Chapter XXI

The night was perfectly still, the pennants of Disnarta lying listless in the slight breeze. The walltop guardsmen snoozed comfortably – there was no danger, no threat. They were only stationed there – for what? If an army marched on the capital, they would be the first to know. They were only there to keep the Prince Regent’s mind at ease, nothing else.

And so they did not notice the two cloaked and hooded figures as they slipped from a side door, the reigns of two horses trailing from their fingers.

The main gate, the one Owain had escaped by, was heavily guarded, and so Carla guided her and Beatrix’s steps to the East Gate. This was guarded only by one man, and as they approached, Carla whispered to Beatrix: ‘leave this one to me, Milady’. Beatrix was only too happy to oblige.

‘Harry, isn’t it?’ Carla smiled as they neared the guard.

The man looked up. ‘Sorry, do I know you?’

Carla feigned affront. ‘Of course! Do you not remember – I’m Hild’s cousin.’

Harry paused for a moment, before recognition brightened his face. ‘Ah, yes! The pretty one. I shan’t forget your face in a while, that’s for sure. C… Cassandra, or something, wasn’t it?’

Carla grinned. ‘You got it in one!’

‘So… What brings such a nice young girl like yourself out at this time of night, then? And who’s your friend?’

‘This is my sister,’ Carla explained. ‘She’s very ill with dropsy.’ She feigned tears. ‘I just didn’t know what to do – it’s come on so sudden – so I was taking her to our mother, just out in the city.’

‘How terrible!’ Harry drew back – dropsy was a terrible illness that sometimes carried off whole families. Beatrix risked a couple of ill-sounding coughs, secretly smiling to herself at Carla’s inventiveness. ‘I’m very sorry.’

‘The only thing is, I’m not supposed to be out so late…’ Carla left her sentence trailing in the air, turning her tear-stained face to Harry.

Gallantly, Harry drew back the enormous bolt and pushed open the gate. ‘Never fear, Cassandra,’ he said with a bow. ‘I shall not breathe a word to anyone. You’re safe with Harry!’

The End

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