Chapter 12 - Into Eternity
Despite the long puffy arms of his shirt, Adam adjusted the black stripe of cloth around his wrist to make sure his tattoos were covered. They couldn’t know just how well the people in this land knew him and his tattoos could be the cause he gets recognized. They just couldn’t afford that. He then took a sip from his jug that was filled with water and kept an eye on the people around.
Sauli was sitting next to him in the corner of the run-down tavern near the docks. They arrived to Devil’s Hook an hour ago and managed to fool the harbor-master and the guards. They told them that they raided a ship of the Sea and brought the wares to sell. So at the moment the crew of the merchant ship they’ve been traveling on were unloading the wares they brought from the Sand as part of their cover, while Adam, Sauli and Isaac were sitting in that shady corner. The king watched as his brother was quietly talking to a dirty-looking older man – their contact – to get more information about the castle and the number of the guards.
Adam tried not to fidget too much and look calm, but he was very nervous. It showed and Sauli had to put his hand on Adam’s arm or knee when he was starting to draw attention.
“I know you’re restless and want to go free him right away, but we have to be careful and prepared,” Sauli whispered close to Adam’s ear not wanting to risk being overheard by the few customers.
Adam sighed and nodded. “Yes, you’re right. I just hate to wait here while gods know what’s happening to him,” he said and was grateful that his commander and ex-lover was there to calm him a little.
He was glad they had that talk on the ship a few days ago, because – as usual – Neil was right. There was a little awkwardness there, but once they talked the past over, things went back to normal between them and Adam could talk to the short blond like he used to. He was still amazed by how noble Sauli was. Adam wasn’t sure he’d be able to help on his ex-lover’s husband if the roles were reversed. Well, probably he’d if he was ordered, but still, it’d be more than uncomfortable to him. But not to his commander.
“Thomas is a good king and he is good for you, Adam. I have nothing against him. The people like him as he is fair and kind and puts their needs in front of his own. That’s the kind of husband you need and the kingdoms deserve. I’m glad your marriage seems to work out well and I want to be supportive. No one deserves to be taken away like this and be at the mercy of Captain Vito…” Sauli explained on the ship and suddenly Adam wanted to hug him, but he just squeezed his arm gratefully.
“Thank you, Sauli. It means a lot to me.”
“It’s all right, Adam. Besides I treasure the time we had together, but we both moved on. I have someone to fight for and go home to, so you don’t have to feel guilty for having to break up with me. It wasn’t meant to be. You and Thomas are. I can clearly see the way you look at each other,” he smiled.
Everyone seems to have picked up on that, Adam thought and relaxed his grip on his jug. Well, if we truly are soulmates then it’s no wonder. That’s why he wanted to go so desperately to search for Tommy. If he looked deep inside, like during his vision with Aset, he could barely sense that presence. But he knew Tommy was here.
“He’s here and kept in the castle,” Neil confirmed his feeling in a couple of minutes when he sat down to their table, the hood of his cape still deep in his eyes.
“How can we get inside?” Adam asked barely above a whisper.
“Our contact has a place… an abandoned farm house nearby. There we can wait for Sauli’s troops to arrive undetected. It’s vital to our plan not to be discovered so communication with your men will be very important from now on,” he told to the commander who just nodded.
“What about the castle?” Adam repeated, clearly inpatient about that part.
“The guards are the strongest by the docks and in the castle. It has five floors and each can be sealed down individually. We’ll have to go through the canals and seal down the place from the inside so Vito cannot get reinforcements from the outside. It’ll be tricky but I think we’ll be able to pull this off,” Neil looked seriously at his brother from under his hood. “But we have to get moving, pretend that we sail off and then dock a few miles to the south in a bay close to that farmhouse. The risky part will be moving along on the mountain routes undetected, but that’s what the night is for.”
“I understand. Let’s get going then. I don’t want to waste any more time,” Adam drank the rest of his water and stood up. Sauli, Isaac and Neil followed him outside as they made their way back to the merchant ship. Adam’s heart was beating in his chest as he looked into the distance above them. The black and grey castle was there on the side of the huge mountain behind it. They’ll have a hard time getting inside, but once there, he was confident their fighting skills would earn them victory and a husband back in his arms.
It took three more days for all the troops to reach the abandoned farm house. They were careful to hide and lay low in the surrounding barns and the nearby caves so they wouldn’t be spotted by the enemy.
Adam was on edge and impatient. Only his brother could put him in his place and warn him if he acted like a jerk, they’d leave him behind. Clearly he was too involved emotionally, but that’s why Neil, Sauli and even Isaac were there not to let his emotions blind the young king. The worry he felt for Tommy became a constant companion, barely letting him sleep. He knew he had to rest as his strength would be required during the siege, but he couldn’t help it. Besides they had to move fast as the troops had little food, which was provided by their connections. But you cannot win a battle with a starving army.
