Shadow of a Flower - Chapter Five

As the mad-man Corbin Delaney swung his sword ferociously, Charlotte's shrieks were muted by the deafening chinks of metal against metal. She stood motionless, hands on her head, pulling at her short hair in distress and confusion. Upon knocking down one of the guards, Delaney spun around momentarily.
    "Run, woman!" He turned to meet the second guard's sword with his, "Into the throne room!" he called before proceeding to roll around the guard and kick his heavy feet out from under him. He stood up. His eyes were fierce and bewildered by Charlotte's shock. "I thought you've done this kind of thing before?" He asked with a sigh before casually plunging his sword into the small gap between the guard's helmet and chest plate, without his eyes leaving Charlotte's. She screamed.
    "You killed him! How could you?!" Her voice broke as she yelled at the blood-splattered Delaney. He rolled his eyes.
    "Okay, you take the moral high-ground and go after the Shea Rings. I'll take care of this last one." Delaney instructed as he focused his attention on the now-rising first guard. Charlotte scoffed at his remark. Theft is what this man classes as moral high-ground? She shuddered for a moment.
    "Won't you be coming too?" She asked.
    "There will soon be more. There's always more." Delaney replied, almost to himself. With that, Charlotte trotted silently into the throne room, closing the heavy door behind her, not before hearing the blood-curdling scream of the other guard.

The throne room was big and empty. Charlotte only ever got the privilege of being inside it for celebrations and feasts. She could remember dancing with her father at the king and queen's wedding. She loved the way the room spun around her, making her feel like she was in the centre of the whole world. She loved the artwork on the walls. She loved the way the eyes of the ancestors followed her, watching her every move. Now she felt judged. Like they were frowning upon her. Charlotte knew she shouldn't be in here uninvited, let alone to rob the place of its most valuable possession. 
    Ignoring the portraits and their judgment-eyes, she walked towards the throne. The throne was a large, stone monster. To any ordinary person who dared approach it, it silently said one thing: you are not worthy. Charlotte stared down at her boots as she made her way to the throne, not wanting to look up at its ominous, disapproving figure. When she finally reached it, Charlotte extended a finger and stroked the cold stone. She had never done this before and it sent shivers down her spine. I am a traitor. I will be burned for this. As she crept behind the throne, Charlotte's eyes locked onto her prize: a golden chest. 
    She knelt down in front of it and examined the lock. It was designed for a rather large key. The throne room had a cabinet full of keys. Charlotte had to investigate further to decipher which key she should search for. She carefully inserted her finger into the lock to feel for the size, shape and number of prongs required. Curious. There were no spaces for the prongs of a key. 
    Suddenly, Charlotte felt some kind of mechanism clamp down on her finger. She gasped. She couldn't pull it out. Panicking, Charlotte looked around the room. She could hear the clash of swords from outside, accompanied by the yells of several men. Before she had time to formulate a plan to free herself, a sharp object penetrated the flesh of her finger. Charlotte screamed. All of a sudden, the mechanism released and Charlotte fell backwards, grasping her hand. She looked down at her finger. Still whole. Thank god. Blood oozed out of a long laceration but her finger was fine. That was when Charlotte heard a little click.
    She looked up at the chest, the lid had popped open ajar. After pulling herself up onto her knees, Charlotte lifted the lid fully to find two small boxes within the chest. The rings. Charlotte reached in and removed the boxes, tucking them away into her coat. She carefully closed the lid of the chest and heard the same click again, wiped away her blood, and ran towards the doors.

Charlotte could not hear anything from outside, so she pushed one of the big doors open and poked her head through the gap. She did not want to see the bodies. Delaney turned to face her, his sanguine sword resting idly by his side. His hair was tangled and clumped together with blood. He was sweating a river and breathing slowly, but heavily.
    "You better have them." He warned Charlotte. She nodded quickly. "You'll show me when we get out of here." It sounded more like a statement than a request. Delaney marched past Charlotte and into the throne room.
    "I hope you aren't afraid of heights." He called back to her as he made his way towards a stained-glass window. "Cover your eyes" And with that, Delaney thrust his sword into the beautiful glass. Once the shattering stopped, Charlotte looked up. "Come on, then. We don't have long." Delaney yelled. Charlotte ran over to him and looked out the window. It was a long way down.

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Novel / Novella
writing Rinskinski
"Painters paint their pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence." - Leopold Stokowski

"Do you know that our soul is composed of harmony?" - Leonardo da Vinci
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And so it begins...