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Fatefall - 39

Fatefall - 39

A Chapter by A.L.
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Jett

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Chapter 39 - Jett

There is a reason that no crimes committed during Fatefall have been properly punished. “Crime” is simply too loose of a term, and we have all done things we regret. 

“Either we’re geniuses, or we’re about to be the biggest failures in all of Xegalla,” Jett said, coming to a stop just outside of the bank. He had to admit, he was actually kind of excited for this new plan.

“Y’know what helps with not getting caught doing illegal activities? Not acting suspicious,” Sage grumbled under his breath. Yeah, he had to be just as nervous as Jett was.

“Relax, Goldie…or should I say Goldie Senior?”

“My father would murder you if you called him anything except sir. Actually, in your case, he might murder you regardless…I’m pretty sure he hates you.”

“Trust me, the feeling is mutual. I can barely stand to look at you right now.”

Sage frowned, and because his features were actually his father’s at the moment, the effect was quite intimidating. 

It had been Sage’s idea. Meeting Adrian’s father had reminded Jett of his own parents’ impending doom and one panic attack later, Sage had realized that if he needed his parents’ permission to make a transaction and pay off the bail, he could easily fake it. After all, Jett had the Grace of Deceit, did he not?

With Sage illusioned as Franklin and Jett landing the unfortunate role of impersonating Jackie. No illusions were perfect, of course, but Jett could pick and choose which of his and Sage’s features he allowed to bleed through the disguise. It was a loophole he’d learned a while back. A freckle on the rear end or a sixth toe, hidden inside a shoe---traits that were unnoticeable but still “different” enough to mask the shift. Besides, all he needed to do was sneer a lot and let Sage handle the talking and they’d probably be fine. Probably.

Jett allowed Sage to lead him up the steps to the bank. They stepped inside and the lady at the front desk barely spared them a second glance. “Lord Franklin and Lady Jackie,” she acknowledged. “How can I be of assistance?”

“I’d like to make a withdrawal,” Sage said, his voice sounding exactly like his father’s thanks to Jett’s Grace.

Much to Jett’s surprise (and admittedly, a little to his disappointment) no one seemed to question the disguises. He and Sage were led to the same office that they’d sat in the last time they’d attempted to withdraw the bail money. Relief poured into him, but was quickly replaced by a nervous sort of energy. A dozen things could still go wrong--

Sage rested his hand in Jett’s as they took their seats across from the woman. Jett blushed even though he knew Sage could simply have been playing the role of “loving husband”. 

“May I inquire as to the purpose of this visit?” the lady asked, though she pulled a folder out of a locked drawer in her desk. 

Sage glanced at Jett, expression briefly tinged with worry. “Uh…”

“We’re hoping to take a vacation to Aecheral. With all the odd stuff happening around Xegalla lately, I think it’s necessary,” Jett answered smoothly. 

He hoped it was a plausible response because really he had no idea how much a vacation might cost. The lady nodded to herself, so it seemed to be a believable lie. 

“How much are you planning to withdraw?” she inquired, not looking up from her papers. 

Sage listed the amount and the lady confirmed that it was well-within the reaches of the bank account, although she did seem incredulous at first. “What are you going to do in Aecheral?” she asked. “Buy a house?”

“Precisely,” Jett answered, maybe a little too quickly. 

The woman glanced up at him, one eyebrow raised. 

“Most likely,” Sage stepped in, shooting Jett a dirty look. “Jackie, we discussed purchasing a vacation home, but we decided not to make a decision right away.”

Jett crossed his arms. “I want a house,” he said with a sniff. 

Sage flashed the woman an apologetic look. “I’m sorry. Jackie’s been quite insistent that we move to Aecheral, but for what reason I’m not entirely sure. Still, travel can be expensive and with the costs of sailing, dining, and a hotel, I decided to stick to the safer side.”

“I see,” the woman said, although it sounded like she didn’t.

