Chapter 13:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 226
Comments: 1

13.1

Ted led Simon quickly up and down several stairs and tunnels. Blindfolded, Simon felt rather vulnerable, but Ted didn't do anything unexpected. At last Ted removed the blindfold in a low roofed cave. It was too roughly cut out to be called a room.

“If I say back,” Ted said in a low voice, “this is where I want you to come to. Now come quietly and watch in silence.”

Simon followed him out of a very low arch, overhung with wiry weeds and out on to a ledge. They turned left and crawled round into a narrow gully, full of tangled shrubbery. The gully was very steep and lead from the ledge to the top of the cliff. At the top of the gully, Ted signalled Simon to stay.

On the cliff top a soldier paced. He'd just turned and was walking back the way he'd come towards them. Ted crouched tensely beside Simon, his eyes fixed on the soldier, like a spider watching a fly hovering before the web. As the soldier drew near, Simon expected Ted to confront him with a drawn sword, but Ted didn't move. The soldier came right up to the gully and still Ted stayed where he was. The soldier turned and Simon thought that Ted would wait for a moment, and then run somewhere, but again he was wrong.

As soon as the soldier's back was turned, Ted leaped up and struck the soldier reeling. The soldier tried to turn but didn't attempt to draw his sword. Ted struck him with accurate blows and used his feet to prevent the soldier from stepping aside. A matter of seconds later the soldier was down on his front with his arms spread wide. He tried to get up again but Ted kicked him and struck him until he lay still. Then Ted dropped to his knees, one knee between the soldier's shoulders and one on his right arm. Simon could see the man's Face from where he lay in the gully. Fear was written on it as clearly as the image of a shield was painted on his leather cap.

Ted hooked his left arm under the soldier's neck and pulled his head back roughly. “Ok Adrian,” he said in a low voice. “Start talking.”

The soldier closed his eyes as though wanting not to see and so not be seen. “Oh,” he muttered. “You mean the archery.”

“That's right,” Ted confirmed and tightened his grip. “Go on.”

“I had no choice,” Adrian pleaded. He quickly realised what Ted would say and corrected himself. “I mean I did but not a fair one. The commander was watching me all the time and if I didn't shoot I'd have been questioned and locked up and I don't know what else. I made sure that I missed. I did.”

“How do I know that you were aiming to miss?” Ted demanded grimly and reached round to where Adrian had dropped his bow when he fell.

“I wouldn't have missed if I'd aimed to hit,” Adrian begged. “Please, trust me on this. I didn't try to hit. I tried very hard not to.”

“And what if you had?” Ted pressed and lifted Adrian's bow. From where Simon was crouching he could see how Ted was holding the bow, ready to flick it round.

“I didn't though,” Adrian defended. “I didn't even damage your boat.”

“I know you didn't,” Ted said grimly and, just as Simon had expected, he flicked the bow round in his hand so that it struck Adrian across the bridge of his nose and the string that Ted had semi drawn was released to strike Adrian's chin. “I know you missed us, but you were playing a dicey game. What if one of us had moved? Particularly with that last shot. What if you'd hit?”

“I don't know,” Adrian whimpered. “I just hoped that my aim was good enough to miss. I couldn't really not shoot.”

“Why not,” Ted demanded, threatening to strike Adrian with the bow again.

“I tried my best,” Adrian pleaded. “I cut my bowstring earlier, when you left, so that I had an excuse not to shoot. I couldn't do that again, particularly as the commander was there and the other man was pointing you out so clearly. I fumbled and took time about aiming so that as few shots as possible would be loosed, but I had to shoot. If I hadn't…”

“Did you for one moment think about whether hitting would be worse than not shooting?” Ted threatened and tapped the bowstring. “And I see you thought about shooting again as your bow is still strung.”

“I didn't really think about it,” he confessed miserably. “But I made sure that I didn't hit. And I forgot about my bow. I don't intend shooting. I never wanted to shoot in the first place.”

