chapter seven;

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Darryl wasn't sure exactly how long they had been kept in the small stone room. With no windows or doors or any other way of seeing outside there was little to no way to tell what time it was and, by extension, how long they had been there.

All he knew was that Zak hadn't been returned.

Darryl hadn't even wasted his time trying to find a way out of the holding cell. Instead, he had simply slumped down next to the wall, trying his best to ignore the rough, cold texture of the stone against his back and the dampness that felt like it would soak into his bones and consume him whole. Or perhaps that was simply the exhaustion finally settling in. He'd been running on pure adrenaline for too many hours straight and finally, finally, it was catching up to him.

Vincent appeared to be in a similar mindset despite having had a few hours of sleep the night before. Darryl had watched the astrologer closely as he paced the small room almost restlessly, an irritable wildness to his movements. They had really come all of this way for nothing but four walls and empty space. They weren't any closer to the cure that they had been looking for. They had no new information on the rebel forces - except, Darryl thought, that they seemed much more organised and complex than he had originally assumed - and, to top it all off, they had managed to get themselves separated.

Things weren't looking good to say the least.

"When do you think they'll bring him back?" Vincent asked, voice cutting abruptly through the settled silence. Darryl glanced up at him wearily. "He's been gone for hours. They promised they wouldn't hurt him. When will they bring him back?"

"I don't know."

"They've got to bring him back soon. There's no way they could need to keep him away this long, right?"

"I don't know." Darryl repeated, barely moving from where he was sat. "He's important to them. They could never return him here for all we know. Perhaps they'll keep him somewhere else."

Although it wasn't a pleasant thought, Darryl knew that there were many less than favourable potential outcomes to explain why Zak hadn't been returned. The worst case scenario was, of course, that they'd simply killed him already despite their promise not to do so. You couldn't fully trust people like this - they were willing to stab others in the back if it was to benefit their own goals, something that Darryl remained keenly aware of. As long as they were in this base, they were not safe, and he wouldn't allow himself to let his guard down for even the briefest of moments.

The woman hadn't come back for them either. After she'd disappeared with Zak they'd been left entirely to their own devices, and, for lack of a better term, it was driving Darryl crazy. He still couldn't understand how word had travelled so quickly. The rebels had been far too prepared - they had known that the trio would be arriving ahead of time. But how? Darryl had decided to leave the palace almost immediately after the incident had taken place, without notifying anyone. To be able to get a message to the rebels in that time would be far too complicated, nearly impossible. But somehow, someone had managed it. That was what unsettled the knight the most. The idea that someone who had been in that room when he had made the decision to make this trip had sold them out.

Of course there were a few people who had been there that Darryl wasn't familiar with - it was a palace, there were a lot of people working there - but the idea that someone could have infiltrated the palace network like that... it didn't sit well with him at all. That meant the royal family could potentially be at risk, and that was exactly the kind of situation that Darryl had been trained to prevent.

"Things are more fun when Zak is around."

This time, Darryl couldn't find it within him to argue. Things were more fun when all three of them were together despite how chaotic and out of control events could get. Though he hadn't originally been happy with Zak accompanying them, it now felt odd not to have him there, as though he'd become some kind of permanent fixture in the last two days.

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