Ch6: Loyalty

Copyright © 2013 by P.A. Lackey
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Chapter Six: Loyalty

The white structure loomed over them. Its glass windows looked undisturbed, but life seemed absent from that place. Two white columns supported the roof overhead, and the group made their way to the oak colored door. The building was white in frame, but a log cabin style defined the rest of it.
Dueson opened the door which gave no hindrance. Inside was dark, and dust layered the furniture in the lobby. It looked like a fancy hotel, as a service desk sat between two large staircases ascending to the next floor. A hall went to either side at the top and the bottom, and a glass chandelier hung over the lobby.
“Certainly hasn’t been anyone here for years,” Grem said.
“Over here,” Jayvolni said, gesturing them past the front desk.
A large map of the island was painted upon the wall perhaps showing tourist attractions to the residents. The hotel was located near the center of the island, though there was much ground between it and the southern shore. However, Jayvolni directed their eyes to the eastern shore where a label read, Gray Tower.
“So Gray Tower is a place, not a description,” Dueson said.
“At least we’re on the right island,” Thorim said. “Check this place out for anything else useful.”
The group spread out to explore the halls and rooms. Arius took to the left and entered the first room. The floors in the hall were wood, but the rooms had carpet. Arius spotted a bathroom to his left before he surveyed the room ahead of him. Two beds were made but neglected, and a desk with a screen upon it sat opposite them.
Arius spotted something on the other side of the bed, and made his way over to find a corpse lifeless against the wall. It caused him pause for but a moment as this was the first sight of an inhabitant, though dead. They shared many similarities to his own kind though they were indistinguishable now because of the surgery they had gone through before setting out upon the mission.
The corpse was that of a man, and the years had consumed the body so there was actually very little identifiable about it. Within the cold grasp of its hands was a double barreled gun. Arius pried it away carefully before checking the firearm. Finding the switch he broke the front stock forward where a single round was found inside. The stock clicked back together and Arius hoped that it worked.
“Already found yourself a gun,” Brockumus said, from the doorway. “What happened?”
“Looks like he was shot,” Arius replied, eyeing the wounds in the chest. “I’m not sure what happened here.”
“Hey,” Brockumus said, to pull his attention back toward him. “Keep on your guard. You can’t be too careful now.”
“I know,” replied Arius, eyeing the gun.
He understood what Brockumus was talking about. He didn’t know who to trust, and suspected foul play from the beginning. Rumors had been started about him ever since the beginning of the mission; rumors that he lacked loyalty to the nation they claimed to serve. The others didn’t just think he was inexperienced, but they questioned his allegiance. Brockumus had seen through the lies though, and understood Arius better than the others. Arius only wondered who was responsible for the rumors, and if his future father-in-law had anything to do with it.
Brockumus left down the hall and Arius exited the room. Soon he made his way down to an old cellar where he found a stash of canned food. Light poured in from the small window on the wall leaving the rest of the room in darkness. Arius moved to a nearby pantry where he surveyed the supplies. He found nothing of use there.
“We have company,” someone’s voice trembled through the air.
Arius could feel its vibrations from the upper floor. Stealth speak they called it. A technique they learned in the academy so that they could speak to each other while in close proximity while not alerting potential hostiles. Only their extra senses could pick up the words spoken.
“Take cover,” Thorim ordered, from somewhere else in the house.
Arius felt something storm through the front door; it felt like multiple men quickly making their way through the building. A ruckus broke out upon the upper floors and he could feel everything going on within the building. Whoever it was, he was clearly searching the premises for something.
“Don’t attack unless attacked,” Thorim ordered.
By now they were all cloaked within the shadows of the house. The unknown persons would be unable to see them, and would pass on once they thought the place was clear. Arius could only wait within the cellar for the commotion to end.
The door flew open from atop the stairs, and he waited to hear the long creak as someone stepped onto the first step. Arius’ hairs stood on end as he felt it move down the stair case. He had no place to run, and only the darkness to conceal him. 
Thanks for checking in this week, and be sure to leave a comment. Also check back next week for chapter seven, or check out my book, Ground of Oam.
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