Chapter Twenty-Nine: Tibo
To the Keep
“Just need a breath,” Rolly whispered back. He was gasping and hoarse, clutching at his chest.
Tibo wrapped his arms around Rolly and pulled him farther back into the alcove so his big feet weren’t sticking out. “Rolly… You should’ve said. You look like shit.”
“Shh. I know.” Tibo put a finger to Rolly’s lips and kissed his forehead. “You’ve never had to go full power like that. Never used your voice to…” To kill. They both knew it. He couldn’t say it with Rolls looking at him all stricken like that. “To do that. Does it feel like you hurt something inside?”
Rolly shook his head and gulped another breath. “Don’t think so. Won’t be after singing for a bit.”
“When we get back home, we’re gonna stay in bed for a week. Two weeks. No calls, no interviews, no band practice. Just you and me and your damn tea with lemon. But we gotta get out of these labs. It’s a fucking rat trap down here.”
“Not a fecking clue where we are.” Rolly leaned back against him, breathing a little easier now.
“Goblin, remember? Might not be good on the water, but I do know underground. I know which way the castle is. Just have to get us there.” Tibo scooted around Rolly to check the corridor again. Still empty. “Ready? Probably gonna be some running.”
Rolly nodded and heaved himself to a crouch, still off-color but determined.
That’s my brave Rolls. Tibo seized his hand and darted out of the alcove, down the hall to a T-connector and on to the next turn. He had no map in his head, but he had an unerring sense of direction underground. He felt which way the castle was though he couldn’t see it. When they reached another stairwell, he knew this was the one that would lead them up and out to where the labs faced the back of the castle’s outer wall.
They had met no one along the way, though they heard squads of booted feet running along nearby corridors. Not until they reached the door to the stairwell and a squad of uniformed Rubrum Lux bruisers slammed through the door. Tibo’s heart stuttered. He reached with his free hand for the gun at the back of his waistband. But it would be too late. Too little. Rolly was tapped out and one little handgun wasn’t going to do shit here.
The big one up front, pale, with his blue-green hair cropped short, narrowed his eyes at Rolly.
“Best be getting your skinny arse topside, cousin. No place down here for civilians,” he snarled and gestured to his troops with his assault rifle. Without a glance back, they thundered off down the corridor.
Rolly blinked after them in a dazed way. “Wish Ms. Akemi would’ve given us the fecking uniform orientation. Can’t bloody tell who’s out to do us in and who’s just doing a job.”
“We’ll email a complaint later.” Tibo got his heart jump started and tugged at Rolly’s hand, hustling them up the stairs toward daylight at the top.
Aboveground, things weren’t as scary. The place was still like a hive someone had kicked over and stirred with a two-by-four, but more bee-ish and less hornet-ish. Groups of people hurried across the open ground between the castle and the labs but no one was running and the weapons here were on shoulders and in holsters, not carried at the ready.
“Rolls, when I say go, we’re gonna walk like we fucking belong here. Pretend you're busy on your phone. All important person and shit, right?”
A hint of a smile tugged at Rolly’s lips. “Like when we snuck into Griffin Records the first time, eh?”
“Yeah.” Tibo gave him a nudge and a wicked smile in return. “Be that guy again, Rolls.”
Rolly took out his phone and tossed his hair back. There he was. The Rolly that was all McFarland. Sure of himself and his position in the world. Just a touch of arrogance as he squared his shoulders and walked tall and proud. No one but Tibo knew the fear lurking under his skin. No one else would see the pinched corners of his eyes and the unhealthy sheen under his normal pallor. Tibo swaggered beside him, hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, eyes hooded, expression supremely disinterested and radiating don’t fuck with me. Just a rich brat banshee and his punk goblin associate. Nothing to see here.
It shouldn’t have worked. It really fucking shouldn’t have. But with the fighting going on below ground and everyone else busy doing whatever they were supposed to in an emergency, it did. It was a tactic that had worked for them in several situations. You walk like you belong there and like you have somewhere you need to be, regular people with jobs to do leave you alone. Straight across the yard, in through the kitchen where the door was propped open, and right through the busy kitchen staff where they got a couple of annoyed glares but no questions.
Their luck ran out when they got to the door leading into the castle’s huge interior courtyard--the bailey Rolly had called it or some shit like that. The huge open space stretched before them with only a couple of sheds between them and the looming tower of the keep. The open ground was bad enough. Even worse was that they’d come out the door with an obvious security barracks immediately on their left.
“Well, shit,” Tibo muttered from the cover of the doorway. The barracks were wood and stone. Rolly could bring half the structure down with a good shriek. Problem with that was Rolly looked about done already and that shriek would echo across the courtyard louder than the alarms ringing throughout the castle.
The other option would be to wend their way through the labyrinth of the interior rooms all the way around to the keep and Tibo was pretty damn sure their luck had run out in the corridors and random rooms department.
“We just have to do it, Glent. We’re in for seven shades of shite if we’re just after standing here.” Rolly gripped his shoulder and gave him a squeeze. “On three. Take my hand so your short arse keeps up.”
“One…” Tibo drew his gun and gave Rolly a nod.
“Two....” Rolly kissed the top of Tibo’s head.
They sprang from cover and raced across the open grass heading for a shed near the center. After the first ten steps, rifle fire chased them. Tibo half-turned to return fire but his shots were wild since they were running and he didn’t have a fucking clue where the shots were coming from.
Fire scorched along his foot. Someone’s bullet had scored. But they couldn’t stop. He put his head down and plowed on, doggedly keeping pace with Rolly’s long legs. By the time they reached the keep, they were both gasping. Rolly yanked on the knob for the tower’s huge iron-bound door.
“Locked. Fecking hells,” Rolly laughed on a half sob. “It’s locked.”
Tibo pounded on the door and screamed. “Ser Delgavelac! You gotta let us in! Pel said to come to you! Please!”
There was a click. The door swung open, nearly sending them tumbling. For a moment, they blinked into the dark, empty interior before they stumbled inside and barred the door behind them.