Chapter 41: Just Married Widow
The body lay on the floor still and turning cold. Blood solidified within a matter of moments, causing the expensive wood of the floor to be obstructed from the view. Unaffected by the lifelessness of the green eyes staring at me, I forced my body to stir into action, and get off the cold floor. My knees hurt, and the muscles in my lower legs were sore due to the long period I stayed on the hard ground, battling intense exhaustion.
When the adrenaline receded from my bloodstream pain originating from various parts of my body made itself known. My breath came in irregular pants, and waves of fatigue overrode muscular part of my body every now and then. The tears had since long dried on the skin of my cheeks. A spell of numbness had settled over me, all I had wished to do in that very moment was curl into a ball, and lie down on the floor till sleep overcomes me, but that was not an option I could avail.
I had to get out of this place, and more importantly do something; anything that would prevent my plan from falling apart. Vincent had to have the army of Griiti backing him up, or he stood no chance of surviving let alone taking over the throne. Likes of a plan began to formulate in my brain. One thing was certain; whatever I did at this point would not be independent of danger. I would have to tread with cautious steps.
My legs trembled but fortunately did not buckle under my weight. Holding on to the bed post I managed to stay on my feet. First things first, the issue I had moved to resolve first and foremost was my state of dress or rather the lack of its existence. The dress I had been wrapped in few hours ago was reduced to a mess of rags; completely useless. Stripping the bedding off the sheets, I used the silky white cloth to cover my body with. I draped the sheet around me in style of a cheap and badly styled dress; it fulfilled the purpose of preserving my modesty, so I had to make do with it.
For a long while I stood stationary, clinging to the piece of furniture for support. I took deep calming breaths in order to let the dizziness, trying to get hold of me, pass. Once the images in front of my eyes stopped spinning, I ripped a pillow cover and put it to use as a makeshift bandage for the gash; which gave the feeling of being rather deep. With slow and shaky steps, I got to the section of the chamber Alonzo, may he be damned eternally, used for work purposes.
Littered on the mahogany desk were countless pieces of parchment. Few quills lay amidst the mess of the parchments. An empty pot of ink was laying upturned, leaving number of tiny drops of remainder ink on the smooth surface of the desk. Another pot of ink filled to the brim was placed at the top corner of the table to perhaps avoid spillage and ruining of documents around. Falling back in a chair, I let out a deep sigh.
Taking a few minutes to gather my senses, I began to pick one by one each piece of parchment and scanned the contents inked upon it; if not left blank. Almost all or rather all documents had information recorded regarding one or another of Gritti’s possessions. One was a letter from some captain of a pirate ship, writing to send information regarding what he had looted from various ships, and was sending the booty in Grittis service. Second was an official document stating that an estate belonging to some Lord who went by the name of William Kent was being transferred to Gritti. Another document lost in the mess provided information regarding maintenance of around six hundred ships around the world that fell under the ownership of Gritti. It went on and on about the endless belongings of Gritti in the next thirty documents.
It was a long while before I found something I could use to my advantage very well. A piece of parchment showed complete details of the armies that were under the supreme command of Gritti. Name of the generals in charge of each segment of army, number of soldiers under their command, and current locations of their deployment were inked in neatly. Frantically shuffling through the mess on the desk I succeeded in extracting from within it few pieces of blank parchments. With the aid of my arms, I threw off the desk the remaining documents. The now formed heap on the floor failed miserably in garnering any attention from me. Taking a quill, I dipped the edge into ink and penned down letters addressed to all the generals on Gritti’s payroll. In the name of Alonzo Gritti, I issued each and every one the order to march immediately to Estercrest and back the prince up. As a finishing touch, I carefully added Gritti’s seal to each letter.
Next course of action was to get to the ravens and dispatch the letters. I was on it. I had no time to waste. I moved towards the very chair that I had converted to a murder weapon not long ago. Using whatever little strength I was left with I repeatedly hit the chair on the body of Gritti. One would think I had gone off the crazed edge, but it was not the case yet. It was the stealthiest way of acquiring a weapon that was much needed while in place as the one I was currently in. The twelfth time when the old wood carved into a chair made contact with bones of the dead man it disassembled into pieces. I carefully selected the pointiest of all pieces of wood, which could go on with a staking with nothing but ease. Keeping the piece of wood in hand, I returned to the desk and used a piece of cloth to tie in all the letters.
