‘There we go!’ laughed Rhea, tying the last guardsman into place. ‘Wasn’t too hard, was it?’
The guardsman gave a muffled growl in reply, that only served to make her laugh harder.
‘Well, now, that’s hardly going to help you, is it? But nice as chatting is, I’m on a bit of a tight schedule, so maybe we can catch up later?’
The guardsman said something that was not very polite.
Laughing, Rhea, Larkey and the liberated prisoners, with Carla at their head, hurried up the long spiral staircase and back into the fortress. It’d taken them no more than ten minutes to subdue the four guardsmen, not including the sleeping one who was so drunk he never woke up. Rhea had worked single-handedly. It was a sight Carla was never to forget for the rest of her days.
Suddenly, Jaques appeared, running as fast as he could.
‘Rhea! Thank the gods! I’ve left Beatrix and Moll up in the eastern tower - we’ve found Keiran, but we need Larkey.’
Rhea nodded once, sharply. ‘Go on then, Larkey. You know what to do.’
As the girl sped off with an exhausted Jaques, Carla turned to Rhea.
‘Beatrix is here? Why didn’t you tell me?’
‘Er, well, I’ve been a bit busy to be completely honest.’
Carla smiled warmly. ‘I know you have. All the same... I’d have liked to know... What happens now?’
Rhea paused. ‘Beatrix said something about a signal...’
They turned quickly to see Ridley and Gideon, looking very pleased with themselves, come forwards. ‘The rebels took up the fire with a shout. Aaron’s got his invasion back on, but not in a position he would’ve liked!’
And that moment-
-laughing and joking,
-thinking they’d won,
-that moment was when the alarm bell began to toll.