So, yes, anyway. Today is my mum's birthday (Happy Birthday to you!) so I spent the morning frantically writing. I got up to 876 words (I always aim for at least 1000 in each instalment) and then we had to leave to go out for morning tea. Now we're back again and I finished writing so I could do this blog post!
You may remember that Instalment 20 was heralding something slightly different. A new picture! I'd really love your input on how you like it or if you think I should go back to the old one or continue with this. I really hope you enjoy this hurriedly written instalment! (Oh, by the way, option three was voted in.)
Flicks barely suppressed a yell of surprise as the thing scrambled from underneath her, standing up and looming over her in the semidarkness.
“And who do you think you might be?” a dark voice whispered.
Flicks scrambled to her feet and backed away. “Wh-who are you?” she asked.
The shadow snorted and stepped forwards with a rustle of fabric. “I think I asked that question first,” he said, leaning towards her ominously.
“I-I’m Flicks,” Flicks stammered, her heart beating wildly. How long is Skilf going to take? she wondered.
“Flicks, hmm, interesting name really,” the stranger replied thoughtfully. “You come from somewhere foreign I assume?”
“Ye—I—how did you know?” Flicks took another step backwards then felt the solid stone wall at her back.
The cloaked man chuckled softly. “I have my ways,” he murmured.
A soft thud and a sliding noise came from the entrance and both Flicks and the stranger turned to see Skilf rising to her feet, brushing herself off. Fred’s silhouette dived in after her.
“This is indeed interesting,” the man said, a note of genuine interest in his voice. “You failed to mention, Flicks, that you had companions.”
“You never asked me,” Flicks replied, her confidence returning now that she was no longer alone with the stranger.
Skilf’s mouth dropped open. “Who do you think you are?” she blurted, glaring at the shrouded man.
The man gave his half amused chuckle again before replying, “I have already been asked that question, but first perhaps you will tell me who you are. After all it was you who dropped rather suddenly into my abode.”
“Your abode?” Skilf spluttered. “It’s my secret room, not yours.”
“Obviously it isn’t as secret as you once thought,” the man replied coolly. “And now, tell me straight: Who are you?”
Skilf looked taken aback. “Well...” she hesitated. “Will you tell us who you are if I tell you who I am?”
The man was silent for a moment. “’Tis a hard deal you make but I agree. I will tell you my name, if nothing else besides.”
Skilf nodded slowly. Throwing Flicks a furtive glance, she cleared her throat. “I am Skilf.”
“Skilf? As in the Skilf that supposedly lives here?” the man’s face was too shadowed to discern any expression, but Flicks was sure she could sense a frown in his words.
“Aye,” Skilf said, uncertain whether or not it was a good thing to agree.
The man turned and walked to the back of the room. Some odd noises emerged from under the cloak and then a light blinked into life. The stranger turned, holding a lantern in his hand, he reached up and hooked it to some unseen hook on the roof, so the light spread through most of the room.
“So who are you and what are you doing here?” Flicks queried.
“My name is Trancos,” the man said, pulling his cloak about him. “As to your second question, I’ll leave that unanswered as it had no part in our deal.”
“Trancos?” Skilf muttered. “Where have I heard that before?”
Flicks studied the alleged Trancos. He was tall and lean from what she could see. The lower half of his face was now visible, his mouth set in a grim line and the dark beginnings of a beard grew along his jaw.
“And what are you doing here?” Trancos asked.
“Why should we tell you that if you won’t tell us what you’re doing here?” Flicks tossed her head. Fred had landed on her shoulder and she now leant forwards and hissed at Trancos.
“Because,” Trancos replied. “I could kill you right now if I felt like it.” A shring of metal on leather made Flicks jump back. The lantern light caught on the razor edged blade. Trancos held it out for a moment or two then shrugged, replacing the sword in its scabbard. “That’s why you should answer my question.”
Skilf took a deep breath. “Ok, we want to rescue a friend of ours. She’s a girl called Nainsi and she’s currently being held by my Uncle and a man called Kendal. I have no idea why. But we’re going to save her.” She lifted her chin defiantly, “Any problems with that?”
Trancos stared at her and then Flicks. “You’re here to rescue Nainsi?” he asked his voice a mere whisper.
“Yes,” Flicks said. “Do you know her?”
Trancos turned away and paced the room once before answering. “I might know of her,” he said, then turned his gaze on the Dragontwins. “My question is, can I trust you?”
