Chapter 1- bread and chains
The chains swung across the courtyard, rolling against the cobbly stones, and raised by the hands of the Leader of the Guard before crashing down splitting the earth.
"I can't keep covering for you Jesse, I'm shitting myself as it is", Jesse emerged from the hidden spot behind a stack of hay in the corner of the shop. " You love me though," she said as she skipped towards him keeping away from the window. "That I do, but wish I didn't," he said tying his apron tighter around his waist. "Ryan, if not for me, you'd be ten feet under half-eaten by worms" peering at him with a slight smirk. "I'd rather be half-eaten than have you loom that day over my head for the rest of my life" he scoffed moving towards the piles of napkins that needed folding around the baked goods for the outdoor stand, Jesse watching him intensively reaching for an apple beside the till. "Guilt-tripping and stealing, a new record for the great Jessena of Halsham" she dropped the bitten apple reaching her hands around his collar hissing in his face, "will you stop that! One of these days someone will hear you and it will mean both our heads on the spikes in The Court." Ryann huffed pushing her hands away from his collar, "You insist on me helping you, the least you could do is tell me why your hiding!".
Her cloak flapped in the wind as she scaled a small wall, jumping over drainpipes and railings heading towards the church attack. She needed to leave for Gaiylard (edge of the wall) as soon as she got her belongings previously and hadn't had time to get her favourite cloak and grandmother's ring, two things she told herself were the first to be destroyed per her fathers request.
Old Doyles shed was a short distance from The Wall. Darkle Doyle was known for being a keeper of old parts, fixing up people's broken possessions. His son, Darkle Jr, ran a business of his own near The Wall, pocketing money from starving people, hungry to escape Halsham. He'd help them onto transport boats, as an Old Guard soldier, he knew the inner workings of the imports and exports. Very few old Guards walked the earth to tell the tale of being one. Guards swore to the King's Oath. If a Guard was no longer on duty, they would be killed so it was a surprise to have a walking Guard living freely on the outskirts of Halsham.
The king sat slumped on his throne with his fist under his chin before The Guard. At the front stood Zander, the youngest leader of The Guard, who climbed the ranks before the age of twenty, much faster than his father and grandfather before him. To the king's distaste for such a young soldier, he made it his mission to make Zander's life a living hell, luckily for Zander, he was up for the challenge. What he wasn't expecting was to be hunting down the king's daughter, Princess Jesseana, former best friend. "And I expect you're here for a reason?" the king broadened his shoulders as he sat up. Zander stepped forward realigning his sword in its sheath " There's been word of Jesseanas presence at the old bakery near the courtyard your majesty". "Ahhh" the king hummed his eyes glazing over Zander, "Well then, either find her or kill the baker's boy, I knew she'd go running to him". Zander faltered slightly before collecting himself sternly nodding to the king before turning to his men, " and put him on the spikes as his father watches" he shouted over Zanders turned shoulder, Zanders shoulders stiffening at the remark. The king turned to his advisory " was never a fan of their stale loaves of bread anyway". The Guard left the Hall to journey to the Courtyard, chains, and whips in tow, sheathing their swords and daggers in the Armor they wore, one by one filling the cart heading for the bakery.
Like cattle going to slaughter, the soldiers of the Guard sat in two rows at the back of a cart in the way to bakery. Zander sat nearest the door next to the second commander, much older than he was but much kinder than his father. "you won't let your judgement escape you this time son" he elbowed Zander gaining his attention, more of a statement than a question he said to Zander as he sternly looked at him. "I'm not fond of my judgement being questioned commander" he responded still looking away from him towards the cart doors, his back straightening as the cart slowed and moved sideways on the cobbles. "Sometimes we see what we want to see Captain".
Months before posters circled the city of Halsham, W A N T E D in black print on a stained wheaten paper with the shadings and markings of the princess underneath. A picture of menacing beauty, her hair framed her face in thick locks, her stare as piercing as the winters snow, her jaw as sharp as the blades sharpened by the Guard before hunting season. Crumbled in Zanders hand as he watched Jesseana across the castle wall, standing on a guard's head to plummet herself over the small army that congregated after word of her bounty. Sprinting across the soil and dead earth that circled her small tower. He stood, poised watching her breeze past the men, the posters in her dusk swirling around in the afternoon breeze. He thought of the times they used to climb up the walls and run past the Guards giggling before being punished by their fathers. The smirk Jesseana held as she was whisked off by her mother and father after they would get up to mischief, her raising her thumbs up behind their backs as we separated. 'Oh Jesse' he thought as he walked off the roof heading towards The Hall.