Maiden By Decree (Part 18)
Maiden by Decree Chapter 18
On The Loose
Just What Are You Trying to Tell Me Here?
“I know, I know.” Roric waved off the protests Bridgette was obviously just getting warmed up to making. “I should have killed her the moment she was in our hands. But trying that hasn’t been all that successful so far, and I have a sneaking hunch that doing so now wouldn’t be any easier. The girl has the damnedest knack for having things just fall into place to keep her alive if not healthy.”
“Don’t be a fool, dear.” Bridgette risked his anger because of her own. “Keeping that girl alive is counter-productive to your aims in all this. If she somehow gets free, or if Garret gets Chalmenessa to move against us, she would definitely be able to end any hope you might have for ascending the throne.”
“But.” Roric ignored the implied idea that he was being foolish while raising one hand. “With her in my hands, our hands, she is a bargaining chip, and a valuable one for the time being. Garret won’t dare move against me if he knows she is in my hands for fear I will kill her.”
“And what is that drivel about her possessing royal blood?” The young woman who fully intended to be Roric’s bride questioned acidly.
“No drivel at all, though the relationship is, admittedly distant.” He responded. “Our Deirdre is directly descended from one of the prophet’s – the original Deirdre’s -- family though that particular line diverged from the nobility some time ago. That connection is provable, even if tenuous. So having her for a bride could easily strengthen my claim to the throne simply for that in the eyes of the common folk. Think about it here. A lovely young thing, descended from the early founders of this nation, and bearing the same name as that tragic little girl who made all these troublesome prophecies will catch the attention, the sympathies, and hearts of the rabble.”
“She’d put a dagger in your heart and smile while doing so.” Bridgette snorted. “In your marriage bed.”
“Oh, I think she’ll be gentled down some once she is ‘rescued’ from her present accommodations.” Roric grinned evilly. “Rather than be returned to that I’m quite certain she will acquiesce to whatever I tell her to do.”
Bridgette, daughter of a lord herself, and well versed in palace intrigues thought to herself that Roric was being a fool about the girl. While not voicing that idea, she began forming plans of her own to make certain the little bitch wouldn’t be a problem in the future. To Roric, she smiled, nodded, and gave in. “I’m sure you’re right, my dear lord.”
“Besides.” He added casually. “What makes you think I’d even consider marrying a commoner? The girl is a tool, nothing else. If Garret does try to attack, think of how that will be blunted with his lady love spread eagled on the wall he’s trying to attack.”
“But you TOLD her you intended to marry her!” Bridgette shot back, not at all convinced by his most recent explanation.
“Of course I did, dearest.” Roric gave the woman a hug and kissed her rather forcibly on the lips before continuing. “When she finally does give in, think how crushed her ego and resistance will be once she discovers I had no intention of giving the ‘out’ that seems to be offered.”
“Enraged, maybe.” The lady shook her head. “Roric, you just don’t understand women. Keeping that girl alive is a deadly threat to both you and your ambitions.”
“Trust me, she’ll be quite broken by the time she discovers I have no intention of marrying her.” He smirked. “In fact, I predict that she would willingly go wherever and to whoever I tell her to once I deign to notice her presence once again.”
“I hope you’re right, my lord.” Bridgette answered quietly while planning to end the potential threat before the man could be proven wrong. Hopefully doing so without suspicion being cast her way. “I will reserve judgment on that, though, if you will forgive me for my womanly instincts.”
“You’ll see, my dear.” The lord of Lindsay in all but name answered with a grin. “I know what I’m doing here.”
So do I. She thought with an internal shudder and smirk. You think you can make that one into a pliable little slave, but even though you won’t listen to me, I know that won’t work. But as usual, I’ll see to the nasty little details for you.
“Oh, keep standing, dear.” Riddler urged when Deirdre started to, very carefully, sit down. “I need to have a look at you here, and it isn’t what you think, honestly.”
“Why?” She questioned carefully and more than a bit acerbically. “So you can get a better look at ‘the goods’?”
“Among other things.” The man responded lightly. “Please move into the light, what little of it is, that we get from the window in the door.”
“Why should I do that?” She questioned. “So you can get a better idea of what you’ll be raping pretty soon?”
“Not at all, dear.” The man sighed and waved her towards the light. “For some reason you look familiar to me. I would like to consider that for a few moments before any ‘festivities’ begin, if you don’t mind.”
She did so, anxious to do anything at all to even slow the eventual nastiness she expected to come from this development. “All right. So now what?”
