The Unsuper Heroes, Chapter 8

Marcin entered Mercinon’s office only to to see him on all fours with his rear end pointed up in the air. Marcin cautiously conversed, “Did you lose something, sire?”

Mercinon replied, “My patience, Marcin! Which is why I’ve taken up yoga.” He laid flat on the ground and lifted up his torso. “It’s an Eastern method of relaxation and inner peace.” He flipped his body over and arched his back in a way that made his stomach jut towards the ceiling. “I can’t believe it’s taking this long to take over one measly kingdom!” He laid flat again and transitioned himself into sitting with his heels touching each other. “It’s just not fair!” he shouted as he shifted into a squat with his arms extended forward.

“I don’t think this yoga thing is really working,” Marcin remarked.

“What did you say?” Mercinon probed as he stood up and raised his right foot to his left thigh.

Marcin hastily covered up his previous statement by announcing, “I said I have a piece of good news.”

As Mercinon switched so his feet so that his left one touched his right thigh, he followed up with, “Just a piece, eh? Not a whole good news segment?” Marcin shrugged, and as Mercinon stretched his left leg behind him and grabbed his ankle for balance, he asked, “Well, what is it?”

“Let me show you!” He happily skipped into the hallway.

As Mercinon did the same pose with the opposite leg, Marcin wheeled in a large cage that had Dason bound and gagged inside of it! Mercinon got such a large shock from seeing this that he lost his balance and fell face first onto the floor. He quickly picked himself up and gasped, “What did you do?”

“I kidnapped the prince.” Marcin had clearly expected to get praised for this deed and started to get nervous when he didn’t get it.

“I can see that!” Mercinon responded with a hint of annoyance in his voice. “Why in the name of Hades would you do that?”

Marcin hung his head sheepishly. “He caught me capturing a monster.”

Mercinon forcibly raised his hand to his forehead. “So you kidnapped him? You could have pretended to be an innocent villager trying to stave off another attack! Did you even try that? You do realize that even if he did catch you committing a crime that the best solution to that problem isn’t to kidnap the witness, right? Really, this is exactly the kind of thing that we have a pit of jackals for!”

“Well, I kept him alive so you could decide what you want to do with him,” Marcin explained. “You know, in case you wanted to ask the royal family for a ransom or something.”

“A ransom…” Mercinon rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Yes, I suppose we could send an anonymous letter to the palace and demand a large sum of Drachmas! We could use the extra money, especially after The Points ate a bunch of our gold! Okay Marcin, I forgive you for this stunt!” Marcin looked very pleased with himself. “But since you brought him in, you’re responsible for feeding him and cleaning up after him! Make sure you store him somewhere safe!” Through his gag, Dason clearly tried to shout a comeback to Mercinon, who reacted in appall, “Hey! Don’t insult my mother! She could be here any time!” After he uttered this, Mercinon eyeballed the room apprehensively.

Dason turned to Marcin for explanation, and Marcin advised him, “Don’t ask!”

Mercinon quickly composed himself and maintained a dignified stance as he questioned, “This new monster is less easy to destroy, isn’t it?”

“Oh, don’t worry! No man stands a chance against them!” Marcin assured him.

“Good! If those super weirdos destroy this set, I swear to gods I will…!” He trailed off as he shook his fist in the air. Marcin stared at him in confusion as to whether or not he had finished his thought, so Mercinon told him, “You can go now!” Marcin hastily grabbed the cage’s tether and dragged Dason out of the room. Mercinon sighed, sat on his desk with his legs criss-crossed, and began humming tranquilly.

Exelda stood with her hands on her hips as Narcius used a stick to practice sword fighting with an invisible Stocasting, who clearly had the upper hand and was able to get a number of jabs in as Narcius moved around the practice space trying to find him. Narcius moaned out of a growing frustration, and then suddenly Stocastin tripped over Akintos, who had been lazily lounging on the sidelines. Stocastin lost his concentration and turned visible, and seizing the opportunity, Narcius ran over to him and pinned Stocastin down with his foot. “Ah-ha! Now you can see my ancestor’s noble blood at work! I don’t even need to see my opponent to beat them!”

