16: Under the Valley, Over The Willow Trees

Start from the beginning

"Under the sky above and over the river flow

We'll run as far as the summer wind can blow

Hmm hmmm hmm hmmm hmm hmmm hm hmmm mmmmm

Through the meadows, all the way to Barbelow

Our love takin' us as far as it can grow

Hardly knowing where next we're going to go

Hmm hmmm hmm hmmm hmm hmmm hm hmmm mmmmm

Darling, when everything's all said and done

I'll know that you were ever the only one

I'd want to hold as the moon climbs out at night

Only one 'til the sun goes down for I would fight

Only one I would love 'til the stars ran out of light

Hmm hmmm hmm hmmm hmm hmmm hm hmmm mmmmm."

When Dex finished, he caught her staring and, embarrassed, wouldn't meet her eyes.

"That was beautiful," she whispered. "Where did you learn that?"

"My mother-" Dex started but was cut off by the sound of an explosion that rumbled the palace down to the foundations. Alarmed, Dex shot up and grabbed his sword and scabbard just as the door flew open, revealing Keefe (the last person Biana expected to see), Della, and the triplets, who were red-eyed and being carried by Keefe and the queen.

"The palace is under attack," Keefe announced. "Fitz has ordered us to get the queen, princess, and triplets out and take them to Song Manor."

"What's our escape plan?" Dex asked instantly like he could leave that moment as he helped Biana up.

"Servant's passage from the end of the hall all the way to the stables. Sophie told me the way, and I suspect it's just been ransacked so no one can escape by carriage, but we have one waiting halfway up the trails to Moonglade," answered Keefe. "We have the advantage of nightfall, but we don't have much time. From the sound of it the Neverseen have just used their artillery to launch the first of their bombs."

"Bombs?!" Biana gasped, holding her stomach protectively.

Keefe nodded solemnly, "'Fraid so, but we need to get going. The attack has just started so they haven't completely overtaken Everglen yet."

"Where's Sophie?" Dex scanned the group in front of them.

"She's staying to fight with Fitz. We decided the situation is too dire to keep her abilities secret any longer. We're letting her use them full force," explained Keefe.

To Biana's surprise, Dex nodded, seeming almost relieved, "Good. She's going to knock every one of them off their feet. Let's go."

In one swift motion, the knight slid his shield on and wrapped his arm protectively around Biana, ushering her to the door. Dex scanned the hall before they all crept out, crouching slightly as they went, ready to break into a run. Dex's hand was on her hip like he was ready to scoop her up at any given moment, and his sword was ready to slash down any opponents who tried to get in their way. They let Keefe, Della, and the triplets move ahead of them to lead the way, and soon they were all in the servant's passage, rushing to get to the exit.

It seemed like an easy out, but suddenly Keefe stopped at an intersection and flattened himself and the two triplets he was carrying against the wall. Della, Dex, and Biana did the same, and they heard angry orders to kill all in sight echo from the other side of the intersection as they stormed through the dark chambers. The Neverseen. When the shouts died down, Keefe checked to see if there were more and started moving forwards again. The six of them were almost to the exit when they saw Neverseen goons being ushered in by a filthy girl with ruddy brown hair and a wicked smile, wearing a maid's uniform.

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