“Gods.” The man breathed as he looked her over, mostly in the face, much to Deirdre’s puzzlement. That was eased when he asked. “Do you know a lady named Leila Hawthorne? She lives in Jhalmar.”
“That’s my mother.” She answered with a clear lack of understanding about where this was going clear on her lovely face and in her posture. “Why?”
“I – was – a close friend of your mother’s.” The man answered slowly, seeming hesitant to say too much. “She and I knew each other – quite well – in times past.”
“Just what is that supposed to mean?” Deirdre questioned with a tilt of her head that tossed her midnight hair over her shoulder and across her breast. Once she realized what that motion had done, she straightened her head and back then glared at the man. “I’m sure you have an answer for that one.”
“Oh, indeed I do.” Riddler actually smiled. “I comforted your mother at times during your father’s long absences.”
“By comforted, do you mean the euphemism ‘spent quality time’ with her?” Deirdre questioned with narrowed eyes.
“That about covers it.” Riddler answered with a sigh. “Many a night your mother and I spent with each other, enjoying one another and I will never regret that time. She is a very remarkable woman, girl. By the way, what is your name? I’m not all that comfortable calling you ‘girl’ right now with what we’ve just discovered.”
“It’s Deirdre.” She answered in a mix of wonder and surprise. “I never thought of my mother doing things like that.”
“She was beautiful, Deirdre. Like you are.” Riddler answered slowly. “And full of so much love, and determination. A man couldn’t resist that combination no matter how hard he tried. I conceived a child with her during that time, she told me, but wouldn’t tell her husband for the obvious reasons.”
“When was that?” Deirdre asked very softly. “When would the child have been born?”
“The year 1573 new reckoning.” Riddler answered while eyeing her with a knowing look. “That would be fifteen years ago.”
“When I was born.” She closed her eyes, trying to forget all the things her ‘real’ father had tried doing for the boy she was before he’d died, but couldn’t do much of that since he had died when she was four years old.
“I have looked in mirrors on occasion, girl.” Riddler chuckled then gave her a long, serious look. “You look like your mother, but there are elements of me there, too. I couldn’t miss those if I was half blind. You have my chin, after all. But I had heard that child was a boy.”
Deirdre really looked at the man, and had to admit to herself that she could see elements of her own appearance in his face once he’d moved into the light. “That’s a rather long story and gods, what am I supposed to do now?”
“I don’t expect you to hug your father.” Riddler answered sardonically. “After all, you just discovered that fact. To be honest, you’re so lovely, I almost wish you weren’t my daughter. But I’m sure beyond any doubt that you are, so you’re safe with me. Though an explanation of your long story about not being a boy might while away some time here. Were you a twin?”
“No.” Deirdre answered with a glower then muttered something that was unintelligible.
“What was that last thing?” Riddler questioned with a slight smile on his face. “You have your mother’s temperament, I can tell that already. The man who marries you is in for a challenge, I’m sure.”
“Never mind.” She sighed. “I was cursing prophecies is all.”
“Were you?” He chuckled. “I’ve learned in a long eventful life that cursing things you can do nothing about tends to be fairly counter-productive, even if it does make one feel a bit better at times.”
“Well, cursing at this one has done me no good at all so far.” She admitted with the first bit of smile she’d offered since being tossed into the cell. “Whatever is doing this seems quite determined to get on with things whether I agree with it or not. So, point taken.”
“Your mother was very pragmatic about things, too.” Riddler nodded thoughtfully. “She would rail at things for a bit to get it out of her system, then do whatever she needed to deal with the situation, even if it did seem unpalatable at the time.”
“That sounds depressingly familiar.” Deirdre managed a chuckle.
“I’m still curious as to why you aren’t a young man.” The man put in, then gave a look of apology at the wince that elicited from his cell mate. “I apologize, I know, long story. One I’ll be interested in hearing when you’re ready to tell it. I take it the midwives and birth scryers weren’t wrong when they foretold the baby’s sex.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I did tell you.” She sighed.
“Now that sounds like a tale even I would sit and listen to with bated breath.” The man answered then held up his hands to forestall the explosion he saw coming. “That was not making fun of you, dear girl. I rarely hear a tale I’ve never run across a variation for, a new one could be very diverting is all I meant.”
With nothing better to do, Deirdre took a few breaths, and started telling him.
“The wagons are ready, my lord.” A man at arms reported to Garret then added. “Along with the sheep.”
