Chapter 6: Episode 26- "Captured"
“Come on, deary. It’s time to go. We have to leave now.” Cora rushed into the room, relieved to find her daughter alone and unharmed, nearly in the exact way as she had left her not an hour before. “Mommy might be in a little bit of trouble.” Cora said, rushing to the bed and pulling the top blanket untucked from beneath the thick mattress. Throwing open the drawers of the wooden dresser and tossing out the clothes from them to the floor, ransacking her own daughter’s room.
“Mommy, what’s wrong?” Kaylie asked puzzled, a sideways glance at her mother’s odd and sudden behavior caught the child by surprise and she didn’t know how to process this: the two-year-old mind of Kaylie couldn’t comprehend the meaning of her mother’s strange actions. All she knew was that her tea party was over, but as to why, she had no idea. Cora paused her rushing about for one second and turned to look at her daughter, all of the sudden calm and composed.
“It’s alright, sweetie. Everything’s going to be fine, we just have to leave for a while.” Cora moved closer and knelt down on both knees. She gripped her daughter by the arms assuringly and leaned her head against Kaylie’s. “I’m going to need you to be my strong little girl, can you do that?”
Kaylie nodded, her forehead rubbing against her mother’s. Cora felt the warmth of her child and was overwhelmed by what she had to protect and fight for. Kaylie was not just all Cora had in this world, Kaylie was the only thing left in this world that Cora would live to protect and die to protect.
“Okay. Then help my pack your things. Only the most important ones, Kay.” Cora instructed, releasing Kaylie’s arms to enable her to obey the orders. Cora retrieved the pile of clothes she had thrown out onto the floor. Wrapping up the pile of clothes in her arms, Cora dumped them on the blanket, grabbing several jackets out of the closet and anything else within reach that resembled a necessity and throwing them also on the blanket on the bed. Taking the blanket by the four corners, She tied it together and slung it over her shoulder.
“Let’s go, love.”
“I don’t think so.” Cora turned to see who it was who had spoken, fearing the worst. When she turned around her eyes beheld the very thing she had feared, she was too late.
There stood Ferron Errocath, he held Kaylie by the shoulder as he stood in the doorway of the room. In her frantic running around she had dropped her guard and now it cost her dearly. So much for being the last general of the Rebellion that Ferron feared. If there was anything but raw confidence in Ferron’s posture, he did not show it. With every bit of leverage in this situation Ferron smirked.
“On your knees, General.” The great Imperial Commander ordered, he had long awaited the day when the Peace Terms would no longer be upheld and he could enact his revenge upon Cora Savoor.
“Of course they sent you to bring me in.” Cora observed as she knelt down by the bedside, helpless as long as Ferron held her daughter’s life in his hands.
“Actually, I volunteered.” The smugness of Ferron’s tone confirmed his words and bespoke the hatred he had harbored for Cora from the war until now. “I could not let such an insult as you dared to mark upon my reputation go unchallenged and unpunished. Now that would just be unbecoming of a decorated war general, wouldn’t it?” A sly smirk and a furrowed brow suggested to Cora that he was as much referring to her espionage mission being beneath a general’s office as much as he was neglecting the defense of his own honor.
Ferron meant to belittle Cora, make her feel small and weak for what she had done to him: exposing to the Imperial Dynasty that their best general and his armies could not outwit a woman and a handful of ragtag soldiers.
“You have to admit, it was kinda funny. At least a little bit.” Cora nearly laughed out loud, she caught a glimpse Kaylie to see a smile split across the child’s face, even in this tense and dangerous situation. At least she was still okay. Cora knew this could be traumatic for a two-year-old, and tried to bring the seriousness out of the room so as not to engrave indelible marks on her kid’s mind for the rest of her life.
Ferron rolled his eyes. “You never did appreciate the seriousness and formality of the office of general, Cora. That is why, once again, I have you at my mercy and can do what I want with you and your daughter.” An evil light glinted in Ferron’s brown eyes hidden partially behind falling bangs. The years since the war had favored the young man. From a teenage general with a wispy beard and thin frame, to a well-built, strong featured man. He had definitely prepared himself in the years since the war, pouring himself into bettering his body and mind. He would not be beaten again, by Cora or anyone.
“Except you can’t. Not without consent of your masters, those to whom you volunteered yourself to this mission.” Cora knew she had him here. Ferron was many things, and growing up and becoming a man didn’t change the fact that he was owned by the state. Ferron’s head dipped slightly, an anger flooding his face as his lips curled and his eyes narrowed. He knew Cora was right, he was chained to the wills of his superiors. Ferron may be the face of the army to the people, but he was not the strong arm behind it all controlling the movements of things.
“Still the Imperial Attack dog, huh?” Cora rubbed salt in the wound with this remark. Ferron snarled at her.
“Get up!” He barked. “We’re leaving now. I’m taking you to Jong Kabur.” Ferron backed up out of the room, his arm still around Kaylie’s throat as she back up with him. Cora left the pile of clothes and belongings on the bed and followed the pair as they walked out of the room. Ferron let Cora walk in front of the three to keep an eye on her, and gave her orders for where to go; though Cora knew the palace far better than Ferron, having lived in its confines for years.
They were heading to the East gate, where Cora had just been earlier that evening. Cora assumed Ferron was leading them there because it was secluded and rarely, if ever, used by the palace inhabitants. It made logical sense to use the abandoned gate as their private exit from the palace. Ferron and prisoners would pass by unseen and arouse no unwelcome attention from rebel sympathizers and/or rebel forces attempting to break their general free. It was a good strategy. The one thing Ferron did not know, and could not have guessed or accounted for, was who would be waiting for them just beyond the portcullis.
“Keep moving, and not a sound from either one of you.” Ferron hissed as they wound their way through corridors and halls, taking the long and secluded route to the East gate. “I’m not allowed to kill you, but that won’t stop me from cutting up your pretty faces.” There was a darkness behind Ferron’s voice, Cora knew enough of his cruelty from stories and seeing it first hand on the battlefield to know that he was entirely serious. Ferron didn’t care one bit about her life or Kaylie’s. To him, this was a job, just another mission. Cora and Kaylie were marks, nothing more.
Cora had lived that life before, she understood what Ferron had to do. Personal feelings could never enter into a job, it was the only way to stay alive in this business. People become commodities, objects to be traded or transported from one pair of hands to the next. The minute you started thinking of marks as human individuals, you jeopardize yourself.
They were nearing the gate now. Any attempt to talk Ferron out of carrying through with his mission was utterly useless, Cora did not even try. When it came to his responsibilities for his masters the man was an absolute machine. How did Cora know? Because the same was true of herself. Ferron and Cora were not so different as either of them wanted to believe. Kaylie saw this in the firm resolve of the two as they warred, will against will, silently battling for dominance as they journeyed to the East gate.
But Cora was not battling for an upper hand in her current situation. She was already two steps ahead of Ferron, though he did not realize it. For he did not yet know what awaited the three of them just beyond the East gate.