Flicks paused, considering his question. “It depends who exactly you are and what you’re doing here. You could also ask yourself, ‘can we trust you?’”
Trancos sighed and began pacing again. “Okay, I know Nainsi,” he admitted. “And I’m here to help her.” He spun to face Skilf. “You know your way around here, and I have my skills, if we work together we might be able to rescue her and then I can leave and you can pretend you never met me.”
Flicks tilted her head to one side. “That sounds good to me, I can’t say anything for Skilf, but first I want to see your face,” she said firmly.
Trancos only hesitated for a moment then reached up, pushing the cowl of his cloak back to reveal his face. “There,” he said. “Happy? Now we can think up a plan. That is,” he said to Skilf. “If you’re willing.”
“Aye,” Skilf said slowly. She was staring at Trancos’s face.
“Have we met before, by any chance?” Flicks asked. “You look somehow familiar.”
“No,” Trancos said shortly. “We haven’t met, and I’d be grateful if you forgot about this meeting also.”
Still Flicks couldn’t banish the odd feeling of familiarity. She knotted her brows, but realising it would be pointless, she didn’t ask Trancos why he wished for them to forget him. “Okay then,” she said, shrugging and nearly knocking Fred off her shoulder.
“Careful,” Fred said.
“Oh, sorry,” Flicks whispered so that Trancos wouldn’t hear. “What do you think about this?”
Fred sniffed. “Personally I think this Trancos is a little odd, I mean, why would anyone want us to forget we met them for any good reasons?” she shrugged. “But I agree with you he looks familiar. Also, he might be a good help in rescuing Nainsi.”
“Right,” Flicks said, half to Fred and half to everyone else. “What’s the plan?”
“Wouldn’t it be simple if we could somehow lure Lord Cameron and this Kendal out of the room so we can go in and get Nainsi?” Trancos suggested.
Skilf narrowed her eyes. “Maybe,” she said noncommittally. “How’d we lure them out.”
Flicks tapped her chin. “What if we made a whole lot of noise and got them to open the door then go up to them and ask to...show them something downstairs?” she finished hopefully.
Skilf shook her head. “That wouldn’t really work. They both have seen us before.”
Trancos sighed. “I guess that leaves me.”
Skilf and Flicks turned to him. “What do you mean?” they asked in unison.
“I’ll go up there, distract them, and draw them away and you can climb in the window and get Nainsi and run,” Trancos elaborated.
Fred flicked her tail sceptically. Flicks took a deep breath and decided to trust Trancos. “Sounds good to me,” she said.
Skilf shrugged. “Whatever. So long as the window’s open. If not, Flicks and I won’t be able to climb in,” she pointed out.
“No need to worry,” Trancos said. “That’s all fixed. The window will open quite easily if you use this.” He drew a short knife from under his cloak, “Just slip it between the window and the frame and you can open the latch pretty easy.”
Flicks took the blade and stuck it in her pocket, hoping wouldn’t stab her in the leg as she climbed. After a moment of hesitation she climbed to the entrance. “How will you get to the door?” she questioned Trancos.
“I’ll manage,” he said. “You’ll see.” He paused a moment then added, “Don’t mention me to Nainsi though will you?”
Flicks raised her eyebrows and shrugged at Skilf. “Whatever,” Skilf said again, following Flicks.
Flicks crouched on the ledge and slowly pushed herself into a standing position. She curled her fingers around the window sill and held on with one hand while reaching for the knife with the other.
A furious banging from inside made her start in surprise, but then voices reached her and she frowned. How had Trancos managed to get there so fast?
Trusting that Trancos had the complete attention of the two men inside, Flicks slid the blade of the knife between the window and frame. A short upward jerk opened the latch and Flicks levered the window open painstakingly.
Dropping the knife back in her pocket, she took the lack of alarm as a signal of safety and took a firm grip of the sill, walking her legs up the wall as she pulled with her arms.
With a quiet groan she half fell into Lord Cameron’s private meeting room. She looked up...
1. Nainsi raised her eyebrows, “What a graceful entrance, Flicks, what a graceful entrance.”
2. Kendal leered down at her across the room. “I rather thought you might be behind the sudden calling away of my host. I decided to stay just in case.”
3. An empty room greeted her. The chair not so long ago occupied by Nainsi had been vacated, and the portraits of Skilf’s ancestors laughed down at the aghast intruder.
Hope you all enjoyed it. I'll be awaiting your votes and comments/suggestions with the new picture. Have a great week!
Fare Thee Well!