“I still don’t quite understand what three wagons loaded with something you haven’t seen fit to tell anyone about, and a flock of sheep is going to get us through Sentinel Pass and past the rock trolls.” Sestalphas, seconded from his duties in Serai as captain of the guard on Garret’s request shook his head. “The trolls will trash the wagons, eat the sheep, and the wagon drivers then be waiting for more.”
“Ahh, but those three wagons are loaded with casks of cheap, but well fortified wine, my friend.” Garret chuckled. “I hope that once the trolls discover what’s in the wagons, the drivers, and maybe even the sheep will be able to escape.”
Sestalphas gave his commander a long, searching look then started laughing.
“So what do we do now?” Deirdre asked then added. “And how did you end up in this particular dungeon?”
“I made the mistake of trying to acquire an item that was guarded better than I’d anticipated.” He shrugged. “It happens on occasion.”
“It happens.” She answered while looking at him with a stare the seemed to penetrate to his bones. “Then you can pick locks?”
“Easily.” He answered then held up hands restrained by manacles, even if the chains allowed him access to the entire cell. “Unfortunately, I have nothing available to make use of that skill.”
“Here, try this.” She gave him an evil grin as she pulled a hairpin out of her voluminous hair and handed it to him. “My kidnappers were a bit too busy to get all of them.”
“That just proves to me that you are my daughter.” Riddler grinned while he released the manacles at his wrists and ankles. “Can you pick locks?”
“Of course I can.” Deirdre chuckled. “But you’re the master thief here, unless I missed something in what you were telling me earlier. You do the honors.”
“Easily.” He answered. “But what do we do we do then?”
“Get out of here.” Deirdre answered with a shrug. “Whatever it takes.”
“You are more like your mother than you know.” He told her.
“Just get us out of this cell.” She told him.
“On it, dear, lovely daughter.”
Deirdre just nodded, thinking it would be better to really discuss with him that she had started out as a son later on. But he’d already heard the story. “More action, less talk, Daddy.”
“Door is open.” Riddler told her simply. “Now what?”
“First, we find some weapons.” She told him, knowing he’d already come to that conclusion. “Then it’s mayhem. But first we find something for me to wear other than this rather tatty nightgown.”
“You are definitely my daughter.” He sighed then laughed.
“I suppose I should scream and all that, just to keep whoever is listening happy.” She put in.
“That would be nice touch, yes.”
“NOO!!!” She screamed. “Don’t touch me!!
Think that will work?” She questioned.
“It’ll do.” Riddler nodded with a grin. “Do some more, just in case.”
“Noo!!!” Deirdre screamed while tearing her already threadbare nightgown loudly enough to be noted. “I’m a virgin and I have fingernails!”
“Nice touch.” Riddler grinned then screamed. “You bitch! Claw my face will you?!!”
“Bleed!” Deirdre shouted in a panicked voice then grinned and whispered. “How was that?”
“Arrghh!” Riddler answered, mostly because he was laughing too hard to do anything else.
“I’ll take that as ‘I did good’.” She whispered.
“Oh, indeed, daughter.” Riddler chuckled then yelled. “You bitch! I was going to be nice, but not now!”
“My virginity is not something I want to give to you!” Deirdre shouted hysterically then couldn’t help herself, she started laughing. “If these idiots fall for this, we have it made.”
“They hear what they wish to hear, dear.” Riddler answered with a nasty grin. “Misdirection is a wonderful thing when used properly.”
“I suppose I should go into the heavy breathing now?”
“It might be a good time, yes.”
“No, no, noooo….” Deirdre protested then went the other way. “Ahhh.”
“Women are weak.” Riddler almost shouted to make sure the listeners got it. “Get a good stake into one and she always gives up.”
“Noooo!” Deirdre screamed then added some panting to make things interesting.
“You are a consummate actress.” Riddler grinned at her.
“I need to talk to you about that.” She put in. “But thank you. That was fun, wasn’t it?
“Indeed.” Riddler answered. “Now what?”
“Don’t ask me.” Deirdre responded. “I’m kind of making this up as we go.”
“Yes, you are my child.” Riddler chuckled.
“Can we discuss this later?” Deirdre answered. “We need to work on getting out of here just now, you know.”
“Good point.” He responded.
“She screams quite fetchingly, my lord.” The guard captain of the dungeon reported to Roric. “Though I do believe the lucky recipient of your gift enjoyed the lady’s charms regardless.”
“Good, Regul.” Roric chuckled, wishing he had been able to either hear, or better yet, witness that, but affairs of state had intruded on his entertainment. “Did you or any of your guards happen to witness the ‘lady’s’ deflowering?”
