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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 25: Slade 51
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 24: Hastings 103
"There are three things we're going to need on the way back," Slade said as they walked along the road, "that we should get ready now: stealth, speed, and strength."
Shella laughed; but Slade continued. "Stealth, I think, will be most important; we can't expect to outrun or out fight the entire army of this realm, so we're going to need to be able to hide and move unseen. Speed would be next, and finally, if it comes to it--"
Shella was still laughing, although quietly.
"--strength. All right, what's funny?" Slade asked.
"If you asked me what three things we were going to need to prepare now for the escape," she replied, "I'd have said drink, food, and rest. We aren't going to make it to the border in one non-stop run no matter what we do. We're going to need more than one place to sleep, and quite a few meals to keep us going. I don't expect we'll be able to walk into an inn with the most wanted man in the princedom and order dinner and rooms without someone noticing."
Slade felt his face scrunch. She was right; he had not thought of those problems.
"It's a good thing we have you with us," he said. "We'll have to figure out those parts, too. Does anyone have any ideas?"
"Well," Filp said, "assuming this fellow can ride, horses would be a big help on the speed. You can bet the prince's messengers will be using them, and as long as we can stay ahead of the messengers we probably won't have to do so much fighting or even hiding--no one will know to be looking for us."
"Hopefully," Shella added, "I can work some illusions which will keep them off us somewhat. If we can delay the discovery that he's missing, that will give us a head start."
"Oh, but that'd mean you'd have to come into the castle with us," Filp objected. "I don't see how we can do that. I mean, I know I can get in, and Slade's had some training, but unless you've got some magic charm that'll get you over the wall I don't know how we'd do it."
"Filp's right," Slade said. "It took me forever to scale my first castle wall, and we weren't too worried about being caught. On the other hand, Filp, if we could secure a place inside the castle, we could haul her up. After all, she's right about delaying them--the sooner they realize the prisoner has escaped, the sooner they'll be on our trail."
Everyone was quiet.
"Anyway, think about it. There's probably a way to do it. What else?"
They walked in silence.
"The problem," Shella said, "is that we don't yet know our resources. It helps to know what our needs are, but we can't really plan how we're going to meet them until we see what's available."
Again there was silence. Slade broke it this time.
"Of course that's right. We need to have places to eat and sleep, but without knowing how fast we can travel we don't know where they should be. So our first concern should probably be finding out who we can trust. This Cornel of Charton is the first lead we've had apart from the barn. If he seems to be someone to trust, we can find out what resources he might be able to provide. Until then, keep your eyes open for places we might find food and shelter without being noticed."
"Yeah," Filp added, "and watch for any horses we might, er, borrow."
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #170: Versers Explore. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: