Two hooded figures were sneaking from the back of a house. At this late hour the darkness covered swallowed them quickly allowing them to disappear into the night.
“It’s pouring” Peter murmured half to himself and half as an accusation to Arthur. “It’s pouring” he mumbled again thinking Arthur didn’t him.
The two were covered with their only travel cape covering most of their bodies. It didn’t help much as their cloth were already soaked and the two already fantasized about the moment they returned to the inn to dry out by the fire.
“I can’t believe you volunteered us to go” Peter continued.
Knowing he had to let out some steam Arthur didn’t answer. Both of them knew they were the obvious choice for this task but Peter liked to have someone to blame for his misery.
“Why can’t we wait for the rain to stop in order to bring the flour?” Peter continued.
“Because it hadn’t stopped for three days” Arthur finally answered. “We are waiting on it to stop since lunch” he continued.
The door of the building connected to the watermill was slightly ajar which seemed odd with this weather, but the watermill owner was known as a little odd.
Arthur knocked softly on the door, waiting for a response.
“He can’t hear you” Peter banged on the door, partially opening it with his knocks.
“Jack…” Arthur called inside, trying to overcome the noise of the rain and the mill as well.
“Jack…Jack….” The two called when there was no response from inside.
Stepping inside, the place looked empty and dark. They could make out the mill turning at the far side, still producing flour. At the other corner stood a large pile of flour filled sacks but this was more their knowledge of the place and less their eyes seeing it.
“Great, we’ve come all this way and he isn’t here?” Peter grumped, although he was glad to be finally out of the rain.
“Don’t worry, he must be near by” Arthur assured him after wandering the room.
“How do you know?” Peter asked
“This sack is new” Arthur pointed to the one near the mill, he didn’t go far.
Arthur turned when he heard Peter stumble to the ground. “Be careful, don’t break anything.”
“The old man keeps forgetting stuff on the ground” Peter said, trying to get up. “I think his roof is leaking, the floor is wet over here, it can’t be good for the wheat or flour.”
Arthur extended his hand to help him up.
“What’s down there? It’s the second time I’ve stumbled into it” Peter asked, trying to clean his hands on his cloth.
The two bent down reaching around on the floor. Realizing quickly what they were grabbing, the two jumped back up.
Jack’s body was on the floor. Arthur looked at his now blood covered hands. “We have to call for help” he said to Peter heading quickly towards the door.
Peter, the tall skinny blond boy was shivering. He couldn’t tell if it was from the rain and cold outside or the encounter with a corpse.
“Over there” Peter motioned to a group heading their way.
Arthur couldn’t identify the incoming group, but he could see a few men and women holding pitchforks and axes. Twenty feet away a loud shout came from the crowd: “Get them, they’ve murdered Jack.”
Still stunned, the boys looked at each other. “Run?” Peter mumbled, while Arthur nodded and they sprinted away.
“We didn’t kill him” Peter shouted back to the raging crowd behind them which seemed to get bigger by the moment.
“I’m not sure it would help” Arthur called over the pouring rain.
They were just passing a small cabin when a man came out.” Grab them” he quickly ran towards the two and grabbed Arthur by his cape, making him turn on the spot. “Let me go!” Arthur called, seeing their lead shrink. The man threw a punch sending Arthur to the ground into a puddle.
Looking for Peter, the man turned just in time to get hit by a board in the face. Peter grabbed Arthur by the hand helping him up. “Can you run?” he asked.
Arthur nodded and the two continued with only a small lead on their pursuers.
“We need to split up” Arthur said, knowing Peter could outrun them easily without him. “Meet me at the far side of the village on the edge of the woods.” A nod of agreement sent them both in different directions in the village.
Looking over his shoulder he could see half of the crowd stayed behind him and he had to try and loose them. A few quick turns didn’t help and Arthur could feel the fatigue, hoping his chasers are feeling it as well. On his right stood a small barn which he knew had a hidden door in the back. He ran straight inside, disappearing from his chasers view. In his rush he nearly missed the door but a short back step and he was again running outside in the rain, leaving the crowd to search for him in the barn.
After another sharp turn he slipped on a puddle. Getting up slowly he realized he wasn’t sure where he was. Although he knew the village like the back of his hand, the cold, rain and rush of being chased confused him.
After another turn the familiar inn stood in front of him. John and Merry, the inn owners and the ones who treated them like their children for a while, were standing at the door. “What’s happening?” Merry cried when Arthur stopped breathless in front of her.
“Jack…. Was…. murdered” Arthur exclaimed still hyperventilating.
“By who?” John asked.
“They… think… it’s us.”
“Why would you kill him?” Merry asked bewildered.
“We… didn’t of course… Are the girls here?” Arthur asked.
“They went out when they heard the commotion outside” John said.
“Come inside” John said pointing towards the inn. “We’ll keep you safe.”
“I can’t” Arthur said after a short thought, “They’ll expect us to come back here. If you see the girls tell them we’ll be in the woods.”
John nodded, and Merry sobbed softly.
Running between the houses, keeping to the shadows, the already drenched Arthur was exhausted. He managed to make his way to the edge of the village unspotted and had only a short run towards the woods when a strong hand grabbed his shoulder from behind.
