Alex sprinted out of the hospital room and quickly ran into Rose only a short distance down the hallway.
“Alex!?” She exclaimed in surprise. “What are you doing out of bed already?” She asked confused.
“The council wants to imprison me for my power!” Alex said as he ran past Rose, not even stopping to explain. There was no time and that would only increase the chances of him being caught. Without a single question, Rose began running after him and quickly evened out with him. ‘Damn my lowered strength!’ He thought to himself. It was fine that Rose had caught up to him so easily but it really showed how much his physical strength had dropped after becoming an Archon and Arcanist.
Alex looked over at Rose as he jumped down the steps and began running through the first floor. “What are you doing?” He called.
“What does it look like!?” She yelled, still keeping up with him. “I won’t just stand by while the council imprisons and uses my best friend!” She said with anger in her voice. “I’m going to help you escape and come with you!” She said matter of factly.
A moment later the two of them burst out of the front doors of the village hospital. “This way!” Rose yelled to Alex and took off in the direction of her house. ‘Her dad is a guard so maybe they have a lot of supplies at home?’ Alex thought to himself as he began following her as fast as he could.
Nobody gave them a second glance as they sprinted down the streets. Seeing two teenagers out for a run was not uncommon after all and very few people knew exactly who the powerful wizard that saved the town was. The village was not terribly large overall and the two of them arrived at Rose’s house fairly quickly. Throwing the front door open, they quickly ran in and Rose began gathering everything she could think of as fast as possible.
“Hardtack. Canteens. Bandages. Salve. Basic cooking supplies….” She quickly lists off to herself everything as she grabs it, trying to make sure she didn’t forget anything important in the rush. She ran into both her and her father’s rooms and made sure to grab some spare clothes and threw Alex a backpack with duplicates of their supplies. “Here you go!” She half yelled as she tossed it to him and pulled her own pack on. Both packs had the standard issue sleeping roll on the bottom as well.
“Thanks!” He said still in a bit of shock. “I still can’t believe this is happening.” He said half to Rose and half to himself.
‘Now is not the time to space out, Alex!’ Said Alice from within. ‘Get out of town quickly, we have no idea how long your mother, Derek, and Claire will be able to hold off Jason and the council for!’
“Jeod!” Alex suddenly said out loud.
“What about Jeod, Alex?” Asked Rose as she belted on her sword and her traveling cloak, throwing Alex her father’s traveling cloak.
He caught the cloak and began to put it on as he spoke. “Well I don’t know about you, but I haven’t ever been to any of the other towns or villages nearby nor do I know the locations. Jeod, however, likely has and might also be able to provide us with a map.” He said in a matter of fact voice with his hands on his hips.
Rose rolled her eyes and him. “Fiiiine, we can go try to get a map before we leave. I want you to know that you are taking all of the fun out of a real adventure though.”
Still standing with his hands on his hips he rolled his eyes right back at her. “I’m sooooo sorry about your real adventure. I, however, would like to survive this trip.” Getting serious again though, he asked. “Are you ready yet? We really should be heading to Jeod’s as fast as we can.”
“Yup! All done!” She said a did a spin despite not wearing a dress. The two of them turned to leave when the front door suddenly burst open! Thomas, Rose’s father, frantically searched the room with his eyes until they fell upon the pair. He quickly shut the door behind him before quickly walking over to them.
“Thank god you two are all right!” He exclaimed, slightly out of breath. “I heard a commotion at the hospital and was stunned to find some of the villages best fighters locked in a duel with Jason and some of the guards! I know your mother and her friends wouldn’t do that for just any reason so I suspected it had to do with you, Alex. Since you two weren’t in the area I figured you were likely to try to skip town.”
“You can’t stop us, dad, we need to get out of here before they catch Alex!” Rose said defiantly to her father.
Thomas’s eyes widened in surprise, taken aback. “Oh, no no no. I did not plan on stopping you. Just the opposite, actually. In my room, I have a map to one of the training grounds a bit further away from town that we use to train the new scouts every now and then and I was going to suggest you hide out there for now.”
“It's just a small run-down bunkhouse in the woods, since its meant to help toughen up the newbies by making them fix whatever damage has happened since it was last used and to fend for themselves in the forest for a while, but nobody should bother you there for at least a few months. I hope to have this issue resolved much quicker than that, however.” He said, his tone getting angry at the end.
