The accommodations that were given to her were just about as bad as she thought they were going to be. She was placed in a tiny cell with a creaky cage door that locked on the outside using an old bolted lock. The other three guys were indicated in their own cells just like Charlotte’s. Xavier was placed in the cell right beside Charlotte while Damien was placed directly in front of her. The cell in front of Xavier’s belonged to Aden who had taken this time to pass out on the cot their captives graciously provided.
“Why were those state officials and pirates working together?” Damien spoke aloud to the group, hoping his inquiry would get more of a response.
It was an eerie feeling that they were captured by both parties working for the same side.
“I think everything flip-flopped after the Cheric estate incident with the revealing of Charie being Charlotte,” Xavier replied sullenly before a clanking sound was heard from his cell. “Damn, this door won’t even budge.”
“Wait, you guys know about Charie? Here I thought she was still in storage! Why didn’t you stop me from explaining earlier?” Charlotte asked before frowning. “Wait, why did she reveal herself as me?” The girl became concerned, and a long silence filled the prison block. “Was that why Olivia’s home was attacked? Because Charie said she was me?”
“Not exactly—” Damien muttered from his cell.
“Not exactly what, Damien?” the girl countered just as fast, and this allowed Xavier to see how left out the girl had been from everything that had happened.
No one told her of how they received the three stones from Olivia, how they maintained their powers, how the attack was a ruse to smoke out the rats within the state. No one told her that Zaine killed Charie, thinking it was her. No one told her that someone higher up wanted her dead.
“What happened to Charie? Why isn’t she with Olivia anyway? What happened?”
Xavier interrupted quickly, “It’d probably be best to save such talk for when we’re safe.”
Damien caught Charlotte’s eyes as she made contact with him. Ashamed, he averted his gaze to the floor. “The state has people higher up who would like to see us all dead, Lionsheart. Please know that we’re not trying to withhold information from you. There just wasn’t enough time.”
“Dead . . .” she whispered turning so that her profile was the only thing Damien could see. “My uncle really did have those Relic stones then? But how did Olivia wind up with them?”
Xavier sighed, knowing that this conversation was not going to be changed. “Your uncle had something that dealt with the Relic stones, yes. That is why he was probably targeted like he was. You, on the other hand, saw who attacked your estate and survived a seemingly fatal drop off the cliff. We know Zaine and Claire were there, but there was probably someone who was affiliated with the state that either led or assisted in the assault. As for the stones, we don’t know how she received them.”
Charlotte frowned at the information. “It was Zeke’s twin. Zeke said that he was skilled in fencing, swordplay, and martial arts.”
Xavier and Damien jolted in their places.
“What?” Damien yelped.
“His twin? Who is his twin?” Xavier asked in turn.
And the older gent with the moon-and-stars tattoo continued with his barrage of questions, “Did you get a name?”
“No. He never told me his name, and I doubt it if Zeke would tell me for my own personal enjoyment.” Charlotte sighed in defeat while still raking her brain for the memories for that night. She barely remembered much of that night, and even then, it was foggy. She only remembered his visage with coffee brown eyes and sneering expression. She mistook Zeke for her assailant, only to find out that it was not him but his twin brother. She pondered that for a few minutes.
“We’re back to square one again,” Xavier said with much thought.
Damien lightly threw a rock in the direction of Xavier’s cell.
Xavier grimaced, giving his only response right back, “Would you knock it out with the rock throwing? You’re going to take someone’s eye out!”
“Who can we even trust?” Charlotte wondered. She wasn’t paying attention to the brothers as she looked absentmindedly forward, unsure of who they could rely on. Zeke had said that she should be wary of those around her, and now she has to watch out for those who are within the state as well. “Those pirates are in league with the state’s officials. How does any of this make sense?” Thinking to herself, she added, Zeke informed me that the state wants to get more stones out to experiment with, but the original stone is with Mom.
