Tainted Victory – Chapter 9 Conclusion (Page-a-Day)

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 A guttural, pain filled, explosive yell rang out from upstairs.  It was quickly followed by a loud, crystalline smash. The group shot a look up to the source of the noises. They hurried up the stairs. Goblet was in front, followed by Claudia, and Evelyn, with Hugh trailing behind. He was huffing and puffing as he juggled trying to breathe and not stopping to catch his breath. He did have to stop. He leaned his back against the stairwell that crested up to the third floor where they yell originated. He laid his head back and took a couple extra gulps of air. “I’ll catch up,” he said.” He heard the trios steps echo farther and farther away. He took a second gasp. He closed his eyes. The two similar runes popped up into his head. One had clear, decisive strokes. The other looked more like a rushed copy. Closer to it being a copy of the original over a wholly original production. He opened his eyes and finished his rush up the stairs. 

He ran down the hallway, passed the embedded arrows and to the open hallway. He heard the calls for his name bouncing off the walls. He ran down the hallway and continued to follow the calls for his name. He turned the corner to the strategy room. Goblet was blocking the entrance of the doorway. Claudia was standing next to him calling for Hugh. He could not see Evelyn. 

“What… is… it?” Hugh panted out once he reached the edge of the doorway. He reached his hand out to rest against the wall. He undershot it and stumbled to the side. 

“See for yourself, doctor,” Goblet said. The color had not returned to his face, but his voice was more stern and stable. He moved out of the doorway. 

Hugh looked into the strategy room. The first thing he noticed was that the egg had not been touched or messed with. The second was a shattered window. Third, and the thing he should have noticed first was Siguard. He was slumped forward in the chair. He was only being kept in place by the binds they tied him up. Blood continued to drip and stain his chest plate and armor. The source of the blood came from slash marks along his neck, and an arrow lodged deep into the back of his throat. It stuck out and rapped against his plating. Hugh looked up to see Evelyn scanning the walls. 

Claudia made her way inside. “Who could have done this?” she asked. 

“Well if they are in the castle there is only one option,” Evelyn said. “As much as I don’t believe it.”

“There are still other possibilities,” Hugh said. He walked over to the body and squatted down; he lined his head up to where Siguard’s dropped head lay. He rolled his sleeve back, laid a finger on the arrow and rose Siguard’s head. The cuts were thin and deep. The person who did it was skilled and knew how to get someone to bleed out quickly. He looked down the shaft of the arrow. It disappeared when it breached Siguard’s mouth. The shot would have been used to silence him after he started screaming. But that just left the question of why he didn’t scream when the person entered the room in the first place. That would come in time. He stood up. “Get Colt out of bed. We cannot be separated at a time like this.”

“Did he do it?” Goblet asked. 

“We can figure that out. In the meantime, even if he didn’t, the killer striked a second time. He’s getting more bold and being together is the best way to mitigate another possible attack.” Hugh rolled his sleeves back down and covered his tattoos. “Goblet,” he said, “you and Claudia go get Colt and his dog from his room and return here. I will stay with Evelyn and look for any possible secret entrances and exits.”

“Ohh, private time,” Evelyn murmured. She gave a slide long glance and a smirk.

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