Author’s note: An early release of the story, the voting for both Mind Linker and Valkyrie’s Lament will be over in a few days. Looking for proofreaders, if anyone is interested.
Castle Infiltration V
“Silver?” Jasper called out from behind. He was wondering why Silver was bee lining towards the river at the same time worried that some monster fish will jump out of the water possibly eating her alive. “Silver?!” He stressed the words even stronger hoping to catch her attention before she got too close to the water edge.
Silver stopped momentarily, looked around, and dropped onto her knees. Her hands swept back and forth in front of her, looking for any noticeable tracks, but so far she didn’t find anything. Taking a chance, she threw in a piece of small meat into the water wondering if anything would swim up and devour it. What she saw was that the meat slowly descend into the water. So far, she didn’t see a single creature come up to devour it.
Next, she reached over towards the crystal clean water, dipping the tip of her finger into the cold water. She felt a sharp shiver to run up and down her spine as she pulled back. The cold wasn’t something she liked, especially because she get cold unusually quickly. Maybe it was because of the anemia that she has or she’s just that skinny with barely any fat. She wasn’t sure, but her hands get cold way to easily.
She could see through the water, showing the rocks and small aquatic plants swaying back and forth. Scanning for any possible danger, she leaned over and found nothing inside the stream.
Taking a more of a chance, she dunk both of her hands to wash the blood of herself and her sword. She had a couple of moments where her heart beated quickly, thinking that an invisible piranha would suddenly swim up and bite her hand whole, but so far nothing appeared. Her fear was quickly abated. The stench of Kilkenny’s blood smell was a bit to overpowering that she couldn’t stand it anymore, she pushed herself even further and dipping her whole arm into the stream.
“Silver!” Jasper grabbed her arm and pulled it out from the water. He was worried that she was doing something stupid, thinking that the blood on the water was actually the blood from getting her arm chewed by the piranha. “Are you out of your mind? There could be a demon fish in there or something!”
“I don’t think so.” She was annoyed that he yanked out her hands. She was actually starting to enjoy the cool waters and soothing out her aching muscles. She didn’t know how badly her muscles were screaming out in pain until now.
“Can’t you see the difference? The water here and the one that we just went through are completely different. This actually looks like normal water, while the other one reminded me of metal liquid.” Silver pointed out and pried his fingers off her wrist.
“But still, you don’t know what could be out there!”
“Look.” She sighed. “You yelling will bring in the monsters more than me being eaten by fish. Plus, I made sure, before I stuck my hands in.”
Jasper dropped his hands to the side. Embarrassed that he was being a bit to overprotective. Silver thought it was cute, but getting this wretched smell off of her hand was more of a priority. The smell was starting to get a bit overwhelming.
“We should go cross the river and make camp on the other side. Trekking in the darkness without an exact direction is dangerous. Plus, we need to rest for the possibility of tomorrow.”
When the others who had finally caught up heard what she said, they frowned at the thought of crossing the water in front of them. The tribulations that they went through to survive made them fear the possibility of what could be lurking in the water.
Silver got up, took a deep breath, and trudge through the ice cold water. The splash of water hit her knees and a shockwave of shiver ran up and down her spine. She didn’t expect the sudden throwback of cold water, but she didn’t expect it to be this cold, awakening her senses completely. Her teeth chattered, but she still continued forward and crossed through the low stream. Nothing bite or snapped at her legs, allowing her to confidently move forward without much trouble..
The others at first stared dumbfoundedly as she went through the water with no fear, and felt a surging worry, wondering if they were still possible monsters just waiting to gobble her up. Every seconds felt like an hour, but nothing happened. She was the only one that had a nerve of steel to move forward in the beginning as none of them moved. A minute or two later, Jasper ran after her, splashing loudly in the cold water.
Jasper wasn’t happy that she would so easily go through without thinking about the consequences. They both came out of the other side unharmed, and he realized that he had jumped into danger without a second thought trying to stop her.
“Silver, wait up!” Instead his pants were dripping wet, while the the weight of heavy water pulled down his pants. His hands slipped downwards to hold them up, while he sloshed side-to-side, trying to keep up with her.