The blond picked up a pebble from the ground before tossing it at the third bar on his cell door. “I know it has to do with the Relic stones.” He sighed before rubbing his fingers together in a circular motion. “Cheric discussed the possibility of the state making the stones and distributing them to the pirates to create havoc. My question now is how all of that ties into this place we are being held captive.”
Xavier nodded his head in agreement. “Yes, it does seem off that Spiro suddenly sprouted a new building. The geography of this terrain is harsh, and it is really incapable of supporting infrastructure for long. You guys saw what happened on the path near the mountain. My hunch is that these guys are in league with Zaine.”
“Who happens to be one of the pirates who want me dead,” Charlotte stated in a tense tone, “and is trying to get their hands on the Relic stone so that they can give that to the state.” Without missing a beat, her mind quipped, Who also is in league with Zeke’s lookalike twin, and they all—including Zeke—are looking for my mother who is a part of some program called the Protectors that is protecting the original Relic stone.
Damien sighed when silence overcame them. “We need to get back to the Phoenix as soon as possible. I think it would be in our best interests to lay down all the facts and be on the same page. I, for one, would like to know the intentions of our next move. Nielsen sent us here to Spiro for a reason, and I think it may have been to find this place.”
Xavier scratched his head underneath his beanie. “I don’t know what this trip was for. Aden was the one who read the assignment and then hid it from prying eyes. I honestly thought it was so we could have fun exploring on the drifter with Charlotte to get her mind off things that happened with Zeke.”
Charlotte shook her head. “Zeke informed me that a client paid him to give me the information that he did. Someone must be watching to know exactly where I was specifically, but what is strange is that I received a box saying that it was from my uncle. What on earth is going on?”
This time, it was Xavier who slammed his hands on the bars of his cell door.
“What the hell’s your problem, Xavier?” Damien replied with wide azure eyes.
Xavier was the only one unnerved by the fact that the raven-haired kempt boy was sleeping as if being captured by pirates was something he was used to.
“I need to learn his secret because seriously, look at him!” Xavier was hanging his arms out from the bars; one hand in particular was pointing directly at Aden’s cell.
Charlotte who was anxiously sitting on her own cot looked up to see Damien give her a reassuring smile from his own cell.
“I am sure he knows we are not in any immediate danger since he is sleeping soundly.” The blond plopped down on his cot before leaning his back to the brick mortar behind him. “In my opinion, I think this is going to be the best sleep we could have gotten rather than in the tent.”
“Is that so?” a new voice emerged from the depths of the dark dungeon. “I am glad to hear the accommodations are fitting for our guests.”
Charlotte snapped her attention to the front of her cell where a stout man with a monocle on his left eye appeared. He was dressed in a dress suit with a ruffled collar puffed out at the nape of his neck. The smirk on his face was an evident indication that he was proud of his accommodations, despite the fact that his guests were unwilling to be held within those spaces.
“And who are you?” Xavier waved his right hand, indicating the new arrival with packets of paper in his arms. “I don’t recall a fat man running any pirate operations in these parts.”
Charlotte saw the wince the man made at the comment but did not bother to correct Xavier’s speech. If she were as upset as he was for being in the cell, she’d have acted the same way. Luckily, she was too exhausted to really do anything.
“I am no pirate, boy,” the man sneered before looking to his right where Charlotte was positioned. “You three in particular are in for a treat, especially since the state has you down for treason.” The man dropped a boatload of the papers he had in his arm on the ground with head shots of Xavier, Damien, Aden, Olivia, Anna, Tyler, Belle, Jakob, Leo, Sarah, and plenty of other pictures. His hand was positioned over the waistband of his belt where a ring full of keys was located. “Odd enough, I could not find a warrant for her.”
Damien, on the other hand, decided it best to intervene before the man could stare any longer at Charlotte. “Treason? On what grounds?” The stout man turned his head a quarter to peer at Damien. “No need to drag her into this situation.”
