Part 11

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The unbearable pain in her wrists caused a tiny tear to slide down Silver’s cheek. As desperately as she tried to hold them back, they came one at a time. When they stopped, she tried to adjust her eyes in the darkness. As they slowly did, she glanced around the room. Unfortunately, the first corner was as empty as the second. But as she glanced to the third, a block of stone was lifted out of the floor and pushed back!

Silver tried to scream, but the gag over her mouth let only a tiny muffle come through. Her eyes trembled with fright as she saw a person come out of the black hole.

“Shh!” the unknown figure whispered. “I’m not one of them. They come through the door.”

A match was scratched against the floor and a candle was lit. The figure turned out to be a young man with ebony black hair and midnight blue eyes. “I overheard the Strifes say they captured two more warriors and a girl to add to their collection of prisoners. I came as fast as I could…but I see your two friends are gone. I’m sorry. Here, let me help you with that gag. No, don’t try to fight the bonds; they’re magically tied.” A drop of blood fell on his hands as he took her wrists. “But I guess knowing that doesn’t help you any.”

He took the gag off, and she smiled warily, thanking him. “I guess not,” she said. “Do you know how to get them off?”

He nodded. “Simple.” He drew a pinch of something out of a pouch and sprinkled it over the ropes. The string turned black, shriveled, and fell away.

“Magic dust?” she asked.

“Desert sand,” he replied. “Pretty weak spell, huh? What’s your name?”

“Silver.” She held out her hand and he bandaged her wrist. He did the same to her ankles.

“Evan,” he said, as he diligently worked. He looked at her and fingered her muddy locks. “Silver, huh? Hmm. I wonder why.”

She smiled. “How did you get in here?”

“I’ve been here since I was a child—I think my mother and father are dead. I was taken long ago—they’ve probably forgotten all about me by now. They used to send me food once a day. That’s stopped now, but I know the way to the kitchen. A secret way.

“You see, one day I was about to go out of my mind with boredom when I found a spider. Believe me, I almost killed him, but then I wondered exactly how he got in. I followed him around for what seemed like forever, and it finally crawled through a crevice in the floor. So I reached down in there and the rock came right out. I pushed it away and found a whole network of passageways underneath the castle. They go everywhere. And, through the years, I’ve pretty much come to know them by heart. Are you busy?”

Silver looked at him puzzledly. “Not at the moment.”

“Good. Come on, I’ll show you some places.” He got up and held his hand out to Silver. She took it, and he led her to the gaping hole in the floor. SIlver saw the thick blackness ahead and her muscles tensed as she stepped back.

Evan sensed her reluctance. “Don’t worry,” he said. “There’s nothing down there that will hurt you.” He took her hand again and brought her closer. “It’s not as deep as it looks. I’ll jump down, and you hand me the candle. Then you jump.”

“You’re not going to help me down?”

“Why? You can do it.” He gave Silver the candle and edged himself to the side of the hole. He took a deep breath and jumped, disappearing into the darkness.

Silver shivered as she held the candle.

“Evan, do you want me to give you the candle now?”

There was silence.



“Evan, this isn’t funny. Answer me!” The absence of any noise put her on edge. She leaned over the hole and shouted his name. “EVAN!” She heard her echo as the sound of his name came back to her again and again and again. There was no moaning or shuffling to let her know if had been hurt, or if he’d run away. There was only silence.

As frightened as she was, Silver closed her eyes and jumped into the hole. Before she touched the ground, two strong hands grabbed her, one over her mouth and one around her waist. Silver twisted around, burning her attacker’s arm with the candle. She felt a yelp of pain and the hands that held her let her go. Quickly, she faced the attacker, ready to lunge at him. The flame of the candle flashed on his face.

“I told you you could come down by yourself. Now what did you go and do that for?”

Silver’s eyes opened wide. “Evan, that’s not funny! I thought you had left me, or broken your leg or your neck…” She put the candle down and turned away from him.

Evan put a hand on her shoulder. “I didn’t mean to scare you so badly. It was only a joke.” He turned her to him. She had her head down and her arms folded across her chest.

“Some joke,” she said quietly.

Evan took her in his arms and hugged her. “I really am terribly sorry. I’ll never do it again.”

Silver pulled away. “Good.” She grabbed the candle and sped down the hall, making him slide the stone back and chase after her.

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