Rebekka: Prologue (cont.)

“Here you are Nurse Rebekka,” he said and handed it all over. Rebekka reached and tried to take it, but The High Officer didn’t let go. “And next time,” he leaned just a little closer. “Knock.”

Rebekka pulled the papers from his hand, spun on a heel and marched off. When she was out of earshot and eyesight, she ran straight for Togian’s room. He woke at her closing of his door.

“Rebekka is that you?” she heard Togian croak groggily. She rushed over to him.

“Quiet,” she told him. “No one can know that I was here. You have to ready to leave. Now. Tonight. I will come back for you with clothes and provisions at the 11th sounding.”

“Rebekka I don’t understand. What is it?”

“The High Officer is going to kill you tomorrow!” In the dim candlelight of the room, Rebekka saw his eyes widen.

“He knows you’re here and is looking for you. He will come for you early morning because that is when all the prosecutions are held. If you leave in the 11th sounding, you can escape him and put distance between this place and you.”

Rebekka heard a noise and looked to the door. She watched it and then turned back to Togian. “I have to go. I’ll be back soon though. Wait up for me.” She left his side.

Upon Rebekka’s return, Togian hastily stood from his cot.

“Here’s everything you need,” she began. “Put these on.” She tossed his clothes on the cot and began ordering the things in the knapsack she had also brought along.

“We’ll have to be quiet going through the halls. It’s lights out and no one is supposed to be out of their rooms. The first floor will be most dangerous.”

“No need,” Togian said. Rebekka stopped her ordering and looked at him. He was throwing on the dark colored heavy jacket. “We use the window.”

“The window? But how?”

“Rope.”

“Rope? Where did you get it from?”

“Come on Becks, I know you’re not slow. Look around you.”

Rebekka took a quick glance around. The sheets were stripped from the bed. “Oh, now I see.”

“I had to borrow a few from Donuts. He never minds since he never sleeps on his bed.”

Rebekka secured the sack and went to the window. A bed spread rope was dangling from the rusty, but sturdy empty light post. It spanned down three levels. Togian came up behind her and looked.

“Like the handy work?” he asked. Rebekka turned to him.

“You won’t make it,” she said. “Your body is still healing. It’s too weak.”

Togian gripped her shoulders. “Becks, I’m doing this for my life here. I’ll make it.”

Rebekka was uncertain but nodded all the same. “You go first then. I’ll carry the pack.”

She hurried to get the pack, wedged a stool beneath the door’s handle and returned to the window. She began to help Togian, but he muttered that he was fine, and she let him be. As he descended, in the cloak of night, she watched for any signs of trouble. He whistled lowly when he had made it down. Rebekka clambered out of the window and began her descent.

In no time she was reaching the bottom, and a few seconds after that, her boots hit solid ground.

“That was quick,” Togian commented. “You’re better than most of my men there, Becks.”

“I’ve had practice. Let’s go.”

She led him along the hospital’s rough stone walling and when they reached the corner, she spied for guards that may have been on patrol.

“They must still be on the 10th sounding’s patrol,” she said, but more to herself.

“Terrible loyalty,” Togian muttered. She glanced back at him and he looked at her from scanning the dark horizons. They moved on.

Sticking close to the shadows, they ducked and dodged from the sight of patrolling officers until they reached the stable.

Neidica (Rebekka’s horse) whined loudly in surprise, at her entrance.

“Shh, Neidica,” Rebekka hushed to calm the animal. “It’s only me. It’s only me.” She took her by the reigns and led her outside.

“I don’t think anyone heard,” Togian said looking around the corner of the stable. He turned to Rebekka and his eyebrows perked. “You saddled her in preparation also?”

“No,” Rebekka replied. “Neidica is always on stand-by. If any emergency were to come up, she is used. She’s the fastest of any horse I know.”

“Is it very often that she’s needed?”

“Yes, and it pains me to see her being ridden so much.”

“She is your own then?”

“Yes, and that is why you will take her. This chance is not only your freedom. But hers too.” She placed the knapsack in the larger saddle bag of Neidica’s saddle and began securing the saddle buckles.

“You will ride Deeplind way until morning and reach a river. Follow the river for three days until you come to a small village. Ask for Wallace kindred and tell them that Rebekka sent you. They will shelter you until you are well enough to be on your way.

“In the sack, there are little bundles of herbs and medicine. Take the medicine three times a day and eat the herbs at midday. It will keep up your strength and prevent infection from setting in until you reach the village.”

