Beatrix was dreaming. Unusually for her. Once she woke, she would never remember what this dream was about – only that it was happy, and that she was safe in it. In fact, this dream was about her parents.
Beatrix had no memories of her mother beyond those of warm milk and nighttime cuddles. Elena had died bearing her husband a son. The unnamed boy had also died shortly afterwards. It was said that Arthur never forgave himself for the death of his wife and son. Beatrix wouldn’t know that either – her father had died only two years after his beloved Elena. It was since then that she had been cared for by her uncle, Roald, and as she could barely remember any other father-figure, he had taken up the gauntlet and become part of that role. And she would forever love him for it.
She was brought out of this comfortable, safe, happy memory by the scream.
It came from beneath her, and was pure terror.
Both she and Carla woke at the very same moment, but it was Carla who was up in an instant and peering out the window.
A crash from below. Something had broken.
And then, with a roar, figures in the red and blue uniform of guardsmen charged at the inn. One of them, wearing a large plumed hat and riding a horse, shouted: ‘We know there are fugitives from the law of the most dangerous sort inside this alehouse. If you give the outlaws up now, no harm shall come to you or any inside this building. But if you try to shelter them, you shall be treated as outlaws yourselves, and we will show no mercy.’
Beatrix looked at Carla, her eyes wide. They were caught up in a raid!
‘We can’t let them find us,’ Carla said, crouching down below the window so as not to be seen.
‘Why not? We’ve done nothing wrong.’
‘Do you want to go back to the castle after we spent so long escaping from it?’ hissed Carla. ‘If we show them our papers, they’ll escort us straight back there. And if we don’t, they’ll arrest us as criminals!’
Beatrix was beginning to think running away to be a very bad plan indeed.