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~~Ariana looked doubtfully at Xavier. "Are you sure this is going to work?"
~~"Almost positive. As long as Izzy gets enough feathers, at least," Xavier said, not looking up from his work. "Where is she anyway?"
~~"Right here," Isabella said, stepping in with her arms full of raven feathers. "Izzy had some trouble, but she thinks she got enough. She says that even if she didn't, Ariana has to get them next time because Izzy doesn't like ravens. They're bad luck." Isabella had talked in third person since she had learned to talk. Ariana shook her head and her long, flame bright hair flew out around her.
~~"I'm working too, Izzy. You don't have a job in this, that's why you have to collect supplies." and with that, she picked up a a handful of glittering stones and crushed them in her mortar, creating a fine, silvery powder. She kept her green eyes averted from her brother's bright blue ones. He hated her job in the plan. Ariana and Isabella's faces were coated with a sheen of sweat from the temperture in the room, and Ariana's freckles stood out more than usual as her face paled in the heat. In contrast, Isabella's tanned face turned redder as the fire burned brighter than ever, and her bright blue hair started to frizz out.
~~"Am I going to need to get more robin's egg shells?" said a voice from the doorway. Standing there was a tall, tan boy with gold hair and brilliant eyes to match. He was staring at Isabella's hair, which was changing color as she started to sweat. The blue was running from it, revealing a pale silvery blonde. Isabella touched her hair ruefully under the boy's scrutiny.
~~"Please and thank you, Flint. Izzy's hair needs it," as the blue started to run down her face. Flint nodded as he bit into an apple and threw a small bag at Ariana.
~~"That should be everything you need if you don't mess it up. Again," Flint said, with a carefully careless tone in his voice and a malicious grin on his face. Ariana blushed and pulled out more of the glittery rocks and some deep green flowers and stems. She started to pound them to powder. Xavier frowned at him, then cast a concerned look at his sister. She may have been 10 months older, but he always treated her like she was the young one because he had almost always been taller.
~~"When do you think it will be ready?" asked Ariana carefully. Xavier was fixing the feathers into place with large wax seals. He leaned back to examine it and wiped the sweat from his brow.
~~"Probably tomorrow," he responded, gesturing to the completely sets on the floor as far away from the fire as possible, so not to re-melt the wax. "When will the guards be up with our food?"
~~"Yeah. Izzy's hungry! The stupid man forgot her breakfast again," Isabella said.
~~Flint shrugged. "Whenever they get here I suppose." To Xavier and Isabella it seemed as though he was staring unfocused out into space, but Ariana, who had just looked up, noticed he was staring right at her, and on purpose too. 'What?' she mouthed, but he just turned away and looked out the window.
~~Footsteps echoed on the circular stone steps, and Isabella and Xavier quickly hid the projects. A large man, wearing leather and metal gaurds uniform, appeared at the top of the stairs and stared contemptously around at them. "You," he said, pointing at Xavier and Isabella, "and you, are needed by the Lord and Lady. Come." and without another look, he marched down the stairs. With a confused look at Flint and Ariana, they followed.
~~"Do you know-" Ariana began, but Flint put his hand over her mouth and shushed her. She glared at him, and he completely ignored it. They stood like that for a good 5 minutes before he removed his hand.
~~"What was that for?!" Ariana said angrily.
~~"For one time in your life, Ariana, please just shut your mouth." Flint said angrily and quietly. She was shocked into silence. Never once in her whole memory had he actually said her name when talking to her. She avoided his eyes and stared at the floor. She just stood there as he moved around the room and after his careful scrutiny, she dared to speak again.
~~"Can I at least move around?" she whispered, and he nodded tensely. She went and sat on her cot in the corner. Flint continued to stare out the window, and after about another hour without the return of Xavier and Isabella, he went to stand in front of her. He said to touch her shoulder to get her attention because she had her head in her hands.
