Chapter 1: Answers
Han scrambled up the wall and paused at the window ledge, hearing voices. He hesitated, but curiosity got a hold of him and he skinned up the wall again, to another window ledge a level higher. Peering through the glass he saw Micah talking to someone, but couldn't quite make out who it was through the smudged glass. Carefully, slowly, gently, he lifted the window, and a voice drifted through.
"Death or marriage. You Bayars really know how to charm a girl."
Was that Rebecca? Why was she doing here, with him? Obviously not by choice, considering the topic. But why in the world would Micah want to marry Rebecca? Wouldn't he want to marry someone like the princess or another high-up?Time for that later. He slipped in through the window, making sure no one saw him. If Micah saw him, he was dead. If Rebecca saw him, she would accidentally alert Micah, then he would still be dead. Han was sure that Micah wanted no witnesses.
He waited nervously, hoping Micah would not hush her before he got a chance to do something. Han waited until he picked her up, then slid up behind him. He slashed Micah across the back with one his knives. Micah gasped and tried to turn and face him, but he was already out. Han let him fall to the ground and hurried to pick up Rebecca.
She seemed out of it too, but she was still alive. He flew out the window with Rebecca on his back, almost falling to the ground and rushing across Bridge Street, not caring who saw him. Several people called out to him, but he rushed on, desperate to get Rebecca to her dorm. He scaled the dorm wall quickly, and gently set her on her bed.
How am I supposed to get Byrne up here without the whole flock of them rushing in here too?
Luckily that what not be a problem as just then Corporal Byrne himself opened the door and entered the room. Both of them froze, then the Corporal drew his sword and advanced on Han. Han backed up slowly, holding his hands in the air in front of him.
"I didn't do anything Corporal, honest, I didn't. It's Rebecca, you got to help her." He pleaded, slipping back into his old way of speaking in his fear. He couldn't leave Rebecca, yet he did not want a crazed Byrne to stick him with his sword.
Luckily his words registered in Byrne's brain, and he turned to the girlie on the bed. He rushed over to the bed, then glared at Han over his shoulder. "What did you do to her Cuffs? If she's hurt I will strip the skin from your body."
Han answered him carefully. "She had some turtleweed sir, but it wasn't me I swear it wasn't. It Micah Bayar, another jinxflinger at Mystwerk."
Byrne stared at him, and Han feared he wasn't going to be believed. Then Byrne turned his head back to Rebecca. "You couldn't have made that up, unless you're one lucky liar, and I know you're not very lucky, even if you are a liar."
Han sighed in relief then started pacing around the room again. "Turtleweed isn't poisonous, but if she's had too much it could cause damage. There's nothing you can do about that, but I don't know if Micah hurt her before I got there." He paused a moment, then looked straight at Byrne. "I need some answers Byrne, and I need them now. What does Micah have to do with Rebecca?"
Byrne stumbled to think of something, "Well, um, R- I mean Rebecca used to work for the Bayars and, um, she did something to… to… to one of their amulets."
Han nearly laughed out loud did Byrne really think he would buy that? "You are the worst liar I have ever known. My real question is, why would Micah want to marry her?"
Han could almost see the wheels churning in the corporal's head. He would get the truth out of him, and no one was going to stop him.
Byrne finally got his mind set. "If you tell anyone anything I will personally make sure you die a slow, painful death," he growled at Han. "The truth is, that Rebecca's real name is Raisa, and she is the princess heir."
Han stared at Byrne, then at Rebecca. The corporal did not seem to be lying, but, Rebecca? A princess?
Byrne continued on, ignoring Han's doubt. "She was going to be made to marry Micah at the castle, on her naming day, but she escaped and disguised herself as Rebecca Morley."
Han couldn't believe it. He wouldn't believe it. He stood up. "If Rebecca Morley were princess I would be under arrest right now, maybe even hanging, for what I said about the royal family." Not to mention him kidnapping her, allowing her to be put in harms way numerous times, the least of which bringing her onto a rain-slicked roof at midnight. To tell the truth, she had seemed rather distraught when he told her he hated the queen, but then any blue-blood would, wouldn't they? Wouldn't they? His mind had no answers to give him. Treason can be punishable by death, but in most cases that was seen as extreme. But treason was treason, wasn't it?
Han grabbed Byrne by the collar and shook him. "Is she really the princess?"
Byrne grabbed him and put a hand over his mouth. "Be quiet. What I said before also effects you if someone over hears you."
Han took that as a yes. He jerked free of Byrne, and strode over to the window. He looked back over his shoulder for his, hopefully, last sight of the princess heir. "When she wakes up, tell her I'm sorry I'm not there to see her, but I won't swing for her amusement." He spat out his words and leaped out the window, hoping he didn't break his leg. He landed neatly on the next roof down, then hopped down and sped off back to Mystwerk, as he had to collect his things before he left. Byrne was right, he was not lucky, even if he was a liar.
Back in Raisa's room Amon was quiet. He had no clue what Han Cuffs Alister had said to the princess, but the thief/kidnapper/wizard obviously thought it was bad enough. He had halfheartedly lunged at him as he jumped out the window, but he was gone. Amon didn't know if that was good or bad anymore. Alister had kidnapped the princess, but then he had unknowingly saved the kingdom from a civil war, but a streetlord suddenly becoming a wizard? Something was up, and he no longer had a way to learn what.
Raisa awoke, surprised that she was still alive, to see Amon sleeping in a chair next to her bed. She started to sit up, but her head was throbbing, and she fell back down with a groan.
Amon jolted awake and his eyes around the room frantically, but then seemed to realize it was Raisa who had made the noise. His muscles relaxed and he asked, "Are you alright?"
Raisa wasn't really sure. Micah had said turtleweed gave you a headache, but headache seemed far too mild a word for the pain she was experiencing now. She somehow managed to croak out, "I think so," as she tried to block out the pain, which was just about impossible because thinking hurt.
Amon wordlessly gave her a vial of painkiller, and after she gulped it down, questions started popping out of her mouth without her able to control them. "What happened? Where's the assassin? Is Micah alive? Who rescued me? Did you save me?" The words streamed out of her mouth, but eventually her mouth ceased it's rebellion against her brain, which still throbbed even through the medicine.
Amon had just sat through the entire thing, and even though she was now presenting an opening to speak, he still hesitated as if unsure of what to tell her. Finally he opened his mouth, but slowly, and she hoped it wasn't bad news he was about to give her. "I think you were attacked by Micah, made to drink some turtleweed concoction, then were about to get kidnapped again. I know nothing about any assassin, or if Micah Bayar is alive." At this he stopped and stared at her cautiously.
The silence stretched out, and Raisa grew nervous. What does he not want to tell me? Once she couldn't take it anymore she snapped out at him. "Just tell me how I got here will you?"
Amon let out a sigh and started talking, "The person you probably thought was an assassin was Han Alister."
Raisa broke in quickly "Where is he now?"
Amon lost his temper. "If you're not going to let me explain anything I'm leaving." He stormed out of the room leaving a shocked Raisa behind him.
What's got him so jumpy? Raisa searched her memories, then froze. If Han had saved her from Micah, that means he was there, for how long, she did not know. The question was: what had he heard?