Exelda rolled her eyes, Kefalia fervently clapped, and Akintos sarcastically asked, “Oh, so next time we face a monster, can we blindfold you?”

Narcius proudly answered, “Yes, you certainly can!”

“No! Absolutely not!” Exelda interjected.

“Is that jealousy I hear?” Narcius arrogantly said to her.

Exelda scoffed, “No! It’s reality!”

Stocastin put in, “You know, you can get off of me any time!”

As Narcius took his foot off of Stocastin, Exelda scolded him, “You got a lucky break! Any monster we might face probably won’t be so clumsy!”

“So what you’re saying is that there is a small chance!” Narcius reacted cheekily.

Exelda didn’t acknowledge his remark other than to shake her head. “Okay, Akintos, why don’t you face Kefalia this time?”

Everyone groaned, and Akintos complained, “We’ve been practicing all day! Can’t we take a little break?”

“Don’t get complacent!” Exelda warned. “Just because we bested two sets of monsters doesn’t mean we’ll get through the next one so easily! Now, come on! Let’s go!”

“You’re no fun when you’re sober!” Akintos grumped.

Exelda looked affronted by that. “I can have fun! We just need a lot of practice!”

“His hypothesis does seem to have merit,” Stocastin opinionated. “You seem to have replaced alcoholic beverages with combat practice.”

“I’m not addicted to practicing!” Exelda refuted. “We were hired to do a very important job, so we should do all we can to make sure we do it well!”

Akintos challenged, “ Name one fun thing you’ve done since you gave up drinking!”

Exelda exclaimed, “I do lots of fun things! Like… uh…”

The men all had satisfied smirks on their faces, but Kefalia defended her. “You guys should be nicer to her, you know! She’s probably going to be the future queen!”

“Future queen?” Exelda puzzled. “What in the name of Zeus are you talking about?”

“Oh come on! If I can see it, it must be pretty obvious!” Kefalia stated, and the others agreed with her.

Exelda’s cheeks reddened, but she dismissed these claims. “That’s crazy! What makes you think I have feelings for him?”

Akintos told her, “Because you look at him the way Narcius looks at himself in the mirror!” Narcius had coincidentally been gazing into a hand mirror at that moment, but he put it down when he heard him say that.

Kefalia comfortingly pat her arm. “It’s okay! He obviously likes you too! And you won’t be so boring when we defeat all of the monsters and find your prince!”

Akintos wondered, “What makes you think we’ll find the prince when we defeat all of the monsters?”

Kefalia shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know! They happened around the same time, so I thought the same bad guy did it!”

“Of course!” Exelda cried out. “Kefalia, you’re a genius!”

“Woah! Woah! Woah!” Stocastin, Narcius, and Akintos all reacted at the same time.

Narcius expressed, “Why are we taking orders from someone with that kind of judgment?”

Exelda elaborated, “I meant that she really has a good point! Think about it! What are the odds that two major crimes occurred simultaneously without them being connected?”

“By Hera! Why didn’t I see the correlation before?” Stocastin pondered. “Sometime between the defeat of the Menoreas and the release of The Points, the acting head of state disappeared, so it stands to reason that a single person could have orchestrated both events. Why? I’m not sure. I suppose that this individual’s intentions could be to seize power through both physical and political means!”

“Exactly!” Exelda concurred. “These monsters aren’t just randomly showing up, someone is setting them onto us! So, if we find Dason’s kidnapper, we might be able to stop these attacks! Maybe we should use our powers to go look for him!”

Everyone groaned again, and Akintos whined, “So, we’re supposed to walk around all of Chaos just so we can find your boyfriend?”

“He’s not my… I mean, not that there would be anything wrong with it if I did, but I ‘m not… Oh, never mind! We don’t have to travel through the whole city-state; we can go to the Academic village and do some research.” Exelda suggested. “They probably have some maps we can study to narrow down a region that someone could hide a bunch of monsters in. Who knows, maybe they have some knowledge about potential monsters that we could face.”