They continued to walk a couple of minutes more along the edge of the stream, before Silver stopped. She pulled out her square box with instruction to pitch up the tent that she bought from the Inn.
“You bought a tent?” Jasper came over, surprised that she was so well prepared.
“Yes, why wouldn’t I?” Look over her shoulders at him funny this was a basic necessity that she learned first hand when going through these games. Who knows how long the game will last, especially if they weren’t in an urban area.
“No, it’s just a bit unexpected. I thought this whole time it would just be a one day thing.”
“You need to get such thoughts out of your head, being prepared for any situation is priority.”
“I didn’t think that far….yet.”
“Well, you better start now.”
Silver was glad that she bought the large tent that could fit about two people. She knew that certain test would take days, weeks, and even months to accomplish and people dying from starvation or lack of survival equipment were higher in the beginning than dying by monsters. She got up and started to pitch her black dome shaped tent. It was easy as inflating a balloon, the instructions on it were simple and all she had to do was throw the square box that held the tent, and press the button on it.
This was Angel Technology that people traded in with their Angel Coins. Simple things like these made it easier for people to camp outside without worrying about pitching their tents that might take awhile. In some areas, the Angel’s were considerate, helping them out in everyday items. Other than that, they didn’t budge from their rules, making it difficult to acquire.
With the tent finally set up, she hanged up her shoes and socks out to dry, followed by her skirt. Luckily, she had on a skin tight shorts that was underneath her skirt, so it wasn’t much a problem to take it off. She took off her wet shoe and her soggy socks next to her to let it air dry. She felt better as she got out of those wet clothes. The probabilities of getting sick was high, and she didn’t wanted to get sick any time soon.
Then she pulled out a rope and couple of small canned food to the side. Bringing out a fork, she quickly ate the fruit to the point of inhaling it. With her first, second, and a couple more, she brought out her dagger, using the tip of it to pierce a hole into the canned food. Her fingers meticulously pulled the rope through the can and brought it out in the other end. It didn’t take long for her to string them together.
Jasper saw what she was doing and instantly knew what she was planning. He too took out a couple of canned food and hurriedly ate it, giving the empty can to her.
Silver graciously took the can from him and wrapped it around the rope. Getting up, she went a bit further away from the tent and started to create a tripwire that will signal any unwanted enemies that came across them. It wasn’t the best alarm system, but it was something that would help them, especially during the dark night when they couldn’t see much but the front of their face.
While Silver was busily setting up an alarm system, Tyler, Rose, and Cole made there way across the knee deep stream. At first, they were fearful that the monster fish will jump out of the water and eat their lower half, but when they saw Silver and Jasper walking in without any trouble, it took a bit of convincing themselves, but they eventually followed.
Kathy was the last one, anxiously struggling behind, trudging through the water in a hopping manner. She was too scared to even stay too long in the water that she literally ran, splashing water all over herself. It wasn’t until her foot caught on the edge of a rock, she fell face forward with a loud splash. In horror, she screamed.
“Kathy?” Cole ran to the edge with worry and found her thrashing around in panic.
“Cole!” A high piercing shriek erupted from her mouth as she flounder around.
Cole ran in the water to help her get back on her feet. She stuttered and grabbed onto Cole’s hands, desperately in the hopes that she wouldn’t get swept away. Her fear plastered on her face as she pulled herself into his arms. Both of them hurriedly made their way back safely to land.
“I-I thought I was a goner.” Kathy whimpered in Cole’s arms. Cole gently soothed her and wrapped his arms around her, trying his best to calm her down.
“Your safe.” Cole whispered into her ears, gently patting her on her shoulder.
“For how long? How long are we going to stay safe? I’m not strong like you or the rest. I’m just a dead weight.” Tears streamed from her eyes as she sniffled, wiping it away with the back of her hand. .
“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you. I promise.”
Kathy buried her head into Cole’s shoulder and sobbed.
“Well. Well. Well. What do we have here?” Rose spoke with a hint of amusement as she watched the dramatic scene. “I see a couple forming in all this chaos. Emotions does spike up, but to see it in action is quite fascinating. Who would’ve thought that you guys would already hook up.”
