It does not take Alex long to get under Maggie’s window, though it does take a few minutes for the garden to clear of people “Miss Magnolia, down here.” He whispers, unsure if she heard him but he does not have to wonder long, the cloth rope falls over the edge, followed by a bundled blanket and Maggie, she grips the rope tightly trying to remember her gym classes when they had to climb the giant ropes. Slowly and carefully she manages to lower herself before dropping into Alex’s arms, she smiles at him.
“Did you see that?” Slightly confuses the knight set her down.
“I actually did it!” She grins “I’ve never been able to climb a rope before. But I did it! I didn’t fall.”
“Very good,” Alex smiles seeing Maggie’s joy. “But now be quite, we must get Throne.”
“Right.” She follows Alex closely as they navigate the gardens and halls to the North Tower, there an old guard stands, holding a spear and humming to himself.
“Excuse me, dear friend.” Alex speaks with a smile, “I’m here to see the prince.”
“Ain’t a prince in here, Good Sir Knight.” The man grunts “The good prince died long ago. Only an impostor inside here.”
“That is what the Keeper King wishes you to think, but I have been to the bandit’s camp, I have grown up with him. And that man within is the true Prince. Now please let us pass.”
“I wanna believe you, Sir Alexander, but the Keeper-”
“The Keeper is a dirty liar.” Maggie interrupts “The man in this tower must be released to our custody.” The man blinks and looks between her and Alex.
“Yes.” Maggie says firmly squaring her shoulders.
“Forgive me, holy one. I didn’t know you needed him released.” He unlocks the door and steps aside, Alex rushes in and climbs the steps to where Throne sleeps while Maggie remains with the man. “Will he bring peace?”
“I hope so.” The man nods, “Could you not mention you saw me? The Keeper wants me to marry him but I don’t want to. I need to be as far as here as I can be when he discovers I’m gone.” A frown tugs at the man’s lips and he nods.
“Absolutely, Lady Foretold.” Alex and Throne comes down the stairs and out the door, “Your secret is safe with me.” Maggie smiles.
“Miss Magnolia we have to leave now.” Alex speaks quickly, Maggie nods and Alex begins leading them through the garden to the catacomb entrance. Looking at the small entrance it is clear they cannot bring their gear and so they leave it, poorly hidden, in the gardens near by; they duck inside the catacombs and weave in and out of the rooms and small halls, passing the tombs of ancient kings and queens as they go, Throne only stops once, to gaze longingly at a small room with four stone sarcophagi with in. “We have time, Throne if you-”
“No.” His answer is firm and he looks back at his friend and Maggie “lead on Alex. There will be time later.” Alex nods and they continue on deeper and deeper, heading for what Maggie knows not but she follows close.
Slowly a dim rushing sound became louder and louder till them came to a stop before a massive rushing river. “It leads to the lake!” Alex shouts over the deafening noise. “Its the only way out!”
“But won’t it kill us!” Maggie shouts back.
“No, Miss Maggie, not if we stick together.” Throne places a hand on her shoulder, Maggie shrugs it off and looks up at him.
“And how do we do that, mister wise guy?” She questions, arms crossing.
“Like this,” Throne offers her his hand, suspicious Maggie takes it, then Alex takes her other one. “On three, take a deep breath and jump.” Before Maggie can argue Throne shouts “Three!” She inhales deeply and jumps in. The water batters them and she grips the hands of her companions tightly while fighting to reach the surface, the water rushes out of the great stone walls of Cypress and into a deep, cold lake. Maggie fights to swim but the current keeps dragging her and the men down, the stillness of the lake is broken when Alex bursts above the surface, gasping for air followed by Throne and then Maggie.
“We have to get to shore.” Alex shouts, Throne nods and they start swimming but Maggie, cold and exhausted, remains floating in the lake hoping for some rest. The men reach the shore and looks back, Alex sighs. “MISS MAGNOLIA, CAN YOU SWIM?” It echoes in the still night.
“YES!” Maggie shouts back and with a sigh began to halfheartedly swim to shore, when she reaches it she slowly walks up, shivering and unsteady. “Can we rest now?”
“Not yet, we have to get further into the forest. We can’t risk going back.” Throne frowns at his friend’s words even though he knows them to be true. Maggie groans but follows as Alex leads them further into the forest till the lake, the city walls, and the stars are hidden by dense green leaves and brush. There is no fire, not that any of them needed one, and sleep is welcomed by all though it is considerably light after what they all had just undergone.