All Ends Well
"Giles?" Laurel shrieked in terror, partly out of surprise at finding the man who had beaten her, and shock at the sudden darkness. She heard Judith gasp, and she groped about till she found the candle which had mercifully fallen close by.
"Mi lady, are ye all right? Ye be hurt?" Judith's voice was laced with worry.
"For heaven's sake, find a light and let us be away from this horrible place at once" Giles cried out.
Laurel clutched the candle and valiantly struggled to keep her head. She took a deep breath and calmed her racing heart.
"Judith?" She called out, "can you make your way back to the main rooms without a light?"
"Aye my lady, but I worry about leaving you behind"
"You must go up and get a fresh lighted candle, do not worry about me, I know this gentleman, and he will not harm me. But you must hurry or your brothers will be back"
"Why are you here Laurel?" Giles asked, his voice raspy and dry from lack of water.
"I should be asking you the same question, but now is not the time. Judith will help us, and we must get out of this horrible place at once. Can you walk?"
Giles listened to her voice seemingly floating out of the darkness and was struck by how brave she sounded. He was filled with curiosity as to her presence here, but he agreed, now was not the time to talk.
"I can walk," he replied, struggling to his feet and fighting off a wave of dizziness and nausea.
They both heard footsteps coming down the stone steps and stiffened, tensed up till they heard Judith's voice and saw the flickering of a flame from the candle she carried.
Laurel heaved a sigh and hurried forward to embrace her friend, relief coursing through her veins.
"I'm glad you are all right. Any sigh of your brothers?"
Judith shook her head, careful to hold the candle away from Laurel. She pulled away and went to stand by Giles, holding up the light so she could see his face. For the first time since he had been brought here, she studied the features of the man with whom she had been speaking with, furtively of course, for her brothers had forbade her to utter a word to him.
Giles flinched when the light hit his eyes. He had become accustomed to the darkness which had become a companion over the days since his capture. But his eyes quickly adjusted and he stared at the mere slip of a girl whose soothing voice had preserved his sanity. In the dim light, he eyes seemed to glow with a life of its own. She was not beautiful, he noted. But she had nice graceful features, and if she put on a little bit of flesh, she would look passably pretty.
Laurel hurried to peer up the stairs, fearful for the return of Colin or Gregory.
"We must hurry! The more time we spend here, the greater risk we run. Come let us be off"
Giles nodded and took the candle from Judith, limping past Laurel to lead the way cautiously up the stairs, the two women following, clutching each other in fright. They reached the main rooms without incident and proceeded towards the front doors.
Thomas bent low over his horse's neck and urged it forward, the hoof beats mingling with the sounds of the horses that bore his companions as they followed the lone rider, careful to stay just far enough to avoid detection in the darkness. They had followed the carriage escorted by the queen's soldiers as it left St. Cyre, watched as it drove to Montserrat's townhouse, watched the Marquis enter and exit almost immediately, followed him to the stables where he kept a horse and discreetly, still avoiding detection, they had followed him as he rode through the wet, dirty streets leaving London far behind and riding towards Worcestershire, a sleepy little village that was an hour's ride from the town.