“I think we should leave the castle” Cathy whispered as soon as the door closed behind Dale and the lock clicked into place again.
“We can’t” Gwen whispered. “You heard Dale”
A bang sounded on the door “Silence in there” an angry face appeared in the small opening, he scanned the room and checked the door.
“What can they do?” Another voice called from down the corridor “They are in a cell and the castle is closed shut”
“Just making sure” The guard said the face vanished and the sound of distancing footsteps were heard in the corridor.
“You’ve heard him we don’t any options anyway” Arthur shrugged.
“Even if we could have get out somehow we could never get our horses out” Gwen reminded them.
“I’m not leaving my horse here” Peter seconded Gwen, he was attached to his stallion and wasn’t going to part from him.
“So it is settled, we will look for the killer” Arthur summarized their conversation.
It wasn’t long after that Cathy and Arthur were peeking behind a corner to check if it was clear to cross the main dining hall towards the stairs leading to the floors above located on the other side of the big hall.
A short discussion brought them to the conclusion that if they all left the cell their escape would be quickly discovered, the guards will be looking for them at that point and it would be even a greater problem running around the castle than they already had.
The decision was that two would stay behind at all times and they would rotate shifts looking for clues.
The big stone castle had already set into the night routines, the hour was late and most of the torches were already extinguished and it made it harder to walk around but it was harder for the guards to see them as well.
Arthur and Cathy have spotted a few maids and servants huddling in groups whispering in the corners, maids were sobbing while the servants were mumbling. It was easy to avoid them and to their obvious surprise no guards appeared in their path. The dining hall was already empty, they all had hoped some food will still be out to grab as they hadn’t eaten for a while except for some fruits a long while before the dinner which never happened.
Arthur ran across the hall keeping to the walls hiding in the shadows. He made it to the other side motioning for Cathy to go ahead. It took him a moment to realize she couldn’t see him and he whistled softly letting Cathy know it was okay to move and he could barely hear her running.
A tap on his shoulder made him jump in his place almost screaming out holding himself in the last moment. Turning quickly he found himself facing a young small maid. She was petite, almost like Gwen, though she seemed a bit older. Red long hair was framing her delicate face. She was dressed with ragged clothing and her face seemed like she had been crying.
“I’m sorry if I’ve frightened you” she quickly said seeing the fear slowly leaving his face.
“Don’t worry” Arthur said, trying to gain his courage again hoping this young maiden doesn’t hear his heart beats.
“Who is this?” Cathy asked immediately when she reached the two.
“My name is Sarah” the young maid said. “You must be Arthur and Cathy?” she asked smiling when the two nodded their heads. “The rumor of your arrival at the village was heard by everyone in the castle” she explained.
“Thank you Sarah, but we have to…“ Arthur started but Sarah immediately explained herself.
“I want to help” she said, “I heard stories of your deeds and I don’t believe you killed my mistress” she sighed and a tear appeared in the corner of her eye.
It was a moment later they were standing at the end of the corridor looking at their rooms. Sarah returned from a glance inside finding them empty although it was clear the rooms were searched.
Both Arthur and Cathy hurried into their rooms trying to find the weapons they hid earlier that day. The room was thoroughly searched and their prized weapons they valued so much were gone.
“What are you looking for?” Sarah asked when she saw the two running around, resting at last in the boy’s room settling on the bed.
“For our weapons” Cathy answered, the frustration obvious on her face.
“It is so exciting you have your own weapons” Sarah said with an astound look.
“Well… we used to” Cathy frowned.
“We’ll find them” Arthur calmed her down.
“I think…wait a moment” Cathy ran out of the room, coming back a moment later with Gwen’s dagger in her hand. “She hid it inside the mattress” Cathy smiled, “They must have missed it.”
“She thinks better than the rest of us” Arthur laughed.
Cathy settled back on the bed beside Sarah while Arthur started walking the room. Cathy noticed he was doing this lately when he was thinking.
“What can you tell us?” Arthur turned to Sarah, making her blush a little.
“Well, I…” Sarah started to stammer but regained herself when she saw Arthur’s calm and smiling face. “Well, the word around the castle is the lady was poisoned” she started and Arthur nodded her to go on as he was already assuming that part. “The interesting part is that the Lord and the lady sat in the wrong seats” she continued.