Letters in one hand and the stake in other, I slipped out of the bed chambers of the man who owned the fort. Just my renewed luck chasing me this fateful day, not twenty steps away from the doors of the chamber stood a bulky man at guard. Thankfully, he for the current moment had his back facing me. From my position I could see a dagger tucked in his waistband, I had to get rid of it for I could not afford any more injuries and live through the day.
With steps as light as feather, I tread towards the man who I was to prey upon.
“Hello! Handsome.” I whispered loud enough to be audible to the man standing a hair’s breadth away. I tried to summon a touch of huskiness in my voice. I hoped I sounded sexy enough to not be suspected.
The man turned around to cast a look on the source of the voice. I did not give him chance to perform much of thinking; grabbing his stubble covered face I kissed him. I was well aware that I had taken him by surprise, but he was none to resistant to a woman’s advances, as per my expectation. He wasted no time in kissing me back. I had to work hard and focus solely on my breathing or the scent and taste of stale beer present in his mouth would have caused me to vomit. In not so long the guard had his hands roaming on my back. I was purely disgusted by his touch, but, I had to bear it just a little longer to get my way. Instead of slapping his hands off my body as I had wanted to rather desperately, I began to run my hands over his chest; summoning a sensual quality to my touch. My hands inched lower and lower till my fingers could grasp the hilt of the dagger without any suspicion. With as much swiftness as I could muster, I pulled out the dagger and plunged it right into the neck of the man. His eyes widened with shock; as his mind registered what just took place. With a thud he fell to the ground. He tried to say something, most probably curse me, but instead of words only blood spilled out of his lips.
Retrieving the knife from his chest, I wiped the bloody blade over the dirty fabric of his clothes. Getting rid of maximum possible blood, I kept the dagger while leaving behind the self-made wooden stake. The feeling off fatigue was making itself known, but, I was helpless. I did not have the luxury to stop, rest, and allow my body to heal. Keeping in the shadows of the walls and pressed against them for support, I slowly walked around the fort in search of the ravens. There had to be ravens in the fort that they used for sending of messages. Gritti had armies in the farthest corners of the world; it was not practical to dispatch a rider every time a message required sending. I was a disgusting heap of sweat and blood, about to give up when I finally made it to the desired place.
A boy of seemingly no more than thirteen or fourteen years of age was the only one present in the room apparently. I did not want to take any chance, I had been lucky so far to only have the trouble of crossing only one guard and ending up killing him, I wanted to keep it so and remain cautious. Without making any sound I moved inside the room, and slipped into a corner bathed in shadows completely. Producing the only sound and movement by breathing, I scanned the area enclosed within the four walls. Three out of the four walls were providing support to wooden cages from floor to ceiling. Selected few cages were empty but most had birds within their confines. There was no human other than the boy and myself in the boundary of the room.
At my current angle it was visible how underfed and heartlessly raised was the boy. Meat and fat was scarce on his frame. It seemed as skin was hung on mere bones in his body. His skin was marred with the scars left by whipping, beating, and other forms of torture.
I could not find it in my heart to hurt a young boy, especially one in his condition. The boy was trying to hum a happy tune, but sobs once in a while would ruin the rhythm. He was moving around with speed; providing the birds with food and water.
His movements came to a halt as I stepped out of the shadows into his view. Fear flashed over his features, I gave him a gentle smile.
“Don’t be scared, I will not harm you.”
“W-wh-what are you doing here, my lady?”
“I need your help.”
“Yes. Now firstly tell me what your name is.”
“Jonathan, my lady.”
“Alright Jonathan. Please call me Eleanor.”
“I cannot, the master will punish me if I disrespect his lady.”
“Do not be afraid. Just between you and me, I killed your master.”
Alarm and fear flashed over his face once more. The poor boy paled, loosing whatever little rosiness his cheeks had possessed formerly. I spoke up in a tone as gentle and soothing as I could manage, trying to explain to him that I would not hurt him. After some effort on my part, Jonathan relaxed in my company, and we even came to a deal leading to mutual benefit.
I handed over the letters to Jonathan, and he did not take long to send a raven with each letter. With the more important matter dealt with, the boy went to fetch me some food. I was not sure when will be the next chance I would get to eat, so I had wanted to make most of whatever chances I had gotten.