Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Forty

Kemeny could see why Weslyn was attracted to Draegon when he stripped down to almost nothing. He wasn’t muscular, but he was well-built and lean, and there was enough definition to his muscles to know they were there. She wondered whether or not Weslyn had actually seen Draegon without his shirt on. If not, she was in for a treat whenever she did. If she ever did. For a moment, Kemeny actually considered stealing him away from Weslyn, but she overcame that desire quickly.

By the time she had decided not to start flirting with Draegon, the bard had crept down the hill and was nearly to the closest Keidenelle wagon. He had chosen his target and waited for the better part of two hours until finally, it was left unguarded. There weren’t any prisoners tied to it, and it was on the outermost edge of the masses. She just hoped he could reach it unseen.

Holding her breath, she watched him approach the wagon, keeping a lookout for unwanted guests. He finally reached it, rummaged around in the back of it until he came away with a large bundle. He hurried back up the hill to her and Zanthys, panting, and showed off his prize: an assortment of clothes, mostly sewn animal hides– some with the fur still on– just like the Keidenelle wore.

He sorted through the bundle until he came across some pieces that looked like they would fit him. Once he had gotten dressed, he looked like he would fit in perfectly with the crowd down there.

“How do I look?” he asked somewhat dismally. She could tell he was having a hard time really coming to terms with what he was doing.

“Silly,” Zanthys muttered.

“Almost perfect,” she replied, drowning out the snide lordling. “Hang on.” She bent down and rubbed her hands in the dirt for a moment, then ran her hands over his face and arms and through his hair. Once she was done, he was thoroughly dirty and had very mussed hair. “Now it’s perfect. I almost don’t recognize you.”

“I you’re sure…” he said, producing a length of rope from his bundle. He bound her and Zanthys’s wrists– with more than a little protesting on Zanthys’s part– and ran between their necks, making them part of his own little prisoner line. “This should work… One more thing.”

He took his instrument cases, wrapped them in a few of the unused articles of Keidenelle clothing, and fastened the whole bundle to Zanthys’s back. “I am not leaving my instruments out here. Well… let’s go.”

“Do you even know how to get in?” Zanthys said suddenly, his face contorted in anger. “These are savages we’re talking about! They’ll mark you for civilized the moment you open your mouth! How can you really expect to pull this off? It’ll never work!”

“I’m working on it!“ Draegon snapped back. Taking the end of the lead line in his hand, he led them down the hill. When they reached the swarm of savages outside the city gates, Kemeny heard Draegon take in a breath and hold it. She didn’t blame him; she wanted to hold her breath, too. But what they needed was for the charade to work. She hung her head, trying to look like a beaten prisoner.

As they moved among the wagons, no one gave them a second glance. Sweat appeared on the back of Draegon’s neck– the only part of him she could really see as he led them. He was terrified. Still, in some distant past, he was one of them. She felt sorry for him.

He led them in a winding pattern, slowly making their way to the gate. He breathed again, and she could tell his ears were cocked, trying to pick up bits of conversation, to learn how they spoke to each other. Kemeny made an effort to listen, too. She picked up broken bits she could understand– fragmented, poorly constructed sentences– that were aimed at prisoners that were still among the wagons. But to each other they spoke a completely different language, guttural and strange-sounding to her ears. Now she was getting frightened. How was he going to pull this off?

They finally reached the gate. Before the bard could open his mouth to say a word to the few lingering savages who seemed to be guarding it, they were swept through by the current of people, and then they were in the city. Letting out a whoosh of air in relief, they kept walking. The current continued to pull them, leading them towards the ruler’s castle.

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