“So the poison was intended for Lord Grey” Cathy finished for her and Sarah nodded.
“Are there any whispers of who could have tried to kill him?” Arthur asked.
“Except for you?” Sarah asked completely serious.
“Yes, of course, except for us” Arthur smiled.
“Well you see, no one ever loved Dian and since Don came around things just got weird” Sarah tried to explain, “But no one really believes Dian could murder her own father” she concluded.
“I guess not” Cathy agreed.
Arthur didn’t seem as convinced but he continued to play along. “Do you know of someone outside the castle who would have wanted to kill him?” He asked.
“Like an enemy?” Sarah asked and continued when she saw Arthur nodded. “No, I can’t think of anyone, Lord Grey is a very kind man.”
Sarah lead them back down towards the dining hall and finally down the stairs towards their cell. She was looking out for guards but at this hour of the night the castle was completely silent.
“We can’t go back without bringing any food” Cathy said, “At least to Peter” she smiled.
Laughing, Arthur agreed and turned towards Sarah who led them into the kitchen, grabbing some food quickly and returning to their cell. They knocked softly to let their friend know they are coming in.
As Sarah was turning to leave, she backtracked and whispered through the window. “I’ll try and meet you here tomorrow night.”
“Thank you” Arthur whispered back.
“Tomorrow night?” Peter asked, “We are staying here another night?”
“Here in this cell?” Gwen joined in.
“”I hope we won’t” Arthur explained, “But it wouldn’t hurt if we had some help moving around at night.”
“Are we going to eat?” Peter pointed to the bread and cheese in their hands.
The four laughed and ate sitting down close to each other.
“We should get some rest” Arthur finally said when they were all done.
“I’ll take the first shift” Gwen volunteered as they agreed to keep a watchful eye during the night as well.
“Peter, get up” Arthur nudged him on the shoulder, walking over to wake up Gwen.
During their late dinner a decision was made that the next couple should leave the cell before dawn making it easier for them to wander in the castle and avoid the guards.
“Try snooping around for some more clues” Arthur whispered when they were up and ready to leave the cell.
“We can try the stables” Peter suggested in a hope to check their horses are okay as well.
“Try to locate Dian and Don’s room, if you can search it that would be even better” Arthur agreed.
Gwen nodded “We’ll see you soon,” closing the door silently behind them while Arthur turned the key slowly locking the door behind them.
“Wake up in there” A hand slammed on the door and laughter noises came from outside.
Jumping to her feet Cathy position herself in front of the small window, blocking the guard’s view inside the cell.
“Would you like some breakfast?” the guard asked.
“Yes please” Cathy answered immediately.
“Ha…Ha…Ha…” The guard started laughing. “Did you hear that?” he shouted to his friends. “Someone should bring them some wine and pastries” he laughed and closed the small window and from inside the cell they could hear him walk away. They were both happy with the fact they had some sense of bringing food over in their previous night roaming, but even more than that they were happy Gwen and Peter weren’t discovered.
Horses were his passion since he could remember himself. Being a stable boy only increased his love and now that he had one of his own he took care of this magnificent animal. Standing inside the stall beside his horse he was stroking it softly and whispering calming words to it.
They have tracked down the stable boy who remembered them from the day before. He seemed a bit surprised to see them running about but after reassuring him it was all a misunderstanding he was willing to talk.
No one had left the castle yet but the rumors are that the gates will be opened tomorrow, he told them. The funeral was supposed to be held the next morning and people were supposed to be coming from all around the area to pay their last respects. “She was very kind and loved” he concluded, looking over his shoulder he panicked and ran off.
“Where are we going next?” Gwen whispered when they were left alone.
Peter was still looking at his young stead wanting to jump on his back and head out of this castle, but the thought quickly left his mind as he remembered his friends and their promise.
“We should try and find Don and Dian’s rooms” Gwen continued and started to head away when Peter nodded his approval.
“Something is wrong” Cathy whispered to Arthur.
“They are probably fine” Arthur tried to reassure her.
“It is taking them too long” She continued.
“I’m pretty sure they felt the same last night” he tried.
Cathy looked at him for a moment and finally nodded, “I guess.”
Cathy slopped down beside Arthur on the cold stone floor.
