Chapter 27: Final Setback

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Red's POV

The sound of our footsteps echoed as we trudged towards the crooked pathway leading to the castle gatehouse. I sighed in relief, seeing the rusty portcullis drawn up offering a wide entrance for us if not for the thorns covering the arc. Goldilocks breathed raggedly beside me. She joined me shortly after I crossed the bridge saying that she found a way around it.

I concentrated and cast light in my hands as the intertwined thorns disentangled free and cleared away. We arrived at the castle grounds with the turrets and watchtowers in large side rampant all facing away from us. There was a granite fountain in the center, severely weathered and reduced to rubbles. Side battlements stooped high that it almost scraped the dark clouds above. I could already feel a tiring job as I glanced from both wings through long corridors looking as if it stretched on forever.

"Do you see any glowing rose?" I asked Goldy as she turned her head sideways.

"Exactly. Who would put something so pure beneath all this?" I asked in defiance.

"Er- Maleficent?" Goldy glanced at me expectantly as I sighed in dismay. She then held both of my shoulders and looked at me in the eyes.

"Hey, we can do this, okay?" She encouraged.

"Now, where should we look first?" Goldy asked with a grin in her face before I turned to her.

"Anywhere that's less creepy" I replied.

"And where could that be?"

"How about the old classic highest tower over there?" I chuckled after a long pause, pointing to a corner turret on our northeast.

"That would be way too obvious. How about over there?" Goldy gestured to a large keep in the left wing. I nodded in agreement as we began heading there through the corridor leading towards a row of watchtowers. The silence was almost deafening as our footsteps echoed in the cold misty air in the narrow hallway as I looked down gravely at the path with Goldy beside me.

"Is there something wrong? Are you okay?" She asked.

"I'm just worried about the others. I mean, they were cornered by dozens of orcs the last time I saw them" I replied.

"They'll be fine, I'm sure of it" She said.

"How can you tell?"

"Robin is a camper from Grimwilhelm and I was there hiding when Ella froze time and Snow? She may be a legit aristocrat but she fought like a savage demon" Goldy said with a smile on her face before bumping herself to me.

She had always been that kind of person who would do anything just to make people around her feel better. I smiled back as we took turns and jumped through rubbles in the hallway. The path felt like it went on endlessly but with Goldy around, I might have a big chance walking through every room without even noticing.

"Goldy, I have a question"

"Fire away"

"Why is the rose of King Adam and Queen Belle here on King Stephen's castle?" I asked. I know that we have to obtain this thing and return it safely back to camp, saving the realm but I couldn't help but wonder why totally different kingdom's got involved in so much trouble. Goldy was silent for a moment before clearing her throat.

"All I can say is that their history was much more complicated than what we are experiencing right now, especially when that history had the two most powerful opposing faeries in the realm alive and kicking" She replied before chuckling.

"So you don't know?" I smirked.

"Hey! Look, we were eight when we first met in the forest remember? The Fairy Godmother and Maleficent's days were way back okay? Do I look like some seer to you?" She rolled her eyes at me in defense as I pushed her teasingly. Our laughter ricocheted in the silent lonely walls, offering us a temporary distraction from all what's happening before thinking that if I were to die, then I would at least be happy and be with the person I really loved.

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