“Given some of the prisoners we have just now.” Regul sighed regretfully. “No. Oh, that sorcerer is causing problems again, should I just kill him and be done with it, my lord?”
“Do it from a distance and without his knowing what you plan.” Roric nodded with a heavy sigh while wondering. Why do all the decent lackeys lack initiative?
“As you say, m’lord.” Regul bowed then carefully backed out of the chamber while thinking to himself. Arrogant little lordling. Hoping to become a power in the world, but unable to so much as give your followers a decent reason to follow you. Money is good, but not the only incentive and someone always has more money to offer, or better, so that is not a guarantee of loyalty. Or competence.
“All right.” Garret addressed the specially chosen troops, all better than average scouts disguised as merchants and shepherds. “Get the wagons and sheep into the pass, and at the first sign that the trolls have seen you that would be believable to them, abandon the wagons, the sheep, and anything that would weigh you down and run for the pass for all your worth. If you don’t do that, this will be a suicide mission, so don’t look back, stumble, or even stop a moment to catch your breath. Let the sheep fend for themselves.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice, my lord.” One of the men responded loudly, to the amusement of the others. “Rock trolls are something that I’d rather not have a face to face encounter to regale my grandchildren with.”
“That’s the attitude I want in all of you.” Garret nodded with a laugh. “Just get the wagons and sheep into the pass, let the trolls know you’re there with them, and wait till they start moving in, then ‘panic’ and run.”
“The panic part won’t be an act, my lord.” Another grinned. “I’ll likely soil my breeches on this one, and I haven’t done that since my Da whipped me when I was three years old.”
“Well, don’t stop to wipe.” Garret advised then added. “You can do that once you’re safely out of the pass.”
“I may wait to do that till I’m safely at home.” That one fervently retorted to the laughter of everyone in that meeting.
“Eww!” Deirdre wrinkled her nose and grimaced as she picked up the tunic and leggings an unwary guard no longer needed. “This guy doesn’t even believe in one bath a week! Let alone doing laundry on a timely basis. I swear there’s mold in the creases on this stuff!”
“It’s either that, or what you have on now.” Riddler pointed out then glared at the girl in her ragged nightgown. “And even if you weren’t my daughter, I wouldn’t let you go out in public, especially in a dungeon, with that many bits hanging out for casual observation.”
“We haven’t established with any certainty that you’re my father.” She shot back, then looked down and blushed at what the mostly shredded gown allowed to show. “But you do have a point.”
“So plug your delicate nose with something, control the cringes as that rough, smelly material dares caress your delicate flesh, and get into it!” The man whispered fiercely. “A mostly naked girl running around down here would attract a lot more attention than a smelly, even moldy, guard!”
“All right, all right!” She shot back, pulling on the breeches and tying them into place with the cord that served as a belt, then shrugged the tunic over her shoulders with a look of distasted that changed to one of rye humor. “Things like this never used to bother me at all, to tell the truth. Though the lack of bathing and cleaning is something I never put up with. Though I do wonder when I became so fastidious about things I wasn’t so bad about that earlier in my life.”
“You might have.” Riddler chuckled with a shake of his head. “But your mother never would have, and she would have let you know that in no uncertain terms as I remember her. As for being so fastidious, you’re a girl. I need say no more.”
“Oh, thanks, but I do recall a few strategically placed clouts to the head and bottom.” Deirdre admitted then winced. “Okay, more than a few.”
“Thought so.” The man answered with a quiet chuckle as she shrugged the tunic over her shoulders.
“I need a weapon.” She told him while gingerly lifting the wooden cudgel the donor of her clothing had provided.
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Girl!’ She answered shortly then pointed at the cudgel. “Heavy!” Then flexed her biceps with a grimace. “NO arm strength! Get it?”
“Then we’ll find something you can use.” He soothed.
“Wait!” Digging through the discards from the incapacitated guard, now wearing her torn nightgown and facing the wall on the narrow shelf serving as a bunk in the cell they had recently gotten out of, she held up an object with a note of triumph in her voice. “I can use this!”
Riddler gave the dirk a dubious look sinceit was half as long as the girl’s arm while she brandished it with an almost unholy glee, and sighed. “You sure of that?”
“I was running in the back streets of Jhalmar when I was five years old.” She answered simply, then asked. “What do you think?”
Riddler wisely chose not to tell her.
Which was just as well.
“All those guards bunched at the entrance to that one cell.” Deirdre noted quietly, but with more than a little curiosity. “Wonder what that’s about?”
