The lock clicks audibly, and falls with a thunk when she isn’t quick enough to catch it. The sound echoes off the walls and for a long moment Ander sits frozen, waiting to be caught. But she isn’t.
That’s the first bit of luck she’s had in weeks, and the relief of it is overwhelming. Her powers finally turned, exactly when she needed it to. A month of rotten luck, everything that can go wrong doing so in ever more spectacularly depressing ways, followed by a month of every unknown variable turning out exactly how she wants.
One day powerless, the next invincible – a cycle. And today is the day she’s been waiting for. The cell door swings open on rusted hinges squeaking loudly and shuddering when she forces the ancient thing to pass over mismatched, crumbling cobbles. Ander is heedless of the noise. No one will hear. Only another gifted person can cancel out her power, and she’s the only one around. Sure enough, no one comes looking.
She steps out into the hall, searching cautiously around one corner and then the other. Luck has limits – that took a long time for her to learn. It influences chance, the likelihood of something happening or not happening. But her power can’t account for the actions of people. It won’t protect her from an orc with a sword. At the end of the corridor to her left is a flight of stairs, unlit by torches.
At the bottom of that she finds a door into the castle courtyard, and three orcs who are presumably supposed to be on watch. They’re absorbed in a game or cards, voices rising in the beginning of a heated discussion over who is and who is not cheating. Ander’s pretty sure she could break in to dance in the middle of them and they still wouldn’t see her.
She doesn’t, obviously, but she’d be lying if she said she wasn’t tempted. Their self-made distraction makes it easy to shimmy around the sides of the yard, out of the light of their campfire, just in case. Then comes the complicated part. The castle is built into the side of a hill, overlooking the town below and surrounded by a wall twenty feet high. Ander grew up here, she made a game of climbing these walls as a child. They are too steep, bricks too neatly set to climb unaided. And the castle gates are built of sturdy oak planks, four inches thick and reinforced with steel. And locked.
Before the orcs came – before they raided the town and drove out its inhabitants – these doors stood open all night. She had hoped they still would, but it seemed that orcs were smarter than she gave them credit for. And now – and here, the panic begins to set in, settles a dark clawed grip around her heart – now she finds herself trapped inside walls that were meant to protect her along with the very things they were meant to protect her from.
No amount of luck will save her if one of them looks up from their game, or if her cell is discovered empty. She wracks her brains, scans the walls for a way, any way – and finds one.
At the base of one, tucked away in a corner, is a gardening fork. It was meant to be stored in a shed outside, but clearly someone had been feeling lazy that day and had left it out. The idea forms in her head and she smiles.