Ted dropped the bow and leant over to reach Adrian's short dagger. He drew it and leant back towards the bow, simultaneously pulling Adrian's head further back. “Maybe you should think about things more,” he said quietly and cut the bowstring in the centre where it was least likely to break. “There are ways of making sure that you don't have to shoot.”

“I know,” Adrian gasped, for Ted was now hurting him. “But I can't swap duties any more. The commander won't allow it. My friend already suspects something and if I swap duties, he'll suspect it all the more. I just can't swap duties.”

“Who is this friend,” Ted demanded suddenly fiercer.

Adrian hesitated, reluctant to tell. Simon could see the struggle in his face. It was obvious that Ted would find out and the soldier knew it, but didn't want to be the reason for him acquiring this knowledge. All the same he spoke. “He's the man who was on duty with me here.”

“He called the commander to watch you when you didn't shoot last night?” Ted demanded.

“Yes,” Adrian replied dejectedly, in the kind of voice that betrayed his wish not to speak at all if he'd had that option.

“What's his name?” Ted pressed and yet again tightened his hold, as though knowing that Adrian needed persuasion to speak.

“Clamston,” Adrian gasped. “Alexander Clamston.”

“And he keeps this duty?” Ted checked.

“With me, yes,” Adrian gasped.

“Except you won't be on this duty, will you?” Ted brought them back to the previous point.

“I can't swap duties,” Adrian tried to protest, but without sounding convincing. Instead he sounded weak and vulnerable and Simon suddenly realised that he was. The soldier could not help himself or oppose Ted in any way. “There's no way I can avoid shooting,” he gasped and would have gone on to beg but Ted didn't let him.

“Find a way,” He retorted aggressively.

Suddenly Simon saw Ted tense. He looked around and then he too heard it. Someone was coming. He couldn't see the man yet as the trench didn't allow him a view of the fort side of things, but he could hear him whistling.

“Find a way,” Ted repeated, twisted round and stabbed Adrian with the short dagger in under his arm, beneath the chain mail. He drew back his hand and dropped the knife, jumped up and dove into the gully beside Simon. A few moments later they were both back on the ledge and crawling back into the cave.

“Why?” Simon asked in a whisper as he straightened in the cave.

“Why did I stab him?” Ted asked quietly.

Simon nodded.

“Several reasons,” Ted replied calmly. “For one thing, he won't forget to try and swap duties. If he's clever he can use it to his advantage. Also, it makes the point that I won't let him get away with shooting at us, even if he is trying to miss. He took risks in shooting, particularly that last shot. He could easily have been shot dead by us. He'll understand that now.” He did not add that it showed Simon who was in charge and that he could be fierce.

Simon slowly nodded. He saw sense in it, but he'd been taught to think that it was foul play. The enemy always did it. Never the 'goodies'. It had been said that Narvis did it, but Simon didn't know if it was true. Striking enemies when they were already down, to him seemed to be something that everyone did. The difference was that some had reason and some didn't. He understood it when there was reason.

“Come on,” Ted called him from his thoughts and led the way towards the main door.

“Aren't you going to blindfold me?” Simon asked quietly.

“Oh, Yes,” Ted agreed with a smile. “I better.” He was surprised that Simon had reminded him, but pleased all the same. He wondered if it was the result of Simon seeing him question Adrian, but he couldn't draw a conclusive link. He quietly blindfolded Simon and led him back to the boat where Tom and Terry were waiting.

 

13.2

Adrian got up a few seconds after Ted had released him. He knew that a hasty departure meant the arrival of another. He picked up his dagger, cleaned and sheathed it. Then he took up his bow, tossed the broken string into a bush and put it unstrung into his quiver. He then thought about all the other things that the new comer could notice. His side already throbbed and blood would soon show through the chain mail. As for his face, sweat ran down his brow and into his eyes. He took out a rag and wiped his face. Then he turned and paced along the ridge away from the soldier.

“I don't see the point in me coming out here for five minutes,” the soldier began as he caught up with Adrian and padded along at his left side. The cliff was directly to Adrian's right.