Rose and Alex turned to look at each other for a moment before nodding their heads. Surely they could trust Rose's father, and this plan was much better than heading to another town where they might be handed back over anyway. Facing Thomas again, Alex spoke next.
“Thank you, Thomas, but how do you plan to resolve this issue?” He asked curiously. “The council didn’t exactly seem open to bargaining on this matter.” Thomas smiled ruefully at the question and began answering while he retrieved the map from his bedroom.
“Rumors that you were the mysterious mage who saved the village during the battle had already been circulating, but I will go and tell key people that it is indeed you for sure and what the council is up to. Captain Martland especially I know will be against this treatment.” He said confidently. “If I can get Martland and enough of the villagers on your side, then the council won’t have much choice in the matter.”
“Really though, this doesn’t sound much like them and I feel like there might be something big going on. But one step at a time! Getting you two safe is the most important.” Thomas continued, with a single clap of his hands at the end.
‘That sounds like a solid plan for the moment.’ Said Alice from within.
“Ok, we will go along with this for now then. Thank you, again, for everything.” Said Alex with sincerity in his voice as he took the map from Thomas and inspected it. ‘Looks simple enough to follow.’ He thought to himself. “This should only take about two days worth of travel to reach if I am reading it correctly.” He said to Rose.
“That is correct, I'm glad you paid attention to those classes at least.” Said Thomas as he sighed in relief. “Now get out of here! Take the side entrance, Darwin should be on guard by himself since we are stretched thin guarding the broken sections of the wall. He thinks he’s sneaky sleeping while leaning up against the wall, but chances are you can get past him unnoticed.” He explained while shaking his head and going “tsk tsk” at the thought of Darwin’s work habits.
Rose gave her father a big hug and then both she and Alex opened the door, off on an adventure. Or they would have been if there weren’t three guards waiting right outside the door with weapons drawn. ‘Shit! The council must have sent men to locations they thought we might try to go.’ Alex thought in a panic.
‘Remember Alex, they want to imprison and control you! We have to escape!’ Alice yelled in his mind, hoping that he would not go too easy on them and end up caught.
Beside him, Rose gave a yelp and cursed at the sight of the guards. She quickly began drawing her own weapon but Alex was faster. The vast increase in his stats from the recent levels made simple spells so much easier, despite his weakened state.
“Sandstorm!” He yelled and reproduced the hail of dirt and debris he had used against the goblin archers, achieving the same task of blinding his foes. While the guards yelped in surprise and pain, trying to get the foreign objects out of their eyes, mouths, and noses, Alex was already working on his next spell.
Working as fast as he could with his mana still being mostly drained, he shot another blast of wind at them. Having bought himself some extra time with the whole blinding thing however, he compressed the air as he had when taking out of the goblins but was careful not to overdo it. He didn’t want to kill these men, after all, that would just make things harder for Thomas to smooth over. He just needed to toss them back and stun them. Combined with the blinding, that should give them plenty of time to make their great escape.
As the wind hit them the three guards were roughly thrown back over two dozen feet and smashed back down hard. ‘Ouch, might have been a little too much power there. Likely some broken bones on some of them, but at least they will stay down and I didn’t shred them.’ He thought to himself.
“Wow!” Rose exclaimed in astonishment at the quick display of magic. “You just incapacitated three fully grown men without even moving!” She looked at Alex with wide eyes, reassessing him in her mind somewhat.
“Did you already forget what I accomplished during the battle?” Alex asked in a voice as if he had been gravely insulted. “Why, I never!” He said with incredulity.
‘This isn’t the time!’ Alice screamed in his mind, making him wince. Rose tilted her head, curious what happened, as she was still unaware of Alice’s existence. ‘We have to escape! Do your stupid teenage flirting when we get to the safe house!’ She finished with exasperation.
“Anyway, let’s go! We gotta hurry!” Said Alex. Rose sheathed her sword and the two of them ran to the secondary entrance to the village that her father had suggested. Thankfully they did not spot any more men waiting for them along the way. The council must not have been able to dredge up too many bodies in such a short amount of time.
They did get a few odd looks from people since they were clearly in full travel gear, but it also wasn’t all that out of place so they made it to the gate without incident.
Carefully peeking around from the inside, the two of them saw Darwin propped against the wall and asleep just like Thomas had guessed he would be. They quickly crept past him with ease, and headed into the forest, off to begin the first steps of their journey.