:: Unday Night, the 98th of Jhyel's Slumber ::
Five city watchmen poured past him into the large tavern's main room. The fire that blazed in the mason fireplace illuminated the slick wet chain armor and drenched uniforms of the grim guards.
A stocky, powerful man, unkempt black hair and beard dancing in the strong winds, strode into the bar as if he owned it and, pointing a thick finger at the disguised Theo, bellowed "Seize the assassin!".
"So much for a disguise. But by Casastan's good graces how did they *find* me?” grumbled Theo out loud to nobody in particular.
Still clutching the mug which held his cider, Theo threw the liquid into the face of the lean and wiry brown haired guard who was in the lead and simultaneously jumped a wild swing from a stocky blonde guard with a closely trimmed beard. "A terrible waste of perfectly good cider, I apologize from the bottom of my soul, Bink." Discretely dropping a folded note with his left hand, Theo pounded down with Kindle's hilt onto the helm of the thin guard.
"This isn't a performing circus, Girdin push up your helm!” screamed Corbin in a commanding and infuriated voice. "Klynd cut the wretched scurry into quarters! A hundred pieces of gold to the man who hands me his heart!" Corbin's gaze crackled with malice as his eyes locked with Theo's. The desperate scurry read hatred in Corbin's eyes as he almost felt the words "You *will* die!" cross the distance between them. Wind whipped in through the open door, carrying sheets of rain into the wide doorway while lightning illuminated the dark frame of the Chief Advisor from behind with a halo of molten white.
"My, you certainly are a charming fellow. You don't have to kill the king to gain power, the people would overthrow Orson just on the weight of your own special charisma,” grinned Theo with strained sarcasm as he threw the remains of the rag from Kindle.
Despite the wild thoughts that flew through Theo's head, his blood surged in his veins and he felt truly alive.
But his mind swelled with theories of betrayal and thoughts of confusion. Lizbeth, what of Lizbeth? Could she be the one that told of Theo's plans to be at the Ancient Oak? Is that why Corbin and his men were able to get here so quickly? She seemed the soul of sincerity last night?
Cory? No, it was impossible, he'd known Cory since before they'd been able to walk. They were the closest of friends and he couldn't believe that he would mislead me, it would be like distrusting himself.
Theo heard the low strum of a crossbow bolt, and threw himself down behind the bar. Theo looked up to see a quarrel quivering in a hogshead where Theo's head had been moments before. Tearing off the remains of the old woman garb, Theo sprang for the end of the bar and the stairs which led to the second floor.
Bink, crouching low behind the bar, seemed extremely frazzled as he watched another quarrel sink into the wall beside Theo. But apparently Bink was frozen by indecision, as he threw another anxious glance at the guards in front of the rough wooden planks of his bar.
"Granville, Merce, sink a quarrel into him! For the love of Kyntous, put him down!” howled Corbin from the other end of the room.
Parrying a thrust from the stocky, blond haired guard, Klynd, Theo leapt from the end of the bar to the closest table. Theo felt a quarrel graze along his side, leaving a trail of trickling blood.
"If you promise not to take me to prison, then I'll give you crossbow lessons,” cried Theo to the reloading crossbowmen. Jumping to the next table, Theo narrowly dodged a mighty overhanded swing from Klynd. Apparently Girdin, having readjusted his helm, was rejoining the melee.
"Stay still you blasted squirrel!” growled Klynd, thunking his heavy sword into the table where Theo had been but wicks before.
"I'm going to make you into a hat for making me look the fool!,” replied Girdin to Theo's wildly frantic attempts at evasion.
Theo leapt again, and was able to place his foot on the first step which lead upstairs. Unable to outrace the guards, Theo had to spin to meet them on the wide staircase.
"Don't worry men, there's enough of me to go around,” said Theo cheerfully. Looking at both men, Theo knew even he couldn't defend against two trained swordsman, his only salvation was getting out of the situation all together.
Again hearing the low thrum of a crossbow, Theo tried to move and parry at the same time, but felt a hot pain in his right thigh as a quarrel sank deep into his leg.
Gritting his teeth, Theo pulled out a throwing knife, and proceeded to bury it in Klynd's foot, pinning it to the ground.
"Errg. You bastard,” yowled Klynd.
Theo barreled up the stairs, favoring his left leg. He could feel the head of the quarrel shifting inside his leg, and the pain was excruciating as he ran.
"Get him you fools, he'll take to the roof!” shouted Corbin.
Pounding open the first door that he came to, Theo could hear that Girdin and possibly another guard were right behind him. Theo looked out the window to the rain slicked cobblestones which stretched out before him, just as the room's door slammed open behind the cornered scurry...