Volger advanced into the cell, his boots making loud clacks agains the stony floor. He got within an arms reach of Alek, who was standing over Deryn protectively.
"What is the meaning of this, Volger?" Alek spat, staring loathingly at Volger. The man smiled, his arms crossing over his chest. "Where are we?"
"Why, your in Austria, my boy. Home, at last. Couldn't have gotten here either without the help of our German friends."
Alek felt his face grow red. He had been right all those months ago on then night his parents died. Volger had been planning to hand him over all along. "So, instead of giving up sooner, you hand me over now? I should have known I couldn't trust you."
Volger chuckled. "Believe me, boy, this is not what you think. Although I do like seeing you in this disgusting cell. It is quite amusing."
Alek's hands were shaking with rage. "You betrayed my father! You lowly treasonous bastard!" with that he lunged foward, knocking Volger upside the head with his cuff. The man staggered and slumped against the wall.
"What do you think you doing, boy?" The large figure in the doorway had shuffled in, its large shape blocking the door. The grotesque face came into the light and Alek shuddered. The man was hideous, his face fat and lumpy with sprigs of hair thrusting out at odd angles along his chin. Alek took a step back as the man lumbered inside.
"Alek!" he heard Deryn behind him. She had stood up and was pressing something into his hand. It was cool and slender. Alek looked and saw her rigging knife there. He understood and stepped foward, daring the man on.
"Don't even think about it." the ugly man said, stepping sideways to block the doorway. But in one swift move, Alek stooped down and stabbed the man in the leg. He cried out in agony, stumbling heavily to the floor. The man screamed, cluthing his leg and cursing in a language Alek didn't recognize.
Deryn was behind him in a second, reaching down to get the keys from the mans belt. She tried them all on Alek's shackles until one fit, and together they fred Alek's limbs.
"Lets get out of here" he said to her, then scooped her into his arms.
"Ow! You sod! Let me down, I can walk just fine!"
"No you can't. I need to get you out of here and to a hospital." Alek adjusted his grip on her and stepped quickly around the flailing shape on the floor. He stood at the doorway, looking both ways. The hallway was long and dark in both directions, so he dashed to the right, hoping he made theright decision.
Doors similar to Alek's cell lined the walls on both sides of them. Where in blazes were they?
But he stopped wondering and came to a halt at the end of the hallway. Stone walls barred his way. A dead end. He turned around and saw a figure striding towards them. Alek set Deryn down next to him, pulling her knife out of his pocket.
"What now?" she said. "We're barking trapped!"
"You insolent fool." Volger said as he advanced on them, less than ten feet away now. Alek spread his arms and herded Deryn against the wall behind him
"Get back!" Alek threatened, brandishing the knife stupidly. Volger laughed, taking his hadn from his temple and setting it on the hilt of the saber strapped to his belt.
"Listen to me, Alek." he said cooly as he approached. "Nothing bad will become of you or your friend here if you cooperate. I am not the enemy here, though I may seem that way to you now." Volger's voice was low as he stared Alek down.
"Yeah?" Alek said, laughing despite hte situation. "Then why am I locked in a cell somewhere when you promised to keep me safe? Your little charade is over, and everything is all falling into place now."
Volger ignored Alek's outburst and continued. "Upstairs you will be observing something that will set your fate in stone. But if you keep up this foolishness, I may just have to destroy this." Volger reached into his pocket and pulled out something small. He held it out for Alek to see. It was the scroll case from the pope that affirmed him as the next Archduke of Austria.
Alek stared at it, confused. "And what exactly is that going to do for me right now, Volger? Franz Joseph isn't dead yet, I can't - "
Volger hushed him with a look. "Just do as I say and you will see. Come now, we have to get you cleaned up." the man started down the hallway.
"Not until Deryn is seen by a doctor. Shes hurt."
"Alek!" she hissed in his ear. "Shut your barking trap, I'm fine!"
Volger turned around, a look of annoyance on his face. "Deryn? So thats your name, girl? When did you finally figure it out, Alek?" a smile flashed across the man's lips.
"Never you mind, Volger, thats not the issue at hand. She is extremely injured, and before I do anything for you, I want her tended to, with me present. Is that a deal? Or shall we retire to our cell?" Alek smirked at the look on Volger's face.
"Very well," he finally said. "Come."
"I don't trust him Alek, we should just run for it." Deryn said in his ear as he picked her up. Her face had grown paler, her skin even colder than it had been.