“What do you want Rose?” Cole gave her an angry glare, he pulled her to his side. “Did you come here to mock her, who saved your life?”
“Absolutely not. I’m just here to see how the little one is doing.” said Rose, coming to a halt. “There is nothing wrong with that is there?“
Cole frowned and was about to open his mouth to retaliate, but Kathy held up her hands to stop him from saying anything else.
“No. Thank you.” Kathy gave Rose a weak smile, one her hand clasped around Cole’s neck. “I appreciate your concern. Really.” She nodded her head towards her with gratitude and bowed.
Rose didn’t say anything else and turned around, leaving the two in each others arm.
“Why the hell is she still with us?” Cole spoke with disdain towards Rose loudly, so she could still here. “I mean a killer is here in our midst. I don’t trust her a single bit.”
“Just let her be. She is still human.” Kathy nodded her head. “I believe that what she has done is still stuck in her consciousness.”
“I highly doubt it. Her actions doesn’t even speak forgiveness at all.”
“Thanks Cole.” Kathy held on a bit tighter to Cole’s arm.
“You help me calm down when I was panicking. I feel so stupid that I caused all that ruckus.” Kathy blushed red.
Cole was also embarrassed at the sudden thought of what he had just done. He cleared his throat and spoke, “You probably would’ve done the same.”
Kathy didn’t say anything and instead stay in his arms happy.
Silver saw the whole event happened before her, while she was putting up the ropes. When the shrieking cry of Kathy spilled into her ears, she bolted up gazing into the darkness looking for any trouble that would be coming there way. So far, she hadn’t heard any movements in the forest nor a howl similar to the Kilkenny. The uneasy atmosphere of quietness kept her on edge.
She found the whole scene funny, the dramatic shout of fear, the prince coming to Kathy’s rescue and the sweet romantic atmosphere between the two. If she didn’t know any better, she thought Kathy was partially exaggerating to get in the arms of Cole, not that she was surprised. There were always one of those type of people in this game, so it didn’t surprise her. If Kathy couldn’t get the strongest to protect her, it was someone else. There were a couple of hinted advances from Kathy to Tyler, but he just shook it off during the walk. The next best thing was Cole himself.
Never once did she look at Jasper, in which she was actually glad that she didn’t latch onto him like parasite. After the warning from her, she saw a drastic suspicion from Jasper side. The thought of him being used by Kathy annoyed her.
Other than that Silver has been watching Rose, she wasn’t as bad as she had thought. Yes, she had her petty selfish moments, but, so far, she didn’t attempt to accidental push someone forward. In actuality, Rose kept to herself as much as possible, even though her mouth seem to lash out with sarcasm or negativity. Silver got the feeling that the guilt of accidentally killing someone really messed with Rose’s head.
“This is quite a sore for an eye.” Tyler came up next to her. He too was observing the surrounding alerted at the possible chance that they might attack. “That fool of a girl just put on the radar. Are you sure you don’t want to move away from this spot?”
Silver shook her head. “It’s not wise to move in the dark, we’ll have a better chance seeing once the fire gets going. Jasper working on it, right now, as we speak.”
“I suspected as much. Well than, we need to divide our intervals for a watch every hour or so.”
“I’ll start the first watch.” Silver replied. She finished tying up the rope on the tree and headed back towards the camp.
“That girl is a quite a handful.” Tyler chuckled to himself, he followed not too far away from her. “Not cute at all.”
Silver heard Tyler’s murmur and felt a slightly annoyed, but she squished it down before it even manifested anymore. She wasn’t trying to be cute nor was she attempting to stand out so much. Everything that she did was to survive. Honestly, she forgot what it meant to be cute or pretty.
“Hey! I’m going to sleep in there!” Rose shouted demandingly. “I need my beauty sleep and I can’t sleep outside on this bug infested land.”
“Will you just shut up?” Tyler walked over with a grunt. He glared at Rose with disapproval. “This is not your tent nor mine. Is your brain addled with holes to make you realize that this world doesn’t revolve around you?”
