[ TWENTY-ONE ]

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chapter twenty-one | old people die hard. js.

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When the soldiers clambered through the trapdoor onto a floor covered with shards of glass, nothing but the howling of a furious wind greeted them.

Standing in the emptiness of the room, which they thoroughly searched for any person, they only found Jean-Luc.

He sat on his bed, cross-legged and bent forward. His eyes watched the soldiers and the way his smile curled at the corner suggested he'd been waiting for quite some time, and was satisfied with their confused expressions.

After three armed men and one armed woman had entered the tower, a crowd in the small room, Sirius pushed his way through them and towards Jean-Luc.

"It's just our most important pawn!" He cackled with glee, assessing Jean-Luc with a glint in his eye. "Where's the little missy?"

Jean-Luc sat back, channelled an 'inner Bayard', and offered Sirius a lazy grin. "She's far gone by now, Master Sirius."

"Oh," Sirius nervously waved his shaking hand at Jean-Luc. "I'm no master. There is only the honourable, gracious, power Sir--"

"We all get it," a new voice cut through the conversation and the room alike. Soldiers stepped out of the large man's way, bowing their heads out of respect.

Sir Mark was larger than Jean-Luc remembered, his presence taking up half of the room and making Jean-Luc feel very small.

"Where did my daughter go?"

Jean-Luc snorted before he could help himself, then straightened up and looked the man directly in the eye. "Emmy Willet is several miles from here."

"Names only matter so much," replied the older man, surprisingly calm. He paused and looked over Jean-Luc, sweeping his gaze from head to toe. "Come with me, boy. It's time for us to make plans."

Jean-Luc sighed as he got to his feet, standing on his bed. When he met Sir Mark's confused look, he gestured to the floor.

"Unless you want me less healthy, I need shoes or someone to carry me." Sensing Sirius eagerly approaching, Jean-Luc held up a hand. "Someone hygienic. I'll get sick from all that... filth." He froze, realising he'd insulted a very powerful enemy's henchman. "No offence."

Sir Mark gave him a flat look. "Jean-Luc, not only are you a child, you're my prisoner. You are not in charge."

Jean-Luc swallowed nervously, big eyes refusing to look away from the larger-than-life man. "I understand, Sir Mark. However, my sister is the pendant-bearer and I know who took your daughter, and you need me safe and healthy for whatever scheme brewing in your head. I would say I have a little immunity."

Sir Mark chuckled. Taking one step towards Jean-Luc, his thick arm scooped him up without much trouble. Jean-Luc gripped the fur coat, resisting the urge to struggle.

From this vantage point, he noticed that Sir Mark was definitely taller than Jean-Luc's papa. He was also twice as wide, mostly due to muscle and somewhat due to overeating.

When they reached the trapdoor, Sir Mark set Jean-Luc's feet on the first rung of the ladder.

"Wait for me at the bottom. You're going to come with me to a very important meeting."

Jean-Luc nodded and did exactly as Sir Mark said. He wouldn't risk pushing for anything after everyone cleared the room.

As the soldiers cleared from the room, following the exit of their leader, the first rays of the first sun peeked over the horizon. Reflecting from the broken glass, the light cast brilliant colours on the walls of the empty tower room.

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