So when finally Sauli joined them and reported that all of his men managed to arrive undetected, they were waiting impatiently for nightfall, laying low and going through the plan a few more times to make sure everyone knew their role.
Adam had to concentrate hard not to let his mind wander and imagine how it’d feel to hold Tommy in his arms and kissing him again. He knew that once he had him back, he’d confess his love and never let him out of his sight again.
Using the unusually dark shadows of the night seemed to work, although the bare and rocky terrain made it a little hard to move noiselessly. Either way, soon enough they reached the entrance of the canals. Luckily there were only a couple of guards there. They were quietly killed by Neil’s arrows and they hid the bodies before descending into the knee-high water. The smell wasn’t the nicest, but it was bearable and soon they’ve got used to it anyways. The first real obstacle was the gate made of iron bars that sealed their path. They didn’t want to use anything too noisy to get in so they tied strong ropes to them and since there were a lot of men, they pulled together, some men staying close to the gate to catch the bars when they were about to fall into the water.
They tried to work as fast and as quietly as possible and their efforts were rewarded soon enough. They managed to move inside without being discovered. The old man Neil was talking to in the tavern, gave them the layout of the castle pretty accurately so they didn’t get lost in the canals.
Neil and Isaac were leading them to the basement level through some narrow corridors. They were supposed to escort Adam towards Captain Vito’s chambers where they knew Tommy was kept, while Sauli and his troops could distract the guards and take in the castle after sealing the gates from the inside.
On their way they managed to silently kill the guards until they reached the ground floor. Thanks to Sauli’s small build he managed to sneak close to the gates, some of his men following him like shadows. With two of his fingers Neil waved towards the stairs that led upstairs. Isaac led the men assigned to them and Adam was about to follow with Neil, when he saw from the corner of his eye that a guard was about to shoot an arrow at Sauli.
“Intruders!” the guard yelled.
“Sauli, look out!” Adam cried out at the same time and could already hear the arrow whoosh through the air. “Shit!” he cursed and ran out to the yard where the fight already broke out.
He saw that the arrow was stopped by Sauli’s sword and Adam looked back at Neil, who was cursing under his nose and looking questioningly at his brother from the corridor.
“Go, find him! I’ll be there in a little!” he shouted over his shoulder then dodged a blade from the right.
“Moron…” Neil shook his head, but decided to proceed with their plan when he saw Sauli cutting the counter weight of the iron gates. It lowered with a loud thud and he could see half of their troops getting engaged in the battle on the court yard. His brother disappeared in the crowd quickly. Now it was up to him to seal this level of the castle. The other half of the troops was already fighting above. The warning sounds of the horns cut into the dark night and the castle got filled with shouts, clashes of swords and arrows in the air.
Neil ran up the stairs as fast as he could, his bow and arrow in hand. He wasn’t going to follow Isaac, but find an alternate way to Vito’s chambers as he liked to do things his way. They just had to move fast before that evil snake could harm Tommy more than he probably already did.
The Land of the Volcanoes had strong warriors, Adam had to admit. It wasn’t so easy to slay them and keep himself from getting cut or worse. He was back to back with Sauli at that moment, fighting with two muscular guards. The battle was raging on around them and he wished he had his shield with him to protect himself easier, but he was no stranger to a difficult fight. He only had a few scratches yet and managed to kill the guard to the left with driving his sword through his stomach. He quickly jumped back from the other man, who aimed to cut off the young king’s arm as he pulled the sword back. But Adam was quicker and stronger than the guard expected and with a turn of his wrist he managed to cut his throat open.
“This is taking too long, Sauli!” Adam shouted behind him as he dodged another sword. Where he killed the guards three more came at him. “Help me get back to the stairs!”
“Alright. Follow my lead,” the smaller man said and whistled and shouted to his men. Four of them quickly finished off their opponents and made a relatively clear path for them as they moved as one, fighting back the guards that came from every direction. Two more of Sauli’s men closed the circle they were in and fought from. In a few minutes they were close to the stairs where Neil and the others disappeared earlier.
Adam and Sauli changed places with a few steps, cutting down two more guards that managed to get inside the circle. “Thanks. Don’t get yourself killed!” he told his commander.
“I’ll try not to. Take two of them with you! Stephen, Zack, go with King Adam and make sure he doesn’t get harmed,” he commanded two of his men closest to the stairs and Adam. “Adam, make sure you save our other king!” he said and their eyes met for a brief second. The tall man nodded and smiled faintly.
After their command Sauli’s men broke formation. The one with black hair, Zack, ran in front of Adam, while Stephen protected them from behind. Sauli’s words were still ringing in Adam’s ears as they were running up the stairs. He was a little out of breath when they reached the first floor. There were a lot of dead bodies lying on the corridors and they could hear the distant sounds of fighting ahead of them. They just had to follow those noises to know where to go.