It was the fifth floor they were searching since they managed to sneak back into the castle without being seen. They looked into the rooms they passed, slowly passing between them trying to avoid the servants and the maids.
“I think this is it” Gwen whispered to Peter.
“I hope so” Peter whispered, “I’m tired and…” he stopped when he saw Gwen looking at him and could imagine the look Cathy would have given him.
This room was much bigger than all the previous rooms. A huge bed stood on the far side, a pink canopy was covering the bed. The fabric seemed like something the two never seen before. A big stand with silver jewelry was standing beside a big corner table with a small chair at its feet. Two small vials were standing on the table and a big wooden box with a crescent on it.
“This is probably Dian’s room” Peter said, taking a look around. “This looks like a princess’s room.”
“What are we looking for?” Gwen asked, trying to spot anything that could help.
“I don’t really know” Peter said and headed towards a large chest standing at the foot of the bed.
“I knew you were thieves” a voice sounded behind Gwen and before she could react a sharp kitchen knife was pressed to her throat. A strong arm was pinning Gwen to the spot.
“We should look for them” Cathy said again walking the stall back and forth.
Arthur sighed, he was also feeling they were out for a very long time and the two should have been back by now.
“What if something happened?” Cathy said again.
“SHUT UP IN THERE” a fist banged on the door and the small window opened. “Lunch is served.” The guard said throwing four slices of stale bread into Cathy’s face.
“Hey…” Cathy snapped at him.
“Don’t tempt me to come inside” the guard said, “we are all waiting to get our hands on you fellows.” With that he threw the window shut again and headed away.
“They could have been caught” Cathy whispered tilting her head towards the door.
“Let’s go” Arthur said and stood up.
The room was smaller and almost unfurnished in comparison to the Dian’s room. The two rooms shared a door which they passed and before Peter’s eyes could adjust a short rope was thrown at him. “Tie your hands to the bed” Dian’s maid said to Peter.
Slowly Peter created a noose. “Faster, I don’t care much for this girl. I will kill her.”
Peter complied and quickly finished tying himself and looked back to see the woman holding Gwen tighter than before and the knife seemed awfully close to her neck. Peter thought he could have tackled her but there wasn’t any outcome that wouldn’t result in Gwen’s death and he wasn’t going to let that happen.
“Now how about you tie yourself” she pushed Gwen who fell face down into the bed.
“We didn’t kill her” Gwen shouted at her.
“I don’t really care” she said, “I’ll kill the both of you just because you annoy me.”
A gasp made all of them turn only to see Sarah standing in the entrance to the room.
Sarah was holding large plate filled with food in her hand which fell to the ground as she realized what she saw. She immediately turned in her place and bolted from the room.
The maid looked from the door to Gwen who was sitting on the bed, her look went back and forth trying to assess the greater danger. Finally she sighed and ran after Sarah. “Sarah please stop” she yelled after her.
Gwen looked at Peter who nodded his head. “I’ll be fine”, and without waiting anymore Gwen left the room in a hurry looking for the two.
It took Cathy and Arthur a while before they managed to reach the stairs making their way up. The rooms and corridors were full of maids and servants going back and forth. They slowly made their way up the floors losing their way in the process until reaching a familiar room.
It was Lord Grey’s room again and it was guarded by four guards who fortunately enough haven’t noticed them yet.
There was no way of getting inside or passing through the corridor either. Hiding pressed together in a small recess in the wall, the two were contemplating how to leave the corridor when a scream came. “Help me” Sarah appeared running straight towards the guards who quickly returned to full alert.
A confused look passed between the two when they spotted Dian’s maid behind Sarah, she dropped a kitchen knife on the floor and before the two could react Gwen appeared panting.
“Where is Peter?” Arthur whispered stopping Gwen in place with surprise.
“Two floors down, tied in Dian’s room” She answered.
“Help Sarah” Arthur told Cathy, “tell the guards we want to give ourselves into lord Grey and we are in Dian’s room” he finished and bolted towards the stairs down.
Cathy joined Gwen when Dian’s maid started shouting. “She is trying to kill us like they killed the lady” pointing to Gwen and the knife beside her legs. She was a bit confused from the appearance of Cathy but it didn’t stop her long. “Her friend is here to help her. Please, you have to help us” she pleaded to the guards.