"No, he will do as I say. No matter how big of a traitor he is, he won't deny the son of his dead friend. You need to be seen to. And I won't hear no for an answer." He said in reply to the look on her face. "He would have left you down here if I agreed to just go with him, and I'm not leaving you behind."
Deryn rolled her eyes. "Your barking stupid sometimes, Alek." but he ignored her and followed Volger to the other end of the hall. They passed the open cell door and the hulking form of the man lay on the floor, groaining in pain.
"I'll send someone to fetch you, Bosche. Come, Alek." Volger said. There was a flight of stairs at the other end of the hallway. Alek cursed mentally. If only he'd gone this way...
But he probably wouldn't have found a doctor anyway. The stairs were steep and spiraling, and Alek was out of breath soon from carrying Deryn all the way up. But they soon reached the top, and Volger pushed open a nicely carved wooden door, revealing a carpeted hallway.
Alek set Deryn down. "Are you going to be okay to walk a ways?" he asked her. She nodded but he wrapped his arm round her waist anyway.
Volger continued to the right, down the beautiful hall. The walls were stone, but painted and decorated with draped windows, tapestries and paintings of various scenes and faces that were barely visible in the darkness. Oil lamps were lit in increments, but didn;t do much to brighten their way. THe whole place reminded Alek of his home, but much nicer.
Volger led them to another shorter set of stairs and they climbed, Alek assisting Deryn the whole way. The man opened a door at the top of the stairs and held it for them. They shuffled inside.
The walls were white and lined with four small beds. A woman stood from her seat at a desk at the far end of the room.
"Can I help - Oh! Count Volger." she said, slowly walking over to them, a sour look on her face. "What seems to be the problem?"
"This soldier is injured" he said, gesturing at Deryn. "She needs to be tended to."
"Right this way." the woman signaled Deryn to sit on the bed closest the door Alek went to follow her, but Volger caught his arm.
"There, she is being tended to, now let's go."
"No, I want to - "
"Alek, there is something important I would like you to see. Come."
Alek tore his arm from Volger's grip and hurried to Deryn, who was now laying on the bed. "Will you be alright here while I'm gone?"
Deryn nodded, her face pale as ever. His heart twinged as he looked upon her. His feelings had no changed since he had found out about her a month earlier. He leaned in and rested his forehead on hers, taking her hands.
"Don't be stupid, ALek. I'm fine." she said, smiling. "Besides, if this woman wants to try anything, I could take her out. Besides, I' tougher than a few healing ribs and a good kicking."
Alek smiled, looking into her eyes. "I'll be back as soon as I can. I don't know what Volger has planned, but it won't keep me from you." he kissed her nose then looked up to the sound of Volgers boot tapping.
"Are you quite finished, Alek."
Alek cleared his throat and striaghtened up, looking at Deryn again before striding out the door, his back straight and gait proud. He gave Deryn a fleeting look over his shoulder as the nurse came over with a thermometer.
A ways down the hall, Volger spun, pulling out his saber and forced Alek against the wall.
"God's wounds, Volger! What are you doing?" Alek shouted, the point of the sword at his throat.
"What exactly are you doing muddling yourself with that common girl!" Volger hissed through his teeth.
Alek's eyes widened, and he stared at Volger incredulously. He grabbed the tip of the sword in his hand and forced it down, leaning only a few inches from Volger's face.
"I am doing whatever I please. And what difference does it make to you? I will never be the duke of Austria. I've been caught, thanks to you, and I'm sure your taking me to my death right now, anyway. If I want to be in love with her, I can be. It makes no difference anymore."
"Yes it does, Alek. You cannot afford to make the same mistake as your - "
"DO NOT SPEAK OF MY FATHER!" Alek bellowed, thrusting Volger's sword out of his hand and sending it clattering ot the floor. He had had about enough of Volger's facade. The man had betrayed him and his family. "How dare you even think to say a word about my father? You, who pretended for months to keep your promise to him, while all the time planning to hand me over. You aren't worthy to let my family's name cross your tongue. You sicken me!" Alek spat at Volger's feet. "I may not be the heir to my father's country, but I bear his family's name, and I won't stand for the likes of you soiling it!"
Volger's face was still and emotionless. He just stood before Alek, their eyes locked together. Alek stood his ground, unwavering under Volger's icy stare. They held each others gaze for when felt like an eternity.
Finally, the man broke the silence, clearning this throat. "I understand how you are feeling at this time, Alek. But you should not be so quick to point fingers." Volger's voice was indifferent, and he stiffly turned to pick up his saber. "You will see, Alek. Now, come."
"I'll see nothing." Alek said firmly, but he followed the man anyway.