Sunday, July 28, 2013

Castle Rajikline: Part Seven

            Raven stood near the entrance to the broken down guard tower that The Group had taken for their base of operations. She looked out over the fields  to where Castle Rajikline rose into the sky, the moon silhouetting it perfectly. This was what she and Leo had been looking at the last time they had talked and somehow that comforted her a little. Leo was a resourceful boy; she was certain that he would come out of this safely with whoever it was that he was supposed to be rescuing.

            "Thinking about Leo?" Daniel asked. Raven had heard the swishing of his robes as he had approached and was not startled by his question.
            "Yes," Raven admitted. "I was just thinking about him in the castle. Do you suppose he's inside the walls yet?"
            "If everything is going according to plan, then yes," Daniel answered. "We haven't seen any commotion on the towers, so I would hazard a guess that the guards have not seen him yet. He'd better be inside the walls by now or he won't be able to get out tomorrow like he's supposed to."
            Raven nodded and considered that portion of the plan. Rather than have Leo sneak out of the castle with another person in tow, she had determined another method of escape. A wagonload of garbage was taken from the castle every two days, leaving at dusk. The garbage detail was due to depart in the morning. If Leo was on schedule, he and the person that he was rescuing would be buried in the wagon of garbage and riding out of the castle gates in the morning. Midas, Raven and Daniel would then have to simply hijack the wagon, collect the two people hidden there, and escape the area. In theory the plan was simple, Leo just had to finish the mission first.
            "You don't think that they'll decide not to truck the garbage out tomorrow, do you?" Raven asked, looking back at Daniel.
            "We've looked at all of the information that we have," the wizard said. "The garbage wagon is Leo's best bet for getting out of Rajikline. He'll make it work; he always does."
            "I know all that," Raven said. "I planned it that way because he has the best chance but still...what if something goes wrong?"
            "This is why I cautioned against getting too close to them," Daniel said with a sigh. "With a group such as ours, you must be able to trust your friends, you must trust them with your life, but bad things can happen. If Leo is caught or dies, you'll have to put him out of your mind, forget about him, move on."
            "I understand all that up here," Raven said, tapping her head. "I just can't make my feelings accept it."
            "You must or it will be our downfall one day," Daniel said. "What happens if Leo is discovered and captured tonight? What would you do? What could you do?" He waited for a several moments but Raven was silent. "Midas would go after Leo, we both know this. The two of them are too close. They call each other brothers and that is bad. Midas loves Leo far too much, enough to risk his own life to save him."
            "That's not a bad thing," Raven shot back almost vehemently. "If I trusted someone with my life, I would expect them to feel that way about me."
            "You see," Daniel said, "if you trusted someone with your life. But you don't, do you? Nobody but myself. You cannot hide this, you've said it before."
            "If you were captured, would you expect us to come look for you?" Raven asked.
            "I would not," Daniel answered, but Raven knew the secret behind that answer. Daniel was never in any position of actual danger and, to be fair, the same went for Raven. Daniel obtained contracts and Raven planned the missions, but Midas and Leo were the ones who actually executed the plans. They were the only ones who were ever in real danger.
            "So it's live and let die," Raven said finally.
            "In our profession it is," Daniel said. "I'd hate to lose Leo as much as you would, but you can't let feelings rule your actions. When you do that, you have already lost the battle."
            "I know that, Daniel," Raven said. "This isn't the first time that we've had this discussion you  know."
            "I know," Daniel agreed. "Your feelings for the brothers but particularly the younger one have become too strong of late. You must find a way to keep them under control. It's only a matter of time until we lose one of them, and I don't want to lose you as well when that happens."
            "I know," Raven agreed. "I'll figure something out."
            "Good," Daniel said and started to walk away. "You might want to do it quickly. Tonight may be the night that we lose someone."