“Shut it, scarface. You probably didn’t have a genuine women in your bed for you to retort such idiocracy.”
“Hell no. Don’t pull me that crap. I’ll gladly sleep outside any day. Plus, what the hell did you do to even deserve sleeping inside the tent.”
“I’m a woman.” Rose cockily retorted with a haughty air. She stuck up her nose and shook her hair to the back.
Silver sighed, these were one of those moments that Rose got pretty annoying fast and made her have a fluctuating decision if she should even attempt to get to know her.
“More like a bitch.” Tyler grumbled under his breath.
“Guys. Guys. You shouldn’t be fighting.” Kathy was in between them trying to calm them down with both her hands in front of them, trying to make her presence known.
“This lady needs to be thrashed a couple of times to get back her common sense. I’m against hitting girls, but I can make an exception with a bitch.”
“A bitch? Me? Hardly. For all I know this bastard doesn’t understand a single thing called manners.”
“Manner, my ass! You’re the one without one!” Tyler were clenching and unclenching his fist wanting to jump towards her and throttle her.
“Bring it. I can take you on any day.” Rose glowered. She reached over and punch him in the face and went in for an attack.
Tyler reeled back in surprise. In anger, he ducked underneath Kathy’s hand and with a fist clenched into a ball he went in to punch her. Kathy moved in between the two and got striked instead.
Kathy scrunched over in pain as her wind was knocked out of her. She stumbled backwards and fell onto her back and rolled around on the floor writhing around.
Rose stepped backwards in alarm, she then noticed Kathy was on the ground. Quickly, she went on her knees, trying to help her out.
“What the hell man!” Cole rushed over, heated at what Tyler had done. “You shouldn’t hit a woman!”
Tyler stood there frozen, staring at his hand. Then he unclenched his fist, and frowned at the withering girl on the floor. “She shouldn’t have jumped in like that. If she didn’t she wouldn’t have gotten hit.”
“Still that’s wrong!” Cole helped Kathy into a sitting position.
“Look, just because one is a woman, if they step up to a man and attack, they need to understand that they will get beat up like a man. It doesn’t matter who you are, attempt on my life or harm me, i’ll make sure to retaliate.” Tyler glared angrily. “The whole bullshit on woman shouldn’t be hit applies to a certain degree and I have my limit. I don’t hit womans who’s not a threat, but that girl is pushing that limit.”
Rose snarled in between her teeth, she was holding Kathy’s back in a sitting position.
“I’m sorry, I hurt your girl that’s something I am sorry for, but you.” He pointed towards Rose. “Hit me again a second time, be ready to fight for your life.”
“Watch your back. I’ll make sure your dead like that man.” Rose coldly retorted, pain riddled her face.
“You’ll probably die before you even try.” Tyler turned his back on her and walked away, leaving her still with Kathy and Cole.
This was becoming too much of a headache, Silver felt a bit stupid for staying with this small band of people. The amount of drama that came with this group was typical to the point where she was watching a live soap drama. She wondered for how long this group would last throughout the game, a small division was quickly forming, and she knew that this group will collapse. All she could do to prepare was watch when and move out before things hit the fan.
“Get some rest,” said Silver. She motioned her head towards the tent, telling Jasper it was okay to go in.
“I’m sleeping outside.” Jasper declined.
“Fine with me. I’ll pull down the tent then. Plus, I got first shift.”
“That’s your tent. You should be sleeping in it.”
“Does it matter? It’s only a temporary comfort. I wouldn’t care who slept in it honestly.”
Jasper frowned when he heard her statement. “Then would allow someone like her over there to sleep in it?” He motioned his head towards the group of three that was still on the ground.
“Possibly, but under a condition.” Silver replied. She wasn’t just go handing around freebees so easily without something in return. “Negotiation of a trade for a crystal. If not then there is no deal.”
Jasper though over what she said. “Your quite different.”
“You’re a lady. I would expect you to pamper yourself a little at least.”
“No time. These game aren’t something to be forgetful about.”
