CASeries #2: LEGEND
Chapter 27 ♕ The Harem
As soon as Faolan dropped the two inside a stinking jail, Tamara listened cautiously for his movements. She heard the jingling of keys, the familiar creaking of rusting jail bars and the lock clicking into place. She willed her face to stay neutral as there was a pause, with not a sound reaching her ears in exception for a faint, blowing wind. Even so, she could not hold back the small twitch her nose made as she picked up an unpleasant odor—not to mention the ground was somewhat damp and cold.
“I do apologize for my actions until now.” His voice rang low, echoing and bouncing off the thick walls. “But what I do, I do not do for myself.”
Tamara waited until she heard him start walking away. It took a while for his footsteps to fade completely that the third-ranker was starting to feel impatient. She made sure she could not feel his presence anymore before opening her eyes and looking around.
“I guess Charles was right,” she muttered to herself before picking out the dirt between the strands of her hair in disgust. “What a bother.”
When it came to the fourth-ranker, there wasn’t anything that would go unexpected. He only told everyone the most obvious of his plans, but gave a select few specific instructions. It wasn’t only him, but some of those within the Twelve were vigilant and very alert—like Rowe and Corvan for example.
Of course, she was in her last year of study—an eighth-year student of the academy. It would be laughable if she had not gotten enough experience in this field after at least eight years, considering she was better than the average newly-graduated Celestes. Of course, she was also a part of the Celestial Twelve. Although she was not an appropriate candidate for handling the position of ‘strategist’, she followed her innate instincts and intuition without thinking too much. She often was right about her conclusions.
The redhead turned and eyed the passed out Courtney lying on the cold floor. It wouldn’t be too long before she woke. She could wake her if she wanted to, but she had to try and find out a way out of this stinking prison first.
And there was someone missing. She already knew the boys were gone. She had overheard Asthore ordering Faolan to put the boys in a separate room to be treated as guest, but Valeriana was missing.
She looked around, hoping to catch sight of a honey-blonde head somewhere. Unfortunately, she failed.
Tamara pushed herself up and sat, her head practically doing a three-hundred-and-sixty degrees turn, but she could not see her or them anywhere. “Valeriana?” she whispered. “Where are you?”
The redhead did not notice since she was busy trying to ‘act’. Sure, she might’ve not been good in a lot of things, but she had the skills needed for these situations. Frowning, she thought back to the time before when they got into this dilemma and curled her lips at the possibility of the girl escaping.
‘Tamara. Tamara, dost thou hear me?’ her familiar called out to her, tapping into the link they shared.
‘Iolani,’ she replied.
‘I am glad thou art well,’ the bird began. ‘Charles and the others are inquiring about thy situation. How art thou?”
‘Stuck in a cold, stinking prison. Ugh. I can practically taste the air down here.’ She found herself sighing at the statement as she crinkled her nose at the polluted, thick air. ‘Don’t worry though, I’ll find a way to get out of here somehow.’
‘How about the others?’
‘I only have Courtney here with me. I don’t see Valeriana or the boys.’
‘The girl is safe with this one.’
Tamara’s brows rose at that. ‘Valeriana is with you? So the demon didn’t take her?’ She made a pause as the realization dawned on her. ‘Well, that Asthore brat separated the boys and asked them to be treated as guests, while the girls get separated into a stinking prison. That Valeriana is damn lucky, make sure she knows that.’
Iolani chuckled. ‘I will.’
‘Seems like that Asthore has got a screw loose. I’m betting she’s planning on keeping the boys as a part of her harem or something.’ Tamara blew out another huff as she found herself coming up with a random thought.
‘A part of her harem, thou sayest?’ She heard Iolani laughing.
‘What else is she planning? Keep them as slaves? Well, that’s a possibility, but I doubt that.’
‘Is that all thou canst tell us?’
‘Unfortunately, yes,’ Tamara answered. ‘I’ll try to find a way out of this prison. Should I wait for anything?’
There was a short pause before her familiar answered, ‘The boy Charles said that he would come up with something.’
‘Make sure to tell him it’s soon because I’ll die of this smell.’ She grimaced. ‘Screw that. I’ll get out of here before I die.’