“A lot of them have bows, which are drawn and aiming into the cell.” Riddler noted.
“I noticed.” Deirdre answered. “Should we do something to mess them up?”
“Got any ideas? That won’t get us skewered with already knocked arrows?” He questioned.
“Throw a rock or brick to the other side of them?” She asked.
“Too obvious.” Riddler answered then grinned. “But behind them… They’ll turn in the direction of the noise and probably loose their arrows when they do. Which would have those missiles going somewhere we aren’t.”
“Okay.” Deirdre picked up a loose brick and threw it. Unfortunately, her aim was off and the missile landed right in the middle of the group. “Oops.”
Not that it mattered all that much given what happened next.
A blast of some kind blew the cell door outwards, showering splinters, and flickers of flame onto the gathered guards who shouted in surprise. “How’d he get his hands loose?” Several questioned, then ducked as another blast tore through the doorway. Those still on their feet after that loosed arrows, threw daggers, bricks and even stones into the cell in response.
‘Wow.” Deirdre breathed in almost wide eyed surprise. “Mage in there.”
Giving the now doorless cell a quick look, Riddler nodded judiciously. “I’d say that’s a pretty accurate assessment. But now that the guards are really distracted…”
“Right.” Deirdre answered as the pair moved forward in unison. “I’ll go to the right.”
“Just stay out sight of whoever is in that cell.” Riddler answered while heading to the left side of the remaining guards. “You are in a guard’s uniform, after all.”
“I don’t have the helmet on yet!” She sighed.
“Well, no one’s perfect.” Riddler grinned. “Besides, no self respecting male guard of a dungeon would be caught dead with hair as long or beautiful as yours is. Just don’t show yourself in the doorway just to be safe.”
“I got it, already!” She snorted.
The pair barreled into to the remaining guards, with Riddler making good use of both dagger and cudgel. Deirdre satisfied herself with a few sneak attacks with her appropriated dirk, which broke on the armor of the second guard she took down, but by then the fight was over.
“Just like everything else I hear about Roric.” She groused while glaring at the stub of blade still attached to the hilt before shrugging and tossing it away. “Equips his people with inferior equipment just to save a few silvers. Cheap bastard.”
Another magical blast erupted from the doorway causing both Riddler and Deirdre to dive frantically out of the way to avoid being fried, frozen or whatever that one had been intended to do to its targets.”
“Try killing me in my cell while I’m chained to the damned wall, will you?” A reedy male voice shouted from the cell. “Well, come in and get me you illegitimate spawn of a randy boar and a hard up bitch!”
“We aren’t guards, nor are we trying to kill you!” Riddler shouted back, careful not to show even a bit of himself through the doorway.
“Then show yourself!” The voice responded with a dubious tone that bode badly for anyone doing that at the moment. “Unarmed and with your hands in clear view!”
“A moment!” Riddler called back, then cautiously pushed an empty helm he’d put on the end of a broken spear into view of the doorway.
The answering bolt of lightning halfway melted the helm and had the thief’s hair standing on end, from his legs to the top of his head. The reedy voice howled. “THAT for anyone stupid enough to work for Roric the oathbreaker!”
“Oh, that went well.” Riddler sighed then glared at Deirdre. “What are you doing?”
She was busy getting out of the guard’s uniform, kicking off the breeches and leaving only the under tunic. Though that fell to her knees, it really hid nothing of her shape. Especially since she was bent over the remains of the nightgown she had discarded recently. The thief heard some soft, but extremely unladylike comments coming from her as she did so.
“Working to get that poor idiot to understand that we aren’t guards.” She answered shortly while tearing a strip off the ruined gown and tying it to a stave one of the guards had dropped. “Without getting both of us killed in the process.”
“That’s indecent, daughter!” Riddler commented while he watched her.
“What?” She questioned sweetly. “The white flag, or my displaying my charms this way?”
“Good.” She responded as she cautiously stuck the improvised flag into the open space that had earlier held a stout oaken door and slowly waved it. “All right! We surrender, or whatever! Just no more magical blasts, okay?”
“You don’t sound like a guard.” The man inside the cell called out with uncertainty in his voice.
“I’m not!” Deirdre assured him. “Now I’m going to step over to where you can see me, all right? No magical fire, lightning, or warts, from you when I do that, if you don’t mind?”