“I know. Just….Ah whatever..there is no point in disagreeing with you.” Jasper gave up entirely. He just didn’t understand her mentality at all. “I give up. I’m going to sleep. Wake me up next when your time is up.”
Silver sat against the tree that was next to the tent. She forgot how tired she was mentally and physically, the moment she sat down, she didn’t wanted to get up to even put away the tent. With steady hands, Silver brought up her knees as she diligently watched her surroundings for any sound or movement in the darkness. It was her turn, and she was not going to slack in her duty.
Jasper also sat next to her with her head against the tree, and started to nod off to sleep. He was so exhausted that the moment that he sat down, he was knocked out. The whole ordeal that they went through were more taxing on his body than anyone that were present.
Kathy, Cole, and Rose were on the other side as they huddled among themselves. Tyler was nodding off not to far away from her.
Jasper slipped off to the side, resting his head on Silver’s shoulder. Silver turned around and noticed Jasper leaning on her silently sleeping. For someone so small for his age, she had noticed, he had survived through quite a lot. His small body was a huge disadvantage in this game, but his mental fortitude was unbelievably strong. Anyone would’ve broken down by now, gave up, or possibly killed themselves. The first couple of weeks always weeded out the weak.
Silver didn’t completely understand, why Jasper followed her to such a difficult level. She thought he would’ve taken a little more easy path then follow her towards a dangerous path, especially for someone of his height and strength. His body was equivalent to a ten year old child, making it three times more difficult to survive. All-in-all, she found new growing respect towards him. Not only that, she was glad that he was here with her.
Gently scooping him up, she took him to the tent allowing him to sleep comfortably. She pulled out a sleeping bag, throwing it on the ground. Slowly, she placed him on the sleeping bag, tucking him in, and allowed him to sleep.
Silver went back out to the tree. It was going to be a long night and she needed every ounce of strength she could get. Hours went by, eventually her shift was over as she got up to wake Tyler up.
“Huh? Yea?” Tyler groggily woke up. He glanced up and noticed Silver over him.
“Switch with me for awhile.”
“Sure.” Tyler yawned and stretched.
“Wake me up in a couple hours.”
Tyler nodded and yawned again. Silver couldn’t help but be infected by his yawn and also yawned as well. He chuckled when he noticed Silver yawing as well. “I got you too huh?”
“Oh. Yea…just a rough day you know?”
Tyler slowly nodded. “I wouldn’t be surprise if you weren’t.”
“Night.” Tyler got up to shake himself awake.
Silver left him behind and walked over to the tent. She went inside, took out another sleeping bag and fell asleep with the sword out next to her.
Silver woke up still tired. Looking around, she noticed that it was light as well as Jasper wasn’t present. His sleeping bag was neatly folded in the corner. Her hand reached over towards the sword that she had left out beside her.
Slowly getting up, her body screamed as aches and pains could be felt throughout her whole body. Even a small movement made it difficult for her to move without croaking in pain. The strenuous activity that they had done yesterday pushed her body to the limits. At this rate, she worried that she wouldn’t be able to be useful.
She started to put away the bags with aching pains and went out. The moment she went out, nobody was present except. The fire was still barely crackling, giving the whole place an eerie feel. Something was wrong, she frowned at their sudden disappearance. Her gaze trailed around, looking for clues for their departure, but so far there were nothing. No broken leaves or even a trace of their trails. It was almost as if she was the only one there in the first place.
She quickly dismantle the tent and the alarm system that she had made. When she was finished, she once again scored the area.
Silver felt alone for the first time since she had awaken. It was a familiar feeling of being alone that she had forgotten since the company of Jasper and the other. The unusual hole of a presence made her feel dreary, but she quickly squashed the emotions. She was always alone that was how she was able to survive until the end.
“I have always been alone. It shouldn’t bother me so much. Right?” Silver reassured herself, even though it felt half hearted, and silently trudged forward. This was a harsh lesson that woke her up, reminding her that these games were not a place to play family. Her heart slowly closed off, hiding herself from the world. There was no turning back anymore, and she didn’t wait any longer for them to come. Her goal was only one thing and it was to finish this wretched game.