Oh, Wonder Why the Sun Fell:Chapter Twenty-Two and Twenty Three

Fiction By Bernadette // 2/22/2012

Chapter Twenty-Two

He nodded.

“I’ll wait here until you are gone,” he said, crouching lower into the shadows. My hand fingered the leather pouch, to make sure it was secure. I took a breath and looked up. There was a shady light on the gatehouse and a twirl of smoke coming up from the small, soot-covered chimney. I looked then at the building by the gate, and the terrace which crossed Sixth Street. I stooped down, and walked forward. Light crisscrossed over me, and shadows crisscrossed over as I went behind the gatehouse. Wooden planks were the foundation and bricks made the walls above the planks. I peered around the corner. The guards were all busy or had their backs towards me.
Keeping low, I hurried to the back of the gatehouse. I looked at the ally, searching in the dark for my companion. I could not see him, and that was all for the good. Standing upright, I was close against the cold bricks. I looked up and grasped a low edge of the roof. I turned and grasped it also with the other hand. A faint shadow crossed on my left. Turning my head quickly, I thought that there was some stir in the guardhouse.

Another shadow passed, this time to my right.

*****
A tremor ran through me, followed by another and another. My hand started trembling. I reached down again. Yet my hand paused a breadth away from whomever lay there. I was afraid, but I reached down, and did not jerk my hand back. Still trembling, I spread out my fingers. I found his neck, a woolen collar and the rim of a steel helm.

I also felt a pulse as I laid fully my hand upon the neck. Then I found a wound, deep, but the bleeding had almost stopped. I remembered that there was a third guard. The guard I had wounded earlier. I stopped shaking, though I still felt uneasy. He was unconscious, yet for how long I did not know. My hands reached forward and grabbed the doorframe, and I soon stepped over him. The darkness was horrible, and the form behind me made it even worse. I rushed forward franticly to the fire.
There was only one dying ember. It was bright red, amongst layers of cold ashes.

*****

I woke, and it was cold in the room. The bells had silenced, and the curtain was drawn over the window, tied closed with a leather cord. The chimney piece was above my head. On it hung my cloak, and I took it away and cast it over my shoulders. Then I looked about. The light was low, mostly flickering upon the flagstones at the hearth. Alstare was sitting in a chair opposite of the fire, and spoke to me.

“The message is almost two days late, at least I think; but even a day is too late.” His voice was low, and he crossed his legs.

“I know this.” I said as I sighed, “I need to get moving, quickly, but I’ll need a horse.” I added reluctantly. I looked up; the light was dancing on Alstare’s face.

“Are you in any condition to ride? The Marher may follow you, and you were already greatly wounded.” Great concern was in his voice, but not surprise.

“It does not matter, I must ride, now.” I spoke, and looked at him earnestly. Alstare nodded and stood, and stepping towards the fire, he threw another log in. His shadow grew long, and I followed him as he walked out of the door.

Chapter Twenty-Three

I knew that it could be anyone, that it indeed could be no danger to me; yet they very well could have already seen me, and were now surrounding me. Waiting less than a moment, I sprang up the gatehouse under the shadow of a higher roof. I was now hiding behind the chimney, looking about me to see any movements. Below me there was a dip in the cobblestone road, like a dell, and the guardhouse I was on was within it. There seemed to be a switch of the guard, but there was one who passed among the guards, whispering to each one of them. I then looked about to the other gatehouse. There was no switch of the guard. Indeed there was no sign of movement.

But I had seen someone pass near me.

Slowly, with great caution, and keeping a steady watch on the guardhouse, I stood. Peering around the chimney, I stood on the slant of the roof, and now could see the Square from a distance. There were comings and goings, yet it was quiet. All were speaking in whispers. Almost all of the people huddled in small groups, hardly anyone walked alone, or with only one by their side.

*****

My hands fumbled to find a log on the hearth, and I shoved the embers with it. There was a tiny spark, it flickered and barley held on. I grabbed another log, and spent a while feeding the fire, and flames began springing up, quickly climbing over the logs. I fed it more, till it began to blaze moderately. I shivered, and pulled my cloak closer about me. The warmth of the fire had made me suddenly realize how cold it had been. Hunched and rubbing my hands, and I kept on shivering, and I almost forgot that the guard was still lying on the doorstep.

I heard a groan, and it aroused my thoughts. Springing up, I looked at him now in the light. At the back of his neck, just below the helm, was a huge gash. Blood has soaked everything below the wound. I walked slowly towards him, and my mind was whirling, trying to think of what to do.

*****

Alstare passed to me my helm and I nodded my thanks. Flipping his hood up, Alstare passed into the hallway. I followed. My shoulder was sore, and I felt weak. The last thing I remembered was the Marher’s face. Yet even that memory was vague, cast with terrifying shadows. I did not know what happened as Alstare was loath to tell. So we both passed in silence down the hallway, and the wall and floor wooden, and candles placed and lighted in nooks. A shadow would spring up and flicker as we passed by a candle, but then it passed into the general darkness. There were only a few doors, and on my right there were some windows, all heavily covered in curtains.

“We don’t have any swift horses,” Alstare said, only glancing at me, “the only horse that is remaining in the stables is a tall grey draft. The others are already with the Militia.”

“Is he gentle?” I looked up at Alstare, trying to hide the worry in my voice.

“That horse could be a charger in battle.” Alstare seemed a bit surprised, and I chuckled and added:

“I have never been a good rider, and have loved and hated horses since I was a child.” And I put my helm on my head.

Comments

This keeps getting better and

This keeps getting better and better. I loved the last part best... I can't wait until this is done and I get to read it all at once.

Hannah W. | Thu, 02/23/2012