards brought her and Aleyr to a stage on the opposite side of the street. Diagonally to the right, just four buildings down from the jail they’d come from, was the inn where she and the others had stayed. It made her heart ache—to see how close she and Aleyr were to real freedom.
The warden lifted his hands and the crowd that gathered around the stage immediately quieted. “Citizens of Lifa! We have today, two thieves who thought it funny to steal from you! From your wages, your hard-earned gold and jewels!”
At this, several of the people in the crowd began to jeer. One of them threw a rock but it missed, and several of them cursed.
The warden grabbed a weapon that looked like a cross between a staff and a sword, with gears like the other devices Nisa had seen throughout Glacea and slid his hand along the back of it. Bright crimson energy appeared around it as Aleyr and Nisa were shoved to their knees. Each of the guards dragged Aleyr and Nisa’s arms forward and placed them on a table. Energy shimmered around them and once again, Nisa’s arms were paralyzed—she could not even move her fingers.
“N—no, please. I’m—I’m innocent!” Nisa sobbed, tears furiously streaming down her face.
“Lies!” a woman in the front shouted.
A man spit on her.
Nisa flinched. She thrashed and struggled, but the guard behind her slid his arm around her neck and gripped her in a headlock. She choked but his iron grip kept her from escaping.
Aleyr met her gaze. “Sorry, Nisa. That I got you into this.”
The warden held the sword-staff high in the air above their hands. It was long enough that she had a feeling it would slice through all four of their hands like butter, hot enough to leave not a trace of blood. “They will be punished for their crimes!”
The crowd’s cheers rose, echoing around the walls of the buildings in the city.
The warden brought the sword down and Nisa felt the air whoosh beneath it. Heat surged toward her and she squeezed her eyes shut.
Thunder erupted and when she opened her eyes, the warden collapsed on the stage, a bullet hole through his head. At the back of the crowd, Oliver and Chris both held their guns out. Dozens of more shots rang and the crowd screamed and started running in all directions, not understanding where the sounds were coming from. Each of the guards fell and magic energy gently washed over her and Aleyr, releasing their hands.
Vanmor winked at her and pointed to the street. “The others are waiting with our thoas. We have to get out of here.”
Nisa snatched the warden’s translation device off his body. “The jail. I’m not leaving without one of the men there. He was unjustly arrested. In the warden’s office at the back,” Nisa said.
Aleyr cursed. “You don’t know when to quit, do you?”
Vanmor grabbed Nisa’s arm. “I can only teleport us inside and outside once. Hold on tight.” Gravity disappeared as the world spun around her. When her vision returned, they stood inside the warden’s office. The man’s eyes widened as soon as they appeared.
“Wh—what’s going on?” he asked.
Nisa slammed her hand against the lever and the cylinder energy released him. “Getting you out of here. Come on.” With that, Vanmor grabbed her arm and the prisoner’s and then teleported them back out.
By then, the entire city had erupted in chaos. People on the streets ran in every direction. Elbows and hands slammed into Nisa as they shoved their way through the crowd.
Guards stood on the walls leading outside of Lifa, crossbows aimed toward the center of the street. Nisa gasped and sprinted that direction, assuming that was where the others would be.
Vanmor snatched her arm and yanked her down an alleyway, using his free hand to help the prisoner. “This way. I wouldn’t have them wait in the open street like that.”
Sure enough, Susie, Bea, and Ena sat on top of three thoas, while Oliver, Kor’ok, Aleyr, and Chris had just reached theirs. Oliver held a hand out and helped Nisa up, while Vanmor lifted up the prisoner onto the last thoa, then hopped on behind him.
“Go!” Vanmor shouted.
Their thoas galloped at quick paces out of the alleyway and back toward the main gates. Nisa’s heart hammered in her chest; with the guards on the wall, they were never going to escape.
Vanmor held out his hands and a dome made completely out of magical energy shimmered and appeared around them. They charged straight toward the gates. The guards fired their crossbows but the bolts bounced off his shield.
Nisa clenched Oliver’s chest and waist as tightly as she could as their thoas darted toward the gates. Above them, the gates slowly started to slam shut, but they narrowly sprinted beneath them just before they closed.
Vanmor’s shield disappeared and their thoas ran down the streets and deeper into the forest, as quickly as they could.
Now, all they had to do was outrun the guards.
“Are you okay?” Oliver asked her.
Nisa pressed her face against him. “Now that I’m back with all of you, I am.” She cast her eyes to the sky above. Though it shimmered with bright violets and pinks that constantly changed, it was still the sky and she tried to imagine the heavens above it. Thank you, she mentally prayed to God.
He had saved them.