92 The Eyes That Hide
Anna read the contents of the next poem, which arrived early in the morning. It looked like her hero wanted to know how heavily guarded the castle was. She decided to spend the day roaming as far as she could and pick up whatever useful info she could get.
Anna looked both ways down the long hallway after she was summoned to the work area by a robot maid. It was empty, but she had a feeling that the hallways were guarded. She attempted to walk to a different direction.
"Hold on there, little missy." A smiling Yaya blocked her path. She was accompanied by two sentries. "You curious cat shouldn't bother exploring." She place d both her hands on Anna's shoulders and turned the bard around. "Off we go to the crafting room!"
"Miss Yaya, what is this place?" Anna asked.
"Think of it as a sanctuary."
"Is there anyone else we know here?"
"I'm sure you've met Christina."
"What happened to Potato?"
"My, my. What a curious girl." Yaya's face suddenly darkened. "You'd better watch that tongue of yours. I heard Christina likes to chop the tongues of those who ask too many questions."
Yaya left Anna in the crafting room and locked the door.
Anna took the time to scan the room. She noticed some plants being hung from the ceiling that had living eyes that were watching her. Was this part of surveillance? That would make it harder for her to smuggle cloth into her room, unless she did it inconspicuously by putting them into her inventory.
She walked to the windows and checked outside. Still the same view of the endless sea of clouds. There were no signs of any flying guards.
She waited until the end of her shift to write her next reply:
Sentries roam these darkened halls
Two leaders guard the prison walls
None I see that roam outside
But beware of eyes that hide
"There it is!" Jas pointed at the messenger bird coming their way.
Sphinx had been waiting all day by the oasis for the message. He even brought his lunch and dinner there. Jas, on the other hand, sat with him and teased him all day.
Sphinx unrolled the paper and read it. The bird perched on his shoulder. It appeared to already be comfortable with Sphinx.
"Let's take this to Wen," Sphinx said and stood up.
He and Jas hurried to Wen's office where he and Alice were having coffee around the circular table. Kimmy was resting on Alice's lap.
"Is that the reply?" Wen asked.
"Yeah." Sphinx gave him the paper.
Wen looked over the poem. "Still a little vague, but good enough. We've gathered a few volunteers for this rescue mission: Jas, Ileanna, Li Yuan, and Luna. I'm leaving the city to Sed and Tank while we're out. Garth and Astrid will continue working on the portal out of Aries. We can't afford any delays. Lyria is busy taking care of the sick and injured, while Epsilon is guarding our prisoners."
Jas and Sphinx waited for Ileanna, Li Yuan, and Luna to enter the room. Once everyone was settled down, Wen began briefing them about the mission.
"Here's the plan. We ride Kimmy the flying carp and situate ourselves far from the castle to observe and figure out the best point of entry. Though that might be from the poet's room. Sphinx, you should inform the poet that we plan to infiltrate the castle tomorrow night. Let the poet leave a marker by an open window. Perhaps a dangling piece of cloth."
"Got it." Sphinx nodded.
"How do we locate the castle?" Ileanna asked.
"Frisk sent us the coordinates," Wen replied. "We still don't know the interior map, so we have to carefully scout the place. Unfortunately, our usual means of communication with each other via menu tablet has been disabled around the same time when teleportation methods were disabled, but we have an alternative. Garth and Astrid will modify your tablets and install Frisk Apps. Our messages to each other will be relayed by Frisk."
"You mean that weird app Tank was complaining about?" Jas asked.
"Yes. That weird app."
"I'm a bit curious about what the Frisk App Ultra Scan Love Me Baby 100% Illegal 99% Effective is like."
Wen continued, "In case we encounter the more dangerous enemies, they're going to adjust our stats as well so we'll be on equal grounds with the hackers. Always be careful. These are dangerous grounds we're treading on."
Sphinx wrote down his next poem and tied it to the messenger bird's leg. Like usual, the bird took off with his poem to deliver it to the mysterious poet.
Anna received the next poem while she was having dinner. The bird flew into the room and landed right in front of her. She excitedly unrolled the paper to read what it said.
On your window, hang a cloth so I know
Tomorrow night is when I will go
Rescue will come, so worry not
We'll move quietly and give it a shot
Anna was happy to hear the good news. She quickly took a handkerchief and left it hanging by her window in preparation for the next night's escape.
Finally, she'll be able to meet her hero.
When Anna woke up the next day, she noticed someone in her room. Her eyes widened. Yaya was standing in the middle of her room holding the last poem she received from her hero.
"How sweet. Exchanging poetry?" Yaya giggled.
Anna remained silent. Her palms were sweating. How did Yaya know?
"You think we didn't see what you were up to? You're certainly underestimating us."
It was then when Anna noticed the small potted plant with eyes sitting at one corner of the room. She totally missed it. She cursed in her head.
"You won't be going anywhere tonight. Instead, I'll be giving your friend a proper welcome." Yaya giggled as she closed the windows shut and locked the door behind her. She made sure to remove the handkerchief Anna left on the window.
No matter what Anna did, the window wouldn't open. Neither would the door.
She dropped on her knees in despair.