Just a bit extra that I managed to get written this weekend. Sorry about the spread out posts, I’m losing my spare time to spring cleaning, holidays, and other adult things I don’t want to deal with; I also may be moving apartments soon… Gah. Anyway, here you go. Lemme know what you think.
The bolt securing the door to Sir Gadriel’s room had been surprisingly easy to unlatch, easier than the Chatelaine’s, which was only surprising considering the amount of expensive personal items the Baron had sprawled across his borrowed quarters, including his rather large coronet with the indicative pearls displayed beside his privacy screen.
Much to their surprise, and relative relief, Sir Gadriel was entirely absent, and from the looks of things had not been back for some time. Perhaps he was still off enjoying the festivities, though, Thumper mused, with the grand hall as empty as it was when they arrived, it was more likely that the old bastard had been invited to another room for the night.
With the room in a state of utter chaos, it took the little minstrel more than a few minutes of searching through piles of clothes and stacks of everything from books to armor to finally let out a noise indicating that he had found what he sought. Pulling the chest out of a large armoire, he set it on the floor in the center of the room and started trying to open it.
“We don’t have time for that.” Thumper muttered, grabbing Alan’s arm to haul him to his feet. “Pick it up and lets go before someone realizes we’re not meant to be in here.”
“I have to make sure everything is still in there!” Alan argued, trying to escape the giant’s grip, but Thumper turned and gave him a harsh glare.
“Do you happen to notice the slight tint of pink starting to peek through the curtains?” The big man asked him, tilting his head towards the palest of dawn’s light, fading the stars behind the sheer fabric. “We’ve got about eight minutes to get back to that grate in the kitchen before every maid and marshall is up and busy.” Mesmerized by the predawn, Alan began to shake.
“Fine.” He finally mumbled sullenly, reaching down to grasp the side handle of the trunk. “Let me see if I can rig something to carry it more easily.
“Be quick.” Thumper growled, moving to check the windows and hallways for any early risers. Within a minute, Alan had rigged a sort of over the shoulder pack made of a horsehide coat, which hid the trunk by making the little minstrel into a hunchback.
“Ready.” Alan whispered, his face once again delighted by his own cleverness.
“You’re sure you can move about like that? Quietly?” Thumper asked, placing his hand on the door. Alan nodded confidently. A moment later they were once again nakedly vulnerable in the open halls. Since there was no way to re-lock the door from the outside, Thumper left it as it was as they made short work of the long hallway once more.
When they reached the stairs, they could hear soft masculine voices drifting up from the spiral, accompanied by telltale footsteps as hard-soled boots stomped towards them.
The Shire Reeve was preceded by his echoing footsteps, so Robin was ready, waiting still and silent, when he came through the door and carefully locked and bolted it behind him. As he drew closer to his bed, Robin moved behind him, pressing her knife against the soft spot at the base of his neck and moving her hand over his mouth at the same time.
“Good morning Taras.” She cooed. “Make note of the sharp point, and do be civil.” Her tone mocked him with pleasantry, but the Shire Reeve knew better.
“What are you doing here?” He demanded, whispering in a frustrated manner when she removed her hand. Despite his angry toned bravado, he remained still as she twisted the tip of the knife against his skin.
“I had a few informal inquiries to make.” Robin mumbled plaintively. “And you’ve been utterly unresponsive in court.”
“You are not entitled to inquiries.” He spat in reply. “You are a wanted fugitive.”
“I thought I was dead.” She grinned. “You really should keep your story straight.”
“You silly child.” Turning his head slightly, their eyes met. “You’re entering late to a game you can never hope to win. Instead of pestering me, why don’t you run back to Sherwood and hide while I pretend to hunt you down.”
“I’m not hiding, Taras.” Robin told him sternly. “And I’m not running. I am going to do anything it takes you have you removed, along with the rest of the usurpers.”
“And what do you intend to accomplish?” Raising his eyebrows, he smiled devilishly. “To return the realm to its original balance and prosperity? This is the real world darling, and all your fanciful idealism is meaningless and ineffectual.”
“We’ll see.” She muttered in reply.
“You know, it would not be difficult for me to make you stop.” Now, his tone threatened, though he was still smiling. “In fact, just outside of Sherwood there is an entire village of people that I can harm, kill, or punish for your misbehavior.”
“If you’re going to threaten Locke’s Lee.” Robin growled, twisting and pressing the blade until she drew blood. “Give me one good reason not to kill you now.” The Shire Reeve began to laugh, chuckling loudly until she pinched his adam’s apple to quiet him, and he coughed to clear his throat.
“You can’t kill me, Robin dear, because in the event of my death, if it be by unnatural causes, I have made arrangements to have Locke’s Lee burned to the ground.”
“Do you honestly think you can get away with that?” Robin asked, fighting to keep her voice even.
“Yes, in fact, I can.” The Shire Reeve crossed his arms in front of him, feigning fearlessness. “Being that the Pennsic Festival is being held on the plateau of Mt. Eislynn this year, it would be simple to organize an accident of drunken stupor, and over excited act of vandalism, really anything that would involve a pawn running through the streets with a lit torch.”
“Anything you plot will be discovered.”
“Oh yes, by precisely the people I’ve already hired to deal with such an issue.” Now, made brave by the trap he had set, the Shire Reeve turned to face her. “Locke’s Lee is a small, useless, farming village, whose only claim to fame in the last four decades has been their proximity to the Pennsic Festival. Anything could happen, and no one in their right mind would point a finger at me.”
“I will.” Robin countered. “Anything you do to the innocent people, in any village or city in all of Nottingham, I will send recompense on you ten fold. For every harm, for every death, for every penny taken in illegal taxation, I will serve justice on you personally.”
“I’ll be delighted to watch you try.” He dared, before hurriedly shouting. “GUARDS!”
With the window still open, his screaming was heard all throughout the courtyard, as well as in the hallway and high above where the Watchmen could be heard mobilizing already; stainless steel clanking as they ran.
Grabbing the Shire Reeve by his collar, Robin shoved him against the dresser, jamming her knife through his shirt and deep into the heavy wood. Even as he lurched and pulled, struggling to pull himself free, Robin broke open the locks and slipped into the hallway, listening to the sound of stainless steel boots as they ran across the parapet.