She probably doesn’t understand why anyone would want to travel to Aecheral, Jett reasoned. With the witch hunters and anti-Grace propaganda, it wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience. There wasn’t much to visit there besides the capital city and endless desert anyway. 

“I’ll be back shortly,” the woman said before leaving the office abruptly. 

Jett and Sage shared a look and it took all of Jett’s self-control to keep from laughing. He couldn’t believe their plan---flimsy as it was---had somehow worked so well. His parents would be free, and Sage’s parents would pay the price…literally. 

Sage laid his hand over Jett’s once more. “Hey, are you doing okay?”

To anyone else, it might have looked like a husband simply comforting his wife, which was especially believable due to the rumors about their “insane” son. But Jett knew Sage was really checking in on the illusion and the strength of Jett’s Grace.

“I’m fine,” Jett assured him, and it was the truth. While the feat in the desert and the complex (albeit futile) act of hiding Adrian’s identity had drained him swiftly, the simplicity of this illusion and Jett’s increased endurance. Invisibility was more challenging to maintain than a simple appearance illusion, and since they’d fortunately encountered no one with the Grace of Void, Jett had barely had to work.

Sage nodded to himself. “Okay, but let me know if you start to feel weak--”

“Trust me,” Jett said. “I’m fine, darling.”

Sage wrinkled his nose. “I prefer your other nicknames, just for future reference.”

Jett was about to retort with a dozen more colorful pet names when the woman returned, an envelope and a small stack of papers in hand.

“I just need a few signatures and then your withdrawal will be complete,” she explained. “And I managed to get it on paper instead of in marks, just as you asked.”

“Thank you,” Sage said, flashing a brilliantly creepy smile. “I’m sorry for any inconveniences.”

“It was no problem at all, sir.”

Jett chuckled at that. If it was really this easy to steal someone’s identity and make illegal transactions, he wondered why more people didn’t do it. Or maybe they did, and they just didn’t get caught. 

He and Sage signed a few papers and then the woman handed over the envelope (which enclosed the document that signified their possession enough the marks needed to pay off the bail, which would be less conspicuous when carried down the streets). She wished them a good vacation and they were free to leave.

And with that, Jett was one step closer to finally saving his parents.


Even Warden Aurelio’s windowless office couldn’t put a damper on Jett’s soaring spirits. After four years of near constant worry that he would be unable to pay off his parents’ bail, Jett could now turn over the money in exchange for his parents’ freedom. Just as he and Sage had decided on their previous attempt, Jett would pay Sage back if they won the Tournament and if they didn’t…well, at least Jett would have his parents. He could deal with the other consequences later. 

The prison guards had told Jett that it might be a little while before Warden Aurelio would return to his office, as he was overseeing the interrogations of the suspected would-be assassins from the Fete. Jett was willing to wait, and so was Sage, so they took the chairs at the warden’s desk and made themselves comfortable.

“I’m glad to see you looking like yourself again,” Sage remarked.

“Trust me, the feeling is mutual,” Jett said. He and Sage had stopped at the apartment on their way to the prison so Jett could drop the illusion and they could change out of their suits. 

To be honest, Jett hadn’t slept much during his one night stay at the palace. It was too rich for his taste, and his suit was uncomfortable. Also, he’d been separated from Sage and he hadn’t realized how much he’d come to rely on listening to someone else’s breathing to fall asleep until then. 

The apartment stop had also given the chance to write a quick note to Evangeline thanking her for, well, everything. He still couldn't believe that she’d revealed her identity to save him and his team. Actually, maybe he could. Evangeline---although she was a thief--- followed her heart above all else. He thanked her for her generosity and assured her that he’d be in her debt for the rest of time, but he doubted she’d stop by the apartment to find the note in the first place. No, she was probably negotiating her proper inheritance and returning to her mansion. 

