93 Fake Poe
"You all be careful."
Lyria and Astrid stood at the gates of the hidden city to wish their friends good luck before they left for the rescue operation. It was almost sunset. Traveling to the spot would take around half an hour of travel by mount. They expected to arrive at the area right when it was dark.
Once the rescue team took off, Lyria went back to grinding herbs for medicine, while Astrid went to look for Garth and continue their work on the portals.
"What's wrong, Sphinx? You look a little worried," said Jas. She couldn't help but notice his serious expression as they were riding the back of Kimmy the white fox.
"I just have a bad feeling about this," said Sphinx.
"Let's just hope things will run smoothly."
Wen was checking the map. He opened up the Frisk App. "Frisk, can you hear me?"
"Aye. Loud and clear," replied Frisk.
"Any changes to the coordinates?"
"None. The castle remains in the same spot."
Once they arrived at the coordinates, they looked up at the sky. Clouds covered the whole area above them.
"This is probably the place," said Sphinx. He jumped off Kimmy and scouted the place for any enemies nearby. As he was walking, his foot hit a metal object. He looked down and saw a silver chalice. "This must be the chalice the poet dropped." He picked it up and examined it.
"Let's fly up," Wen suggested.
Kimmy morphed into a giant carp. Sphinx struggled climbing up the fat fish that meowed.
"I didn't think fishes could meow," Ileanna commented and gave Kimmy a pat.
"Kimmy is a cat after all," said Alice.
The giant carp floated up until it was right above the clouds. From there, the castle was in full view. It was a majestic floating island with gardens and a stone fortress.
For a few minutes, the team circled the castle quietly to determine any obstacles. The castle was quiet. A little bit too quiet. They didn't see any sentry. They also didn't notice any 'eye that hides' the poet mentioned in the poems. Eventually, they came across one window with a hanging cloth.
"That must be the poet's room," Sphinx concluded.
"You and Jas should enter first while making your invisibility skill active. Ileanna and I will ready our long range attacks in case anything attacks you. Give us a signal if it's safe to enter, but don't let the poet know that there's more of us. Just in case this is a trap," Wen instructed.
"Got it," Jas and Sphinx replied with smiles. They both felt nostalgic receiving orders from Wen again. It was as if they were back in the old days when Wen was the guildmaster of Black Rose. He would lead them through guild raids, which they used to do regularly. Garth would help create strategies against the dungeon bosses, while Sphinx and Jas would disarm traps and stay in the front line as their scouts. Sed was their main tank before he switched his build after the disappearance of Wen.
"Just like the old days, huh?" Sphinx said as they were approaching the window.
"Shh. Keep your voice down," Jas whispered.
Kimmy the flying carp buried itself among the clouds to avoid detection. They approached the castle without any difficulty. Sphinx entered the castle first. He spotted a girl sitting on a chair with her back facing him. There was no one else in the room, so he cancelled his invisibility skill.
"Excuse me, are you the poet?" Sphinx spoke.
"My, my. So you did come for me," the girl replied.
The voice was all too familiar.
"Yaya!?" Sphinx almost shouted.
Yaya turned her head to meet his eyes. She wore her usual calm smile. "I didn't expect to meet you here, Sphinx. I never thought you'd be writing poetry either."
"Yaya!" Jas also cancelled her invisibility. A mix of emotions filled her. She was glad to see Yaya again. "We've been looking everywhere for you."
"Oh my. Jas is here too. What a pleasant surprise." Yaya giggled.
"What did they do to you, Yaya?" Sphinx was serious.
"This place... It seems that they are keeping prisoners here and making them do some form of labor. There's a prison in the basement. I might be able to lead you there if you can open the door for me," said Yaya. "I've been locked in here for some time now."
"Don't worry, Yaya. We'll rescue you and everyone else here," said Jas.
"How heroic! As expected of my girlfriend #1," Yaya said cheerfully.
Although Ileanna lowered her bow upon seeing that Sphinx and Jas recognized the lady, Wen still kept his gun ready. He still didn't trust Yaya. All the information he gathered about Yaya clearly told him that she was with the hackers.
"Should we move in?" Luna asked Wen.
"Not yet. It's best if Yaya doesn't know that we're around too."
As Sphinx was busy carefully unlocking the door, Jas hesitated a little before asking, "Yaya, why did you suddenly run away from Black Rose?"
Yaya's face darkened. "The hackers... they blackmailed me. I had to do things against my will."
"I tried to make certain of your escape, but you idiots just had to run after me." For a moment, the look on Yaya's face appeared genuine. Wen recognized this look after all the time they spent together as guildmates, but he still couldn't trust her words.
"It's open," Sphinx announced and pushed the door.
"Let's go rescue the others!" Jas said with vigor.
"Be careful. There might be sentries outside," Yaya warned them.
The three of them quietly slipped out of the room. Sphinx was the last to leave. He glanced at Wen and gave a nod as a signal for the rest to follow.
"This way," Yaya whispered.
They snuck silently down the long hallway until they reached a flight of stairs that led downstairs.
"This is where they keep the prisoners," said Yaya. "I see them take players out of here."
Sphinx found it strange that they didn't encounter any guards on their way there. He stayed vigilant in case an enemy was nearby. The three of them walked down the stairs until they reached a locked wooden door.
"Are there other prisons?" Jas asked.
"There is one more," Yaya replied.
"Let's break out the ones here first," Sphinx said as he quickly picked the door's lock and pushed it open.
The prison was dim. They only saw one prisoner inside who had her hands tied behind her back and a cloth covering her mouth. Both Jas and Sphinx recognized the Lamont Cafe waitress.
"Potato!" Jas hurried to the jail cell door and forced it open. She stepped inside to untie the mouth cover.
Potato was trying to desperately say something. As soon as she was able, she shouted, "Get out!"
Without warning, Yaya pushed Sphinx inside and locked the jail cell door.
"Yaya! You're really with the hackers?" Jas couldn't believe it. Deep inside, she hoped Yaya was on their side and that the handkerchief incident was all just a coincidence.
Yaya smiled. "I suppose I should thank you for willingly coming with me and believing my words."
"Were the poems you wrote just a trap?" Sphinx felt betrayed.
Yaya giggled. "I wish I could take credit for the clever idea that actually baited you here, but I didn't write those. Your poet friend... She's locked away paying for her actions. It was foolish of her to try and escape." She turned around to leave. "Still, I'm glad to see you both alive."
Once she was out of the room, Sphinx clenched his fist. "So that's why there weren't any guards..."
"Potato, where are the other players?" Jas asked.
"I don't know where they've been taken. I've been stuck here since the day we tried to flee Aries," replied Potato.
"Anyone we should watch out for?"
"A knight named Christina guards the prisons. She is quite powerful."
Sphinx immediately knew that it was his sister. "We have to escape fast before she sees us. Knowing her, she will probably try to kill me."