“Feelings are like chemicals, the more you analyze them the worse they smell.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
***Kingdom Newerth, Capital City***
I watch my father as he crawls around the prison cell, prodding and poking at the ground. Apparently he hopes to find some sort of weakness or mistake in the runescript, which could explain how Perseus escaped his cell. Dad offered his help in finding out how Perseus pulled off his prison break, so all six of us relocated to the prison under Charles's palace. Though I have my doubts if prison is the right term for this facility. I can tell that people who end up in here aren't really meant to get out again. Ever.
We got a little tour through the prison and were introduced to some of its inmates, just to show us that there is a good reason to lock them away. Allies should have no secrets from each other after all. Though I doubt that my parents would have a big problem even if this prison is used for reasons other than locking away the serious nutcases. But that’s not the case, so I suppose that we are good.
“Soooo... how did he get out?” I slowly turn in a circle and survey the cell carefully. This underground prison is the real deal. I didn't even suspect that Marcus and his family maintained a facility of this magnitude under their palace. We had to pass through several powerful wards and barriers just to get to the entrance. That's where the real security measures started. From automatic counterspells, to mana sucking cellwalls. This cell has it all. And if someone really tries to get out, he'll end up with some nasty curses before he even manages to scratch the walls.
This prison is meant to bury dark secrets and to hold the most powerful immortals.
I turn my attention to Marcus and our parents. “Or should I rather ask, who let him out? Because I don't see how I could get out of here. And I am good with breaking out of and into locked rooms. There are so many layered protection spells that it would take weeks to unravel them all.”
Charles and Clarity look at each other as if my words are an affront. Marcus is the one to shine some light on their reaction. “It's impossible. Only the royal family has access to this part of the prison. That means that either Charles, Clarity or I would have to be ones who helped Perseus. I doubt that one of us would do something that stupid. We’ve all talked to him and verified that he isn’t quite right in the head.”
I furrow my forehead. “And what about your brother and sister? Maybe Perseus manipulated them somehow? He has shown that he is quite skilled with adults, so playing the strings of a child is surely easy for him.”
Clarity winces. “He may be their older brother, but he never really dealt with them. I...” she pauses to find the right words, “didn’t allow it. I’ve always felt that something was off about him, so I discouraged any contact between him and my children. Marcus and Charles are the only ones who Perseus had a real relationship with. I didn’t interfere because I deemed that Marcus is old enough to make his own decisions. The little ones haven't even asked more than once or twice about Perseus.”
Haah, their family situation surely is a little messed up. At some point I’ve to ask how it happened that Charles had Clarity right at hand when his first wife died. I suppose that it wasn’t easy for Perseus to see his mother replaced just like that. Add to that the fact that Clarity seems to have an aversion to Perseus, as he represents the fact that she is Charles’s second choice.
Charles places a hand on his wife's shoulder. “And they are still children. The wards on this facility recognize individuals. Mere relationship by blood isn't enough to get in here. The only ones who are allowed to enter are the three of us. We can bring visitors with us, but that’s it. The facility maintains itself. Everything is taken care of with magic. There isn’t even personnel to bring food or take care of the waste.”
So the solution to our problem isn't that simple. I grumble and decide that I am not quite ready to give up. “Then here is something else to think about. Perseus surely had access to this facility. Correct?” I wait until Charles nods. “We also know that Perseus hid his true nature for quite a while. He must have known that if you ever get wind of him having lost to his spirit nature, then he would surely end up in here. If I were him, I would prepare a way to get out of here.”
Charles freezes for a moment, then he shakes his head. “We are fools. I should have thought about it. I am always relying on my ability. Perseus must have realized that my ability only kicks in if lives are at stake. Otherwise I've to concentrate hard to glimpse even small things. That's why Perseus managed to play his game for so long. As long as he didn't kill anyone, he was safe to do as he pleases.”
“But then he messed up,” Marcus mumbles.
“How are the prisoners fed?” Shade interrupts our discussions. He is still on all fours, studying the runes which should be holding the prisoners inside a circle with a diameter of two meters. “From this spell matrix, I suppose that food is teleported into the barrier and waste is teleported outside.”
Marcus nods. “That’s right. I can remote control the process.”
Shade steps into the barrier. “Activate the prison and send me some food, then teleport it away.”
Marcus walks to a panel at the room’s entrance and manipulates it. The runes to Dad’s feet flare up, locking him inside the barrier. Then the food appears. Shade simply studies the whole process from inside the barrier. But when the food is teleported away, he jumps forward, casting a teleportation spell of his own… and is gone…
“Where is he!?” I call out in shock.
Charles hurries out of the room. “He must be in the waste disposal system! How stupid can one be to hitch a ride on a teleportation spell? The facility cancels all teleports which aren’t related to its functions.”
We follow Charles and Marcus down the corridor. They are heading for a door which has ‘Waste Disposal’ written in large, black letters on it. Before we reach it, someone kicks open the door from the inside and Shade steps onto the corridor.
He looks as if he just took a swim in the sewers and an unbelievable smell causes me to stumble backwards. Shade spreads his hands and casts a spell, sprinkling the stuff which is clinging to him everywhere. One moment later he is clean again. “I suppose that solves the question of how he got out. The facility’s teleportation system can be tricked by hitching a ride on the authorized teleportations. Perseus just had to wait for the purge of the waste tank, which has to happen from time to time since you don’t have a recycling system in there. I suppose that you teleport the tank away once it’s full. He simply had to time his departure with the disposal of the tank. I am sure that he had sufficient insight into this facility’s time table to know when to use his chance.”
Mom lets out a sound of disgust from right behind me. “I hope you do realize that I’ll run you through a complete disinfection. Gods! That smell!”
Dad looks down on himself and the mess around him. Then he shrugs. “I’ve had worse on me as a child.”