Kaspar awoke slowly stretching out his muscles, he felt groggy as if he was suffering from a hangover. He yawned, coughed and gagged. He opened his eyes and still saw darkness there was a wet cloth in his mouth like a gag, and something wrong with his eyes. He moved the rip off the gag and realized his hands were tied. He sat up and the world spun. He squirmed and tried to locate something he could use to cut his bindings. He tried to say Ana’s name but it came out a gurgled ‘Uh-uh’. He blinked rapidly, some of the darkness lifted but only enough that he could see some light coming into the shelter. His brain was too sluggish to figure out what was happening so he focussed all his will on escaping the binds.
He managed to pull his hands free, and decided who ever tied him up either had no idea what they were doing or had wanted him to get free. He pulled off the gag and sniffed it. It smell strongly of sulphur it made him dizzy and he thought he would pass out. He crawled out of the shelter and took a breath of fresh cold air. The fire was out and Ana was gone.
The first thought that crossed Kaspar’s mind when Ana was gone and he considered his condition was that there was someone else alive on the island. They had never confirmed Bruno’s death, never saw a corpse, they had been going off what Tybalt had said. His eyesight was coming back steadily and he tried to stand. His legs were weak and he stumbled a little but his determination to find out what had happened won out.
“Ana!” he called. There was not a response but he thought he heard something. He got dressed and walked along the shore his hand resting on his gun. After a few feet, a large boat with the legion’s insignia came into his view. He ducked into the forest and walked cautiously closer he could see the shore was dotted in smaller boats. He heard many voices and saw at least thirty men wearing Legion uniforms, a few priests, and one General.
Kaspar’s hand flinched towards the gun. He was incredibly tempted to shoot Cyril. Cyril, Ana’s Rapist. Cyril, the schoolyard bully. Cyril, the man who wanted him dead. Cyril, the man responsible for Nenavysta Hradi and all her horrors.
But where was Ana? Were all of these men on Cyril’s side or had Gayora sent some of them? Kaspar felt a pang of guilt at the thought of Gayora, his wife. However, the time for guilt would be later. He still wanted to know where Ana was and why she had drugged him. He walked in the shadows of the trees towards the Legion’s camp scanning the crowd for Ana. He felt his blood go cold when he saw Cyril turn. He had a bandage on his neck and it was stained with blood from some type of injury.
Ana already knew that they were here. Ana must have attacked Cyril.
Kaspar wanted to call her name desperately. She was nowhere to be seen. Cyril walked away from the man he had been talking to and out of Kaspar’s view, so Kaspar walked through the trees trying to see him without being seen. He came to a stop to talk to some other men; he recognized them as some of Cyril’s friends from Hiltswater. They started walking away from the main group.
Kaspar took his gun out of his belt and trained it on Cyril. He was sure that they would know where Ana was. If not he wanted to be there when they found her, to kill Cyril if he touched her. They did not walk far, only a few meters from the masses there was another soldier standing guard by a small tent. They exchanged a few words and the guard left. Cyril went inside the tent.
Kaspar heard Ana make a sound like a yelp. He stopped thinking, he ploughed out of the forest gun in hand and stop a few feet from the tent when the other men noticed him.
“Cyril, get out here now!” he shouted pointing his gun at them.
Cyril came out slowly with Ana. He held her in front of himself like a human shield. He stood there smiling at Kaspar like they were old friends.
“Kasper, we were all so worried about you! She said she’d killed you,” Cyril said placing a hand on Ana’s shoulder; she winced and would not make eye contact with Kaspar. She looked green as if she were going to throw up.
“Try not to act too disappointed or the others will figure you out,” Kaspar said tightening his grip on the gun and aiming for Cyril’s head.
“Don’t be stupid Kaspar, I haven’t done anything wrong, on the contrary I’ve caught your assassin, thank goodness she’s bad at her job,” he said tightening his grip on Ana she clenched her teeth. “She tried to kill me this morning.”
“I’ll be making sure she is rewarded for her troubles. Now let go of her.”
“No,” Cyril sad twisting one of Ana’s arms as if he planned to break it. Ana let out an ear-piercing shriek that Kaspar was certain could be heard across the island and threw her head back into Cyril’s jaw. He let go a moment and she dived to the ground. Kaspar fired a single shot. Cyril fell back, his friends pulled out their weapons but stopped when the other soldiers came running to see what was happening. Kaspar grabbed Ana, pulled her to her feet, and position her behind him. She already had signs of bruising on the side of her head where she had been hit and her arms were turning yellow.
“I’m sorry,” she gasped as she heaved.
“Everything will be okay, I promise.”
“It won’t be okay Kasper, you don’t realize what you’ve done,” she moaned, then pulled his ear down so she could whisper. “You missed. He is going to tell people you’ve been in Chaos’s land too long and that you’ve gone mad.”
Kaspar looked down at Cyril and saw that he was bleeding from a hole in his shoulder only just out of the way of any major organs. Soldiers were surrounding them but through the crowd, they could see the look on Cyril’s face. He wanted to kill them.
“Prince Kaspar, your wife Princess Gayora sent us to bring you home again. Your father pharaoh Jovan is unwell. Please, allow us to help relieve your mind of Chaos,” said one of the priests.
“Put the gun down your majesty,” asked one of the high-ranking officers standing near their side. Ana clutched his arm tightly. He looked at their faces.
“Did Gayora send anything,” he asked.
“She sent you a letter,” said one of the priests handing it over. Ana turned to watch the soldiers behind her. She did not want to see the letter even if she could not read it. The men stared at her like a poison. They had all witnessed Kaspar’s defence of her, they all saw him shoot Cyril and pull her away from him. When they get back to Existence hell will break loose over this. Kaspar sighed in exasperation when he finished reading the letter.
“Alright,” he handed his gun to the man who’d given him the letter.
“No!” Ana yelped. As soon as Kaspar handed over his gun Two men grabbed Ana’s arms and put her in shackles.
“Anaxandra Tanner, you are under arrest for the attempted murder of a Prince, for seducing a general, attempted murder of a general, breaking and entering the Palace of the Pharaohs, abducting a member of high society, and of inviting Chaos into your life.” A man pulled out his gun and put it to her forehead.
“No! You are mistaken!” Kaspar shouted when they did not let her go he turned on the priests. “I am ordering you to release her at once.”
“Gayora’s orders were to bring in anyone who may be connected to your abduction.”
“I am Gayora’s husband and I am ordering you to let her go. Anaxandra Tanner saved my life.”
They all fell silent waiting for something to happen.
“Anaxandra Tanner is a hero and she should be recognized as such. I am ordering you to unshackle her and to for the love of Order stop pointing your guns at her,” Kaspar’s voice was filled with authority and power. He may not be royalty but when listening to him give his demands, Ana could understand how no one ever figured it out.
“As you wish,” said the Priest and the soldiers let go of her and removed the shackles. Ana got to her feet and glared at them.
“It is time to go home,” Kaspar said glaring at Cyril.