“Nor do I,” Adrian agreed.

“I'm only ever called once the excitement's over,” the soldier complained.

“You like fighting,” Adrian replied a sudden glimmer of hope appearing.

“Love it. I'd love to shoot at some real smugglers. All I've done so far in this crazy war is shoot at other people who have been made to fight. No one's telling me that we fight for the good of the people.”

“I don't like fighting at all,” Adrian smiled. “Perhaps we could swap duties and do what we like doing best.”

“Really corporal,” the soldier beamed. “You're my friend! I'm on duty on the wall at this time and in the evening.”

“So we swap?” Adrian checked.

“It's a deal,” the soldier nodded vigorously.

They walked up and down the cliff a few times together. All the time Adrian made sure that the soldier was on his left. As they turned the fourth time the soldier looked at Adrian carefully.

“Are you all right corporal?” he asked genuinely concerned. “You're pale.”

“I'm fine,” Adrian lied and then thought about what the soldier would think of such an answer. He probably was pale. “I'm just anxious for my friend,” he justified. It was true, but not because of the reason he then gave. “He was wounded earlier.”

“Oh, I'm sure he'll be fine,” the soldier reassured and Adrian forced a smile. The soldier took it to mean that he wasn't so sure and smiled reassuringly back. “He will. He'll be all right,” the soldier said again.

“Yes,” Adrian agreed, but he wasn't sure. He feared for his friend and anyone else who was with him when Ted came. He knew that Ted would come and he didn't like it.

Again they walked the cliffs away from and then towards the fort.

“I'd say we could go now,” the soldier suggested hopefully.

“I'd agree,” Adrian smiled. “Don't forget that we're swapping duties,” he added as the soldier headed off.

“I wouldn't forget that,” the soldier laughed and went on towards the fort with a spring in his step.

Adrian didn't follow. Instead he sat down on the grass and turned round to look at his chain mail. The side was covered with blood. He took out his old cloth and tried to put it up the short sleeve of the chain mail to press on the wound.

Intent on what he was doing, he didn't hear Alexander approaching from behind.

“Adrian,” Alexander said quietly. “Take off your chain mail.”

Adrian started at the sound of Alexander's voice. 'Alexander,' he exclaimed. “Are you all right?”

“Yes,” Alexander answered shortly. “But what about you? Take off your chain mail. Let me see.”

“I'm fine,” Adrian tried to dismiss it. “An arrow caught me earlier. It's only a cut.”

“Adrian,” Alexander said impatiently. “Just take off the chain mail. Let me see and I will judge how bad it is.”

“It's…” Adrian tried to back out, but Alexander cut him off.

“Take it off,” he ordered. “Or is it so bad that you need help?” he took hold of Adrian's chain mail at the hem.

“I can take it off,” Adrian said indignantly. He knew that he now had no choice. It was coming off, so he obliged and removed it himself.

“That, Adrian,” Alexander sighed as he looked at the wound. “Is not an injury from an arrow. That is a knife wound and if you don't know the difference between a knife and an arrow by now, you shouldn't be in the army.”

Adrian didn't reply. He couldn't find anything safe to say.

“You were attacked, weren't you?” Alexander continued quietly.

Still Adrian didn't speak, but his silence spoke louder than any voice.

“I don't want it to be true Adrian,” Alexander went on after some time. “But I think you're in league with them and if it's true, it's my duty to inform Captain Crool.”

“Why would they attack me if I was in league with them?” Adrian demanded, seeing an excuse.

“Ok,” Alexander consented. “I take your point, but why do you avoid shooting at them? Why didn't they shoot at you? Why did you miss every shot when I know you always hit? Why did you always swap duties with me to be on guard at the active time of night on the wall on this side, looking towards the bay? And why now are you trying to swap duties to be away from here at active time? It doesn't make sense Adrian.”

Adrian stared at his feet. “I like the wall,” he muttered at last. It was a pitiful reply and Alexander knew that it wasn't true.

