Lydia Panko

The five of us walk down the dirt and gravel road, and I hear the crunch beneath our feet. It is about 12 at night, the time we come alive. Energy gathers around our black-clad figures as we walk, and we are a moving, breathing storm of power. Lights flash, and we dive into the tall grass to our right, ducking and listening. Our breathing seems too loud. Then we're up and moving across the field, heading for the shadowy buildings. We dart across the grass, fleeting shadows, until we pass the fence protecting the decrepit garden. An old swing set stands surrounded by gnarly weeds. The metal is rusted and broken; the seats are gone so that only dangling, snake-like chains remain. Only ghost children can play here now. The lights glint off of the old metal, and we stoop in the weeds that grow to our ribs as the patrol car slowly ambles by, unaware of our eyes watching from the shadows.

We now have about six minutes before the patrol comes back around and we fly out across the lawn. The moon shines brightly on our bodies, and makes stark silhouettes on the white picket fence. An ironic symbol of perfection that shelters the twisted playground of the shut down insane asylum.

Two breathless minutes later we've arrived at a courtyard. After being in the shadows for so long, we feel exposed, watched. Under the pale moon, the windows look like eyes. I stare at them until a grunt distracts me, and I turn in time to see Carthy pry open the metal grate at our feet. The banshee screech sounds deafening to us. We tense and search for the tell-tale light of the patrol.


We look back down where the grate was, and now we see the metal ladder, the bottom submerged in rain water. Aradia glares at it.

Damn it, I don't want to get my cloak wet.

Giving her a distasteful glare, I turn and start down the ladder, eager to be away from the watching windows. My boot heels should clank on the rungs, but they don't. Just as my eyes should have gleamed in the darkness.

I hook my leg in the rungs to free my hands as I call to Carthy to throw me a piece of wood from the top.

It splashes as I drop it in the water, but it makes a convenient bridge, and Aradia thinks me.

I didn't want to get my boots wet either, the maker being dead and all, I smirk.

We all alugh cruelly, sharing the joke.

Carthy shifts his weight, anxious to be on our way. Are you going to admire the scenery or move Natalie?

I take a daggar from my belt and offhandedly throw it at him before I cross our makeshift bridge to the door. Locked. Focusing on the handle, I turn it sharply and push with my shoulder, ripping the lock out of the door.

The log shifts slightly and I quickly spin and duck, just in time to see my knife thunk into the door. Turning, I smile at Carthy. Thanks for returning my knife.


We hear Kara start down the ladder and decide to get a move on. There's plenty of time for throwing knives later. We shar a look as we brush past the door, entering the place that once held us prisoners.

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