Jett wished he would’ve thought to tell her not to sell their apartment. It was small, but his parents would need a place to stay once they were freed. They’d need some food and money too, but maybe Sage would be willing to cover those extra expenses if Jett promised to pay them back--

“Stop stressing,” Sage grumbled, squeezing Jett’s hand gently. “Everything is going to be fine, okay?”

“Don’t say that,” Jett said. “With our luck, it’ll jinx us and everything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

Sage pretended to be offended. “Our luck? I consider myself lucky to have met you--”

Jett groaned. “What did we say about leaving the flirting to me, Goldie? Fates, that has to be the second worst pick-up line I’ve ever heard…and you weren’t even trying to use a pick-up line.”

“What was the worst?”

“I’ll tell you another time. Besides, the first time we met was anything but lucky. I seem to recall you blackmailing me--”

Sage waved his hand dismissively. “And you tried to pick my pocket, so…”

“That’s because you looked so naively rich and adorable that I figured I could pay at least a month’s worth of rent with whatever I managed to snatch from you.”

“You think I’m adorable?”

“I think you’re a good target.” And I probably shouldn’t be discussing my illegal activities inside a prison. He sighed. “Alright, maybe I was stressing. I just…once my parents are free, I don’t know where they’ll go or how they’ll get food or…” He couldn’t bear to say the next part. 

Or if I’ll even get to see them again. Because even though there was only one Trial left, Jett knew he could still die. His opponents would be the cruelest ones yet. 

“We’ll figure it out,” Sage assured him. Which wasn’t exactly a solution, but Jett appreciated the thought anyway. Sage was endangering himself by agreeing to pay this bail. Eventually, his parents would notice that their money had gone missing and their suspicions would immediately fall on Sage, who had already confessed to wanting to free Jett’s parents. 

He was spared from a response as Warden Aurelio entered his office, settling into his chair with a tired sigh. Maybe it was just Jett’s imagination, but the warden looked older…which was ridiculous, because only a few weeks had passed since Jett had seen him last. The threads of silver weaving through his red hair had been there before, right? Perhaps it was the toll the investigations were taking on him. 

“Jett,” the warden acknowledged. “It’s been a while.”

“Indeed it has, sir,” Jett agreed. 

“Care to introduce me to your friend?” Warden Aurelio gestured at Sage, genuinely interested. It should have been odd to have a stranger so invested in his life, but Jett felt it was strangely fitting. This man had taken care of him when no one else did. Warden Aurelio had probably seen Jett more often than his parents had in the past four years. 

“This is Sage,” Jett said. Sage offered a shy wave, his cheeks tinged pink in a way that made Jett want to blush as well. “He’s a…friend. A good friend.” 

Warden Aurelio glanced at Jett, then at Sage, and then back at Jett again. He looked like he wanted to say something but chuckled to himself instead. “I shouldn’t tease you,” he said at last. “Anyway, I heard you have good news for me?”

Jett laid the envelope with the document on the desk. “This should contain enough money to pay off what’s left of my parents’ bail.”

Warden Aurelio raised an eyebrow but said nothing. He carefully opened the envelope and read its contents, nodding to himself. Finally, he laid the envelope down and leaned back in his chair. “Well, Jett, I have to admit, I had my doubts but I have to congratulate you. This money covers the rest of the bail. I’ll have to check its legitimacy, of course, but most likely, your parents will be released tomorrow.”

The words took a moment to register in Jett’s mind. Your parents will be released tomorrow. He could hardly believe it. He’d done the impossible: he’d found enough money to pay off his parents’ bail. They’d be free.

“I won’t ask how you got the money because I doubt I’ll like the answer,” Warden Aurelio continued. Even he was smiling. “But I’ve taken enough of your time today. If I had to guess, you probably want to tell your parents the good news.” 

Jett nodded eagerly, not trusting his voice to betray him. 

“I won’t stop you, then.” He paused, and then added, “Truly, Jett, you should be proud of yourself. You’ve worked so hard for this. Take care of yourself.”

“Thank you,” Jett managed to whisper. 