“You three facilitated an attack on Chiariotti’s main estate and murdered the esteemed,” Jonas Werslithe gave a disgusted snarl before uttering her name aloud, “Charlotte Rothschild, even though she was requesting assistance in the protection of her uncle’s memento. You three then deserted your posts with your chums after being given personal instructions to fight the pirates.” The stout man instructed as if that was the truth of the sentence and that was that.
Everyone, besides the raven-haired male, jumped up and objected to the reason. Aden merely sat up from his position lying down.
“Are you out of your bloody mind, wonker?” Damien gaped. “We didn’t murder Charlotte!”
A stone was thrown from the cell a few feet away from where Jonas was standing. The stone ricocheted off the metal bar in Xavier’s cell, effectively bringing Werslithe’s attention to the stone thrower.
A cold voice came from Aden’s cell. “Charlotte was murdered by Zaine.”
“Serves the bitch right for sticking her nose where it shouldn’t have been. It must be some trait of theirs . . .” Jonas replied darkly before taking a look at the girl. He gave her a pointed look before narrowing his eyes. “Odd indeed.”
Aden threw two more rocks out of his cell, each one precisely and accurately hitting the metal bar of his brother’s cell. The pebbles each elicited a different sound, one of which caught Xavier’s attention.
The older brother shifted contact to his youngest sibling before turning toward Jonas. It took seven other pebbles to connect to the metal for Xavier to gather his brother’s message.
Glaring, the warden walked over to Aden’s cell. He was not paying attention to details as to what the boy was doing, but he was furious that the boy was making a mess out of his dungeon. As he walked, he raised his chin up high so that he could make those in the cell seem inferior to him.
Then when he came into range of Aden’s cell, a rock was precisely thrown at the warden’s right temple. Anger was the most evident emotion the warden was experiencing as he reached behind his belt loop for his keys and a remote control. “Need I teach you manners each time we meet, boy?”
Everyone went deadly silent as the two exchanged dark looks. Confusion marred the expression of Charlotte as she stared out of her dark cell to see the warden open Aden’s cell door. She thought Aden would just knock out the warden, take his keys, and save the day like he would normally do. But this time, it was different.
Xavier grimaced as he saw Jonas Werslithe press a button on the remote control, and Aden clutched his head in agony. “What the hell is he doing to Aden?”
Charlotte made a motion, but Damien shook his head at her and gripped his bars with a death vice. If she got involved, she could be the next in the same agony as his brother was in the adjacent cell.
Then as if called, two guards came down the stairwell from the facility. They walked in conjunction with each other and turned right in unison in front of Aden’s cell. Walking around Jonas, they shuffled to grab Aden’s forearms and dragged him out by force.
“Wait! Where are you taking him?” Charlotte yelled out, and Xavier banged onto his own cell to try and stop what the guards were doing.
Damien outstretched his hand out to grasp one of the guard’s arm passing by, but he felt the cold sting of electrocution as Jonas brought the remote onto Damien’s hand.
“Welcome to the facility. I am the warden of this fine establishment you four have been acquainted with: Jonas Werslithe. You have two rules to follow under my facility, and that is this: do not disobey any order given to you and—”
Xavier interrupted him with a question that had been gnawing all of them earlier, “What is this facility’s objective? Why is there a need to have such a thing?”
Snapping his beady black eyes to the male, he snarled, “That is none of your business, and if you would like to keep that tongue, I would suggest you shut up.” His harsh Kelian accent was accentuated near the end of his statement.
“Second and most important to remember in my facility is that you will not speak unless spoken to.” He heard a scoff from Xavier’s cell but continued on with the harshest of glares. “Tomorrow is the day you meet death’s treacherous villains. I am sure hell will welcome you in its arms by daybreak.”
Charlotte could see the sparks flying between Damien’s and Xavier’s cells as the stout man directed his attention to each of their cells. Finally, it seemed that they met a quiet consensus because the man with the keys moved his hands to behind his back. He then silently walked up the stairwell where Aden had been dragged out.
۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