‘Be patient. Charles is telling thee to stay put in the prison as the demon is most likely to come back. If he does, try to extract information from him.’
‘I don’t think he’s coming back.’
‘That is also a huge possibility, which is why the boy also advises thee to think up of a way to escape if the need ever arises. It may take a while for the plan to be put in action. If that time should come, however, I will be sure to inform thee.’
‘He doesn’t need to tell me that.’
Tamara blew out a huge sigh. ‘Any advice how to unlock cell doors?’
There was a pause. ‘Why not pick it?’
The girl cut off the connection, forgetting to thank Iolani before she realized. When the thought dawned on her, she dismissed it instead and made a mental note to thank her later. She felt her pockets for anything she could use, but failed to find anything that would do the job. So, instead, she reached out to Courtney and searched her.
She came out empty-handed. “Ah, how am I supposed to do this?”
“I tried picking those locks,” came a voice. “It’s no use. It’s also impervious to force. That demon makes sure his enemies never get out.”
“Who’s there?” Tamara asked, squinting through the dark to make out the form of a man leaning against the wall inside his own cell, which was across hers.
Recognition flashed across his face. “Tamara?”
Tamara’s jaw dropped. “Laz?”
It wasn’t that hard trying to team up with the others once more. In fact, Charles and the others had been well-aware that they needed to get together. It was almost as though the fourth-ranker was expecting it to happen, and had met with Rowe’s group by the entrance of the city. Zion was the most enthusiastic to know that Valeriana was alright and was about to jump and hug her but Valeriana sprinted behind the twins, knowing all too well that she would be defended by them.
“So, I guess that we don’t need to do a surveying of the city anymore?” stated Charles with a smirk.
Rowe smiled back. “I guess we don’t.”
“You guys seem happy with the situation,” Valeriana said, regarding them with suspecting eyes. “What’s going on?”
‘Seems something fishy,’ Iolani said, taking her place on Valeriana’s shoulder.
She looked up at Tamara’s familiar. “Any news about Tamara?”
‘Thou shalt know.’
Valeriana tipped her head to the side, trying to figure out the meaning of her words.
Elfre had pulled Zion by the collar and dragged him off to be held by her and Aneeka in place. “Don’t be such a bother,” they told him, scolding him like a child while he whined and complained in a loud voice.
Aneeka held back a scream as she gazed at the boy with irritation. Blowing the hair out of her eyes, she was already tempted to say some things that wouldn’t be pleasing. This guy had been getting on her nerves ever since they set out.
“Anyhow, where is this person you say can help us?” Charles asked, somewhat irritated as well. Aneeka wasn’t the only one who a certain midnight blue-haired boy was aggravating.
“He’s here—” Valeriana said, but looked around with her eyes to find him. “Hey, Tree Man! Where are you?”
“Tree Man?” Everyone chorused.
She smiled sheepishly at everyone. “It’s a long story.”
“Where’s he?” Aneeka asked.
“Aden!” Valeriana exclaimed. “Hey! Stop intimidating the poor guy!” She left the sanctuary of the twin’s backs and walked over to Raziel after catching a glimpse of his bright, orange-ish hair. The sixth ranker was tormenting him with taunting remarks and looked more than pleased seeing the look of uncertainty on his face. “Raziel! That’s not nice!” She swatted him on his forearm with her hand.
Raziel made a pained noise as a response. “That’s not nice too, Valeriana.” He winced, rubbing the part where she hit him.
“I didn’t hit you that hard, now play nice!”
“Who are you? My mother?” He grunted.
She rolled her eyes and decided to introduce him to the rest. “Anyway, this guy’s name is Aden, if you don’t already know that. He knows a lot, so he’ll be a big help.”
“Anyhow, everyone. I think this is the perfect opportunity to try and reclaim the city,” Charles said, his voice booming. They all fell quiet and turned to the fourth-ranker, curious of his plans. “Rowe, have you thought up of a plan?”
“Our plan was to get to you and have you make the plan,” Rowe answered jokingly, causing the others to smile.
“Really.” Charles smirked. “That’s probably the wisest plan you have made.”
