Pa and I sat our cell. The cold was beginning to seep in through our clothes, and I couldn’t help but shiver. Pa wrapped his arm around me, trying to keep me warm, but it was almost impossible. The hope of Kara being able to rescue us was the reason I was staying alert. I was ready to run for it at a moment’s notice.
The guards standing around us hadn’t said a word since we were locked inside. Pa had been keeping an eye on them, but he was also trying to find a way for us to escape. He had run his fingers along the bars of our cell, hoping that due to the fact they were only temporary that they would have a weakness. But every time a guard caught him looking too curious, they would slam the but of their rifles against the bars, startling Pa. Even if breaking the bars were possible, there was no way we would be able to sneak past the guards.
The minutes since Kara had disappeared seemed to drag on. I didn’t know what she could do against a small army.
Pa had reassured me that Kara knew these woods better than anyone. She would be able to help us.
The sun was beginning to set when a commotion began in the camp. Two of the guards surrounding us moved quickly to the end of the camp. A few other guards chasing them. It was impossible to see what was going on through the many different tents, but I could hear men arguing. One man was being extremely loud, and sounded intoxicated. He seemed to be the cause of the commotion.
Two guards were restraining the man. He was wrestling against them with all his strength. He swung his legs, aiming for the legs and feet of the guards. With a forceful swing, he hit one guards shin.
The guard stumbled and reached down to grasp his shin. “Asshole.” He brought his gun up and whacked the man in the lower of his back.
The man cried in pain, and the top hat on his head fell to the ground.
“Now stop resisting, piece of shit.”
One of the guards standing near the cells opened us the one opposite Pa and I.
The guard with the sore shin threw the man inside, and picked up the man’s hat. He twirled it in his fingers. “Nice hat. I think I’ll keep it.”
The man pushed himself from the ground. “I’ll get it back from you real soon.”
The guard laughed. “I don’t think so.”
The man sat in his cell quietly as the guards walked away. Once the other guards left and our original guards remained, he stood up and turned to us. He smiled at me. “You must be Tiara.”
I frowned. “How did you?”
“Allow me to introduce myself, the names Jasper Nayda. At your service.” He bowed.
Nayda! He had the same surname.
“Jasper?” Pa spoke up. He stood and looked at the man across from us.
Jasper smiled. “Daniel. Long time, no see.”
“What are you doing here?” Pa looked shocked.
“What do you think I’m doing here?” said Jasper.
Pa asked, “But how did you know?”
Jasper sighed. “I met Kara. Found her caught in a poacher’s ditch. Freed her and have been helping her track you down.” He seemed rather pleased with himself.
Pa said, “I forgot you could speak to familiars.”
Jasper nodded. “Yeah, turns out to be real helpful trick.”
“Can someone please explain what is going on?” I interrupted them.
Pa looked down at me, and rubbed the back of his neck. “Oh, right. Tiara this is your Uncle Jasper, my older brother.”
Jasper smiled and waved at me.
“Your Pa’s brother?” I looked him up and down.
He nodded. “Yep, sure am.”
I frowned. “You aren’t what I expected.”
“What did you expect?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. But not…this.” I gestured to him.
He looked down at himself. “What’s wrong with me?”
“Nothing, nothing. It’s just…” I felt like he was about to cry if I said it.
“What?” His eyes were distressed.
I said, “You are a lot more colourful. I thought when Pa said you were a warlock that it would be all dark cloak, and worn skin. But instead you are, nicely dressed and… well… you look younger than Pa.”
He smiled and rubbed his hand across his forehead. “Magic trick I learnt when my first wrinkles began to appear. Zapped those pesky buggers away for good.”
“That’s a good use for your abilities,” said Pa.
“Hey, I’m the older brother. Don’t get all judgmental on me.” “In fact, why on earth would you bring Tiara out here. Are you trying to get her captured? You do remember what I told you would happen if she were discovered by the queen.”
“This wasn’t up to me. Kara came looking for her and needed her help. I wasn’t going to let my seventeen-year-old daughter go off alone into the woods with a black panther. If Tiara wants to save her kingdom then that is her choice. I wasn’t going to keep her locked up on the farm.”
A loud bang on the bars startled all of us. “Shut it, the lot of you. This isn’t get to know your cell mates.”
