Chapter 36: To the Rescue

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It was already past noon when I bolted upright in bed, sweat dripping from my forehead into my eyes. My dreams had been filled with Darkness, faceless monsters and an invisible threat that followed me wherever I went. Rubbing my swollen eyes, I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach as I recalled the events of the previous night. I swung my legs out of bed and put on a long, silk dressing gown before rushing out of my door.

Larry's room was adjacent to mine. Dread squeezed my heart tighter and tighter when I flung open the door and found his bed empty. Ellie's room lay on the other side of the floor, but she was nowhere to be seen either. So I did the only other thing I could think of and rushed to Rowan's room so that we could panic together.

I was surprised to find Rowan fast asleep on his side in bed, whereas he was normally the early bird of the two of us. Last night's robbery and the following conversation must have taken its toll on him. I gave him a gentle nudge to wake him up, trying not to stare too much at the way his pectoral muscles rippled with every breath he took.

He groaned and opened one confused eye, but straightened up when he saw the alarmed expression on my face. "What is it?"

"Ellie and Larry are still missing," I panted. "I'm afraid they've been caught."

"Shit." He ran a hand through his hair, all color withdrawing from his face. "What do we do?"

I let myself fall onto his bed in a dramatic fashion. "If Cain finds out about us sneaking around the Tower of the Honored and Elijah tells him about the incident with the barrels ... We're doomed," I murmured.

"Slow down, Kenna. We don't even know if the Dark Sorcerers have thrown them into the dungeons. They could have escaped and gone into hiding until things at the tower settle down." Rowan, always the voice of reason.

"Well, there's only one way to find out, right?" I pushed myself up and looked at him, caging my fear so that it wouldn't undermine my determination to solve the riddle of the Dwarfs' disappearance. "We'll have to ask Cain."

His mouth dropped open. "Are you mad? We may as well surrender ourselves to him right now! What are you even going to say to him?"

"I'll make something up about having lost them on our way from the pub back to the Tower. It would tie in perfectly with their drunken performance last night." Without overthinking my rash decision in order not to lose courage, I opened the door to search for a servant who could give a message to Cain. However, before I could do so, I bumped into a tall, hard male body dressed in official armor. Mumbling a hasty apology, I looked up and swallowed hard when I stared straight into Elijah's brown eyes.

Acutely aware of my morning breath, I bowed my head and took a step aside to let him in. All the while, my heart hammered in my chest and anxiety strained every muscle in my body. What was he doing here? Oh dear, he knew it was us who had stolen the barrels. Maybe he even knew what had happened to Ellie and Larry.

Rowan had already gotten out of bed and put on a dark blue tunic, crossing his arms over his chest as Elijah strode into the room. "What are you doing here?"

The Sorcerer's head snapped up, his gaze boring into Rowan's. The soldier didn't move an inch; he only stared back with an equally cool expression. "I came here to ask you why you need two barrels of Instant Blaze potion."

I gasped.

"That is a serious accusation, my friend. Give me one reason why I shouldn't throw you out of my room right now for merely thinking that I would do such a thing." On the outside, Rowan exuded an aura of indifference, almost boredom, but a growing tension filled up the room and pushed the air out of my lungs.

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