“Finally! We’re doing something I wanted us to do!” Stocastin rejoiced.

The other three seemed less excited about the prospect, so Exelda pointed out, “It’s either that or we stay here and practice some more.” They suddenly became much more interested in doing research and prepared to leave immediately.

The Shadow Path, Chapter 15

Yasmina, Aidan, and Ardeshir dashed out the door before the knights changed their minds. As they ran down the hallway and headed up the stone staircase, they heard Sarid shout, “Hey!” Yasmina’s heart beat wildly. She wondered if they actually had changed their minds as she feared or worse, they set them up for a trap. She turned around expecting the worst, but instead, Sarid tossed her wand to her! Eamon stared incredulously, so Sarid justified himself, “She overpowered me and took it!”

“Thanks guys!” Yasmina regarded them as they ran up the stairs.

They cautiously exited the dungeon and looked to see if the coast was clear. At first, it seemed as though they were safe, however, as soon as they tried to head back to the Shadow Path, they heard knights coming. They weren’t going to assume that these knights were as generous as Sarid and Eamon, so they ran in the other direction. The three of them ran behind the castle with the intention of going the long way back to the woods that they came from, but Yasmina heard a voice in the distance that sent chills down her spine say, “Where are they?”

“It’s Kadera! Hide!” Yasmina whispered.

The three of them dove into the shrubbery next to the castle and waited with bated breaths. Yasmina had her wand ready just in case, but inwardly she hoped that she wouldnt’ have to use it. The sooner they got away from Rogamaith, the sooner they could get to Daeva. She didn’t want to delay this any longer than she had to, so she inwardly prayed that Kadera would give up and fly back to Duanolc. They watched her slowly fly pass by, astutely scanning for any sign of them. Thankfully, she rounded the corner towards the dungeon area, but they weren’t out of danger yet. They heard her tell the knights, “She’s here, I can feel it!”

Dread filled Yasmina’s body. She sincerely didn’t want to face Kadera, but she didn’t see any way out of it. Just as she began to mentally prepare herself to fight, Aidan quietly told them, “This way!” They quickly darted out of the bush and followed him to a small corner between the castle and another tower. He pushed a certain stone, and a secret door opened up! They swiftly went into this entrance, and Aidan immediately shut the stone door. They couldn’t hear Kadera or the knights, so it appeared that they had narrowly avoided peril!

Or had they? The three of them realized they faced a new problem. Ardeshir softly asked, “How do we get out of here?”

“Follow me!” Aidan instructed. As they walked up this staircase, Aidan explained, “Rogamaith has many exits. The public enters through the drawbridge in the front, but the servants have entrances all over the castle. And there’s secret entrances like this one for the royals to escape in case of an emergency. I think those are probably our best bet. The next closest one is by my old chambers.”

“That’s the one you…that day…!” Yasmina remarked.

“Yes,” Aidan confirmed somewhat gruffly. Yasmina could see the haunted look on his face from reliving that horrifying day, but he quickly refocused his attention to their escape. At the top of the staircase, Aidan cracked open another secret door, and the three of them peeked into the castle hallway. Yasmina saw that they appeared to be in the corner between two hallways. The floor was lined with red carpet, and the walls had a wooden door that was presently closed. This part of Rogamaith seemed to be empty, no noise came from the rooms and no one roamed the halls. Before they entered, Aidan explained, “The hall lining the back wall leads towards the king and queen’s chambers, so we don’t want to go down there. Dorian most likely claimed the space.” Yasmina and Ardeshir nodded in understanding, and they tiptoed out of the secret entrance, heading towards the other hallway.

They slowly crept and kept a vigilant eye out for any sign of movement since any person in castle could purposefully or accidentally alert Dorian or Kadera to their location. They didn’t move far, but it felt longer than the Shadow Path at that moment! Yasmina kept expecting something to jump out at them from every corner, and she wished that the escape door were closer! All of a sudden, they heard a noise ahead of them, and the three of them hid behind a suit of armor. They expected an adversary, but they soon discovered that it was a few chamber maids gossiping about all of the excitement happening right then. It didn’t seem like the chamber maids were going to leave that general area, so they reluctantly followed Aidan down the other hallway.