Pa glared at the guard but stayed quiet.
“We can deal with all of this later,” said Jasper. He kept his voice low. “But right now, we need to get out of here.”
“And how are we going to do that?” I asked.
Jasper smiled and gave me a wink.
The sun had gone down and the only source of light around us were the many fires lit throughout the camp. The guards had changed, and many of the men had disappeared inside their own tents.
Jasper had kept quiet for some time. He had kept his plan to himself but told both Pa and I to get ready to run. Pa had assured me that we could trust him, but how did he know? Pa hadn’t seen or spoken to Jasper since I was a baby. He could have changed, and there is every possibility that he wasn’t on our side.
I wanted to trust him, but how could I. He was our only option though.
Jasper suddenly stood and moved towards the edge of his cell. He wrapped his hands around the bars, looked left, then right. The guards around us were too busy struggling to stay awake to focus on anything that he was doing.
Jasper stepped back from the bar, held out his arms, and under his breath he mumbled. The four guards the surrounded us, went from standing, to being on the ground. All four of them were out cold.
I looked at Jasper in shock. Pa said he was a warlock but seeing him doing magic was something else. It was amazing but terrifying. Jasper grasped the bars once again and gave them a little push. Instead of staying in their place they fell forward. The bars crashed to the ground. Jasper stepped forward, and walked around the cage and stood in front of Pa and me.
He pulled at our bars and dropped them to the ground. “Shall we go?” he said.
Pa shook his head. “You always were a show off.”
“Be grateful,” said Jasper.
Pa knelt next to the unconscious guards and picked up two rifles. He held one out to me, which I pulled over my shoulder. Jasper looked around, and said, “Kara is waiting with my apprentice just outside the camp.”
“Is she okay?” I asked.
“She is fine. More worried about you.” Jasper placed his arm on my shoulder.
Pa turned to me. “I want you to get out of the camp. Jasper and I are going to get our horses and stuff back.”
“Pa, we don’t need it,” I said.
“There is some stuff in there that we will need.” Pa grasped my hand. “I promise we will be fine.”
“Don’t worry, Tiara.” Jasper nudged Pa’s shoulder. “I’ll keep this old man safe.”
Pa frowned. “Who are you calling old?”
I laughed. They really were brothers.
“Now go,” said Pa.
I nodded. Jasper pointed in the direction I would find Tiara, I just had to sneak around and not get caught. Stepping into the trees, I watched as Jasper and Pa disappeared into the cluster of tents. The fear of not seeing Pa was bubbling inside, but I couldn’t let that control me. I had to kind Tara.
Stepping further into the dark, I didn’t wander too far from the light. I carefully placed my steps, not knowing what sort of traps that the guards had set up to protect themselves. There could even be poachers trap lying about that no one had discovered. It was hard to see though. The clouds were covering the moon, so the trees were almost completely black.
The cracking of a twig behind me made me froze. The possibilities of what could be behind me was countless. A wild animal, a poacher, a guard had noticed me getting away. This was it. I could die.
“Tiara, are you alright?”
My heart slowed. Kara’s voice was the most pleasant surprise I could have asked for. “Kara?”
She stepped up beside me. “Hi,” she said.
I dropped to my knees and wrapped my arms around her. She froze in my touch. I knew she had never been hugged by a human before, but I was too relieved to see her.
“Are you alright?” she asked.
I released her and nodded. “Yeah, I’m okay.”
“Where is Jasper and your father?”
“Pa insisted on getting our horses and stuff back.”
“Are they crazy. There are too many guards, and what if they get caught?”
“I don’t know. They seem overly confident.”
“If Jasper gets caught, and they know he is a warlock, he won’t survive long enough for them to escape.” Kara swiped her paw at the ground.
“I thought the queen only killed familiars.”
“She doesn’t make a habit out of killing warlocks, most of them stay out of her way or work for her, but if one crosses her then she has no remorse.”
I sighed. “I knew it was a bad idea.”
“All we can do is wait.”
Kara and I moved around the camp. I had spotted Pa hiding behind one of the tents as two guards past him. He was ducking in-between them, as quickly and as quietly as possible. Jasper had disappeared completely.
As I watched Pa, all I could feel was worry. I need him to be safe.ns 184.108.40.206da2