It had been so long since she had heard the screams of battle and smelled the scent of blood which coiled thickly around the room. Unbidden, conflicting emotions filled her heart; grief for those who were hurt or dead, anger at being held captive and a strange, frightening longing for the battle field in which she could reign supreme. Oh, how much she yearned for the war zone yet feared it with every fibre of her being.
Something dripped from the ceiling and landed with a splash on her cheek; running down her smooth skin tickling her; making her want to wipe it from her face. The rattle of chains resounded loudly around the empty cell as she moved and for the millionth time she cursed the bonds she was imprisoned in. Suddenly the sound of footsteps echoed round her cell as someone ran towards the door in front of her.
Randle ran through the chaos as the Castle Lord's soldiers fought against Section 3, who were trying to arrest him on the terms of war aggravation. He came across a group of servants who were just sitting in the corridor. As he ran passed one of the servants pointed down a dimly lit corridor; Randle stopped and searched the man's face looking for deceit. When he saw none Randle nodded slightly and turned down the corridor.
"Corporal, where are you going?" Alice caught up with him and ran by his side.
"There is something wrong with this castle. The servants don't care about what happens to their Lord. They even pointed for me to go this way," Randle stopped at a set of stairs that led down.
"And you just believe them and run into a dark place," Alice grabbed the back of his jacket, ceasing his motion to go down the stairs.
"There was no lie in the man's eyes; there must be something down here that they want us find," Randle looked down at the top of Alice's head. She looked up at his serious expression and let his jacket slip through her fingers. He turned from her and flew down the stairs leaving her to scold herself for acting so childishly, holding onto the back of his jacket just because she was scared. She shook her head in an attempt to clear it and followed after the corporal.
Randle heard footsteps behind him and with a quick look over his shoulder identified them as Alice's. They were running down a cobbled corridor that had doors leading off of it. The doors all had a window in the middle of the upper part of the door and all the windows were barred.
Randle stopped in front of a door that looked completely different to the others; instead of having a barred window the door in front of them was made out of a single, thick slap of Oak. Randle backed away to shoulder barge the door, just before he ran at it Alice stopped him.
"That door is solid oak, there is no way you could break it down. You'll have to shoot the lock."
Randle looked at her surprised before narrowing his eyes and pushed Alice behind him. He pulled down the lever on his lantern and blue light flooded the corridor. He pulled his massive gun out of its hoist, aptly named the 'door knocker'. He positioned it against the lock of the mighty door and fired.
The girl hung there, her eyes glued to the door in front of her waiting for the owner of the footsteps to act. Suddenly a blue light crept into the cell through the crack under the door, knowing that something was about to happen she shut her eyes tightly just as a deafening bang erupted outside her cell; throwing a chunk of wood across the cell, narrowly missing her. She stayed still listening to the heavy footsteps as the thudded into her cell, the blue light teasing at her eyelids. She slowly opened her eyes to see a giant man towering over her, a will-of-a-wisp on his hip. She looked up and met his eyes and saw that they were without feeling, empty.
In his hand smoked a huge gun and on his clothing hung the faint smell of war which she breathed in deeply through her cracked lips. Behind the man a woman put her head round the corner of the doorway and gasped loudly when she saw her.
Randle ran through the door and scanned the room with his sharp eyes. On the other side of the room in the darkest corner of the cell Randle saw a pair of eyes, reflecting the light given out by his lantern. Alice crept round the corner and froze when she saw the pair of seemingly disembodied eyes.
The clink of chains brought Randle into action; he pulled the lever on his lantern cutting off the blue light and went up to the prisoner.
He walked forward; a gasp escaped him when he saw that it was a woman in her late teens; she was hung by her arms, her feet hardly touching the floor; chains as thick as his wrist were attached to her wrists and ankles, keeping her from moving around. Her body was a thin as a skeleton's, her face was shallow, she looked like a corpse. Her breathing was shallow and unhealthy but her eyes glimmered and were full of life and mistrust.
Slowly, so as not to frighten her, extended a hand towards the young woman who made no movement to try and stop him or to try and back away.
"Lieutenant, I need your help!" he called to Alice, who ran in and froze when the girl's ice cold eyes turned to her. Randle reached up and ripped the chains from the ceiling with a roar; causing the woman to fall towards the ground. He caught her gently, putting a careful hand around her waist and gasped when he felt how light she was. He carefully shrugged out of his coat trying not to hurt her in the process.
"Lieutenant could you…" Randle held out his coat which Alice took and quickly bundled up before slipping it under the girls head as Randle laid her down on the floor.
"She's shivering, stay here whilst I go get a blanket," Alice ran out of the door and her footsteps could be heard growing faint as she got further away. Randle leant over and tore the other pair of chains out of the floor freeing the girl entirely of her bonds to the cell she had been kept in.
