Taver’s mind raced as he shuddered in Lorena’s grasp. ‘Come on, man. It’s time to go,’ she snapped, tugged his cloak then released him.
Driven more by the ale in their bodies than the desire to save the inn; many of the men had taken to brawling with the cultists. Even though the cultists white linen bandages wrapped around their biceps, who was who in the fray was still difficult to discern. Cries of the melee was perforated by smashing of timber, as tables were flipped and mobs fells to the ground in tangled, brawling messes.
The poor inn-keeper, Taver thought. A strange thing to think at a time like this. He side stepped a pair of men flailing past him as a hand locked arm locked his neck. He gagged, then cried out, as he did, the hand went limp. A second hand, Melisande’s, took hold of him. Flamestouch flicked blood from her sword as she dragged the young historian across the ground. The pair moved across the floor, while Lorena hackied a path through the sprawl of brawlers.
Shamus stood atop the stage, he kicked with his boots and stabbed with his blades. As the cultists tried to rush him, he dispatched them with the ease and skill of a seasoned cut-throat.
‘You!’ Melisande yelled, pulling on the bar keep’s shirt. The man slapped her hand away, then realised she wasn’t one of the light’s voice. He was clearing out the float. An indent in the bar with ten tubes, purpose made to contain the different coins that were used as currency. ‘Back door?’ Flamestouch barked over the noise of the bar room fight.
‘Your not –’
‘Back door?!’ Shamus’ voice growled from behind. He had moved through the crowd in seconds.
‘Out through the kitchen.’ The bar keep pointed behind him and quickly returned to emptying the coins into brown hessian sacks.
They hopped the bar, sprinted to the door at its far end. The mercenary men Taver had hired were gone. They had only seen one during Shamus’ show but, at present, none could be found.
The inn’s back-of-house was a maze of corridors and locked doors. When they finally found the the kitchen, it was empty – save for a cat that licked at its paw, seemingly oblivious to the raucous. Taver stumbled and knocked pots and pans to the stone floor as they dashed its length. Fifteen strides at least; the historian hadn’t been in many kitchens but he guessed this one was big.
As they ran through the door at the far end, yells echoed from where they had come. Five men, their arms strapped with white linen, stormed into the kitchen.
‘Go!’ Melisande snapped.
Lorena nodded. Taver didn’t move, so Lorena moved him. Slamming the door behind them, the young historian looked back as there was a dull thud and the gap beneath the door went bright orange, then dark again. As he was dragged through a heavy pinewood door and out onto the street. He caught a glimpse of Melisande emerging from the kitchen. Her eyes met his, the kitchen was smoking, its walls and floor charred black – No sign of the five men. Taver saw her pause, her eyes narrow – then he was out on the street.
‘This way,’ Lorena yelled, giving Taver a quick yank. Shamus nodded.
Oil-street lamps, encased in hazy brown glass illuminated the cobbled streets as their boots tapped and they ran. They did not slow or wait, but Flamestouch caught them up without a problem. The tavern was ablaze, the Light’s Voice who couldn’t fit into the tavern had hurled torches through the upper windows. Showing little regard for their comrades.
Melisande, Lorena and Taver didn’t get far before the albino bard, his guitar slung over his back, alerted the group to pursuers. A group of ten or so had spotted him leaving and gave chase. Despite dashing in and out of cobbled alleys and dim, muddy lane-ways; there was no losing them. The only way the group of four was getting out, was to get aboard the Elvebat; If it was still there.
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