            Midas watched as Daniel walked away. He knew that his sneaking was not nearly as good as that of his brother and had been looking for situations to practice it. What better way to practice than to eaves drop of Raven and Daniel? Now he almost wished that he hadn't. He had been coming to think of Raven as a friend and Daniel as a mentor, but what he had just heard angered him. What right did they have to say that the life of his brother was not worth every single one of theirs? Deep down he knew that they were right. In this business you could not afford to have feelings, and yet he did. He would do anything for Leo, and if that meant dying, he would put aside his fears and die. His brother was worth it.
            And what was it that made Daniel think that he was worthy of Raven's trust when no one else was? So what if he had rescued her from whatever it was that she had been caught up in. Midas had often thought that he had more to offer than the wizard, and now he was positive. Would the cur go after Raven if she were captured? He had just admitted that he would not. Midas, on the other hand, would, at least he would have before today. Now he wasn't so sure. The conversation had seemed considerably one sided with most of the talking down by Daniel. It was obvious that Raven was having trouble swallowing the ideas, and Midas wondered if it were possible at this juncture to convince her that the wizard was wrong.
            Carefully Midas backed away from his hiding spot and around the tower until he could not see Raven any longer. Standing to his feet, he brushed off the bits of straw clinging to his clothes and straightened his tunic and trousers. taking a deep breath, he walked around the tower to where Raven was still standing, facing the castle. He had to be subtle about this so as to not let on that he had heard her conversation with Daniel. It was going to be tricky; subtlety was not his strong suit.
            "Hey Raven," he said as nonchalantly as possible. "What you up to?"
            "Just thinking," Raven said, looking back as Midas.
            "I know what you mean," Midas said, fixing his gaze on the castle. "I keep wondering whether Leo's going to make it. He's good, but this is Castle Rajikline we're talking about."
            "He'll make it," Raven said. "He has to make it."
            "Why?" Midas asked, turning to look at Raven. "He might get caught. In fact, if I had to make a guess, I'd say that the odds are against him. If it weren't my brother, I probably wouldn't be betting on him."
            "I know that," Raven said. "But he's good. He's going to make it, right?"
            "He's my brother which is why I want him to make it, but I don't get why you do," Midas said. "You've only known us for half a year. Why do you care so much?"
            "Can you keep a secret?" Raven asked, looking at Midas.
            "That depends on what it is," Midas answered. The look in her eyes told him that she was not in the mood for word play so he nodded.
            "Well then, here it is," Raven said. "I've considered you and Leo my friends since we met six months ago. We've gotten to know each other a little, and I'm closer to you two than I have been to anyone else in my entire life."           
            "So what's the catch, then?" Midas asked. "Why are you so worried about Leo?"
            "Well, it's all very confusing to me," Raven said. "We're so young, and we hardly know each other, but I think I like him more than a friend."
             "Wow," Midas said. From what Daniel had said, he had figured that this might be the case, but coming from Raven, the statement still took him by surprise. He tried to think of something to say, but couldn't. "Wow."
            "You don't approve," Raven said, worry in her voice. She knew that Leo valued his brother's opinion above all else so gaining Midas' approval was a big step.
            "No, it's not that," Midas said. "I just wasn't really expecting you to say that."
            "So what do you think?" Raven asked.
            "I don't know," Midas said. "I always thought that you were a little old for him. For that matter, how old are you, exactly?"
            "Fifteen," Raven answered. Then to clarify, "One year older than Leo."
            "Wow," Midas said, taken aback for the second time tonight. "I didn't know that you were that young. I thought you were older what with the way you carried yourself and..." he motioned to his face.
            "My scars," Raven finished.
            "Yeah, that," Midas said lamely.
            "So..." Raven said, prodding.
            "You want to know what Leo thinks," Midas said. "Well, he's not seeing anyone else at the moment if that says anything." He laughed at his own lame joke.
            "It's probably just a dream," Raven said, turning away. "I guess he would never think about me that way, not with the way that I look."
            "Now wait a minute," Midas said. He put a hand on Raven's shoulder to prevent her from walking away. "Leo and I consider you are friend. I don't care about the scars and neither does he. I know he cares about you, I just don't know to what extent."
            "But he couldn't," Raven said again. "Not with my scars."
            "Give him a chance," Midas said. "He'll be back in the morning; you can ask him then." Raven's face turned bright red at the suggestion, and Midas kicked himself for being so stupid. "I'll talk to him," he amended. "I can figure out if he has any feelings for you or not."
            "No, don't do that," Raven said. "I'd rather find out myself." In actuality, she would die of embarrassment if Midas asked his brother that question.
            "Fine, but I would talk to him soon," Midas said. "Someone like Leo isn't likely to stay single for long."

            "I will," Raven promised.

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