“You're not swapping duties,” he stated coldly. “If you try, I'll drag you out here and tell Captain Crool. You will shoot tomorrow and you will hit tomorrow. If you don't, I'll tell the commander my suspicions and you can justify yourself in front of him. I don't want it to be true Adrian, but it looks like it is.”

Adrian didn't move.

“Let me see to that wound,” Alexander said in a more gentle tone and helped Adrian remove his tunic.

 

13.3

“How are we going to get in?” Joe asked his father as they took down the sail just as they'd seen the smugglers do. “We didn't arrange to meet them and we can't land on the beach anyway.”

“I'm not sure,” Nathan replied and closed his eyes. He was tired. It wasn't very far to their home land and they were pleased that they'd crossed successfully without a third man, but it was exhausting. “I guess we'll have to wait,” he suggested.

At that moment Tom drew alongside in a very light one-man kayak-type boat. He hailed them and boarded, lifting his boat up into the stern. They rowed while he guided them in with an expert hand. They put on the blindfolds as he instructed and still rowed until he whispered to them to stop. Then he helped them out and up on to the platform. Ted and Simon were just back and helped lift the boat up and strap it against the roof as before with the one man boat tied up separately.

A few minutes later they had taken their blindfolds off again and were walking down the familiar tunnel to their room.

“Terry's bringing food,” Tom said. “I'm sure you're hungry.”

“Yes,” Nathan agreed. He put the large bag down in the corner of the room and Tom and Joe put their burdens beside it.

“How much is the oil?” Tom asked thumbing out the bags.

“It's not all oil,” Joe said. “There's food too.”

“Yes,” Tom smiled. He'd assumed as much. “But how much is the oil?”

“I'll work it out,” Nathan answered.

“All right,” Tom nodded. “Shall we play a game of cards?”

Nathan was about to deal when Terry and Ted came in.

“Will you play a game with us?” Nathan invited them.

“Might as well,” Ted smiled and sat down. Terry put the food on the eating table and joined them.

Nathan passed the cards to Ted to deal. Then Nathan played first.

“Jack of Diamonds,” he stated and put down the card.

Joe smugly added a Jack of Hearts, but as Terry played a King of Hearts his smug expression faded. Tom played a King of Spades and Ted followed it with a King of Clubs. 

“I've only got a Jack of Clubs,” Nathan said. “I need an Ace to play on that.” He picked up the cards and Joe played a three.

“Simon always used to have an Ace,” Joe commented as Terry played.

“I still think he cheated at cards,” Nathan laughed.

“Most people do,” Ted observed and played an Ace of Diamonds, forcing Nathan to pick up the pack again.

Tom nodded meaning fully and Nathan got the message.

“I'm not cheating this time,” Ted laughed. “Honestly. I've just got a good hand.”

Tom smiled. He knew Ted wasn't, but he was and he wasn't doing a very good job of it.

After winning the game, Ted excused himself and went out, but Tom and Terry remained for about half an hour. Nathan calculated the price of the oil per jar and was pleased when the smugglers paid it without trying to barter. It was a straight forward sail. They also discussed the price of food, but that wasn't settled upon.

“We can discuss it further at a later point,” Nathan said after Tom had offered a sum that wasn't sufficient for Nathan's liking.

“Very well,” Tom agreed and bid them good day. Then he and Terry left to join Ted and tell him how reasonably priced the oil had been.

Nathan and Joe then turned to their meal of Cold meat and not too warm reheated bean soup, the same as the previous night.

 

13.4

The dark blond haired man with liquid blue eyes knelt across from him. His heavily built stature seemed small and vulnerable in the stern of the flimsy boat, only ever meant to be a life craft and not a versatile vessel. He held tightly to the wet rope with one hand and gripped the side of the boat with the other. His eyes were fixed imploringly on the slight young man who stood before him with his friends behind.

“I beg you, let me go,” he whimpered. “Please let me go.”

“I'm not stopping you,” the slight man replied calmly. “You're free to get out of the boat again. Your ship's just there. Why don't you join her and your crew?”