One or two guards came at them but Zack easily eliminated them. He seemed to be one of Sauli’s best soldiers and Adam promised to himself that if they were to survive this, he’d award him and the others for their bravery.
As they got closer and closer to their destination, the anxiety was growing more and more in Adam. He had to control himself not to rush into something that’d end badly. When they turned the next corner, he spotted Isaac and at least thirty men fighting on the corridor. Despite the bloody chaos, Adam felt relieved when he realized that there were more of their soldiers, but the narrow passage made it hard to quickly eliminate the enemy so they successfully defended a heavy-looking dark-brown door. It was obvious that it was their destination.
With the help of Zack he managed to make his way to Isaac who was fighting close to the door. His face and clothes were bloody, but little of it was his own blood.
“We have to finish the rest of them off,” Adam panted and made his sword clash with the man’s who was about to bring his own down on Isaac’s shoulder. “We have to get inside!”
“I agree,” the smaller man nodded and swirled out from the way to cut the throat of another man with his daggers which he was holding in both of his hands. “A few more minutes, your majesty,” he added and threw himself back into the fight.
“You’re too late, king Lambert,” Adam suddenly heard from his opponent and saw a crooked smile spread on the rough features.
“What the hell are you talking about?” he snorted nonchalantly but his heart sunk and he wanted to shout at everyone who was standing between him and the door.
“Your pretty blonde is gone for good. We all had our fun with him,” the sweaty man chuckled and Adam suddenly saw red.
“What did you just say?!” he gritted through his teeth as their swords clashed again, sending sparks in the air.
“That’s right. That lovely tight body…” he started to say, but Adam’s angry roar cut him off and he managed to push the guard against the stone walls. In the next second the furious king stabbed him in the stomach, pulling the sword upwards to open him up and make his gut spill.
“You’ll rot forever for your sins! I’ll kill all of you! All who dared to lift a finger at him!” he spit ignoring the guard’s last painful yells.
After that the rest of the fight became a blur to Adam. He was so angry after the confirmation of Tommy being hurt by these men that he was fighting like a machine, slaying one guard after the other. His mind was repeating what the dead southerner said.
You’re too late… he’s gone for good… we all had our fun with him… that lovely tight body…
No, that can’t be. They wouldn’t…
“King Adam… your majesty!” he heard Isaac’s worried voice and the last guard who was trying to stab him in the back was pushed away by Tommy’s personal guard. For a few seconds they were wrestling on the floor then the guard dropped his sword and he never moved again.
Isaac pulled his bloody daggers out of the dead body and glimpsed up at Adam who just nodded and took a deep breath to steady himself and try to think rationally. As much as it was possible in the given circumstances, of course. He reached out with his left hand for the door handle but was stopped by Isaac, who bumped the back of his hand against Adam’s wrist as he was still holding his bloody dagger.
“Your majesty… please, let us go inside first. We don’t know what awaits us. We can’t risk you getting hurt…” he looked at him pleadingly and clearly still amazed by the way Adam fought himself through the remaining guards in record time.
Adam wanted to protest and suppressed an annoyed huff for being held up once again, but he stepped aside and let Isaac and the remaining five of their men break the door down as it was locked from the inside. Those few minutes felt like an eternity to Adam and once he could step inside the chambers of Captain Vito, his eyes rounded and a snarl escaped his mouth from the sight.
“Well, well, well… look who came for a visit…” the bald man grinned despite the fact that he and two of his muscular men were cornered in the room. He seemed confident as he was standing by the leg of his bed. Probably because of the fact that he was fisting one hand in a kneeling Tommy’s hair and the other holding a knife to his throat just above a steel collar with a chain in the front which tied him to the leg of the bed. The blond was naked, his body full of healing bruises and cuts. Adam couldn’t see the familiar brown eyes as they were downcast and fixed on the stone floor by his bruised knees. He was utterly shocked by how Tommy looked, but what worried him the most was that he wasn’t putting up any fight or looked tensed or scared for his life because of the knife by his throat. No, he looked relaxed, resigned even.
“Vito…” Adam growled, anger flaring up in his blue eyes that looked as if it was glowing. An effect of the blood that splattered all over his face during fighting his way up here. “What have you done to him?!” he gritted through his teeth.
“What? No introduction?” the other man snorted while the rest of the people in the room were watching each other tensed, ready to fight. The tension was palpable and heavy like the smell of sweat and blood. “How rude, King Adam…” he pressed the last two words mockingly. “To answer your question, I made an obedient little pet from this pretty little thing…” he chuckled with an undertone of insane.
“How you dared…” Adam stepped closer tightening his grip on the hilt of his sword.