Quickly drawing their swords, two of the guards were standing a few steps from the girls. “Slowly come over” one of the guards said, looking for their quick obedience.
“I will not repeat myself” he continued when the two didn’t move.
“We want to see LORD GREY” Cathy shouted his name, praying with all her heart that Arthur knew what he was doing and Lord Grey was actually in his room.
“Girls, COME HERE NOW” the guard was irritated.
“WE WANT LORD GREY” the girls shouted at once.
One of the guards lunged forward trying to grab Gwen but he underestimated her. She easily side stepped and with a quick response the two threw him forward into the floor using his own momentum.
The remaining guards were shocked and before the one on the ground recovered the girls grabbed his sword and were standing above him.
“We want LORD GREY” Cathy yelled keeping the sword at the guard’s neck.
“Grab them” the one who was closest shouted and all of them hurried forward.
“STOP!” sounded a call from the entrance to the room. Lord Grey appeared with Dale a step behind him. “What is going on here?”
“My lord, please go inside” the same guard asked.
“I think two girls are getting the better of your men” Lord Grey said with a smile. “Maybe they should be my guards.” He turned to assess the situation, then turning his look back to the guard. “Bill, what is happening here?”
“My lord, the two were chasing the maids with a knife” Bill answered quickly.
“That one over there?” Lord Grey asked.
Bill’s cheeks flushed and he seemed to stammer, “Sir… I… Sir…”
“My lord, if I may…” Sarah started but a strong fist slammed into her back and she was silenced.
“Do not talk to Lord Grey” Dian’s maid snapped at Sarah.
“I…I…” Sarah quickly quieted and lowered her gaze.
“My lord, can we return them to the cell?” Bill asked.
“There is another one” Dian’s maid quickly added.
“My Lord, we will all happily give ourselves up. Arthur and Peter are waiting downstairs” Cathy offered immediately.
“Well than lead on” Lord Grey said, “But please return the sword to my guard, he lost enough dignity for the day” he smiled and Cathy didn’t hesitate in doing as he said.
“My lord, can we ask for the maids to accompany us?” Gwen asked suddenly.
“It seems odd, but I will allow it” Lord Grey said.
“My lord, we have work to do…”Dian’s maid said.
“You’ll do as ordered” Bill snapped at her, trying to regain his confidence.
“What are you looking for?” Peter asked Arthur after he untied him and was now smelling each one of the bottles on Dian’s perfume table.
Smiling back Arthur pointed to a small bottle. “This.”
“Hello Arthur” Lord Grey said as he entered the room.
“Can we take them back to their cell?” Bill interfered.
“Wait Sir, can we hear them out?” Dale suggested and Lord Grey nodded.
“Cathy can you two please bring the maid” Bill turned and allowed the girls to enter the room with the two maids.
“Bill can you please close the door?” Arthur asked and Lord Grey nodded his head again as approval. Bill quickly complied, leaving the three guards outside.
Peter was eating a pastry from the plate which Sarah dropped earlier.
“Why are you eating?” Cathy asked Peter who only smiled at her.
“Would you like one?” Arthur offered the plate around the room. After Lord Grey took one the rest followed his lead.
After he saw the maid taking a bite from the pastry “My lord, I think I’ve found what killed the lady, I’ve put it on the pastries” he raised the small bottle from the table.
“We are going to die” the maid yelled and dropped to her knees trying to spit out what she ate.
“You know what it is?” Lord Grey asked calmly.
“Please Lord Grey, help me. This is the poison” she cried.
“Don’t worry my lord, you can eat the pastry, I never used it” Arthur smiled and Lord Grey took a large bite enjoying the flavors, nodding for Bill to grab the maid.
After the funeral the four paid their condolences and left the castle back home to their small village.
“How did you know this was the poison?” Peter asked.
“Well, it seemed odd for a perfume bottle to not have any smell” he smiled.
“Lord Grey knows she was just the assassin, why didn’t he do anything with her sender?” Gwen wondered.
“Would you have killed your only daughter?” Arthur asked.
“Besides we are the only ones except for him who knows that” Cathy added.
“I hope he keeps a watchful eye, he is a nice man” Arthur sighed.
Copyright © 2013 The Silver Wolf