“Don't mock me so, I entreat you.”

“I'm not mocking,” the man replied with a glance at his friends who sat smirking behind him. “I'm only pointing out your options. You can either join your crew or you could serve us. That's the option you've got. Now choose. I'm sure your crew would love to have you with them again.”

Harry scowled. It wasn't fair. “What have I done to you?” he demanded in a whining tone that irritated the three men.

“You haven't succeeded in doing anything yet,” the slight man conceded. “But if I give you another choice you will do something. You've sought us out all these years. You've fought with my father and now with me. I'm not having you in control of my home. You are no one. You have no claim and if you won't serve me, you can get right back into the sea where you belong. Now choose.” He spoke aggressively as it got to this final command. It was no surprise when Harry looked at the churning water and the vicious pounding waves on the ruthless rocks that he dropped his head and submitted.

“I have no real choice,” he muttered. “I will serve you.”

“Swear it,” the young man commanded and drew his short sword.

“I swear it,” Harry obediently said with his hand on the cold steel blade.

“Good,” the man half growled. “Now Take that oar and help.”

Harry near enough crawled to the bench, picked up the oar and dipped it into the water.

“Master,” he whispered after a few strokes. A sheet of lightning shattered the darkness and dazzled them for a moment. The strongest of the men who was at the tiller raised his hand to shield his eyes and the current tugged the light boat off course.

“Get the tiller straight,” the slight man shouted as his friend grabbed the tiller again and tried to correct his error.

“Master,” Harry called a bit louder.

“What?” the first man demanded briskly.

“What do I call you?” Harry asked.

“Master is good,” the master replied and picked up the extra oar to help correct their direction.

A sudden hard contact ground against the port side of the boat. The boat lurched wildly one way and then the other before finding her course. Another sheet of lightning lit up the sky and almost at once a clap of thunder retaliated. The war of light and dark resumed with darkness winning for the majority of the time, interjected with brief blinding flashes followed by a bellow of fury. The boat staggered forward, every timber in her quaking at the storm's wrath.

“Too close,” the slight man shouted.

“As though I didn't notice,” the strong man at the tiller yelled back.

“We need to get in,” the third man called urgently. “I don't like this lightning. It's too close.”

“I quite agree,” the first man shouted but a streak of lightning followed immediately by a roar of thunder drowned his words.

“Is she damaged?” the helmsman called into the momentary still after the thunder died away.

“What's it matter!” the slight man shouted back as the wind rose again with renewed vengeance. “She's a bundle of sticks as it is. Tim just can't build boats.”

“She's all we've…” his final word was lost as a clap of thunder deafened them with its power. The lightning was simultaneous. Alarmed the strong man leaped up. “Take the tiller Gray. I’ll row!”

Gray slipped across and handed his oar over. The new oarsman pulled with a vengeance. Harry instantly struggled and physically couldn't keep up.

“Please Sir,” he began, but the master cut him off.

“It doesn't matter if we're out of time,” he called and crossed to Harry's side of the boat. “We've just got to get in.”

They made it to the landing point before the next explosion of light and sound rent the air. They had secured the boat by the time the next attack of nature on those sailors trapped on the wild seas struck. They were safely at home and Harry was with them, also safe, but not free. He wondered then if he would ever be free again. He doubted it.

 

13.5

Ted quietly paced down the corridor and unlocked the door to Simon's room. Behind him Tom crept to watch how Ted acted with Simon. As Ted pushed the door open he watched in silence. Facing away from him Simon was fully engrossed in a pretend fight with an invisible and highly skilled enemy. He was using complicated moves and parrying plenty of quick blows and only occasionally giving a blow. Surprisingly to Ted, Simon was not using his feet at all. He had one leg ahead of the other, but he was leaning this way and that to avoid imaginary blows. Amused Ted decided to perform one of his favourite tricks. He took a short length of rope from his belt and looped it, but didn't tie it. He now hated the man from whom he'd learned the trick, but the trick was good. He quietly approached Simon from behind. Then, quickly he flicked his rope forward and over the stick. As he pulled the two ends of the rope tight to lock the stick and pull it out of Simon's hand, Simon flicked his wrist round and loosed his stick before bringing it up under the rope to yank it out of Ted's grip.