Togian’s hand came up and took hold of one of hers fiddling with the main buckle. She looked at him.

“Come with me,” he said. “If you stay you’ll be the first they’ll suspect. I wouldn’t stand myself if something happened to because of my sorry hide.”

Rebekka shook her head. “I-I can’t Togian. The other patients. If I go-” She blinked hard to keep her welling tears from falling.

“I understand. You have your duty.”

“And you have yours. Promise me that you’ll try all you can to get your justice.”

“I will.” He placed his forehead against hers. “I will not forget you Rebekka or your acts of kindness to me. And I will come back for you. If you are not here when I come, I will look until I find you.”

Through her streaming tears, Rebekka said, “Togian- y-you have to leave.”

“Until I see you again.” His hand slipped out of hers and he saddled up. Rebekka wiped her tears away and went to Neidica’s head.

“Ride hard once more Neidica,” she whispered. “Ride home.”

Togian snapped the reigns and Neidica spurred off in a brisk trot. Rebekka spun around and hurried back to the hospital. There was a plan she had to carry out.

[Rebekka returns to the hospital, climbs back into Togian’s room, and slips back into the hospital’s system of halls. She goes to her room and pulls her most prized possession from beneath her bed. Her bow made of Hardwood, her quiver holding three Sheftlind arrows, and a set of lightweight upper leather armor, fit for any skilled at the bow. She puts all of it on and ties a cloth mask around her eyes.]

She crept through the halls headed for the High Officer’s office. This plan, so full of risk, was outlandish and yet necessary. It was a distraction…. and Rebekka hoped she could stir up some type of awakening. She didn’t know what type, but she just hoped what she was doing was right and would work.

She came to the office door. Once again she could hear a conversation going on.

“Sir, I really don’t think this is the right thing to do,” Scibyard was stammering. “We are officers of justice. We have a duty to the just cause.”

“Shut up Scibyard, before I gut you and say that you fell on your own knife,” the High Officer snapped. “This isn’t anything I haven’t done before…”

“But sir- Foraging is illegal!”

“God da– it Scibyard! If I have to tell you once more-”

Rebekka pulled her bow string back and kicked the door open. The High Officer was at his solid wood desk and Scibyard was cringing at its end near the roaring fireplace.

“Do es not move,” Rebekka said with the best guttural she could manage. It wasn’t what she expected, but it was enough to mask the soft familiar qualities of her voice.

“What is this?” The Officer demanded. He tried to reach for something.

“I say no move!” Rebekka snapped and pulled her bowstring back further. The officer stopped in mid-action. Rebekka carefully stepped over, in sidesteps, towards the fireplace. Scibyard was cowering, shivering in fear. Rebekka quickly glanced at the letter on the solid wood desk and skimmed over it. The filthy snake was foraging a death sentence from the Grand Judge himself!

“You,” Rebekka said to Scibyard. He started but didn’t uncover his face. “You!” He looked up, shaking like a leaf on a stormy night. “Cast en that’s in der fire.”

Rebekka took aimed at the letter and then right back to the High Officer. She watched him closely as Scibyard inched his way to the desk, snatched the letter up and tossed it in the fire. The High officer’s wet eyes stared back at her in grim hatred, without light, without soul.

“I see what this is,” he said suddenly. He stood. Rebekka stepped back, ready for anything he might try. “You must have been one of Togian’s squad that escaped. A rescue attempt this is maybe? It’s ludicrous in my eyes, expecting to save one a destined to die, but it is also my pleasure. I’ll deal death to both of you. You can burn right alongside your commander-” Rebekka saw the blade slip from between his fingers, but all was too late. “TOMORROW!!”

She let her bowstring snap in release. The Officer slung his arm around in an arc, letting the blade fly. The arrow landed in the officer’s right shoulder and Rebekka heard the deadly knife whistle past her ear. However, her bow fell into two pieces, held together by only its string.

No weapon! They would certainly overtake her. She glanced around at her surrounding, assessing everything, sparing nothing. She heard the shrill sound of the High Officer’s sword being drawn. The poker in the fireplace!

 She pounced on the crude make-shift weapon and blindly swung around behind her. The poker clashed and diverted the undoubted strike meant for her. She gained her footing and turned to face her opponent. One look and any with even half decent experience could instantly tell she would sorely suffer defeat. The High Officer heaved in his excitement and was tense with it. He looked like a towering monster with the arrow still stuck in his shoulder. A monster who felt nothing, not even pain.

