Tainted Victory – Chapter 9, Part 12 (Page-a-Day)

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Claudia got up. She straightened herself up as well. She tried to fix her hair but it went as well as Hughs’ did. “You don’t have proof. I told you those are not my arrows, and I didn’t lie about anything.”

Evelyn took a step closer to her. “Show me then! Show me one of these arrows that is totally not yours.” 

“Pick up the one you threw at me!” Claudia took a step closer to her. 

The distance between them was knife-length. Hugh stepped in cutting the distance. “Stop yelling at each other. It is not going to accomplish anything.” He looked to Evelyn, “Pick up the arrow you threw.” He looked to Claudia, “Get one of your arrows out.”

“One step ahead.” She waved the arrow she stabbed at the knife Evelyn had. Hugh accepted the offer. 

“Here,” Evelyn said. She thrusted the broken arrow at the doctor. He accepted that piece as well. 

“Thank you.” He rubbed the soot and dust off the broken arrow with the end of his shirt. He held it underneath the fresh arrow he accepted from Claudia. They had many similarities. They were both made from a rich bark and treated with a similar lacquer finish. They weighed the same in his hand, and he predicted that the end of the broken one would have a similar fletching and nock, but he could not be sure. He turned his attention to the runes transcribed onto the shafts. There were some similar characters across the sides, but the broken one was off. He squinted and raised it closer to his eye. He could not place it. It was like an idea was still gestating and he wanted it out. Evelyn’s constant foot tapping did not help the situation. It monotonously drilled itself into his brain. He could feel it holding him back. He casted his gaze up to her. “Can you stop, please?”

“Sorry,” she said. She turned her head to the far side of the throne room where the kitchen and dining areas were located. She clenched her jaw and furrowed her brow. She kept her eyes fixed on the entrance to the kitchen. It was a space away from the nonsense around her. It was calm, empty, and safe. Then a shadow passed by her vision. She felt her body flex and tense in an instant. She leaned forward and marched to the shadow.

“Where are you going?” Claudia asked.

“To get away from you,” she said over her shoulder. She watched Claudia cover her mouth. She rolled her eyes, turned back, and smacked her frame against Goblet’s giant, fur covered torso. She bounced off and straightened herself. “Can you move?” She then looked up to see his distraught and contorted face.  

Goblet was pale and sweating. His face was twisted and pulled taut. He kept speaking and muttering but couldn’t get any words out. Claudia and Hugh turned away from the two arrows to see the distraught giant unable to form words. He dropped his axe and looked like he was playing with invisible clay in his hands. 

“What’s wrong?” Evelyn asked. 

“What’s going on?” Claudia asked. She walked over to the two. Hugh followed behind her, arrows in hand. 

“It… it…” Goblet mouthed a name over and over. He finally got it out. “Olivier.”

Hugh looked around and noticed the mage’s absence. ‘What happened?” Hugh asked. 

“We went into the vault… and… and…” He continued to play with the invisible ball of clay. He began to form the next set of words.

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