Since the first part of my short story was so wildly popular (hey, I can pretend, can't I?), I decided to share the second part of my story this week! This is a bit of a longer section, but I hope you all like it. I'm currently working on finishing/editing my short story, so you may not get part 3 for a little while. JUST TAKE WHAT YOU CAN GET, OKAY?
It's still unnamed because darn it I have no idea what to call this story. It's just...so name-defying. Anyone have ideas? BECAUSE I NEED HELP.
(Oh, and go read the first part if you haven't already. Otherwise this probably makes zero sense...or it still might make zero sense, I don't know.)
/ / /
“Remind me again why I’m the one who has to unleash explosives from the highest point in all of Legeria?” I asked.
Steel sighed and leaned dangerously close to the edge of the stationary airship balcony. “Look, Fiona, I told you. You’re shorter so you’ll be less noticeable on the roof—”
“Thanks for the reminder.”
“—and you’ve dealt with explosives more so you’re less liable to kill everyone.”
“Wonderful,” I said sarcastically. “It’s nice to know that I’m holding the lives of all the citizens of Legeria in my hands.”
“Hey, I’m the one who has to trust you to lower me from a rope into the castle courtyard. Knowing you, you’ll probably let the rope ‘slip’ from your hands as some kind of twisted retribution for my prank.”
I had to laugh at that. He knew me so well.
Blowing on his gloves, he nodded. “Ready?”
I raised an eyebrow and fingered the coarse fibers of the rope. “The question is. . . are you ready?”
Steel glared, producing a big grin from me. “Sometimes I really wish you were a boy so I could hit you.”
“That’s never stopped you before.”
His eyes glinted in amusement. With a low grunt, he sat himself on the ledge and dangled his legs over the courtyard below. He tightened the knot around his waist, gave me a thumbs-up, and dropped into the empty expanse of air.
/ / /
The sun was just beginning to set when I reached the castle tower, satchel full of explosives in hand. I collapsed against the wall, my heart still pounding wildly. That encounter with the air guard patrol had been close. I would have to be more careful next time I docked my airship in a private lot with giant “NO TRESPASSING” signs posted everywhere. Fortunately, the press badge Steel had forged helped me gain access to the main gate. It was astonishing what security would allow for a chance to be in a newspaper article.
What was even more astonishing was the fact that I had made it through the entire castle without being stopped. It seemed everyone was so occupied with the queen’s birthday celebration that security was more lax than usual.
“These explosives should change that,” I muttered, a smile tugging at my lips as I opened the satchel. There were so many firecrackers in there that the seams of the bag had begun to stretch.
I crouched behind the wall, positioning myself so I could see into the castle courtyard. Steel should be back in a few minutes, if all went according to plan.
After about ten minutes of rubbing my hands together and checking my pocket watch, I picked up the sound of voices in the courtyard. Craning my neck, I made out the forms of about fifty people streaming towards the center of the courtyard. The citizens were just beginning to arrive.
My gaze found its way to the sky once again. The sun was dipping lower beneath the horizon. It was almost time.
Another ten minutes passed as the rest of the people gathered in the castle courtyard. I noted an abundance of guards, who were still not paying attention to much of anything. I smirked to myself, scarcely able to believe how fortuitous this was. Any other night and the armed guard would be on high alert; but Queen Amelia’s birthday was a huge event, and they seemed to get lost in the festivities. After all, who would dare invade the castle on such a night as this?
I shook my head at the irony of it all as the queen herself strode into the courtyard, a score of guards flanking her on both sides. Straightening, I grabbed my pair of binoculars from my belt and peered through the glass, focusing on the queen and her attendants. There she was, dressed in a rich blue vest atop a flowing white dress. The front of the gown hit her knees, and the longer train billowed behind her in the stiff autumn wind. Her black boots were laced mid-calf. She was wringing her hands, covered in fingerless silver gloves, and forcing a smile. I frowned, confused by her expression. Usually the queen didn’t seem this distracted.
I shifted my gaze to the right. There was Falston , her advisor, his dark hair slicked back, sideburns and mustache neatly trimmed. He patted Queen Amelia’s hand, and bent over to whisper something in her ear. The queen shook her head just slightly and seemed to take a deep breath before moving past her chief advisor.