Rebekka waited for his move.

He lurched forward. Rebekka ducked to the side and swung for the hand holding his sword, behind the guard. The hot red end of the poker came in contact with skin and seared it. The Officer roared in pain and swung for a large heavy chair, throwing it her way. She ducked, missing the majority of the chair, but one of its legs nicked the side of her head. She reeled and stumbled to keep her footing.

Hearing a heavy footstep, she lunged into a roll along the floor. She heard a crack on the floor as she was standing and spun around to see The High Officer had gotten his sword stuck in the wooden floorboards. He was aiming to kill now. If she were to survive to see another day, she had to get out of the room and quickly. The High Officer got his sword free and looked to her with a curling lip.

“You’re trapped,” the Officer snarled slowly closing in. “Nowhere to run. You’re all mine.” He was right, as it seemed. The open door was behind him and there was no way Rebekka could possibly get through him without getting mortally injured. But there was a window behind her, blowing in the sweet, cool wind of freedom. It was her only chance.

Rebekka threw the poker at the High Officer with all her might, took off for the window and leaped. The first half of her body cleared the window, but one of her legs was caught by a jagged piece of corroded metal. It ripped straight through her leggings and sliced her skin open nastily. She gasped in pain as it happened and even as she was still in air, she clutched her injury.

She was in her clenched position when she hit the ground two levels down, meaning she had the wind knocked out of her. She gasped horridly with tears gushing from her eyes and produced a little whine when she tried to get up.

The Authorities are coming! something screamed in her mind. Get up and go! Mustering every ounce of strength in her body she pulled her mask off, curled up and got to her hands and knees.

She looked ahead of her, now tasting the dripping blood in her mouth and noticed her vision was blurry. It sharpened after a moment and she saw, on the apex of the distant hoof trodden hill, Togian and Neidica on their way to a distant freedom.

And then Rebekka fainted.

<~ *** ~>

She was on her knees and he was pacing right before her.

The High Officer turned on a heel and his heavy footsteps resumed to filling his office. Head Nurse was standing at the back wall behind him looking more worried than her health could allow. And then there was Werefer, sitting longways in one of the office’s heavy chairs, cleaning underneath his nails with a large knife. His boots were rudely kicked up on the High Officer’s chair.

The four of them were waiting on Scibyard’s return. Waiting in the cold morning light. Rebekka was bound like a prisoner and was. After Rebekka fainted, she was captured, but luckily Head Nurse had woken at all the commotion and accompanied the High Officer in his pursuit of her, or else she may have never been seen again.

Scibyard’s running footsteps filled the hall outside and then he burst into the room. Rebekka looked from her steady defiant stare at the High Officer to his underling.

“He’s gone,” he said in a heavy breath.

“God DA– IT!!” the High Officer shouted in his frustration. Rebekka grinned to herself.

“There’s a rope made of bedspreads leading outside the window. And one of the horses have been reported missing. He must had escaped in the night.”

“I think that’s obvious,” Werefer muttered.

“Shut your yap Werefer,” the High Officer snapped. “And get your filthy muck covered boots from off my desk!”

“Muck covered?” Werefer asked and removed his boots. Then he inspected them. “There is no muck.”

The High Officer looked from him, furious, and caught Rebekka’s grin.

“You,” he said through gritted teeth. He stepped towards her and grabbed her by her hair. Head Nurse blanched even more. He pushed her head back to get her to look at him. “You helped him didn’t you.”

“Yes, I did,” she replied, boldly staring him back into his soulless eyes. “And I heard everything you were planning to do to him. He will have his justice. And you will pay.”

“Oh, you really think so, don’t you?” he whispered. “We’ll see what your witnessing can do on the front line in Cicaria.”

Rebekka anger boiled and she spit in his face. He stood in surprise, wiped it from him face, glowering at her. He turned from her and then rounded, a back handed slap following. Head nurse squealed.

“Clean her up and get her ready for training,” the High Officer commanded looking down at her in contempt. “We may have lost one soldier, but she’ll be his replacement.”

Rebekka stared at him through her fazed hair as she was heaved to her feet. She hated his black guts and vowed if they ever met again, she would kill him.

(to be continued…)

To read Rebekka: Prologue Click Here.

To read Rebekka: Legerdemain Click Here.

© 2020 Alison Bankroft

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