"Oh wow, thanks," she replied sarcastically. Courtly sighed and began hiking around the gate towards a nitch in the wall that she'd been sneaking out of since she was little. She gave the part of the wall a little shove and it did the rest. The small part of the wall pulled back, revealing an adult-sized hole that dropped into a tunnel into the castle. She turned to him, "Want to go first or should I?"
"Eery isn't going to get us through these tunnels alive," she snapped. "I don't think you should be surprised, but a lot of people know about these tunnels and how they run throughout most of the area in the kingdom near the castle. That's why when the rebels disappeared, traps were installed to keep anyone from trying to sneak in or steal things. I used to travel through these tunnels to leave undetected. There are a million traps, so stay close to me and don't distract me."
"I'm starting to wonder if you came here to help me or laugh when I'm murdered." She turned a corner and paused, scanning the walls of the tunnel before continuing forward. She hopped over a particular step in the path and kept walking.
She narrowed her eyes at the darkness ahead of her. "Great," she spat sarcastically. Courtly continued navigating the tunnels, leading them past traps, and saying nothing to Nate. Soon enough, they appeared at an entry point into the castle, which led directly in Courtly's room. She didn't ask for Nate's consent and went first, opening the hatch and climbing out.
She honestly didn't understand what was "cute" about the room. Maybe because it was neat? Who knows? After second year, Courtly had taken down all the decorations that used to cover the walls of her room and repainted the walls an azure color. The room was large of course, with a door branching off to a walk-in closet and a bathroom. Her bed was pushed against one of the walls near the door to the balcony which overlooked the lake near the castle. She barely spared her room a glance and opened the door to the hallway to peek out. "No one's outside."
She closed the door behind her and headed towards the balcony. "...Sure," she mumbled, sliding open the door and striding onto the balcony. She took a short look, briefly allowing herself to admire the view but then she turned back to Nate.
She rolled her eyes and climbed onto the ledge of the balcony. She took a swift leap and her hands latched onto the floor of the higher balcony. She swung herself a couple of times and then flipped upwards onto the terrace.
"This isn't supposed a James Bond movie, may I remind you. We have a job, nincompoop." She reached the balcony she was looking for and peered in through the glass door to discover it was empty and smiled. "Alright, this is my father's study. Don't do anything stupid."
"People actually admire him for his extravagant demeanor. The Air Kingdom just adores elegance. They want him dead because they don't agree with how he rules the kingdom. Do you even keep up with politics?" Courtly muttered and then glared at him. "Put that down," she ordered sharply. "Don't touch anything. We can't let him discover anyone's here or we'll be toast."
"Jesus, Courtney, I was only joking. Because I'm a fire user, you know? He can't make us toast but I can, because I control fire...which makes you toast. It was a joke. I'm not particularly interested in starting a war between our countries."
She sighed, tapping one of her fingers to her temple. "Then don't make jokes like that. And that was a crappy fire joke." Courtly turned on her heel and headed towards the door. "Stay here, hide somewhere. Don't touch anything. If I don't come back in thirty minutes, come out of your hiding place and go back to my room." She didn't wait for his agreement before she stepped out of the study and closed the door behind her.
She spun on her heel, opened the door, glanced around in the hallway before stepping into it and gesturing for Nate to follow her. "Honestly, I'm glad we have an elevator," she sighed as she quietly made her way down the hallway. "Makes this so much easier."
The elevator slowly made its way down to the basement floor where it opened its doors and allowed the two to step out. Courtly walked out first and didn't wait for Nate when she continued down the path to a mini-toll looking machine. She inserted the pass and waited for it to register before the gate leading the dungeon lifted and allowed them to pass. She continued walking, crossing her arms over her chest as she did.
"Her cell is going to be farther down so..." she mumbled to herself under her breath as she walked, studying the cell doors. "Aha," she mused, finding the door she was looking for. She knocked on the door to make sure the prisoner was awake, and when she got an annoyed groan, she smiled.
"You be bad cop if you wanna be bad cop, I don't care." She took a pair of keys out from her back pocket an unlocked the door. She then stepped into the cell, which was dimly lit by a lantern hanging above the space. "Well, hello Karly."
The supposed girl named Karly scowled, glaring at the princess and her accomplice. "What do you want?" she spat, shifting in the pile of chains she sat in. She looked relatively healthy and was free from injuries, but she didn't look happy.
He slipped in, "oh, nothing, really, just want to have a little chat," he replied, bending down to her height, just a little bit away, enough that she couldn't reach him though, "I'm Nathanial, I doubt you know. Karly...is that short for something?"
She rolled her eyes at the girl and threw the keys to Nate. "You and I both know I could beat you to a pulp by myself. His presence isn't your issue and no, he's not my boyfriend. But I understand the confusion, your jealousy gets a little saltier each day, doesn't it?" Courtly stepped closer to Karly, narrowing her eyes at the girl. "It's no secret your father has been sneaking messages down here. We've caught several White Rose officials disguised as servants trying to get down here. So, I'm going to ask you a simple question that you better answer. Are the White Roses currently planning any group attacks?"
One of the ball of fire, darting off his palm, swished around her cheek, not enough to burn her, but enough to get the message across. "You want to try that again, sweetheart? I haven't been known to give people mercy."
Even if Karly didn't want to be sporting some ugly burns for the rest of her life, she wore not to reveal this one piece of information so she didn't. "If I knew, I would've told you already. I don't like fire. Fire doesn't like me. I'm not risking my skin for this okay. Now if you are done, please leave me the fuck alone."
She contemplated the information. It seemed valid but it was debatable. Xerxes sounded more like a codename then anything else, which meant the White Roses didn't trust Karly with any valuable information which rendered further questioning useless. She nodded and straightened her stance. "Well Karly, you enjoy the rest of your stay here. We're going to leave. Bye bye now."
Courtly turned towards Nate once they were back by the elevator. "Well, that was eventful. So, at least we know the name or at least some name. Karly said he was recruited a few months ago, which to me could be around the time I started getting those creepy messages from the stranger I met up with during that Christmas party. Now, we need a way to confront him to find out if this theory is actually true."
"That makes me wonder what your definition of fun is," she responded, a bit withdrawn. "I think I'm going to go take a walk around the Academy to clear my head before I go back to sleep. It's almost morning anyway so I'll see you later." Courtly turned and began walking through the gate, her fingers clenched inside the pockets of her jeans.
If Courtly was to be completely honest, she was reluctant to go up to Nate again and ask for help. It wasn't to keep her pride intact or whatever, it was the idea that she had planted in her head that she was bothering him. She had been pacing earlier in front of the door to his dorm and eventually decided against it, heading out of the Dorm Building and towards the main building to the cafeteria.
Her face went completely blank as he greeted her. "One, my name is Courtly. Two, fine. Three, I have a new lead." She regretted ever considering asking for his help now. He couldn't even say her name right.
He, of course, knew her name for the get go, but he was a piece of shit. "Oh, really? That was quick, guess the mystery man came through. Need any help?" He asked before pausing, "are you hungry? Thirsty? I have stuff."
"So you know how Karly mentioned the new member was an earth elemental? I was just wandering stuff, and I overheard a couple of students talking about a new kid named Xerxes. So I looked into it with that friend I mentioned a couple of days ago, and it turns out he's an earth elemental who came to the Academy a month before Christmas."