“How,” Ted began astounded.

“I've seen that move too many times,” Simon explained calmly. “Sorry if I hurt you. I didn't think before I did it.”

“I'm fine,” Ted laughed. “But how do you know that move so well that you can just do that. Just like that.”

“My father was something of an expert at it,” Simon answered casually. “So I had plenty of practice defending myself against him, on the few occasions we duelled.”

“I'm guessing that you can do it then,” Ted said.

“I don't really see the point in it,” Simon replied. “You can't use it in a battle unless you're fighting a man with a stick who's never seen the move before.”

“I suppose so,” Ted smiled. “I just like it because you can surprise people, but evidently not you.”

Simon laughed.

“I was wondering if you wanted to come and eat with Joe, Nathan and us,” Ted said after a moment.

“Might as well,” Simon agreed. “I'll just put my stick away.” He crossed to the bed and tucked the stick in under the folds of the blanket. Then he turned and followed Ted out of the room.

“I want a word with you Ted,” Tom muttered and put one hand into his pocket as they walked along the corridor.

Ted just nodded. He knew it would be yet another warning about Simon being dangerously like the last time. He didn't think so, but he decided that it was probably wise to listen to Tom all the same. He turned to Simon at the end of the corridor and gestured for him to put on the blindfold he kept in his pocket. Simon obliged and Ted led him through the tunnels to where Joe and Nathan were staying. There he took the blindfold off Simon and pointed to a door.

“We'll be with you in a bit,” he said and then thought of something else. “Oh. One more thing. Here.” He handed Simon a leather band with a buckle. “You can put it on over the chain,” he explained.

“Thanks,” Simon smiled and took it. He put it on at once and then went down to the door Ted had indicated.

“Good evening Simon,” Nathan greeted merrily. “How are you this evening?”

“Very well,” Simon grinned. He sat down and fingered the pack of cards that was carefully put in a single shuffled pile. He contemplated doing his favourite trick of pulling an ace out of the pile, but decided not to. It only reinforced the suspicion that he cheated at cards, which he usually did.

“What's that on your arm?” Joe demanded suddenly.

“A leather band,” Simon answered calmly.

“With a boat on it,” Joe criticised. “You look like one of Narvis' crew.”

“No I don't,” Simon retorted. “Anyway, they have three boats and the band is brown. This is black. It's not the same and I like it.”

“I'm not surprised you like it,” Joe said nastily. “You're not even part of our family. You're a bastard child.”

“I am not!” Simon exclaimed. Anger boiled in him and he tensed. “How dare you…”

“You're wild like your mother,” Joe cut in attackingly. “The whore that conceived you and then dumped you on uncle.”

“Lies!” Simon exclaimed and leaped to his feet.

Joe sprung up and the two boys fell on one another in a fierce fight.

“My mother was no whore!” Simon growled as he made Joe drop the knife he'd drawn.

“Bastard,” Joe taunted and twisted aside from Simon's first grip.

Simon leaped on him from the side. The two boys fell down onto the card table and rolled onto the floor. Then they were up again.

“Boys!” Nathan protested again and moved to separate them.

Ted appeared in the doorway attracted by the noise before having heard Tom. He watched for a moment before stepping quietly into the room.

Simon struck fiercely at Joe and threw him onto the ground. He dropped on him and went to attack again but Ted stayed him.

“Simon,” he said simply in a low voice and laid a hand on Simon's shoulder.

Simon took control of himself and got off Joe. Joe scrambled to his feet and scowled. “I'll kill you,” he threatened.

“Are you all right Joe?” Ted asked with his hand still on Simon's shoulder.

“I guess,” Joe muttered.

“Where are you hurt?” Ted asked calmly.

“My shoulder's a bit sore,” Joe admitted. “And my head where I bumped it.”

