All Spell Breaks Loose (Raine Benares #6) - Page 28


“There’s a door directly behind the high altar,” Kesyn said. “After a sacrifice has been made, they chuck the body through that door.” He took in Chigaru’s battered, scraped, and dinted armor. “A chute that goes all the way down here to The Pools.”


Chigaru nodded. “It was one hell of a ride.”


“I’ll bet it was.”


“I was fighting to get back up to the temple,” the prince said. “To find and free Mirabai.”


A prince trying to slay a dragon to save his beloved princess.


Death by cliché.


“Didn’t you get a snoot full of that navinem stuff back at Tam’s place?” Kesyn asked carefully.


“Yes, I did.”


“And you haven’t been running around scared shitless?”


“I must not have been exposed to very much of it.”


Kesyn looked closely at the prince. “Uh, yeah, that must be it.”


I looked at Piaras out of the corner of my eye. He shook his head once. That told me Chigaru did get a good hit of navinem, and he’d proceeded to take on Sarad Nukpana’s personal guards, and then attacked a pair of sea dragons to get back upstairs to have at those guards again.


I admit I didn’t know Chigaru all that well, because I didn’t like him all that well and didn’t want to make the effort. But he never struck me as the swashbuckling, save-the-princess type. If he’d gotten a snoot full of navinem and hadn’t been curled up in a corner having a good cry or scurrying around the temple with his figurative tail between his legs… that could mean only one thing.


Prince Chigaru Mal’Salin wasn’t nearly as much goblin as he thought he was, and Chigaru’s mom had been a very naughty girl at least once.


“That armor saved your life, Your Highness,” Imala said quickly.


Too quickly. I raised a quizzical eyebrow at her. She met my eyes for a brief instant, then looked away. Ditto for Tam. They knew. Chigaru was clueless. Well, that went way beyond interesting.


Chigaru’s black eyes were on me. “Carnades Silvanus was there.”


I swallowed. “At the altar?”


The prince nodded once, his eyes now glittering with barely contained rage. “He was with Sarad Nukpana.”


Chapter 15


“To clarify,” I said, “do you mean ‘with’ as in Carnades is a prisoner chained to the altar, or ‘with’ as in he’s Nukpana’s new friend?”


“There were no chains or guards that I could see, but I wasn’t there long enough to know his status.”


Carnades Silvanus and Sarad Nukpana in the same room together could mean many things, but considering that Nukpana’s hatred of the elf mage had been simmering to the boiling point for years, it was probably bad news for Carnades.


But I knew one thing that it did mean—Sarad Nukpana knew that I couldn’t use my magic.


“But Carnades hates goblins,” Piaras was saying.


“He hates me more, and loves his own miserable hide just as much,” I said. “For a chance to get back at me, he’d be willing to breathe Sarad Nukpana’s air for a while.”


“And Sarad would be willing to let Carnades continue to breathe,” Imala said.


“He’s trying to make a deal,” Mychael said. “Carnades knows that if we make

it back to Mid alive and his betrayal becomes known, he’s a dead man. But if he’s the only survivor, Justinius can’t prove that he had anything to do with our deaths.”


“Son of a bitch,” I muttered.


“Agreed.”


“When we bust out those boys and girls upstairs,” I said, “you think we could talk them into adding Carnades to their ‘to do’ list?”


Imala flashed a fierce grin. “I’m certain they’d be delighted.”


“I’d love to do it myself, but considering my present circumstances, I don’t have a problem with someone else taking out the garbage.”


Chigaru’s dark eyes were still glittering and his right hand, and the sword it held, were twitching a little too much for my comfort. He’d fought Khrynsani and dragons, and now he was looking for something else to fight. Good old navinem. The prince stood tall, his head up, his shoulders back. At this moment, from this angle, Chigaru looked downright kingly. That gave me an idea. I rolled it around in my head for a moment and deemed it not to be stupid.


“Your Highness, you couldn’t have shown up at a better time,” I told him. “How would you like to free your people and inspire them in battle?”


Chigaru’s eyes lit with a berserker’s homicidal glee, and Imala shot me the queen of all dirty looks.


I raised a defensive hand. “I know, I know. Your job is to keep him alive long enough to get his butt on the throne, but if those men and women upstairs are as powerful and influential as you all say, they’ll be the ones who can keep him there.”


