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The Accomplice: Chapter 9
The three of them barely dared to breathe as the hiked carefully upon the rocky path. By now, they were close enough to the town to see it so they put on their disguises. Alex and Marion didn’t have to do much. Alex spread some dirt on her already unclean face and ripped holes in her filthy, torn dress. For extra effect, she took berries and spread the juice upon the side of her face where it dripped down to the corner of her jaw, giving the impression of blood. Robin had some serious work to do. He went alone down to the stream where he stripped his body of clothes and washed all the grime and dust from his body. Alex was tempted to peek but she knew that it was inappropriate, even for her. After his wash, he untied the bundle Marion had brought and pulled out a red velvet vest, a white long sleeved blouse and cream silk knickers with shoes that had a golden buckle. Alex and Marion helped him dress in his new garnishing. When they were done, he looked the very image of ampluer. While he looked the part, his voice and his posture were not even close to that of a true noble. Marion instructed him on proper speech and posture while they hastened towards the town. By the time they reached the city’s gates, the sun had risen just barely over the surrounding mountains. Robin wasn’t exactly the most accurate display of aristocracy, but it would just have to do. Right before they entered the cities broad, protecting walls, Robin tied a rope around Alex’s hands. While to the eye it looked secure and tight, they had rigged the underside of it so if needed, it could easily be broken. Robin took the other end of the rope and held it in his gloved hands. They all took a deep breath, daring the moment of rest before their daring mission.
“Ready?” Robin asked Alex.
“No. but I don’t think we have much of a choice.” She stated. Robin nodded to her and another moment of silenced bliss passed between them. “I forgive you.” Alex said, referring to the night when Robin had said that one hurtful word. Marion looked confused for a second but quickly regained herself. A sad smile spread upon Robin lips as his body flooded with relief.
Getting past the guards was a lot easier than any of them had thought possible. Marion was a regular here and the guards let her pass without a second glance. Alex and Robin were a sight they had obviously seen before. The rich slave catcher dragging behind him a simple peasant. Right as Robin and Alex were about to enter the city, one guard stopped them.
“Well, well, well, what do we have here?” The guard asked mockingly as he took Alex’s chin in his hand and observed it. She refused to look at him and purposely stepped on his foot. “Such a pity that such beauty goes to waste. Tsk tsk tsk.” The guard said through gritted teeth. The guard took Alex’s bound hands and put it up to his lips. Robin yanked the rope, forcing her hands away from his mouth.
“Get your hands off my merchandise.” Robin said coolly.
“I will do as I want. And this merchandise of yours might just have to stay with me if you continue to defy me. To defy me is to defy Kind John himself.” The guard said, a sick smile creeping along his ugly face. Robin growled quietly as the guard took his time letting Alex go. As he finally released her hands from his grip, she stepped on the same foot again.
“Agh! You bloody girl! Why when I get my hands on you…” He was about to continue his threats when his companion guard rolled his eyes and opened the gate for them to pass through. The two guards argued for a good while until Robin and Alex were out of earshot. Robin had a look in his eyes of jealousy and anger. He set his jaw firmly and continued to walk at a pace that Alex had to practically run too to keep up. Finally they reached their destination where they found Marion casually walking around, pretending to be interested in one thing or another. When she saw them, she almost fainted with relief.
“Where were you guys!? I have been waiting here for ten minutes worrying my head off!” Marion said dramatically. People walking around the town stopped and looked at the three of them for a moment, then hurried off to something much more important than a slave catcher, an ampluer and a pauvre.
“The guards at the front gate almost didn’t let us pass but we survived.” Robin whispered , winking at Alex. Marion was obviously annoyed at this.
“I’m sure it was your wit and strength that allowed you to pass wasn’t it?” Marion said to Robin in her most flattering tone. Robin took the bait.
“Why, yes it was. If it weren’t for me, we would be rotting in the very dungeon I, I mean, we are about to free!” Robin said, the pride in his voice could not be ignored even though he talked below his breath. Alex rolled her eyes irritated.
“Let’s just get this over with. Shall we?” Alex said, also speaking below her breath. Robin nodded and the three approached the dungeon with confidence they didn’t feel. It had been designated that Marion would be the lookout, considering there wasn’t much else she could do. Alex reached down to her thigh where the dagger had been hidden in the folds of this dress just in case. Her hand brushed the dagger and she got a chill of power and horror. Right next to the dagger, the vile of poison took residency. Licking her chapped and bleeding lips, she forced herself to walk behind Robin while the leader in her wanted to lead him to the dungeon. Robin and Alex entered the prison and a smell worse than rotting garbage itself made its way to the both of them. Robin gagged but Alex simply tried not to breathe. A guard approached them, looking at them with suspicion.
“What do you want?” The guard said lazily.
“I heard you were looking for a new cook and let me tell you, I have the finest one you will ever find in all of Europe. I would expect a fine gentleman like you would not pass up on such an offer like this?” Robin said and for the smallest moment, even Alex believed him.
“Well, then, is that true?” The guard said with mock interest. He chuckled at his own joke and studied Alex for a minute. “We ‘ave been looking for a new cook… but I’m not the one ‘ou got to see bout that. I’ll fetch the warden, ‘ou wait right there you hear!?” He walked down the stairs to a room that seemed to be the soldiers’ quarters. When he returned, he had with him man who looked colder than ice. Alex flinched as his icy, bitter gaze bore into her body. For a brief second, she thought see recognized the man from somewhere. Alex shook her head and put it out of her mind.
“We have been looking for a cook. But this scrawny brat’s hands are way too hard and callused to have been used for gentle cooking. No, we will take her as a cook.” His polished, slightly accented voice sent shivers down their spines. For the first time in a long time, Alex was afraid. Alex silently marveled at this man. It would have been impossible for him to see the palms of her hands while they were bound as they were. Apparently, the same thought crossed Robin’s mind because his eyes got wide and stared at the man without blinking for a few seconds. Alex’s heart fell. Their plans and strategies had been for nothing. “You are in luck however, for we do need a maid. The last one was disposed of due to her lack of obedience.” A ruthless smile widened across his pale, foreboding face. Alex thought she would be sick.
“Do we have a deal…?” Robin trailed off.
“Yes.” The man stated.
“I think you are forgetting something my uhhh… kind sir.” Robin implied.
“I do not forget. You will receive eighteen pence for this filth.”
“That ‘filth’ was offered for thirty pence from another buyer.” Robin said. Alex knew he was pushing his luck.
“Fool! You think I don’t know your games? You catchers are all alike, bluffing prices to get others to pay more. You can’t fool me! But if it makes you happy, I will give you twenty.” He spat.
“Very well. You have yourself a deal.”
“Yes, we do. Good day.”
“Good day.” As Robin walked out, Alex had the strongest urge to follow him but she remembered what had to be done. The man walked around her. His pale grey eyes dug deep into her.
“You may start by serving the food to the prisoners. Then you shall come see me for further instructions.” He gestured to the room he had come out of. It took all her courage to nod back at him without screaming. He pointed a long, bony finger at a room that seemed to be the kitchen. As he left Alex remembered that her hands were still tied. She decided going to the kitchen would be the only place that might get them off of her. As she entered the room, about five pairs of empty, sad eyes feel upon her. ‘What did I get myself into?!’ Alex thought with despair