Chapter 39

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The Brutes' arrival is akin to a cyclone. I remain rooted for as long as I possibly can, waiting until they get a good look at me before bursting into flight.

Jumping up onto the nearest bench I take off, leading the Brutes to the back of the Hall. The clamour of the storm makes it almost impossible to track my pursuers so I rely on my speed as I dodge grasping hands and flailing weapons. My various aches are pushed aside as I leap from table to table, propelling myself high over the heads of the enemy and back into my element.

Arriving at the royal's head table I skid to a halt, searching the room and it's rafters. For now, the Brutes charging into the room are too focused on me to notice the trail of Miners snaking their way past. Pretending to dodge to the side I instead spring suddenly into the air, reaching out to grab the glass chandelier dangling overhead.

The chilling image of dozens of blank, upturned faces sears into me and I pull myself higher, wincing when the chain binding the chandelier to the ceiling strains and starts to break apart. Using the momentum from my landing I swing back and forth, watching the next chandelier and releasing my hold just as the point of an arrow sings past my ear.

The catastrophic sounds of splintering wood and shattered glass are ignored as I keep my sights trained on the path of lights. As the tide below me swells the room seems to tilt and the doubts creep in. What if we severely underestimated the amount of Brutes posted at the Palace? What if there isn't enough room in the Hall to hold them all? The whispers threaten my courage and I look fearfully toward the main doors. Only Marc and Gus remain, their stares jolting my thoughts into action and reminding me of our plan. Immediately I change course, bringing the chase to where all of Court once gathered to watch my execution.

The courtyard's stone pathway digs into my knees when I land. Taking off again I stumble on the slick surface, my vision blurring while rain assaults my senses. The earth quakes under the weight of countless armoured feet and I ignore the urge to look over my shoulder, instead seeking out my opportunities in the columns and archways that surround the flooded gardens.

Keep running.

Determination transcends exhaustion and I breathe shallowly. I pull out of reach when shadows appear from behind pillars and skid through the mud, biting back a yelp of pain when something collides with my shoulder. I am sent spiralling to the side, barely managing to avoid the killing blow of a sword as I scramble back to my feet. Without time to gather my bearings I make a mad dash for the first break in the crowd, heading for open ground.

The beautiful gardens are trampled into sodden earth as the Brutes and I tear across the yard. Sprinting up the steps of a gazebo I grab onto one of it's posts and swing into the air, leaving two opposing parties to be crushed inside and booting another in it's face on the way out.

Landing in a run, I give myself over to the rush coursing it's way through me. I skim past the lip of a fountain and indulge a thrill of satisfaction when several Brutes topple into the drink. Twirling around someone's weapon I snap to focus, realizing that I am racing through the vegetable patch where Will once gifted me a handful of sleep-inducing mushrooms and that my runway is rapidly diminishing. With nothing but a flimsy, vine-covered trellis ahead of me and a narrow strip of roof above, I make a desperate leap.

The trellis is ripped out from under my feet and I grapple to find purchase on the wall. Thick torrents of water lash against me as I yell my body into submission, holding onto the sliver of slippery rooftop with the tips of my fingers and willing myself to climb on top of it.

Thunder fills my ears and I swing my legs up, struggling into a precarious standing position. The overhang is barely wide enough to place a single foot and I move cautiously, taking advantage of the curtain of rain. Metal hands grasp blindly at my perch, missing me by mere inches as I ease my way back to the Great Hall.

The Rain (Part III of the Runner Series)Where stories live. Discover now