Agnes stopped to catch her breath, her heart pounding in her chest. Half a day, he'd said. Half a day to get away. That had seemed long enough, when he had told her. But now... Most of her time was already gone, and she felt as though she had covered very little ground. He would be on a horse, and he would have those horrible dogs.
When he had let her out, she had started blindly in a random direction. She had no idea where she was, no idea which direction was the safest. She was already wishing she had headed some other way. The path she had chosen had been almost completely flat, with more than enough room for horses to manoeuvre. A panicky voice in the back of her head told her she was doomed. It would be easier to just lie down and sleep, wait for him to come, and hope it ended quickly.
"But it won't end quickly." She said quietly, and quashed the desire to give up. She had a chance. She knew that. A small one, but it was there. If there was no chance of her winning, then this wouldn't be a game, and where was the fun in that?
That was how she had to look at it. A game. Not life or death. She needed to think clearly. She was away from him for now, that was the first thing. She had been given half a day of freedom, and she had wasted much of that time running like a frightened rabbit. That wouldn't do at all. She was no rabbit. These highborn lords thought they could do as they pleased, simply because they were born in a castle instead of outside one -and this one was a bastard, even. A Lord's bastard was a still a bastard, and even she was better than that. Just because her parents had no titles or land to call their own, didn't make her an animal.
Somewhere in the distance, she heard a hunting horn. Had she really covered so little distance? She was till within earshot of the castle. Stumbling about in fear had been a mistake that it now seemed would cost her her life. She turned suddenly, hoping to confuse the hunting dogs, or at least slow them down.
She was surprised at how clearly she was thinking. When she had been in the castle with him, she hadn't been able to form a coherent thought. Yet even though she could think, she couldn't see how she could escape. Those dogs had her scent, she had spent all last night locked in the kennels with them. There was no way she could lose them. Unless... They knew exactly what smell they were looking for. It was on her skin, in her hair -and on her clothes. Well, clothes was a stretch. A flimsy brown shift that barely covered her. But it gave her an idea. She quickly tore it off, and tore it into several pieces. She knew there was no way the dogs wouldn't track her... But if she could confuse them enough so that they didn't know exactly where she was was... She might stand a chance. She threw the pieces up int the tree branches all around. The trees were all large, and very leafy, something she was very grateful for. She picked one at random, and started climbing. She had been the best tree climber in her village, able to quickly get to the tops of trees others could barely make it halfway up. She climbed as high as she could, into the leaves, ignoring the small branches that scratched her naked chest and legs. If a few scratches from the tree were the only injuries she got today, she would be the luckiest girl in all of Westeros.
She sat up in the tree top, silently enduring the bugs which were making a feast of her. Time passed in a very strange manner. On one hand, it seemed to take the bastard and his hounds and eternity to show up, and yet on the other hand, it felt as though they had arrived seconds after she had hidden herself.
Her ploy seemed to be working. She could see nothing through the veil of leaves she was hiding in, but she heard annoyed muttering.
"She's here, the girls know she's here." The bastards voice. She suppressed a shudder. If she could keep quiet, she would never have to see him ever again.
"She might not be..." Another voice, one of his boys. "Maybe she ditched the clothes and kept running, to keep us all confused like."
"Maybe..." The bastard didn't seem convinced. "But the girls aren't picking up any trail leading away from here."
"Might be the stench of her clothes is drowning out any other scents. Even I can smell 'em, and my nose ain't half as good as the ones on these bitches."
"Hmm..." It sounded like someone was pacing. "I think she's in a tree. That's what I think."
"Well, even if she is, how are we supposed to get her? I sure as bloody hell can't climb one o' these."
"Give me that."
"What? M'lord, you can't expect to actually-"
"I'm a lucky man, I'll take my chances."
Agnes didn't figure out what they were talking about until an arrow flew through the leaves not two feet from where she was sitting. He had a crossbow. She heard it fire a few more times, and heard it fly through the leaves, but those shots were quite far from her.
The ominous thrum of the crossbow, over and over again. She feared her heart would burst. How many arrows did they have. He paused shooting for a moment. Then it started again.
She heard the shot, the sound of it flying through the air, the sound of it hitting leaves, and then... a strange new sound. She looked down to see an arrow sticking out of her hip. She let out a cry of pain, and gripped the tree trunk as hard she could. She wouldn't let go, she wouldn't fall. He wouldn't win.
"Got her." She could hear the smile in his voice. He fired again and again, the arrows just barely missing her, until one got her in the side, just under her rib cage. She felt her grip on the tree slipping, and before she even realized what was happening, she was falling.
She hit the ground at a bad angle, and she heard a strange 'snap'.
"I can't believe you got her..."
"What did I tell you?" The bastard laughed. "I'm a lucky man."
She felt her consciousness fading fast. She hoped she was dying.
"She don't look so good, M'lord... I think she might be dying..."
"It doesn't matter, a corpse will do just as well."
As she slipped into blissful nothingness, the last thing she saw was the bastard approaching her, starting to unlace his breeches.