“She’s got a good point,” Tam said. “They had to have heard by now that Sathrik’s dead and Sarad is the king. Most of those people are in those cells because they favored Chigaru over Sathrik to begin with. With Sathrik dead, as far as they’re concerned, Chigaru is their king—throne or no throne, crown or no crown. They’ll listen to him. Best of all, they’ll follow.” Tam turned to his new monarch. “Your Majesty, your people need your help and your leadership.” He grinned. “We have a plan we’d like to share with you…”


Chigaru Mal’Salin was now wearing Tam’s spare suit of armor, and Mychael had on the leather and matte steel armor Chigaru had worn from Mid—and had dinted and torn bouncing down the chute from the temple. Tam’s armor was a little big on Chigaru, but that could be taken care of for the most part by cinching the straps a little tighter. Mychael looked like… Well, he looked like his armor had shrunk and he hadn’t. So he’d put on the pieces that marginally fit, and tossed the others aside. Fortunately, both he and Chigaru had kept the padded garments they’d worn underneath their armor. While I liked seeing Mychael naked, I didn’t want him going into battle that way.


Tam was not happy. “Mychael, I want you to take my armor. I can—”


“For the last time, no. Now that the prince is here, we don’t need a ‘Guardian elf hero’ to vouch for our sincerity with the prisoners. Chigaru needs to look like a king, and you’re his chief mage and chancellor; you need to look the part. Those people need to know who to follow. I’m just an elf here to do the dirty work.” He flashed a quick, boyish grin. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll go shopping when I get upstairs. The first Khrynsani guard who’s my size will have my undivided attention.”


“Your Majesty, I want you to hang back at first when we attack,” Imala said.


Chigaru bristled. “I will not be seen as a coward—”


“It’s not cowardly; it’s tactical. We need you intact for the prisoners’ sakes. You wouldn’t inspire anyone with a bolt or two sticking out of you.”


The prince didn’t argue. A miracle. Hopefully, it was just the first one we’d get in the next few hours.


“The important prisoners are usually kept on the first level, near the main guard station,” Imala continued to Chigaru. “That means warded gates and a lot of guards. Unfortunately, that’s not a guarantee—the VIPs being kept on the first level, that is. However, plenty of guards are guaranteed. That’s why I want you to hang back.”


“No one will be masking their magic up there,” Tam added. “As long as we don’t blow out a wall, anything we do should blend in with the noise.”


“And if things get ugly?” Chigaru asked.


“We blow out a wall—and anything else with the poor judgment to get between us and those prisoners.”


“Damn right, we do,” Piaras said.


Instantly every eye was on him.


The kid glanced around in confusion. “Uh… damn right, we don’t?”


Mychael cleared his throat. “Cadet?”


“Sir?”


“Just stay close.” Mychael held up one finger, quickly followed by a second one. “And obey orders. Got it?”


Piaras grinned broadly. “Got it, sir!”


The kid was way too enthusiastic for anyone’s safety. Best we could hope for was to point him in the right direction and cut him loose. Mychael caught my eye for the briefest instant. He wasn’t smiling anymore. I didn’t need any mind-reading bond to tell me what he knew—the navinem could start wearing off soon for Piaras and Chigaru. Considering where we were going and whom we’d be running into, I wanted them to hold on to that navinem-fueled confidence for as long as possible. I didn’t want Piaras to be cocky, but I at least wanted him to think he could survive. The power of suggestion was a potent thing.


I caught Piaras’s eyes. “Let’s get in and get it done, so you can brag to Phaelan about what you did.”


The only Khrynsani we encountered had been the dead ones down near the dragon lair. That was the good news. On the downside, it looked like no one had cleaned this tunnel since it’d been made, and the local spider population had been busy for the entire time. The Khrynsani who’d chased Chigaru down here had obviously come in another way. Between the webs and the dust, not sneezing was not an option. Kesyn had assured us that the walls down here were thick, but I was a loud sneezer. Really loud.


I had no clue what this space had been built for. Tam and Mychael’s shoulders brushed both sides of the tunnel. We went up a flight of narrow and entirely too steep stairs cut into the stone. Though to say that centuries ago someone intentionally cut these would be an insult to every stonemason who ever lived.


Tam finally stopped and so did we. He spoke in the barest whisper, though we all could hear him just fine. “We’re level with the dungeons. Stick to the plan.”


“Unless the plan sticks it to us,” Chigaru just had to add.