“No promises!” He called back, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt here. Go ahead and show your…”
He trailed off as Deirdre dropped the flag and moved to stand centered in the doorway with a rueful grin on her face. “Now, do I look like a guard who would be working in some dank, smelly, cobwebby, dark dungeon?”
“Uh, no.” The man, a rather scrawny specimen clothed in the rags of what might once have been a very expensive robe, managed to answer then countered. “You could be a decoy. Someone sent to lull me into letting my guard down.”
Riddler was frantically waving at her to get out of the doorway as Deirdre gave her disheveled hair an annoyed toss, rolled her eyes and muttered. “Gods give me strength to put up with idiots.
If you think I’m a decoy go ahead and blast away.” She offered while setting a hand to one hip and glaring at the man who still had one ankle chained to the wall. “But I swear that if you do, I’ll haunt you through the rest of this life and the next four or five you live. Now would you please just let me come in and get that shackle off your ankle so we can all talk face to face instead of shouting and throwing spells through this damned door?”
“She’d do it, too.” Riddler put in as he carefully joined Deirdre in the doorway. “Haunt you for the next five or six lives you go through, that would be. Trust me on this, she’s vindictive about things like getting killed. Really vindictive.”
“So what’s it going to be here?” Deirdre questioned with a lift of one eyebrow. “Are you going to let one of us get you loose from that shackle, or do we keep dithering around and arguing until someone who just happened to notice all the noise and screaming down here decides to get some other curious people together to see what’s going on? I’m so sure that they’ll be very understanding about all their dead friends and associates when they get here. So what shall we do here? The choice is yours, but the two of us sure aren’t going to hang around here much longer.”
“You sure you aren’t guards, or some decoy they’re using to set me up?”
“Oh, for the god’s sake, man!” Riddler answered with a glower of his own while gesturing towards his lovely and very clearly female companion. “When was the last time you saw a dungeon guard or doxie who looked like that?”
“Umm, never.” The man admitted, then added. “But until recently I really don’t all that much experience with being a prisoner in some dungeon, so how would I know?”
“I guess you’re just going to need to trust us, then.” Deirdre told him while grumbling something under her breath about idiot males as she moved forward and started working on the lock of the one shackle still holding the man to the wall.
Once that was loose she stepped back, nodded then regally stalked out of the cell while calling back. “Now, you can come out, look things over, try to kill us, join us, or go your own way. Truthfully, I don’t care, just do something other than staring out that doorway, alright? Or you could stay in there if you like, just don’t expect us to hang around while you work things through that molasses laden lump you call a mind!”
“Is she always like this?” The mage questioned Riddler as he carefully stepped out of the cell, still warily watching the young woman who resolutely refused to offer him any view other than her back at the moment.
“No idea.” The thief honestly answered. “I only met her a while ago myself, but given that her behavior seems consistent up to now, I’d have to, provisionally, say yes.”
“Oh, this is going to be one interesting escape, isn’t it?”
“I think we can count on that, sir mage.” The thief nodded with a barely suppressed grin.
“Alanthas, Sorceror.” The man informed them after staring at Deirdre, the dead guards and giving Riddler a careful looking over. “I used to be employed by that pond scum calling himself Lord of this castle, but disagreed with some of his policies regarding the throne, mainly regarding who was on it, and towards a few individuals.”
“Riddler.” The thief gave a small bow and a grin. “Master thief and this, he told the other while gesturing to the distaff member of the trio, is the Lady Deirdre.”
“Lady?” Alanthas asked carefully. “What did you do to earn a place in these palatial accommodations?”
“Refused to marry Roric.” She answered simply.
“Well that shows sense.” The mage nodded then added. “And good taste.”
“Whatever.” Deirdre snorted then realized just how much the thin tunic was showing and blushed. “You two turn around. Now!”
“If you think I’m wandering around down here with two men with me in nothing but a thin under tunic and barefoot think again, boyos. I need to get something halfway decent on.”
“Oh, I’m sure there’s a proper gown around here somewhere, lady.” The mage acidly responded.
“Just shut up and turn around so I can get dressed, will you?” She asked then turned that into a demand with a glower that would have melted steel given the chance.
Neither man argued as they both turned away. Rapid rustling of cloth and leather followed for a minute or so then she announced. “Okay, I’m decent now.”
They turned to see her clad in breeches, boots, and a leather vest that did very little to hide her charms. Grinning wickedly, she nodded. “That’s better.”
“Now what?” The mage questioned.
“We get out of here.” Deirdre answered simply then tilted her head as the sounds of booted feet started growing closer and indicated the direction the sounds were coming from. “Just not that way.”