Chapter 10- Escape

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All day, Berrick rested staring out the window, wondering at life's cruel humor. When the last glimmer disappeared from the sky, and only the lamps kept the darkness at bay, Silvia burst through the door. Her hair was tousled as if she'd been slowly worrying it free from its braided confines, and her breathing was audible. Halis looked up from his chair, and when he saw her, he stood.

"Silvia," Halis said as he crossed the carpeted floor towards her.

"He didn't make his appointment, Halis!"

Berrick smiled and rested his head against the wall. It was possible that the disappearance of the doctor implied he'd contacted a hospital or other reasonable authorities. Poor crazy bitch, her evil game is going awry.

"The doctor?"

"He didn't come. They got him. We aren't safe here!" Silvia flushed, and her hands flew to her hair.

"There was always the chance they'd find us. When was the doctor supposed to be here?" Halis asked. He took her in his arms, but she broke free and moved across the room. Her hands shook visibly. In contrast, Halis didn't seem upset in the least.

"At dusk," she said.

Berrick estimated that meant the doctor was an hour and a half late.

"He's late then," Halis said. "If he did meet with them, we have no way of identifying when. Whatever the case, they'll already know where we are or if the doctor kept his peace, they don't."

"No, you put too much faith in my beauty, Halis. That man hated me."

"What a surprise," Berrick said.

Silvia turned to him and barred her teeth. Halis grabbed her again. Berrick grinned. Now they were being hunted—a pleasant turn of events. If he could just sit pretty, everything might yet come out the right way.

"There's no action we can take now to prevent the doctor from speaking," Halis said. "If they know where we are, they'll bring us in. Panicking has no effect on the outcome."

"I won't go back," Silvia screamed now. "I won't stay here. I want off this damn planet. Out of Ymel's reach. I won't go back. I'll kill them first!"

"And die in the process?" Halis asked with his usual smile.

Is she going to hit him? Berrick leaned forward, ignoring the pain in his thigh as he moved.

"Yes, goddamn you! I'll rip my heart from my chest before I'll step foot in that place!" Her hand had flown to her stomach and settled there.

"Calm yourself. This's our warning. We flee this city, tonight. If the doctor didn't tell them, we still have time to get away," Halis said.

"Where will we go?" Silvia asked.

"Where it's safe. We'll go home with Berrick." Halis turned with his smile to Berrick.

The expression sent slivers of ice through Berrick's veins, his own smile died under the cruel glint of Halis'.

"And you really shouldn't find this amusing, Berrick. If they locate us, they'll kill you, title or no."

"They--the Yahal Brothel," Berrick said. He should have known it before; they were sitting in the shadow of one of the most evil places in the galaxy—a place that bred women like Silvia. Her beauty was unmatched by any he'd seen and her evil unquestionable. She was exactly the sort of shadowy creature he'd always thought haunted those wicked halls.

The only reason the link hadn't occurred to him was the whores were not allowed out of the brothel without escort. All of the Brothels shows were kept secret. Even from his side of the planet, Berrick had heard of some of the horrid fates associated with speaking about what you'd seen at the Brothell.

"What do we do now?" Silvia stumbled back against the wall, her face white.

"We take all traces of ourselves and join Berrick in his homecoming. We take Henri with us. He has gone on a business trip or something. His house will be pristine and utterly empty. Then, my queen, we'll pray."

Berrick watched the two of them. A whisper of pity filtered its way into his thoughts and then a remembrance of Marim's smile crushed it. They were scum.

"Gather your things, Silvia. Go tidy your room and then bring the car around back. You'll need to bring Henri down and put him in the trunk. I'll clean out this mess and escort Berrick down to the car," Halis said. After the list of instructions, he took a few steps to her side and touched her cheek. "Whatever happens, we're together. Now go."

Silvia fled the room. Berrick looked away. Dying wouldn't be so bad, if his death served to protect Marim.

***

Only one task remained until they could flee. Silvia looked fondly at the wolf spider crawling over her knuckle. After a moment, she flicked it to the floor, "Goodbye little friend."

The song was ancient, and she took a moment to gather its pieces together inside her before parting her lips. Barely a sound came from her throat, and yet her voice carried. Deep inside her, the strands of the web vibrated. She reached into the inky abyss, feeling the lives of the spiders that came before her, and pulled in a breath.

The presence at the center of the pulsing web added its voice to her notes, and millions of voices churned together in a sad keening dance from her lips.

The song spun its way into the cracks of the house and down into the basement and the attic. Throughout the house, each eight-legged lurker heard and obeyed. Time to move on. Even after her voice itself had faded into nothing, the song traveled, echoing on the invisible web- flowing from Silvia and Halis, reaching across Yahal and linking her to Marim and Darith. The cracks in the house emptied. Where there had been little glittering eyes there was only emptiness.

She stood in the night with her breathe white against the blackness. The wildness in her faded, but her essence remained stretched over the intricate woven strands. It was then that she felt the Brothel's sorcerers in her mind—searching. She smiled. If Ymel had them searching, the Brothel hadn't located them. The Brothel's sorcerers used puny Yahal magic. It ran off her. She said a word softly, and it darted to Halis and hovered around him. Ymel would not find them that way.

"Try harder," she whispered into the wind, "You won't find me. But someday, I'll find you..."

When Halis and Berrick arrived at the car, both limping along, but Halis holding a gun pressed to Berrick's side, she leaned on the hood, tapping her toe.

"They don't know where we are yet," she said.

"I thought I felt you hovering about me, like the scent of blood and incense."

"Yes, they 'searched' and they failed. Before they even finished their efforts to conjure the spell, I stopped them." She touched Halis' shoulder. Halis gave her a kiss. Her hands slid over his cheeks. Everything was finally going right. She opened the back door of the car.

"You might look into speeding our papers along," Halis said, shoving Berrick into the cool interior. "For your own safety and that of your daughter, we must be gone without a trace before they come for us. If they suspect that you aided us, there is no telling what they'll do."

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