The soldiers started to close in on us, and I pushed the little boy further behind me. The werewolf was staring at him, and I moved my hand to the silver knife on my belt. It was my only weapon as my staff laid in the grass in front of me. Morgan had a long knife as well as a silver blade.
“Is this them?” the soldier asked.
“Yes,” the werewolf grunted. I guess we made a mistake not hunting him down the other day.
“Owen West?” the soldier asked.
“Possibly,” I said.
“It’s him,” the werewolf said.
“Owen West you are under arrest for assaulting the King’s men. You will be brought to Avonsdale where you be executed for crimes against the crown on the order of Marshall Alaric Skein,” the soldier said.
“Can I request a trial?” I asked.
“That’s a question for the Marshall.”
“Will he grant it?”
“Doubtful,” he said.
“Will you let the boy go?” I asked.
“No,” the man said. The silver lining on his tunic suggested he was a captain.
I slipped the knife out, “Let her take the boy back to town, and I’ll put this down. Or we will take out as many of you as we can.”
The captain relented, “the boy can go, but the girl stays. She’s under arrest to she assaulted a member of the king’s forces as well.”
“You mean the werewolf?’ Morgan asked.
“So you admit he works for the king?” I asked referring to the werewolf.
“The King can augment his forces however he chooses.”
I turned to the boy, “Can you get back to town on your own?”
“As soon as you get past those men you run. Understand? Get back to town as fast as you can.”
“Okay,” and he walked to the road.
There was a moment where the soldiers, massive men in mail holding shields and swords, towering over the little boy, didn’t move, but finally relented and let the boy pass.
I tossed the knife on the ground, and Morgan followed suit, I heard two thuds as her knives hit the ground, but tried to hide my smile knowing she had more blades hidden on her. They’d be useful if we could figure out how to survive the next few minutes which was looking doubtful.
“Tie them up,” the captain said.
For some reason, I thought this would go over better. But as the soldier approached with the rope, he punched me in the stomach. I lost my wind and doubled over, and the only reason I didn’t remove his head was I was afraid they’d hurt Morgan. In any other circumstance, I would be more worried about what she’d do to the soldiers, but there were far too many of them.
“Ah!” one of the soldiers shouted from behind me.
“What’s wrong?” I heard another say.
“She bit me,” he said.
“Watch your hands,” Morgan said.
“Just hurry up,” the captain yelled.
Quickly, they had both of us tied and sitting in the grass while the soldiers made camp. I guess we were staying here until Skein showed up. With the town in near rebellion, a dozen soldiers wouldn’t be able to hold it.
“Morgan,” I said quietly, “are you working on the ropes?”
“Yeah,” she said, “it’s going to take a while. All I had was a quartz flake.”
“Keep working on it,” I said, “when you get through it. Nudge and I’ll make a distraction. Get back to town and find Eric and Ben. You will need to leave this time. The town might not like it but they’ll live.”
“Okay,” she said.
It was at that moment that I knew how this would end. Any other time Morgan would have argued. But she knew what needed to be done.
But, if they were going to give me time until the execution I thought it best to make sure of the time.
Besides, you can never underestimate the power of a good story.
I waited until the soldiers settled in at camp. They were eating and laughing and wondering if they would get a reward for solving this problem.
And that was my cue.
“You’re making a mistake,” I said.
“Quiet,” was all I heard.
“If it’s money you want, you’re making a massive mistake,” I said. You can never go wrong appealing to someone’s greed. It doesn’t matter who it is. Everyone has a price. Find the most pious Morning priest, and he won’t balk at a large donation to the church.
“You’re going to pay us off? Do wardens get paid more than I thought?” one asked.
“Me? No. I don’t have a pot to piss in,” I said, “it’s not me it’s her.” I nodded at Morgan.
“You heard of the Monroe Family?” I asked.
“The wine importers? Everyone knows about them. They’re the richest family in Pembroke,” a soldier said.
“Have you heard of Monroe’s daughter?”
“Yes,” more than one said. Now they were really listening. Everyone knew about Monroe’s daughter. She ran off instead of marrying into the royal family. There wasn’t a person in the Allied Kingdoms that didn’t have a theory about where she went. Some say she was bitten by a werewolf and had to flee. Others say she joined the church. Some say she is still in the city living as a commoner.
“Would you believe that she fled her father and was living in the Northwoods working as a warden?” I asked.
I could see them all thinking it over.
“Now,” I said, “I won’t tell you what to do. But I think Edward Monroe would pay handsomely if his daughter were to return.”
So far, no takers.
“That’s enough,” the captain finally said.
“Why should we believe you?” the soldiers asked.
“Because I used to be one of Monroe’s lawyers,” I said smiling.
“Liar,” they all said.
“Would you like to hear my treatise on the 15 Common Laws? Or we could discuss unlawful imprisonment and denying the trial to a member of the High Court.”
“Aren’t you worried about what will happen if you go back? What about her,” one soldier asked. He was younger than the others, and I could feel the story working on him.
“I’m far more worried about my head right now.” If there was one thing you could believe it would be a lawyer trying to save his own skin.
“You bastard,” Morgan said with perfect timing and she kicked at me. Though, I knew it was the signal that her ropes were free.
The soldiers laughed. And the captain finally got them under control.
It wasn’t long before it was dark. One man stayed up to stand guard. I was getting ready to make a distraction when the guard came up to me.
“Is it true?” the young soldier asked.
“Is she really Monroe’s daughter?” he asked.
“He was telling the truth,” Morgan said.
The young man bent down and cut my ropes.
“If I go with you you can get me paid?” he asked.
“I swear by King and Crown,” I said not mentioning to the boy that I was essentially an enemy of the king and swearing by him did nothing.
We quietly gathered our things while the soldiers slept. Even the werewolf was out. He must have been in that form for a while, exhausting him. The soldier led us to the woods.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth. Monroe’s daughter fell in love with a member of the Fain. Morgan and I helped her escape to the Winterlands about a year ago. But the soldiers didn’t know that.
We got deeper into the woods when suddenly some appeared in the woods. Before Morgan and I could do anything the young soldier fell to the ground clutching his throat.
Anna, the vampire from the other night, stood over the dying man.
“Took you long enough to get out of that,” she said.
“How long have you been here?” Morgan asked.
“Since you were first captured,” she said smiling, “I came back to town and you were gone. I came to find you.”
“You were here the whole time? They could have killed us,” I nearly yelled.
“Relax,” she said, “I was here the whole time. I wanted to see if that ridiculous story you were spinning would actually work.”