His mind was a flurry of half-formed thoughts as he led Sage down the familiar winding hallways of the prison. Excitement trilled in his chest but worry tugged at his gut. His parents weren’t going to die! Unless something was wrong with the documents… 

He tucked the thought away in the very back of his mind. No one at the bank had been suspicious in the slightest. Besides, the money technically did belong to Sage, so theoretically he could spend it however he liked and if he wanted to use it to free two innocent people, then no one could really stop him. 

Jett’s parents leapt to their feet as he stepped into view, Sage’s hand still clutched in his. 

“You brought your friend with you!” Jett’s mother remarked, eyeing their intertwined hands. “And both of you are in one piece!”

“Joyce,” Jett’s father chastised, elbowing his wife in the side as a small smile bloomed on her face. “How’s the Tournament going?”

Jett noticed that his father didn’t even bother to ask about the weather, as though he could sense that there was something different about this visit. 

Jett considered lying, but knew his parents’ Graces would be able to detect it.“The Tournament is…a mess,” he confessed. He’d yet to see his parents since the end of the second Trial, but he didn’t want to get into the details of him almost dying from overuse of his Grace or how he’d allowed for Poppy to transfer deadly poison into his blood. He also didn’t want to mention the whole missing competitor thing. 

Luckily, his parents didn’t press for details. Perhaps they didn’t want another excuse to worry, or maybe they understood that Jett had more exciting news to share. 

“I know it’s been a while since we last spoke,” Jett continued. “And it’s been a hectic few weeks, but…with Sage’s help, I’ve paid the bail. As of tomorrow, you two will officially be free.”

His parents stared at him blankly for a moment until the news finally sank in. His mother’s mouth fell open. His father broke into a wide smile and ran his hand through his hair. Jett gave them another moment to comprehend the weight of what he’d said, and then explained how he and Sage had simply gone to the bank and asked for the money.

He left out the details of their first failed attempt and how they’d impersonated Sage’s parents. If his parents noticed anything off with his story, they said nothing. 

“We will never be able to repay you for what you’ve done for us,” his mother said for what had to be the tenth time.

“You’re my parents. There’s no need for you to repay me. It’s my duty as your son to help you,” he reassured her. “Speaking of help, I don’t have much extra money set aside for you, but you can stay in Evangeline and I’s apartment. Neither of us have been spending much time there lately.” Or, Jett figured that was case seeing as Evangeline had now taken her inheritance back. “It’s not much, but until the Tournament is over I’m afraid I won’t be of much help. I’m sorry I couldn’t do more--”

“You’ve done more than your father or I could have ever asked for,” his mother said. “We’re lucky to have you as our son.” She turned to Sage. “And we’re lucky that you and Jett are such good friends. Thank you both.”

“It was my pleasure to be of service,” Sage said with a small smile. “If there’s anything else I can do, please let me know.”

“Actually, now that you mention it, there is something,” Jett’s mother began.

“Joyce,” Jett’s father protested.

Jett’s mother ignored her husband. “Stay alive, both of you.” Her gaze locked on Jett, eyes filled with emotion. “Don’t let the Tournament steal you just as our family is about to be reunited.”

“I won’t,” Jett promised. It sounded like a lie even to his own ears. 

His parents' freedom seemed like a victory that would come with a price, and he really hoped he wouldn’t have to pay for it in blood.



© 2023 A.L.


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Added on January 9, 2023
Last Updated on January 9, 2023
Tags: adventure, Grace, Fates, Fate, teen, ya, fantasy, fiction, magic, tournament, game, competition, enemies to lovers, young adult, assassin, thief, royalty, prince, priestess, death, survival, noble


Author

A.L.
A.L.

About
When I was eleven, my cousins and I sat down and decided we want to write a fifty book long series that would become an instant bestseller. Obviously, that hasn't happened yet (and I doubt it will) bu.. more..

Writing
Fatefall - 1 Fatefall - 1

A Chapter by A.L.