“Here’s the little murderer” said a familiar voice.
When Arthur turned, there stood Sam – the thief they stopped a couple of month earlier.
“We didn’t kill him” Arthur pleaded.
“I know…ha ha ha” Sam laughed out loud.
He grabbed Arthur and punched him straight in the chin dropping him to the ground unconscious.
Sam grabbed Arthur by the arms and started pulling him towards the nearest house. “Stop right there” Cathy called coming from behind a corner. She came out holding a bow and arrow aimed at Sam. The small figure of Gwen appeared on Cathy’s side “Let’s tie him up” she said.
A few moments later, leaving Sam tied inside the house they were carrying Arthur towards the woods, one under each arm. “Over here” they heard a whisper from behind a tree and before they could react a wolf came to greet them.
The old man they helped a while ago was leading them towards his cabin. The girls were struggling to carry Arthur and avoiding stepping on the She wolf which was running around between them.
The cabin was warm and cozy. When they stepped inside they immediately spotted Peter warming himself by the fire, eating a piece of bread.
“Peter…?” the girls called and he jumped to help them carry Arthur inside, placing him near the fire place.
Warming themselves by the fire while Peter explained what happened, they waited for Arthur to regain consciousness.
“Are you okay?” Cathy asked, caressing his brown hair from his forehead.
“I think so” Arthur said, trying to focus his eyes.
Gwen took a piece of cloth and wiped a few drops of blood from his mouth.
“We need to hurry” Arthur said still trying to sit up.
“What’s the rush?” Peter asked.
It was a short explanation, but the plan seemed a bit more problematic. It seemed that the boys had been framed by the vengeful Sam.
“You should take this” the old man handed them a dagger.
“I think we shouldn’t be carrying weapons” Arthur said. “Thank you for your help.”
The four left the cabin in different directions. “Try to bring them fast” Arthur called after the girls who nodded and ran away.
“Will it work?” Peter asked hopefully.
Arthur nodded. “I hope so” he whispered, “I really hope so” he continued more to himself.
The sounds of the crowd searching for them could easily be heard from afar. The rain was dropping in what looked like a fury. Arthur couldn’t spot where their pursuers exactly were but he hoped they could hide in the shadows long enough.
It didn’t take them long to spot Sam’s house. A group of men were standing with their back to the house. They were lurking around as if they were expecting the boys to come. Standing there frustrated, the two were not sure what to do. Suddenly a shout came from a distance. “THEY ARE HERE!!” And before the two could react the group had disappeared into the shadows between the houses. So far the plan was working, Arthur thought.
When the two ascended the few stairs in front of the house they thought every man in the village could hear the sounds the wood boards made under their feet. Slowly opening the door Arthur peeked inside, not sure what was he expecting to see. After a few steps inside, Arthur was about to turn and call Peter when the door shut close behind him and a silhouette was blocking his way. Sam’s son was standing in front of him. “You should have minded your own business” he spat at Arthur.
Peter was banging on the door from the outside but it looked like the door was locked. Realizing he was alone, Arthur faked a right and ran left seeing Sam’s son taking the bait. He was much bigger than Arthur but he looked a bit clumsy and angry, he was bound to make a mistake.
Sam’s son ran towards Arthur who dodged him again in the last moment, running out of room to run to. Arthur looked to a corner seeing a bloody axe. Quickly realizing what this was he knew he had the evidence he needed. Now he hoped he would have some luck.
The door was still shut closed but the window was slightly open. Arthur readied himself and smashed his shoulder into the boy, throwing him backwards, hitting the window with his hand and throwing it open. Now Arthur had to pick his moment to leave.
Peter heard the squeak of the opening window and the sounds of a struggle from inside. He ran towards the closest house for help but it was empty. He cursed his luck and ran a bit further when a thought came to his head which he hoped will not cost them their lives.
“I’m here” he called to a few men not far away and the chase began.
“GET HIM!!” The crowd shouted and now they were coming from two directions. Peter just hoped he will be able to reach Sam’s house before they catch him.
Peter couldn’t see Cathy and Gwen when he glanced over his shoulder.
The crowd was closing on him but he managed to reach the window, seeing Sam’s son holding Arthur by the collar of his blouse.
A man caught Peter from behind and was about to hit him when an arrow flew between them, hitting the house wall just beside the window silencing the crowd.
“Now you’ll die” called Sam’s son from inside the house to Arthur unaware of the crowd outside.
Facing the window, Arthur seized the opportunity. “At least tell me why did you kill Jack?” He Tried.
“He was an old fool, we wanted to frame and then kill you” The boy laughed. “Dad will be so jealous. He wanted to be the one who killed you.”
“But Jack didn’t do a thing” Arthur continued.
“You should have seen him beg” The boy laughed. He was now lifting the axe in his right arm ready to swing.
Another arrow pierced the night and the boy fell, dropping the axe and Arthur to the ground.
“I can’t believe you hit him right in the arse” John said when the four were seated around the fire place in the big inn.
The recount of the story would be told a lot in that night but the four needed a little rest.
Sam was never caught and his boy was taken by a few local guards who headed to the nearest keep to escort him.
“You know we never got the flour?” Peter said.
The crowd around them laughed.