Yasmina, Aidan, and Ardeshir heard more noise coming from the floor below, so they moved more quickly. They managed to reach another corner, but just when they were heading down another hall, they heard more noise from ahead of them. They hid behind a large vase as the cacophony grew closer, and as it approached, they could hear a number of servants searching for them. To add to their distress, they heard the chamber maids’ voices growing louder, which could only mean that they were heading in their direction. Seeing no other way out, the three of them dashed into the room closest to them.

After they quietly shut the door behind them, they immediately turned around to scope out the room behind them. To their relief, the room appeared empty. Yasmina kept a weary eye on the door in case the servants came in, but she couldn’t help but study the place they had just sheltered themselves in. A four poster bed stood diagonally from where they were stationed, and while it seemed very comfortable, it didn’t look like it had been rested in for quite a while. Two purple gossamer curtains were shut on the other side of the room, making the room very dark despite the sunlight outside. They were close to a very large, wooden bureau, suggesting the owner of the space had an expansive wardrobe. She grew curious about whose chamber this was, but she didn’t think it was prudent to ask while they were hiding. She hoped its owner wouldn’t return while they were there!

The clamor softened, but they could still here people in the hall. Ardeshir whispered, “We can’t stay here!”

“I know!” Aidan said quietly. “The secret door is really close to here, but if we open the door, we will probably give away our position. We’ll be okay for a little while. They didn’t put any escape doors in anyone’s chambers in case an enemy caught wind of it and decided to go after someone in their sleep. So, if someone enters this room, we’ll know. Be ready to fight off whoever does come in. I know we don’t want to hurt an innocent servant, but we may not have a choice…”

Yasmina stared at the bed and suddenly got struck with an idea. “What if we used the sheets to make a rope and we went out the window?”

Aidan contemplated this notion. “Hmm…I don’t hear anyone outside right now. They must be searching the nearby woods as well as the inside of Rogamaith to figure out where we went, so that area could be clear by now. Okay, Ardeshir, keep listening at the door incase someone comes in or if the hall is clear. Yasmina, you watch the window to make sure it stays clear as I make the rope.”

Ardeshir and Yasmina agreed to his idea. While Ardeshir fiercely listened at the door and Aidan began to roll up the sheets, Yasmina silently debated between the two sets of curtains and arbitrarily decided to pick the one on the left. She had assumed that the drapes had covered a window, but when she peeked behind it, she saw a painting. Puzzled, she opened it further and gasped. Ardeshir and Aidan turned to see a giant portrait of Dorian as king! Other than its large size, the style was realistic, and although they couldn’t quite pinpoint the reason, something about it gave a creepy aura. The three of them shook off this feeling and continued on their tasks.

As Yasmina lifted up the curtains to the actual window, she noted, “We’re in Dorian’s chamber! This seems dangerously reckless!”

“Dorian is a tyrant and a puppet of Daeva, but he isn’t superhuman,” Aidan assured her as he quickly worked. “If he tries to come in the room, he’ll use the door . We’ll hear him coming and have the upper hand so we can ambush him.”

Yasmina gingerly asked, “Is this…was this your parents’ chamber room?”

“No,” Aidan answered, “I guess he didn’t have the guts to take over their chambers after all! Deep down, I think he knows that he isn’t the proper king! This was always his chamber, but I believe that painting is new. It must have taken a while to finish, so maybe he always had ambitions to rise to royalty. But if it were old, I couldn’t see his wife approving of artwork without her in it. She died that day too. I guess he loved power more than her!”

Suddenly, Ardeshir interjected, “I hear something!”

Yasmina and Aidan fell silent as they listened. They heard footsteps in the distance, and for a moment, the three of them were ready to go out the window to get away. As it grew closer, it almost seemed as though the sound was coming from in the walls. They stood in confusion as the noise stopped. Their hearts nearly jumped out of their chests as the bureau drawer opened and a foot stuck out. To their horror, the person entering the room was Dorian!