AIMNÉISE Place of Pendants 2

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Chapter Twenty One

Romanian Gypsies

Hanging on the left wall was a tapestry that covered nearly three quarters of the wall. The scene was of the Goddess Diane with her bow and arrow in a ready-to-fire stance, surrounded by dogs. In the distance on a hill stood a deer with huge antlers. Well that’s not very romantic for a bedroom.

The problem now was that if I was to be leaving with the gypsies in the morning how the hell was I going to get out of this blasted room before Mr Suckhand showed up. If he came alone I could just punch him out, but then I would still have to get out the room, sure the door would be heavily guarded. I plonked myself on the bed, well this is a fine pickle I was in.

Eventually I curled up on top of the bed and fell asleep to grey mist and running shadows of people without faces.

I was woken by a gentle shake and a whispered plea from a familiar voice, Solai.

“Bella, wake up it’s time to go.”

“Solai, how did you get in here?” I moaned trying to wake myself up.

“Bella change into your clothes, quickly please we haven’t much time.” He said handing me the clothes that I had arrived in. He turned his back and as tired as I was, I hurried. Solai handed me my crossbow and brace, helping me to strap it onto my back, then a black cape over the top.

“Solai you still haven’t told me how you got in here, do you have a key to the door?” A wicked grin crossed his face but instead of making his way to the door he headed for the tapestry hanging on the wall.

“There is more than one way into this room, just be thankful it wasn’t another without a second entrance or saving you would have been much more difficult.”

“You are full of surprises; how did you know that there was a second entrance?”

Solai held the tapestry out from the wall allowing me to pass him to a hidden doorway.

“I have been here for a while and made it my business to know all the secret places, doors and rooms.”

I raised my brow at him, but I don’t think he could see as it was dark on the other side of the door. I waited while he shut the door locking us in pure darkness. I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. Solai moved past me and took my hand to put on the back of his shoulder.

“Bella just keep your hand there and stay close.” He whispered.

“How can you see in the dark, you’re not part cat are you?”

“No.” He laughed. “I have been this way many times and know every step of the way. I know these passageways like the back of my hand.”

“Confident.”

“Of course, I’m the best.”

“I’m glad you don’t suffer from humility, and God forbid modesty.” I chuckled.

“Bella, are you being cavillator with me?”

“Cavillator? Oh, you mean sarcastic. If the shoe fits.”

“What shoe?” Solai asked sounding confused.

I shook my head which of course he couldn’t see in the dark. “Never mind. Do we have to go far?”

He huffed, still confused at my comment. “No, we are nearly there.”

Solai suddenly stopped causing me to crash into him.

“Gees Solly, you could have warned me you were going to stop.” I whined rubbing my chin which had hit his shoulder.

Leonardo was waiting for me on the other side of the door which led out to the square not far from the main entryway.

“Come Bella we don’t have much time.” Leonardo whispered leading me by the hand past the guards who were slumped on the ground asleep just outside the entry door. I didn’t think guards could sleep while on duty and somehow, I think that Solai had something to do with their sleeping now.

We headed to the short tunnel towards a quiet street. Only now realizing that it was just before the dawn, I had slept longer than I had thought. The air was cold and pulled the cloak tighter around my body.

Solai stopped and whistled low. Several deep whistles returned from different directions. I looked at him confused.

He leaned towards me. “Just a little insurance that we reach our destination without a problem, Oh and I like your new name for me, Solly I will have to remember that one, makes me sound strong. I shook my head with a smile.

It would seem Solai had others watching us just in case we were being trailed by Micheletto Corella or anyone else.

We hurried down street after street with Leonardo pulling me along by the hand. As we rounded a corner four figures stepped into our path.

“And what do we have here then? Master Corella said you might try to escape, looks like he was right.” Came a gruff voice from one of them.

Leonardo pulled up pushing me behind him, Solai let out a whistle, long and low. Before I knew it, bodies were coming from shadows left and right. The four men pulled their swords out of their scabbards to attack the new arrivals. Leonardo pulled me to the wall.

“Keep back Bella, this should not take long.” He whispered still holding my hand, with Solai at my other side.