As Queen Amelia began her typical address to the people, I scanned the ever-growing crowd for Steel. Where was he? He was supposed to grab the keys to Aerick’s cell, snag a guard’s uniform, and wait for me in the courtyard below.
Just my luck that he got killed or something, I thought, a bit of uninvited worry filtering into my annoyance.
That worry morphed into near-panic as the queen neared her conclusion, much faster than I expected. It was almost time for the balloon launch. If Steel didn’t show up soon, I would have to set off the explosives and find Aerick on my own. There was no way I could break him out of prison without the keys Steel was supposed to get.
There! My heart skipped a beat, relief flooding me as I spotted an armed guard slip into the far reaches of the crowd, near the entrance to the inner court. He had made it.
His gaze casually surveyed the towers overhead. When his hazel eyes landed on me, he gave me a slight grin and nodded.
That was all I needed. The queen was done with her speech now, and it was time to act.
Glancing at the sky to make sure it was clear of aircraft, I hauled a fist-sized amount of firecrackers from the satchel and grabbed the pack of matches from my pocket. Striking one, I began to light each of the fuses, propping up the firecrackers against the wall and hurriedly moving down the line. Already the firecrackers were about to go off. I wouldn’t have enough time to light them all.
I snatched my satchel from the ground. I scurried toward the door to the inside of the castle and bolted through the entrance just as the firecrackers began to go off . The ruckus was louder than I expected, especially since I had made a point not to use the loud ones. Curious, I cracked the door open again. The sky was alight with fire, nearly blinding me.
Blazing heat singed the hair on my arms as a ginormous ball of light exploded in the night sky. Stumbling back a step, I slammed the door shut and collapsed against it. My heart trembled in my chest, and my ears rang with the sound of explosions.
I’d been a pilot long enough to realize that was no firecracker; that was an airship.
But I hadn’t seen any airships! I had made sure there weren’t any in the sky beforehand. If that airship crashed, I doubted there would be any survivors.
I shook my head and tried to push the guilt from my mind. I need to find Steel.
Going back through the castle was even easier than the first time. Any guards that may have been in the castle beforehand had probably raced outside when they heard the explosions.
When I arrived at the entrance to the dungeons, deep within the castle, I spotted Steel right away. He was glancing around nervously, soot smeared across his cheek. He saw me, and the look on his face stopped me dead in my tracks.
I had never seen him so. . . distant. It was as if his mind were trapped in a different world. And the way he looked at me, you would think he’d never seen me before in his life.
Swallowing, I approached him cautiously and laid a chilled hand on his arm. He furrowed his brow and stared at my hand.
“Steel,” I whispered. “You ready?”
He blinked a few times, then seemed to snap out of his fog. He nodded and dug a ring of keys from his pocket. As he handed them to me, he said, “That was an airship.”
I took the keys, careful to keep my grip on the one that he was holding. Licking my lips, I twisted the key in the lock and let the door swing open. “I know. Did it. . . did it crash?”
“Are you kidding?”
I glanced at him, confusion taking over as he grinned widely. “Fiona, I didn’t know your firecrackers were that powerful.”
Now I was utterly flabbergasted. “What are you talking about? Did it crash?”
He rolled his eyes and pushed me forward a step. “Look, Fiona, there was an airship docked on the tower next to yours. It caused quite a show, but I doubt that ancient piece of junk could even lift itself off the ground, much less crash.” He winked and flashed me that annoying grin again. “I didn’t know you had that in you.”
I sighed, relieved that no one had been injured. But now I couldn’t resist smacking him on the shoulder.
“Ow! What was that for?”
“For letting me think something horrendous had happened. Seriously, by the look on your face, I thought the entire city of Legeria had been decimated.”
He shrugged and hurried down the steps to the actual dungeon. “You females are so confusing.”
“Well, this female just exploded an entire airship so you best not insult her.”
He coughed, looking a little uncertain as he noticed the pistol at my side. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
/ / /
Annnnd that's Fiona and Steel for you. AREN'T THEY PRECIOUS LITTLE MUFFINS? I'm...slightly fond of them. *coughs* (Even though they insult each other like 98.4% of the time. Which honestly makes them that much more endearing.)