Lipus finally turned from the crowd and drawing her thumb across her throat, signaled the executioner.  To Bingham’s surprise, Locan remained still.  Underneath her the wood dropped away and she fell only to be caught underneath the stage by Locan’s partner, Aria.  The underneath of the stage was surrounded by wood, completely hidden from the crowd on the other side.  Taking it in, Bingham saw four or five familiar faces of other guardians, and the bound and struggling figures of Antion’s royal guard scattered about the ground.  She realized the crowd was cheering and looked upwards to the noose.  Of course Bruce, an unbelievably immense man, also among her guardians, was leaning all his weight against it.  To the crowd the rope appeared taut and twitching, the execution effectively carried out.

            “She was going to fake your execution and then sell you to the Baltronites this evening after she had smuggled you out of the city.  You were supposed to be caught by the guard.”  Aria said.

            Bruce looked down on her, his giant smile at once seeming inappropriate and comforting, “It seemed a perfect opportunity to nab you for ourselves instead.”

            She wanted to thank them but in her effort to produce sound tears took their place.  Aria wrapped her in something warm and soft. 

            “Is Locan all right up there?”  She heard another voice ask from over her shoulder.

“Yes,” Aria answered, “He’d better be.  He told me to take her to the carriage either way.  He said he would find his way back to us, that he just had a visit to pay first.”

            A rustle above sounded to Bingham like a prelude to a fight.

            “Let’s go,” Bruce said, “We don’t want to keep the King guessing.”

Aria handed Bingham to Bruce and the group slipped out the door in the back.  When she was exposed to the cold again Bruce covered her face, and although sounds of exclamation began to ripple through the Antion Guard behind them, Bingham drifted off in his arms.

The End

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