Chapter 13: A Problem

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Chapter 13: A Problem

There were several reasons why I didn't think the sword-wielding man in the darkness should kill me.

But I uttered none of them. My breaths came out in a rapid succession and my body was as stiff as I could keep it.

What did one say to a killer? What did a killer wish to hear?

Silence. They wished for the victim's silence and therefore they stole their life.

Like I had done.

But I was still alive, so maybe, he wished I would beg.

"Please...Please, don't," I whispered.

The sword, still at my throat, retreated a hairline away. "How did you get past my guards?"

If grovelling would work, if he wished to be made larger before me, I would oblige.

"Wh-what guards?" I stammered, still in a whisper, letting every loop and lilt in my Velamia accent fall strongly from my lips. If I would survive, and this man would be one I needed to interact with, the greater I made the difference between who I was now and Dylana, the safer I was.

Not that I was ever safe anymore.

"The guards that are posted outside this door—" he began, but the sound of talking voices coming down the corridor stopped him short.

"How could you let her get this far?" came the voice of Gyran Pyke

"Let her? You say it as if I explained to her how to make our lives difficult!" said the older servant I had met at the beginning of the night.

I could hear their footfalls as they neared.

"Where are the guards?" Pyke asked.

I didn't know what my assailant thought about whatever was happening outside the door, but there was a moment I was certain he would pull it open and reveal me. He moved the sword from one hand to the other, and I could sense him edging towards the door.

"Stay here," Pyke instructed. "I'll have a look in the guard room."

There was a pause, and then, Pyke shouted, "Sareen, Eloroan's guards are gone. We have to alert the Lord—"

"But the girl?"

"This is more urgent," Pyke said. "The girl will be found and punished in due time. Abetha, you said her name was? Why didn't I know her?"

"She was just hired, sir, she—"

"This is why you need to show me every girl you hire, Sareen, this is precisely why. The house's security depends on it."

"We needed the extra hands and you were not available while you arranged for Dylana—"

"Enough excuses!"

The voices faded away, and my assailant chose to wait for them to vanish completely, before doing anything.

He didn't lower his sword. "Where would my guards go?"

"I wouldn't know, m'lord."

"And who do you say you are?"

The question was an odd one, as if this man believed identity was a claim one made about oneself.

In my experience, at least, he wasn't wrong.

"Abetha, lord," I whispered. "Just a scullery maid. I was caught sneaking out..."

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