She reached out a delicate hand and touched Randle's knee getting his attention, he looked down at her and started when he saw that she was trying to sit up.
"No, you shouldn't get up," he put a hand on her shoulder halting her movement.
"Save them," she whispered hoarsely, Randle looked down at her shocked.
"My subordinates … we were captured… and made to work as slaves," she gasped trying to get more air into her lungs.
"Okay I will, if they ask what should I say?"
"That Rin sent you," she looked up at him and saw him nod.
"Rest, I'll be back for you," Randle jumped to his feet and ran down the corridor, intent to fulfil the mission he had just been given.
As Randle's footsteps faded into the distance, Rin rolled onto her front and searched the gloom with her sharp eyes and listening out for the return of Alice or Randle. After making sure that no one was around Rin slowly rose up onto all fours and shakily crawled to the door, dragging her chains behind her. She crawled down the corridor in the opposite direction to which Randle had run and came across the jailer's room. Said Jailer was helping to fight against Section 3.
She crawled through the open door and up to the table which she grabbed and pulled herself to her feet. After a few attempts which ended up in her falling back to the ground, she prevailed and stood on her feet for the first time in five years. Rin looked up and felt a shiver of joy rip down her spine when she saw that her old weapons had been kept as well as the scabbards. She walked up to them and hesitantly reached out and curled her hand round the grip of the hilt of her katana. In the corner of her eye she could see the hilt of a rusty, neglected dagger. Rin let go of her katana and grabbed the dagger; put it in the first link and proceeded to break the chain off of her shackles.
He had found the soldiers where they had been stood before but this time they were being harassed by what looked like one of the lord's guards. He walked silently up behind the man and reached out to grab the gun in his hand; the man span around as his gun was wrenched out of his hands. He took one look at the huge man towering over him, paled and ran away like a dog with its tail between its legs.
Randle watched as the man fled then turned to the servants who thanked him with an incline of their heads.
"Your superior, Rin, sent me; she wanted me to make sure you all were safe," he said, gauging their reaction.
"Lady Rin!?" one of the men cried out, a shocked smile slowly spread across his face, "She's still alive!?"
"Yes, but only just. She looks like she has been down there for a while. Why didn't you try and save her?!" Randle's eyes narrowed dangerously, causing the group to take a step back in fear; they looked down guiltily, trying to avoid the accusation in his eyes.
"We couldn't. A group of us tried to save her before but…" one of the servants stepped forward, pulled up his shirt and showed Randle his back. Jagged scars criss-crossed the man's back, telling of a severe and agonising beating.
"Three of our comrades died that day," the man pulled his shirt back down; "the Lady Rin was forced to watch. Afterwards, she forbid us from trying again. We wanted to save her but … after seeing the look in her eyes, we didn't dare!"
"Now's your chance," Randle motioned to them to follow him as he turned to run back to the dungeon. Randle ran down the stairs with Rin's old unit at his heels; it had been ten minutes since he had left her and he was beginning to get worried about her. They all followed him, forcing him to run faster in their desperation to see their old unit leader. As soon as they saw the open cell door, they over took Randle and ran into the dark room.
"Corporal Randle!" Alice ran out of the cell, worry clear on her face, "the girl, she's gone!" Randle ran into the cell, searched it quickly with his hawk like eyes before running out the door and flew down the rest of the corridor, the enslaved unit trailing behind.
After a few minutes they came across a guard's station, the door had been slung back almost to the breaking point and when Randle entered the room he saw a pile of chains heaped up in a corner, the links forced open. Rin's unit walked in behind him and instantly went to a tatty display case which held a large number of weapons.
The man, who had addressed Randle before, reached out and grabbed a gun with dark wood and a sword that had an elaborate hand guard. Tied to the sword's hilt was a piece of paper. When the man untied and opened it, he saw that it was a letter addressed to the whole unit.
"Thank you for being so worried about me till now and so I am grieved that I can't tell you Sayonara in person. With all my heart I give you this last order. I order you to no longer take part in the war, which from the looks of things has been over for several years, and live as a family."
The men looked at each other with tears in their eyes.
"Even now, we still are not allowed to see her," the man crushed the letter in his hand as he struggled to keep his tears at bay. Alice walked quietly up to him and put her hands round the hand which was gripping the paper.
"That letter and the memories you carry in your heart are the only things you have to remember her by, don't destroy them," she spoke gently, looking at the distressed man. He stared at her for a moment before nodding, he unclenched his fist and smoothed out the paper before folding it carefully and put it in his pocket which was closest to his heart. He swallowed and took a shaky breath before shouldering a pack which Alice had laid aside for them.
"Gentlemen," he turned and addressed the now disbanded unit, "it's time to move out".