The sound of a key turning in the door of her cell caused Kalya to startle awake and she couldn’t help the yelp that came as pain lanced down her back and up her arms. Blinking bleary, sleep choked eyes as she attempted to focus, the dull ache that her back had receded into during sleep blazed back into sharp agony. Instantly she leaned away from the wall and the cool air of the cell across her bare back felt the slightest bit better.
Finally managing to look up towards the slowly opening door, she weakly snarled, “I already told you everything I knew. Whipping me again won’t get you anything.”
The door stopped moving and there was a sharp intake of breath from the other side, making her frown in confusion. None of the guards who had shown up at her door to drag her out nor any of the Order members had ever shown a bit of emotion towards her.
As the door started moving again, Kalya frowned in confusion. Then her eyes widened as a slim figure stepped into the open doorway, clad in dark cloth and hardened leather armor with a cowl pulled down low their face. Startled, she curled back towards the wall – forgetting her wounded back – and screamed as the cold stone pressed against the welts.
She must have blacked out momentarily from the pain because the very next sensation was soft cloth wrapped around her and the hard curve of a cup at her lips. Having been without water for the past day, Kalya didn’t even think – she just drank greedily. The cup was then pulled away and refilled by the sound of falling water then it was back at her lips. As she moved one hand, reaching up impulsively to cup the hand of her perhaps savior, she realized that her chains had been removed.
The hand underneath hers was covered in a leather glove and she squeezed it before opening her eyes to look at her savior.
Two pinpoints of blue-white light stared at her from underneath the cowl and Kalya blinked slowly as realization sunk in. Her fingers suddenly tightened over her savior’s hand and she could feel the difference under the glove, where flesh gave way to bone at the end of the fingertips.
“Necronim,” she breathed. “How?”
The undead smiled bitterly and answered, “For now we’ll just say that I’m intimately acquainted with these dungeons.” He then drew the cup back and refilled it again before he reached into one of the pouches belted at his hip, pulling out what looked like some kind of jerky. “Here. You need to get some kind of food into before we go.”
“Thank you,” she murmured as she took both, grimacing slightly as she noticed her hands were shaking. As she started to gnaw on the edge of the jerky, Necronim rose and turn to go to the now closed door. Watching him as he peered out into the hall briefly, Kalya asked, “How did you know I was here?”
“A friend,” he answered shortly as he turned to look back at her. He must have seen something in her expression – though she wasn’t sure what – because he added, “She spends part of the year as an advisor to King Augus, same as she did under his father. When she heard about two members of the Order bringing a girl here for possession of a Guild blade, she wrote to me because she feared it was you.”
Kalya just blinked at him for a moment, too shocked to speak. Then she breathed, “You knew?”
Shaking his head, he replied, “No. I didn’t even realize that I had given it to you until after. It was just…” Necronim just stood there for a moment with his head tilted towards the ground and she could suddenly almost taste his guilt on the back of her tongue. “It was the best blade I had and Kwaa wanted you to make it home.”
He then went serious, eyes sparking underneath the cowl, and said, “We need to get moving. The guard I nicked the keys from will probably be noticing that they’re gone soon. I’d also rather avoid running into any of the Order.”
“I’d like to avoid that again myself.”
That comment brought a scowl to his face and he moved across the cell to lean down, gently pulling the empty little clay cup from her hands. After he’d tucked it away somewhere, he gently took her hands and said very softly, “If I didn’t have to get you out, I’d gladly hunt them down and kill them for what they’ve done.”
“You did the same thing once,” Kalya noted. He’d been a Guildman once, an assassin, so surely he’d tortured a man or two when he’d been alive.
“I killed. I never tortured.”
The wounded tone in his voice made her instantly regret her hasty words but then he was pulling her to her feet, making her wince as her bare, broken soles scraped against the stone floor. Necronim flinched in apparent sympathy then whipped off the cowl, revealing his gray-blue skin and shoulder-length black hair. As she watched, he drew a knife and expertly sliced the cowl into two large sections and a series of strips before he dropped to one knee.
“Lift your foot,” he said gently as he lightly rested one gloved hand against her right ankle. Kalya just blinked and obediently lifted her feet as he wrapped the larger sections of fabric around them and tied them securely with the strips, just staring down at his dark head as he worked. When he finally straightened, she reached out to touch his chest and was surprised when he froze.
“Thank you,” she murmured.
The undead man just stared at her for a moment then he expelled a huff of breath and grabbed one of her hands. “Come on,” he hissed. “We’ve dallied too long already.”
Nodding, Kalya followed him as he pushed open the cell door and stepped out into the corridor. She lifted her free hand to grip the soft material wrapped around her shoulders, holding it firmly where it wouldn’t slip as well as something to keep her from shaking so much.
When Necronim to the end of the corridor and down a stairwell, deeper into the dungeons, she was confused and a little scared. Logically to escape they should go up, shouldn’t they? Kalya remembered his words, though, about him being intimately acquainted with the place and drew in a shaky breath to calm her frayed nerves.
She had to trust him.
Just like he’d trusted her five years ago.