Then there was an explosion coming from behind the bar. All eyes turned toward the sound. It seemed strange to see a door there. It was as though no one had ever noticed it before.
Without missing a moment, Alistair leapt forward and ran toward the door, almost ripping it off its hinges as he opened it. When he saw the passageway behind the door he screamed a string of expletives. The blast had shaken the passageway so that the walls had begun to crumble, and didn’t look like they would remain standing much longer. Several of the torches lay on the ground where they had fallen, the ones that remained had burnt out. But it didn’t matter, flames from the secret room were spilling out of the door at the end of the passageway. He knew she was gone.
To have been so close to his goal, and to be denied yet again, Alistair’s frustration had reached a new level he had never before experienced. But with Alistair, his anger was not one that manifested in a short burst of rage and fury. No his was a white hot, slow burning, seething anger, to those who didn’t know him, he would appear quite calm, even jovial, but those close to him knew that the when he got very, very quiet it was probably best to be elsewhere.
He lifted his arm and spoke into his wrist band, a bronze and onyx contraption that was the latest gizmo from HLC.
“Get in here,now!” He hissed. He had barely completed the last word when his faithful manservant appeared at his side. Alistair turned and faced the two women, still tied to their chairs. He smiled, a tight, toothless smile.
“Henderson. We seem to have encountered a minor problem.”
“The girl has slipped through my fingers it seems. But I think we might find a way to get her to come to us.”
“Take these two,” he nodded in the direction of the women, “have them sent to the capital. Install them in one of the special guest rooms at the palace.”
“Yes, m’lord. Consider it done.” Henderson began barking orders into his own wristband.
“Oh and Henderson?”
“I think we need to locate my son. I think it’s time we met.”
“It shall be done.”
“That is all. You’re dismissed.”
Melissina’s face had turned grey at the mention of their son. Beatrice noticed her reaction, gradually the realisation of what that meant came to her. She had considered the woman’s behaviour tonight odd, but now she understood. She turned to the woman and smiled a half smile, trying to let the woman know that she empathised with her situation. Melissina nodded and tried to hold back tears.
The next thing armed Guards crashed through the door. Henderson came in behind them. He pointed at the two women, “There you are lads.”
The women were quickly surrounded. When the ropes were cut, they attempted to struggle free, but there were to many, and they were too strong. One of the brutes gave Beatrice a swipe with the back of his hand. The force made her teeth chatter. She wasn’t entirely sure that her jaw wasn’t broken.
The Guards manhandled her out the door, where a prison E.L.E.P.H.A.N.T. was waiting. One of the Guards opened the back door, while the others roughly, shoved them inside. Melissina hit her head on the top edge, leaving a deep cut across her forehead. They were then pushed down on a bench on either side, facing each other, their hands attached to shackles connected to the wall.
Finally, one of the Guards climbed in and sat in a seat behind the driver. He was the biggest of the Guards, with big strong arms and a mean look in his eyes. He faced the back door, and carried a metal club. The women were in no doubt that he would prepared to use it.
The back door was closed, and the sound of the bolt being fastened echoed through their enclosed space with a clank. There was a final thump on the back of the truck. The vehicle lurched back, and then forward causing the women, who despite their shackles were not adequately secured, to be buffeted around in their seats.
Out on the street, Alistair watched the E.L.E.P.H.A.N.T. drive off. A sneer spread across his face. Despite his disappointment at losing the girl, this wasn’t a bad substitute. Henderson stood beside him. Silent. He knew better than to utter a word.
After several moments reflection, Alistair took a deep breath and shook himself. He had things to attend to. Time enough later to enjoy this unexpected pleasure. He turned on his heel and reentered the pub. The spell he had cast earlier hadn’t worn off yet. They were all still under his thrall.
“You lot.” He swept his arm across the room. ‘Go and put that fire out.”
It occurred to him that this was twice now that the girl had left fire in her wake. He couldn’t wait to finally meet her.