The fourth-ranker then cleared his throat. “Alright, do not speak if you do not have anything useful to add. I want you all to listen quietly to this.”
It wasn’t as though anyone was noisy that time. Zion had fallen quiet as Aneeka and Elfre had forcibly shut him up with fear-inducing threats. There was none who would’ve wanted to challenge the seventh and tenth-ranker altogether.
“Can we sit?” Valeriana suggested.
Seeing as five of the Twelve were gone, the only ones left were Rowe, Charles, Valeriana, the twins, Zion, Aneeka, Elfre, Raziel, and Aden. That totaled to ten people—enough for the master plan of the ultimate strategist.
“Well, perhaps, this will be a bit of a long explanation, and I wouldn’t want you feeling weary.”
“Hopefully, it won’t be as tedious.” Raziel yawned as everyone made a move to sit on the ground. “You get carried away sometimes that it makes me feel sleepy.”
“I apologize for that, then.” The fourth sighed. “But there are a few factors that I would like to know before laying out the plan. So as to be not reckless, we have to take a few things into consideration.”
“What is it that you need?” Elfre asked.
“Tamara’s in the evil lair, right?” Zevlin began.
Genevieve finished for him, “Why don’t we ask her?”
“Alright, since we can’t hear the voice of a familiar . . .” Charles turned to Valeriana. “You’ll have to act as the interpreter.”
The girl pointed at herself. “Me?”
“Is there anyone else here who can hear the voice of familiars in general?”
“I guess not?”
“Well, Iolani, can you try and see if you can speak to Tamara through your bond?”
The hawk screeched at them, her head bobbing up and down smartly as a reply. Charles understood it without needing Valeriana to interpret what she meant to say and gave the familiar a curt nod as a sign of gratitude.
“She says she’s going to try,” Valeriana told them anyway.
They all waited patiently until the familiar seemed to beam—a sign of success. Afterwards, they listened to the sounds the bird released as she had her conversation with Tamara, but it only lasted a short while before Valeriana needed to portray the different messages Tamara wanted to extend to the others. She laughed at some point, seeming to get the humor, which made the others confused and feel out of place.
“Tamara wants to know if she should wait for anything,” she said, turning to Charles.
“Tell her I’ll come up with something.”
There was another pause.
“Make it soon or she’ll die because it stinks down there.” Valeriana giggled. “On second thought, she’ll just escape before she does.”
“That sounds like something she would say.” Someone laughed.
“Tell her to be patient,” Charles said. “That demon will most likely come back to check on them. If that ever comes to be, tell her to extract as much information as she can. It’ll come in handy.”
Yet, another pause.
“Tamara doesn’t think he will.”
“Another possibility. It may take a while to put the plan into action, so it’s best if she finds a way to escape if ever.”
Silence fell again.
“The connection was cut.”
They all breathed.
“So what did the bird learn?” Zion asked quite rudely, making Iolani flash him a dark glare as she screeched loud at him. The sound was so deafening that the others had to cover their ears. Iolani then began flapping her wings to express her fury while Elfre proceeded to hit the guy on the head.
Charles flashed him a look of irritation. “I did say not to speak if you weren’t going to say something useful, didn’t I? Did you even hear me at all?”
“I just wanted to kn—”
Aneeka and Elfre covered his mouth again.
“Anyhow, it seems that Tamara and Courtney are being held as prisoners while Corvan and the other boys are to be treated as ‘guests’,” Valeriana explained, frowning as she did. “Tamara said that that Asthore girl seems to have a few screws loose.”
“In other words, she’s crazy,” Aneeka bluntly said.
“And she’s . . .” Valeriana stared at Iolani, her eyes widening. “Kinda planning on keeping the boys as a part of her . . . h-h-harem?” She found it hard trying to say the last word.
A chorus of ‘whats’ filled the air along with a ‘what did you say’ and a ‘huh’.
“And that’s all.”
Zion suddenly broke out laughing. “Ahahahaha! A harem! That Corvan! Serves him right!”
Everyone flashed him a death glare and both Aneeka and Elfre pulled his mouth close.
“That’s it,” Charles said. “I have a plan.”