Chapter LXXXVIII

The corridors were mercifully empty as Beatrix, Moll and Jaques ran down them, swords drawn, leaping into doorways and behind pillars at the slightest noise.

‘We’re never going to find him at this rate,’ Beatrix whispered to the others, but they took no notice of her.

‘Don’t worry,’ Moll whispered back a moment later. ‘This fortress can’t be that big, after all.’

Beatrix grimaced. It could be.

Suddenly, they turned a corner and ran slap bang into four guardsmen, leaning on each other and staggering through the corridor. They looked very drunk, and the outlaws should’ve been able to beat them easily, but Beatrix still felt a trickle of fear slide down her spine at the thought of a real fight.

‘Goodae t’yer!’ one of them hiccoughed. With a laugh, they crumpled to the floor, leaning against the walls for support.

‘Why such long faces?’ another chuckled. ‘We’ve won, donchaknow?’

Beatrix sighed inwardly, and for a moment it looked like they might escape without using violence, but then one of them, perhaps slightly more sober than the rest, said to her:

‘Here, I haven’t seen you before, have I? You look awful like that Lady...’

‘Hey, Willum, think we oughta tell someone?’

‘Tell ‘em what?’

‘That we’ve seen some Lady.’

‘Shut yer gob,’ growled the first, still squinting up at Beatrix. ‘Although... Never can tell...’

Jaques leapt forwards instantly, and Beatrix felt very glad he was on her side. Before the guardsmen could make a noise, two of them were dead. Moll thrust her sword into the belly of the third, while Beatrix poked at a dead leg gingerly. In moments, all the guardsmen were lying on the floor, in no position to raise the alarm.

She felt sick. All they’d been doing was being drunk. Moll squeezed her arm.

‘You can feel horrible later,’ she whispered urgently. ‘But right now we really need to find Keiran.’

‘Right.’

She pulled herself together, but the voice in the back of her mind was still asking: is anything worth all these deaths? Why would I sacrifice so many lives just to save one?

And does that one even like me anymore?

The End

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