“I'll sort him out,” Nathan said to Ted.

“Ok,” Ted agreed. “And you Simon? Are you hurt?”

“I'm fine,” Simon replied quietly with his head down.

“Ok,” Ted murmured.

“You boy's apologise to one another,” Nathan ordered.

“Sorry,” Joe growled in a voice that showed that he wasn't.

“Simon,” Ted prompted. It was clear that Simon hadn't been going to say a word, but he obeyed Ted.

“Sorry,” he said with a sigh.

“Perhaps it would be better if we didn't have a full meal together today,” Ted suggested to Nathan.

Nathan nodded sadly. He'd have liked it, but it would have to wait now.

Ted guided Simon out of the door and down the tunnel away from the others. Tom lingered behind. At the end of the tunnel Ted gestured to Simon to put on his blindfold again and once Simon had done so, he led him back to the room where Simon stayed.

“Why did you get into a fight Simon?” Ted asked disappointed.

“He said that my mother was a whore,” Simon complained.

“I don't see how he can say that or how you can say she wasn't,” Ted replied. “Neither of you know anything about her. If he says it again, just ignore his un-information. He doesn't know what he's talking about and you can't for certain say she wasn't.”

“Ok,” Simon sighed and hung his head. “I suppose you're right.”

After a moment Ted smiled. “One more thing Simon,” he said. “You need to be careful how you fight. There are different ways for fighting with siblings. Usually you punch, but the groin and the neck are out of bounds. The area around the eye and the nose are usual targets. You need to know that for if anything like this happens again.”

“Ok,” Simon agreed and stowed away the information.

“I'll bring you your food,” Ted said and turned to the door. “I'll eat with the others though.”

Simon nodded and sat down on his bed.

Outside the door Tom met Ted. Ted closed the door then turned to his brother.

“Did you see the way he fought?” Ted asked quietly.

“It's not good to fight like that with your cousin,” Tom muttered.

Ted nodded. “But the point I want to make is the way he fought,” he said. “He fought exactly how he saw me take Adrian down this afternoon. I don't think he even realises it.”

“What are you saying?” Tom asked.

“What I'm saying is that he can see a fighting style and techniques, or move and copy it exactly.”

“I see,” Tom replied with emphasis on the word 'see'. He had suspected it before, but this was conclusive. “That could be a problem.”

“Yes,” Ted agreed. “I am now agreeing with you Tom,” Ted admitted. 'He is dangerous.'

“I think we'll be all right so long as we keep a close eye on him,” Tom reassured without convincing himself. “He obeys you at any rate, even when it came to apologising.”

“Yes,” Ted laughed. “I take his point though.”

Tom laughed and nodded.

“I'll see you in the room,” Ted finished and turned down another tunnel.

 

13.6

I remember how the last of the women and most of the men from the other village clustered together in the square at sunset. Their possessions were bundled up on their shoulders or tucked under an arm. They looked pitifully weak and poorer than I'd ever thought, but there was hope in their faces. Each face glowed with that hope of a better life, a new start, a second chance. There was one particular little boy there. He had a problem with his leg that meant that he couldn't walk easily, but he was standing on his good leg and smiling up at his mother. He looked so happy and peaceful that as I watched, I felt calmer about seeing them go. All the same a nagging worry stayed in the back of my mind. Would we have to leave soon? Was their departure the signal for our following? There were people in the village now who spoke of a new life and success. I didn't like the idea. It meant change and I don't like that. I never have. Change means that I have to get to know new people and I don't like explaining things. They just laugh.

They stayed in the village until very late when Nathan and Joe appeared to lead them to the boat. Jude stayed with them until they left near midnight. Then he came in and went to bed. I stood at the window with Paul again. I ate with him and so I didn't have to leave to get my supper directly after he'd finished. I always had my rapier with me in case he tried to escape, but he never did. That evening we didn't speak until dark set in. we just watched together.

