Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The King's Challenge #20 and #21

TKC 20 and 21

After Attis has delivered both food and dry clothes and after eating to the last crumb, we sleep. This entails stiff postures from both of us, as we attempt to lie on the same bed without actually touching, but sleep we do need. Tonight we will go for the boats; we need to be alert and strong.

Soon the sounds of a city awakening to a new day no longer bother me and Damin’s soft snores tell me he is asleep. I relax and oblivion takes me.

Hours later I suddenly snap into awareness when a particularly loud noise penetrates the fog of sleep. I realise someone is at the door. The knocking there is loud and repeated. I also realise Damin’s arm is across me. For a moment I consider not moving, to lie there forever with that warmth on me, but the knocking becomes insistent.

In a flurry of movement meant to jar Damin into wakefulness, I leave the bed. By the wan light in the room, I can tell evening draws near. It is still raining.

“Lyra, wait. We don’t know who it is,” Damin whispers as he rolls from the bedding to stand. From the sodden bundle of discarded clothes in the corner he withdraws a dagger and then stealthily approaches the door.

I have a similar dagger in my pack and I swiftly have it to hand. All the young of Grenmassin are taught how to fight and for that I am now thankful. In silence I step into the darkest shadows.

Damin nods at me and then says, “Who is there?” in a normal tone.

The knocking ceases immediately. “Attis.”

Rolling his eyes, Damin unlocks and hauls the lad inside, quickly locking again. “Boy, you just told the entire inn where we are.”

“Mirlin told me to wake you no matter what,” Attis gripes. “I tried to be quiet, but you weren’t listening.”

“Mirlin is here?” Damin snaps out. “How do you know Mirlin?”

The tousle-haired boy stands arms akimbo before Damin and I hide a grin. “Mirlin is my uncle. I am his eyes in the city.”

Damin glares. “Well, you could have told me that in the lower city. I almost had you killed, by the stars.”

Attis turns away, looking for me. “Lyra would not let anything happen to me, I knew it. Lyra?”

I step from the shadows. “You are safe where I am, yes. Now tell us your news.” This time I smile widely when the boy perches on the rumpled bed as if he is part of our family.

“Mirlin came as the sun lowered, said to wake you, saw you come here, he was watching for you. Says the lawmen concentrate on the edge, pushing folk back into the water, so it’s safe to go east as planned.” Attis squints up. “What is in the east?”

“Never mind,” Damin mutters. “Did he say he will meet us?”

A nod. “At the jailhouse.”


“He’s already there,” Attis shrugs.

“Then we must make haste,” Damin says, but I shake my head and add, “We eat first. Attis?”

The boy nods vigorously and scoots off the bed to go to the door. “Supper is ready downstairs. I’ll bring yours up.” Unlocking, he vanishes.

Damin stares at me. “It will be dangerous, Lyra.”

“And people are dying. Whatever this night brings, we get as many to safety as we can. We use the rain to hide us from sound and sight.”

Sighing, Damin starts donning boots and gear. “That was the plan. This rain is the best defence, even as it is the cause.”

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