Nathaniel's mood turned darker with each minute after his wound was bandaged. There were no news about Katherine or anyone else. Was she dead? Kidnapped? Would Jack reach her in time?
Worried, he walked up and down the hall, ignoring the dozens of eyes following him. He knew that he had to make a decision. If they waited for too long, the members of the organization might go back to their headquarter, and an attack would only succeed with high causalities. But he couldn't leave Katherine behind.
If there was any possibility that she was still in the city, he would doom her by leaving. Should he search for her then? Where? Each entering and leaving this house could possibly blow their cover.
Absentmindedly, his fingers wandered to the ring on his hand, gently rubbing the red gemstones. If only they were a normal pair, they would celebrate their wedding now. He wouldn't let her leave his sight for a second. Maybe he could even snatch a few of her sweet kisses. Actually, a hug would be enough. As long as she was safe and sound, a hug was all he needed. He had to feel for himself that she was still breathing.
And yet, it was impossible. She wasn't even here.
A few more seconds ticked by, then he couldn't take it anymore. "Take up your weapons. Everyone who can still walk, follow me. We will search for Katherine."
"Finally," Aston sighed, and slid down the table he'd sat on. "I thought you'd never ask."
"It's risky", Pete objected, while sitting up on the couch. "You might blow our cover and you don't even know where she is." He paused. "I needed to say this. But actually I hope you can find Lady Katherine as soon as possible. And Jack. I doubt that anything happened to him, but still."
Nathaniel nodded, then he strode towards the door. Just when he reached it, the door opened from the outside, and two people came in. One was wearing a black robe, one a military uniform. Unsurprised by the crowd in the hall, they closed the door behind them, and bowed. "Your Highness."
Nathaniel's face twitched. "It was already too much when you called me 'Milord', Sam. Don't just change titles. And General Deverell, is everything alright?"
Though they borrowed this house from General Deverell, they didn't know that the ruling system would be overthrown tonight. Nathaniel believed that the General would still be on their side, because he was against the organization, but he didn't know it for sure. After all, they were wanted criminals right now. And it was very suspicious that he was here now. The soldiers warily picked up their weapons.
However, the General raised his empty hands. "I'm not here to betray you. It would need more than just myself to fight you all, and I still want to see my son grow up. All I have are a few questions. About the king, and about yourself."
He looked Nathaniel straight in the eyes, as if to challenge him. Nathaniel's eyes narrowed. He spoke very slowly. "My wife is missing right now. I will not stay back and have a nice chat with you while she might be dying. We don't have the time."
The General's eyes also narrowed. But before he could give an equally headstrong answer, Sam got in between them. "Please pardon my interruption, Lord Deverell, your Highness. I know where the Princess is. Princess Katherine, I mean."
Nathaniel's interest was caught instantly. He even forgot that he was called 'your Highness' again. "Where is she? Is she alright?"
Solemnly, Sam nodded. "She is still alive. But she is already outside the city boarders."
Relieve mixed with confusion as Nathaniel furrowed his brows. "How?"
"Jack got held back by a group of fighters. I would say they looked like the Falumor royal guards, if it wasn't completely impossible to see them on Palace grounds. He and his soldiers defeated them and chased after the kidnapper, but they didn't catch up yet. They left through the southern city gate.", Sam retold shortly. Then he added: "I saw the Princess from afar, she seemed to be knocked out, but unhurt otherwise."
"Knocked out", Nathaniel repeated, and worry again darkened his eyes. But then he pulled himself together. "The Queen got help from her family it seemed, so it's no wonder the Falumor royal guards are here. She wants to take over the country. Alright, we need to get out of here."
If Katherine was outside, there was nothing to hold him back anymore.
"Not so fast", the General halted him. "You still didn't answer my questions. Your wife is safe for now, so tell me. Is the King still alive?"
"He is", Nathaniel replied impatiently. "But not for long if we don't hurry up. Now, if you would go out of the way, we could - "
"Nathan." Aston's hand landed on his shoulder. "Let me handle this. You and your warriors can go on ahead, I will follow shortly."
The brothers exchanged gazes, then Nathaniel exhaled. "Alright, but don't be late. General Deverell, Aston will explain everything."
Aston nodded and took over, while Nathaniel went to his warriors for one last check of the plan. The General's face was sour, but since the people he talked with were Princes, he said nothing.
"Now", Aston began, and his characteristic grin flashed up. "Please excuse my brother, he is a bit on edge right now. Of course, we are very grateful to have you on our side. So, what do you want to know? I'll tell you everything."
Less then ten minutes later, the soldiers stormed the Magic Association. The mages fought bravely, but they were in the minority. With the surprise on their side, the soldiers subdued them fast. Only few up-acting organization members were killed in the fight.
Next, the soldiers demolished a wall behind the reception desk and revealed a hidden staircase behind it. While half of them went down, Nathaniel stayed upstairs, and worriedly gazed at the streets and the house next door. Any time, soldiers could come patrolling again. Or maybe some mage had managed to inform the higher-ups. Where was Aston?
After a while, Sam came up the stairs again. His face was serious. "Your Highness, you need to see this."
Nathaniel's brows furrowed. He gestured the remaining soldiers to stay, and followed his butler downstairs. Obviously, the fights were still on-going, since there were noises further down the long white hallway. However, the first few rooms were silent. A single soldier stood in front of the room Sam led him to.
Expecting to see a bunch of human experiment subjects, Nathaniel inwardly prepared himself. However, when Sam opened the door, there was no living human in there. Not even a corpse. All that he saw, was a desk and many shelves full of files. It looked like an office. His eyes wandered over the inkpot and a book on the desk. Then he turned to Sam and raised a brow. "Here?"
The butler nodded heavily and went over to one of the shelves. They looked like they had been searched through before. With trembling hands, he pulled out one of the files. His lips were slanted downwards. "You better close the door."
Curious, Nathaniel did as he was told, and went over to the old man. "What is this?"
Sam shook his head with a bitter expression. "See for yourself."
His eyes narrowed, Nathaniel took over the file and read the name on it. Nathaniel Julian Raymond Icefall. His lips pressed together, and the fingers holding the file turned white. "So, they really did this."