The four men were fighting six others that were there at Solai’s request. A shout came from further down the street as six more men ran to help the four who had jumped out in front of us

I couldn’t let Leonardo and Solai down by being captured now, one of the friends who had been fighting the first lot was on the floor moaning in pain. I had to do something, help in some way.

Pulling away from Leonardo I reached over my shoulder pushing my cloak aside and pulled out my crossbow already having a bolt in my hand. I loaded it and then shot, my aim true and fast into the chest of one of the men running towards the fray. I loaded again and took out the second, third and fourth one as the first four were dispatched by Solai’s friends.

“Bella, that was over fifty feet and you took four of them down before I could even blink.” Solai gasped. Leonardo gave me a slight smile as if he half expected that I would be decent with the crossbow.

“I did, didn’t I, so I guess that answers the question of whether I can shoot or not.” Leonardo helped me to refit the crossbow back into the holder on my back under my cloak before grabbing my hand.

“We have to go, now.” The friends of Solai had disappeared back into the shadows having taken their injured friend with them, leaving the bodies of the attackers lying in the street.

We left the street and moved between trees, desperately trying not to stumble over roots and branches until we came to an open space filled with colorful caravans. Most were made of decorative wood with horses or donkeys grazing at the sides of them.

We crossed to the other side past small camp fires and people singing and talking. The scent of meat cooking and spices wafted through the air. Leonardo never let go of my hand as we made our way to a large caravan that had two horses already attached to a harness at the front.

A large woman in a colorful skirt and shirt came out, her dark hair bound by a scarf, and her eyes edged in black. For an older woman she was very pretty. As we approached, a smile crept to her lips.

“You are here, good, good, we are about to leave. So, this is Bella? I am happy to meet you child.” She smiled at me her brown eyes catching the light from fire, glowing orange and red. There was something very motherly about this woman, warm and welcoming.

“This is Rosa, she will take good care of you.”

I turned to Leonardo. “I will miss you maestro.” Tears falling down my cheeks once again, I am definitely a cry baby. He hugged me to his chest as he pushed a small bag of coins into my hands.

“And I will miss you my sweet Bella.”

He pulled away and Solai clasped me in a hug worthy of a bear. “I will miss you too Solai and thank you for all you have done.”

Solai didn’t say anything, which for him was unusual, but his glassy eyes told me everything. He wiped tears beneath my eyes and then stepped back.

“Come now child we must be on our way. I walked with Rosa and turned to see Leonardo and Solai stood silently. I waved at them sad to be leaving, Leonardo bowed and Solai waved.

Rosa helped me up into the caravan and settled me in the back on a low bed. I was grateful for Leonardo and Solai for taking me in, they could have easily handed me to the gendarmes when I arrived, but they didn’t. A big burly man climbed up onto the seat next to Rosa.

“Bella this is my husband Germaine.” The man turned and smiled beneath a thick dark moustache. I nodded giving him a small smile, my face still wet from tears. He turned back and clicked his tongue at the horses, shaking the reins.

The caravan jolted and rolled as we got underway. Rosa and Germaine shouted out to people as we passed, saying their goodbyes.

As the caravan shunted and shuffled along, Germaine began to sing, with Rosa joining in for the chorus. A song of love and loss, birds floating on clouds and flowers bowing their heads. Whether by intention or not I found it greatly helped in relaxing me.

I closed my eyes concerned if Leonardo and Solai would be found out for rescuing me from the blue room, and what would they do when Corella and Borgia turned up expecting to find me waiting.

The inside of the caravan had pans and pots clanging from where they hung to the side. Small bells attached to ribbons hung above my head, jingling and ringing with each movement only added to the din of singing, rocking and shuffling as the horses pulled the caravan along. At the far end was a raised bed, no doubt that of Rosa and Germaine’s, covered in layers of bright colored blankets.

The rocking of the caravan as it ambled along was lenitive and had my eyes slowly shutting with the sway and movement. Laying down on the low bed covered in cushions with scents I didn’t find familiar, were warm and heady and soon I drifted into sleep, carried away from Leonardo and Solai to who knows where by Romanian gypsies in a wooden caravan.

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