Aedion and Rowan had returned to the gym, book in hand, something that Rowan wouldn't let go of as he kept flipping through the pages looking for some sort of answer, or at least a clue. No one had the heart to tell him they thought that it was a fruitless lead, even Manon kept her mouth shut as she looked at his face and the heartache that was written all over it.
An eerie silence fell over them all, as each of them stared into nothingness, when the ringing of a mobile broke the silence, everyone scrambled for their phones looking at each other when their phone showed it wasn't them that was being called. Rowan looked down at his phone screen which was lit up, his face falling into his expressionless mask once again as he looked at the caller ID and didn't recognise the number that was calling.
"Hello?" Rowan answered as he put the phone to his ear.
"Rowan! Oh my god, it's so good to hear your voice." Celaena almost sobbed down the other end.
"Aelin? But how? Are you alright? Where are you?" Rowan blurted question after question as everyone started to gather around him, putting the phone on loudspeaker so they could all hear.
"No time for that, I need someone to come get me, I'm in a small seaside town, about two miles north of Endovier, can you bring me a change of clothes as well please." Celaena sighed as the relief she felt was short lived and her survival instincts kicked in.
"There is a small cafe type thing, it's pretty dingy, meet me there, it's called The Rusted Hook." Was all she said before the line went dead, Rowan looked to Wesley and Aedion.
"I know it well, we know the owner, it's where we used to meet Sam when we were on jobs and needed to give each other information, was like our secret meeting place." Wesley nodded as he knew what Rowan was going to ask.
"Aelin has some spare clothes in her locker, in case of emergency she said." Lysandra hurried off to the girls locker room to grab the change of clothes before hurrying back to the group in the main gym.
"Well then, let's go." Rowan announced as he took the gym bag from Lysandra with a small smile, after the group all piled into their respective cars and hit the road, Rowan's heart raced faster than he was driving, he didn't know what state Aelin would be in or how her mental state would be but right now he didn't care he just wanted to hold her in his arms.
When they finally arrived at the little seaside town that seemed like a pretty run down place, the shops on the sea front had no colour to them and the people that lined the streets looked like they were bored and dead in the eyes. The whole place sent a shiver up Rowan's spine as he took a quick glance at Wesley who was sat in the passenger seat, looking out the window deep in thought.
"Pull up and park over there." Wesley finally spoke breaking the silence that had fallen over everyone in the car, as he pointed out an almost derelict parking lot. Rowan did as he was instructed and it wasn't long before they were all gathered in the lot, Rowan with Aelin's bag in his hand as they looked to Wesley for further instructions.
"This place gives me the creeps." Lysandra announced to the group as she looked around the area.
"We spent a lot of time here, we actually lived here for a little while, it was kind of a banishment thing Arobynn used to send us on, but you know Aelin she could see the beauty in anything and everything, she loved this place." Wesley explained as he motioned for the group to follow him as he started to follow the path to the tavern that Aelin was held up in.
After about five minutes walking The Rusted Hook came into view, when Rowan saw it he wanted nothing more to run inside find his girlfriend and wrap his arms around her but he kept his emotion in check as the group headed up the old cracked and crumbling steps that led to the door.
Wesley walked inside first and headed straight for the bar to talk to the barmaid, the rest of the bar followed of the group who hung around in the doorway unsure of what to do or say. The Rusted Hook wasn't a bad little pub, the inside was clean and decorated with a rustic theme. After his conversation with the barmaid Wesley waved the group to follow him, they walked around the quiet pub and into the backroom where Aelin sat at a wooden table nursing a bowl of soup, she looked up when the door opened and her whole body sagged in relief when she saw her friends.
She didn't get up from her seat as all her energy sapped from her body and she just stared at them until her eyes locked onto Rowan and a small smile crept onto lips as she stared deep into his eyes.
"How did you escape?" Wesley asked as he walked forward and took a seat opposite her, observing her.
"Arobynn paid me a visit while I was there, offered me a deal which I took and basically allowed me to escape but I had to do the leg work." Aelin said softly knowing that a round of twenty questions would begin.
"What was the deal?" Rowan asked gently.
"Come back and work for me for five years, your friends walk away without a scratch, you can even continue your living arrangements and work commitments. They will know nothing about what you do or who for, you will come when I call and you will answer to only me." Aelin repeated the offer that Arobynn had given her.
"And you took it ?" Rowan demanded anger coursing through his veins as he looked over at Aelin. She tore her eyes away from Rowans and looked down into her bowl of soup as she nodded.
"How could I not? I know exactly what he is capable of and I was stuck in that place I didn't know how things were going out here, I didn't know how long I would be in there, he offered you all protection so yes I took it. I made a deal with the devil so I have the upper hand." Aelin explained as she looked up.