“Ah-ah!” Vito jerked Tommy’s head upwards and pressed the knife tighter against the pale skin, sending down a thin rivulet of blood from where its tip cut Tommy. The blonde didn’t react just let Vito do to him whatever he wanted. His eyes were closed, a blank expression on his face as he kept his hands loosely by his sides. There was no attempt to cover his nakedness or get free from the painful grip. “Another step forward and I’ll cut your precious husband’s throat and make you watch him bleed out because of your own fault!” he warned and Adam stopped immediately.
“You’re a monster!” Adam spit, nearly blinded by his anger, but it only made Vito chuckle.
“Well, thank you for the compliment. I’ve been working on this title for a long while…”
Adam ignored the insane man and turned his attention to his husband. His heart was breaking all over seeing him in this state. “Tommy… Tommy, can you hear me? It’s me, Adam. Please, baby, look at me. I’m gonna save you, I promise.”
He got no reaction just another chuckle from Vito. “Oh my, my. It seems you have no effect on him anymore. Pet,” he pulled on Tommy’s hair again “tell me your name.”
Tommy’s eyes fluttered but he didn’t open them just arched into the painful grip. “Little Liar,” he said on a flat tone.
“That’s right. And to whom do you belong?”
“See? He doesn’t need you anymore,” Vito grinned and let his knife slide down from Tommy’s throat to his chest. He lightly cut the already sickly pale, abused skin.
“You fucking bastard... I’ll kill you with joy for this!” Adam grunted as he stopped watching Tommy’s blood slowly slide down on his skin. He wanted to scream at his husband to make him snap out of this strange state. Vito must’ve tortured him ever since he was kidnapped and arrived here and Adam was already starting to beat himself up for not being able to prevent all the suffering Tommy had to go through until he reached this state of mind. Adam felt sick seeing how unaffected the awfully thin and bruised man looked. He could barely recognize him. Adam knew that Vito was enjoying both their suffering and that putting Tommy on display like this was to mess with his mind and sanity too, and he had to admit that it was working. He could barely think straight from the pain and anger. He thought about himself as a pacifist man, incapable of hatred. But now he could only feel exactly that: pure, blinding hatred.
“Oh I don’t think so…” Vito shook his head. “You’ll let me and my men go freely, or else I’ll kill this pretty thing here.”
Adam clenched his jaw and looked from Tommy to Vito and back. He knew he had to make a though decision and he was just incapable of thinking straight. His whole body was shaking with rage, blood-thirst and pain. What the hell should he do? If he tries to get closer, Tommy’ll die. If he lets them go, Vito’ll probably kill him then too – or worse: keep him as his broken pet. This was never about the ransom or negotiations. That was just a distraction. Looking into the insanely sparkling eyes of Vito, now Adam understood that it was about humiliating and destroying the captain’s enemies.
“Well, what’ll it be?” said man let the tip of his knife make a small cut on Tommy’s bruised face too.
Adam wanted to shout at him to stop torturing Tommy, when his eyes caught movement from the window to the left behind the men. It was Neil with his bow, aiming his arrow at Vito’s head. Adam had no idea where his brother came from, but he was fucking grateful for the unexpected help. Luckily no one noticed Neil or at least didn’t give him away. When Vito moved his knife a bit further from Tommy’s body, Adam’s eyes met for a brief second with his brother’s and he nodded barely noticeable.
Vito’s maniac laughter from Adam’s silence suppressed the sound of the arrow quickly crossing the air and the king watched with deep satisfaction when that ugly smile froze on the bald man’s face. His eyes stared at Adam for a few more moments and he could see the shock in them. The arrow went through his temple and although Adam didn’t plan such a quick death to that monster, a dark smile curled his own lips upwards as he heard the knife land on the floor by Tommy’s knee. Vito’s hand was still fisted in Tommy’s hair so as he fell he jerked his head backwards tearing some hair out. The kneeling man let out a painful whimper but quickly got back to his previous position with his head bent and as motionless as possible. It was as if he tried to be invisible. Maybe to avoid further tortures, maybe from some other reason. Adam didn’t have much time to muse on it.
The moment Vito landed on the floor and the shock of the others eased up, Vito’s commander, a big man they knew as Xavier roared and looked for the source of the attack. Before Adam could warn Neil, a silver flash flew through the air.
Adam met Neil’s slightly surprised eyes. There was a thin rivulet of blood gushing out of his mouth. Despite all he was smiling at his older brother, ignoring the dagger sticking out from his chest. That moment stretched and felt like eternity to the dark-haired man. That look told him so much, it burned into his mind then Neil lost his balance and fell out of the window.
“NO!!!!!!” Adam screamed and he barely registered while running to the window that Zack stabbed Xavier before the outraged man could jump at the king.
Adam forgot everything around him – the now disarmed guards, his people, even the motionless Tommy with Isaac kneeling next to him. He just grabbed the window frame with his free hand and with terrified eyes looked down at his baby brother’s lifeless body lying on the cobblestones.