Haines and I jumped into a small two-seated lighter and took off heading east, climbing above the clouds in a steep climb. I wondered about this because I distinctly remembered the emperor saying that his family lived in the mountains. That meant we needed to be heading west, unless the mountains he was talking about was on a different continent. The grim expression on his face gave no indication of what was going on in his head.
“Liam,” Haines’s voice came in my ear. “Just how strong are you?”
I looked at him again. His hand was blocking the microphone of the headset I had made for the three of us to keep in touch. What was he keeping from the emperor? “I don’t know; pretty strong, I guess. Why?”
He didn’t answer; he just began to turn. By now, we had to be skimming the top of the atmosphere. Then he did something I never would have thought him capable of. He took the headset off and ripped it apart, and then he pulled his facemask solidly into position. After that, he slammed his hand on a knob on my side of the plane.
I was taken completely by surprise as my chair launched me through the canopy and out virtually into space. I was knocked out for a few moments, but I came around again in time to see him circle around; inspecting his handiwork, I’m sure.
I discarded my chair and used my magic to tie myself to his plane when he passed me. Riding in his wake was rough to say the least, but he couldn’t see me and if he did look back he would see the chair, if he could even see that much.
I’m sure the emperor heard the noise, but there was too much noise and not enough air for me to try to contact him. He would have to wait for an explanation.
While I waited for Haines to reach his destination, I changed my uniform into my leathers; they blocked the cold wind much better, though I was having no problem keeping myself warm; altering the flow of air to suit my comfort would have been felt by Haines.
Finally, some time later, the plane began to descend. When we finally came below the clouds, I was hammered with rain, and visibility was nonexistent for me. I knew we were approaching the ground when the landing gear came down and our speed slowed.
I waited until I felt certain I knew where he was going to land and then I let go, cushioning my fall with a shell of air. Fortunately, I didn’t hit any of the more sturdy parts of the trees I crashed through. When I finally came to a halt, I was unhurt though very dizzy.
I leaned against a tree to recover, and in the silence of the forest, I could hear where the plane was going. I was tempted to reach out and trap Haines in the plane, but I wanted to see what he was up to first.
“Emperor, can you hear me?”
“Liam, what was all that noise? Are you all right?”
“That was a very rough plane ride. You should know that Haines is a traitor. I don’t know what he is guilty of yet, but I’m going to find out.”
“Haines, impossible. Where are you?”
“Well, sir, since you never told me much about where your family was, I can only assume I’m not far away from their compound. All I can tell you is that Haines landed at a small strip in some mountains.” I was running by now up the side of this mountain and it was difficult to talk.
“I don’t understand. You’re speaking as if you are in a different place than Haines. How can you be when you took off together in the same lighter and he only just landed?”
“I can’t talk right now. I’ll explain later.” I had just found the plane. He was closer than I thought. Now all I had to do was figure out where Haines had gone.