The days leading up to the celebration were dragging at a snail's pace. Even slower, I thought. Everyone else was preoccupied with Norida, since her ability to change in to a cat was fascinating to all. After my initial talk with her, Jem at my side, to discover if she was a threat and if there were any more of her kind - no to the first and ignroance of the second - I had lost interest with the new celebrity and returned to my solitude. I admitted it now; I was bored and grumpy. Being confined to the camp was annoying enough when everyone else was still busy, but with everyone laying low until the celebration which was still a week away, the camp was restless, and that only fuelled my discomfort.
"Ahhh!" I let out the cry of exhasperation and threw my knife in to the nearest branch. A couple of people looked around, curious, but I ignored them, yanking my knife free and storming in to the hut. Jem looked up.
"What's wrong with you?"
"We're all bored."
"Jem this is ridiculous. I've been trapped here longer than everyone else, I need some room to myself. They're all hanging around like there's nothing to do."
"There is nothing to do."
"They could at least be making weapons, sewing clothes.... instead they just follow the shapeshifter round like puppies."
"Kate, don't do anything stupid. Only a week to go. You can last that long surely?" I rolled my eyes and went to leave. "Remember Kate, nothing stupid."
"Jeez!" I stormed out and bumped in to Griever. He steadied me.
"Woah Kate, that frown is wrecking your pretty face."
"I'll wreck your pretty face in a minute." I muttered and he chuckled.
"Why thank you. I've always been told I have an attractive face."
"Why so down?"
"Never mind." I walked past him but heard his footsteps following. I turned. "What?"
"I understand. I'm bored too. We should do something to let off the steam."
I rolled my eyes at him.
"Not what I meant, although I wouldn't mind." He winked. "Surely we can cause some trouble to some guards or something?"
"Yeah well, Jem won't let me do anything."
"Does she have to know?"
I felt the twinkle return to my eye in response to his.
"Hmmm... good point. But if we were to do anything, it shouldn't be a small trick. Frightening guards isn't going to do anything after being cooped up for so long. How about..." And then an idea so perfect, so mischevious, so bad, flickered in to my head. "...How about we raid Twynam's house? I'm sure the villagers would be grateful to receive some of his money."
Griever chuckled again and nodded.
"Young Kate, I could learn to like you."
"I could learn to like you, if you stopped treating me like a child. Or a piece of meat."
"Noted. Shall we go?"
"We'll need a few others. Come on. I'll round up some troops."
A few hours later, under cover of darkness, our small group of five was swathed in cloaks at the edge of Twynam's manor.
"I'll take Twynam," Griever said, drawing his sword. "It's about time I gave him something to remember me by."
"No, I'll take him. I have unfinished business with him." I replied, putting my hand guardedly on his sword. He looked as though he would argue but stopped and nodded. "Good. You should take out the guards with Leila, quietly. You other two head to the room where the old Marshall kept his gold. I am sure Twynam won't have changed that. If he has you will only have a few moments to find another place before the other guards move. They're on a rotating schedule. Griever and Leila will follow you to act as look out and to take out any guards who try to stop you."
"And you?" Leila asked.
"I'm thinking Twynam will have the same bedchamber as the previous Marshall. So, I think I'll pay him a visit." I winked at her through my mask and grinned.
We moved silently, and I watched as Griever and Leila took out the two guards with no noise whatsoever, lowering them to the floor in order to keep their armour from making a sound. Then I followed the others, veering off and crouching in the shadows of the stables. The old Marshall's bedroom had been right above here and I began my climb. The window was open and I smirked as I peered through and saw the Marshall's face, asleep in the moonlight.
Silently I slipped through the window and landed with no sound on the wooden boards of the room. I checked that the door was locked so that any unwanted visitors would not easily gain access, and then crouched, weapon drawn, at the bedside. I had to check for any weapons; it would be stupid to be caught off guard when I had such an advantage. The Marshall twisted on his bed and I froze, but he muttered 'father' in a pained voice and continued to sleep. I found a dagger under his pillow and stored it carefully in my boot. Then I held my knife to his throat. He cried out,
"Father, no!" Darting up and staring wildly around, eyes wide and sweat appearing on his brow. Then he stilled, realising there was a knife at his throat.
"Poor Marshall, a nightmare? You should keep it down else you'll lose your reputation." I pressed the knife lightly against his adam's apple. "Or your life."
"You." He glared as he realised who I was. "So the Night Hawks haven't fled the area."
"We would never flee from you Twynam."
"How sweet. Grown attached have you? I guess that's part of the danger, being a woman, all alone..." He grinned. "You start to want things."
"Trust me Twynam, if I needed any of the company you're alluding too, I wouldn't need your help. There are plenty of men in our camp."
"And yet here you are, unmarried, and in my bedchamber. I take it that you are unmarried since I cannot see a ring?"
I pressed the knife a little harder in to his throat.
"Come come Marshall, let us not pretend that you or the Sheriff care about the sanctity of marriage. I have heard of the women the Sheriff trapped for his... personal use. He must be feeling quite lonely now, since they were freed."
"He has endless resources. What he does with them is his concern, not mine."
"Do I sense discomfort? Not comfortable with the Sheriff's use of women are you? How odd considering you appear to have the same respect as he does for us. What was it you said? 'A woman? Impossible!' And yet here you are, in your own bed with one of those women pointing a knife at you. How times have changed."
"Indeed. But you do not think that I would be unprepared for a situation like this do you?"
"Not at all. That is why while the poor Marshall baby was having his nightmare, I removed his knife." I grinned.
"Why are you still hiding behind your mask?" He snapped, angry that he'd been caught off guard. "I already know your face, why would you hide it now?"
"My apologies. I forgot my manners." I teased and removed the mask and scarf in one fell swoop. The hood fell from my hair too as I grinned at him. "There. Does that soothe the poor baby's nightmare?"
"You ought not to test me Hawk. I could have that knife from your hand and in your gut faster than you could beg me for your life."
"And yet you haven't done it. The great Marshall Twynam, beaten by a woman.... again. The Sheriff will not be pleased."
"And yet you have not beaten me. Not once when we have equal footing. Merely ran, or spoken. So, my dear hawk... why do you hesitate to rid the world of me, when you did not with the previous Marshall?" I hesitated and he noticed, a grin pulling at the corner's of his mouth. "Ah and there it is. Has my face haunted you, in your dreams? Am I plunging my dagger in to your breast? Because I dream of your defeat hawk, and one way or another, what I dream always comes in to play."
I pressed the knife wordlessly in to his throat until a trickle of blood ran free. I fought to keep my nerves under control but he'd unnerved me. I had indeed dreamt that he had almost killed me. His eyes had laughed triumphantly as he bared down upon me with his sword drawn...
There was a bang on the door and I almost leapt. The Marshall stilled, staring at the knife.
"Marshall Twynam! There are Night Hawks here! They have taken your gold!"
I placed my finger on Twynam's lips and grinned.
"Thank you for your donation Marshall." Then I pulled away, retreating to the window as the banging on the door continued and the Marshall yelled for them to break it down.
"Stop her!" He cried as they burst through the door.
I laughed and blew a kiss in his direction, knowing it would infuriate him more, and leapt from the window, rolling down the roof of the stable and landing on the ground, Twynam's knife still tucked in my boot. With another chuckle I ran along the building and in to the trees after the other Night Hawk figures that were retreating.