~~"Ariana? I think you should get back to work on the dust." Flint said, without the usual steely tone. Ariana stared dumbfounded at him, then nodded slightly and got up. He stepped back as she tripped over her own feet and fell forward. He caught her and she was in the circle of his arms, her hands on his chest, and next thing she knew, he was kissing her.
~~This went on for a few minutes, until they heard footsteps on the the stairs. He released her, and looked down at her with dark humor in his eyes. "That was nice. Get back to work." he said quietly.
~~Ariana moved over to her table and was about to tell him how much of an understatement nice was when Xavier came in, followed by Isabella. Ariana jumped up and hugged her brother.
"What happened?" she demanded.
~~"Lord Byron and Lady Cala said they are feeling an attempted escape on the horizon. They tried to ferret it out of us how, but we kept silent." Xavier said, pulling out the wax and the last set.
~~"Izzy kept quiet. The Lady was very rude to her, and said that Izzy, Xavier and Ariana were not allowed any more food. Izzy is sad AND hungry now..." Isabella said, sitting on her bed.
~~"Mom's always like that. Don't worry about it Izzy. I'll make sure you guys get food," Flint said, moving to leave. "Think it can be finished by tomorrow morning?"
~~"If Ariana fnishes the powder, we can leave at dawn." Xavier looked at Ariana, and she nodded.
~~"If Flint can get me four lily pads before midnight, they'll be ready by dawn." Ariana said, with a cool demeanor. Flint had regarded her as nothing again as soon as Xavier and Isabella had returned, so she was just as distant with him. He just nodded once, then turned to leave again. Before he walked out, Flint caught Ariana's eye and winked. She stared incredously at the doorwy as he disappeared.
Flint returned as the castle clocks struck 11. Xavier had fallen asleep keeping watch at the door, and Isabella was curled up like a cat next to him. Ariana was starting to drift to sleep at her worktable. Flint shook her shoulder, and she gazed blearily at him. He silently handed her the lily pads, and she slowly sewed them together to make pouches.
~~Flint noticed that she was falling asleep again, so he knelt down beside her. "What do you do next?"
~~Ariana yawned, then replied. "Fill each with three spoonfuls of the powder, in place them in-" she yawned again, "in the moonlight." Flint nodded, then picked her up. She hadn't realized he was THAT strong. She protested feebly, then fell asleep in the short walk from her table to her bed. He kicked her blanket off, put her down, then covered her with the blanket. She curled up and was deeply asleep in seconds. He shook his head, grinning, then walked over to fill her pouches. He was finished in an hour. He turned to leave, then heard Ariana mumbling. He walked over to her, and she cried out "NO!" Tears started to stream down her face, though she was still asleep. He kissed her forehead, then really left. He couldn't help her, and he knew it. Flint wasn't dumb, just arrogant.
~~The next morning, as the clock chimed 5, Xavier woke to see Ariana taking powder filled pouches from the windowsill. She sprinkled each one over a project, then sat back to examine her work.
~~"Izzy thinks they are very pretty." Isabella said from her perch on the windowsill.
~~"But will they work?" Xavier asked, moving over to examine them.
~~"Yes. Without a doubt." Flint said from the shadows in the entrance. "Are we ready?"
~~"Yes," Xavier, Isabella and Ariana said in unison. Xavier picked up the first set and hooked them up to Isabella. Two straps on each arm, and then one around her ribs. It felt secure. Flint moved to help Ariana and she let him. Ariana and Isabella than helped Flint and Xavier put theirs on. They all climbed up onto the windowsill, and Xavier looked around at them.
~~"Remember to keep your arms extended, and don't fly too high, or too low. Follow my lead, and remember Icarius. These wings worked for Daedulous, but Icarius got too excited and melted the wax by flying too high and thus drowned in the ocean." Xavier told them, and they all nodded tensely.
~~Together they spread their wings and jumped off the window. With Xavier in the lead, they flew away from their prison. A servant girl in the yard saw them, and the last sight the Lord and Lady had of their prisoners and son was specks in the distance.
~~Ariana gave an exhilirated laugh, and with Flint just behind, Isabella beside and Xavier in front, she flew free.