I don't now know how we got on to the subject, but I remember him asking me, “Why do they call you the watcher?” I didn't answer at once and after a moment of silence he went on. “Is it because you don't say anything?” I shook my head. There was some truth in what he suggested, but it was not really that. “Do you always watch then?” I nodded and raised one shoulder in a half shrug. He understood. That was all that the others ever knew that I did. They didn't know that I thought about things and planned. I was in fact planning right then and Paul could tell.

“You're not stupid like they seem to think,” he said and I smiled. It wasn't usual for me to hear someone speaking in my defence. I was usually criticised for being lazy. Even Jude seemed to think I wasn't capable of many simple tasks.

“With all your watching and thinking,” he went on, “you must know a lot and have splendid plans. You must also know things that others haven't a clue of. You're observant, so I don't see why you don't show someone what they should do. It's not like they are going to criticise the plan which is your work. Perhaps you could write down the plan.”

I shook my head at this and dropped my eyes.

“Can't you write,” he asked surprised.

I simply shook my head and looked out of the window.

“I'll teach you if you want to learn,” he offered uncertainly.

I smiled and shook my head. It was gallant and noble, but there were more important things to do and to commit the mind to at that time. I decided then that I would somehow explain to Paul about what the horseman had told me. 'Be ready,' he'd said and I decided that I would be, even if no one else was. I would be ready.

I left Paul just before Jude came in and went straight to bed. I'd stayed up longer than I'd intended and I was tired. If I was to be ready, I'd have to watch from early the next morning.

 


Submitted: July 17, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Cwester. All rights reserved.

Chapters

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Comments

andreamay

It's one of the most beautiful chapters so far. It is revealing and full of surprises. But it's very warm as well. There's something I noticed every time I reach watcher's subchapter: I sigh and smile. There is something calming about him. He is so beautiful and warm.

13.1
Such a cold hearted man this Ted! Is there a reason? (Just a rhetorical question.) Maybe because his wife had been murdered? He's all the more intriguing. Until this moment he's been in charge of everything. Even the unusual horse is his. And yes, I need to ask you how do you manage to keep your dialogs so matching the characters. It's a very demanding task (from personal experience again). And yet here it seems so effortless, it flows so naturally!
13.2
Adrian wounded again and in trouble! (Have you noticed I'm getting all the more emotionally engaged in the novel)
Correction:
Quote: He then thought about all the other things that the new comer... ("newcomer")
13.3
This one feels like an interlude, but it doesn't mean it's less interesting.
Corrections:
When playing cards: Quote: Tom nodded meaning fully... ("meaningfully")
13.4
The two previous subchapters were obviously just the calm before the storm, and then... what a twist! Arrogant rich Harry begging and finally serving... who? And who is Gray? And it's all underlined with a masterful seastorm.
Corrections:
Quote: "Good," the man half growled. "Now Take the oar and help" (it should be either "Now. Take the oar..." - with a full stop, or "Now, take the oar..." - withe a comma. You have to choose which is more suitable for the character.)
13.5
Simon. He should be some kind of a key to the whole story. Maybe. Oh, but he's such an endearing kid!
13.6
Oh, my, you dropped a bombshell again! I've never expected this! Watcher is here in first person because he doesn't speak. Why I haven't noticed it before? Most probably you took a good care of it. What a brilliant idea!
Corrections:
The last sentence of the second paragraph. Quote: That evening we didn't speak until dark set in. we just watched together ("We" - capital letter).

Sun, May 25th, 2014 3:24pm

Author
Reply

Thank you for your helpful and encouraging comment, particularly the corrections which I have made on my computer.
I am glad that the different characters's speech keeps to the individual characters. I always have worked hard on the dialogue, because it is difficult, but once I fully develop the characters in my head and "get to know them," the dialogue flows much better.
I have dropped a hint about Gray in one of Adrian's previous subchapters for the reader to spot, but it is quite a way back.
I'm a little surprised that you didn't notice that the Watcher isn't speaking, but that's not the only reason I put that part in the first person. I'm glad it was a surprise to you though and I hope you will find there are more surprises to come.

Tue, May 27th, 2014 1:15pm

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