The passageway was completely dark. No torches, and a secret passageway did not generally have natural light. It had stairs as well, something that Sienna had more than a little trouble navigating through.

Sienna berated herself as she moved upwards. Not for abandoning the children down below for lookout, or the lack of proper attire for such stealth. It was the fact that she had let Canterwright’s escapades go so unnoticed in the past.

He was an unusual sort for the court. Always just…there. A kind voice, a nice word. then he would return to his apartments, where he also generated income. Canterwright was a nice enough sort, but to have such a passageway to his apartment.

What made it all the more unusual was Sienna could not remember being in his apartment. Every noble threw parties at their homes. It was tradition. It was expected. And for someone who had his own tavern beneath, it would seem natural to have such an event planned. But he had escaped all notice. How? And why?

Sienna stopped at the top of the passageway, stuck in shadows and darkness. A single wooden door barred her path, but instead of entering, she listened. And could hear angry voices.

“Insignificant little merchant,” a voice muttered. “Who does he think he is, ordering us about?”

“He thinks he is the one in charge, dear,” another said, muffled by both the door and his lack of irritation. “And he is quite right.”

“And why should that be?” The first asked. “Canterwright did not plan the revolution. He did not set up the charter, or gather our force for freedom. He is nothing more than our glorified landlord.”

“Would you prefer to have these conversations elsewhere, then?”

Sienna gasped. Yoric stood just in front of the doorway. She could hear him, feel him. His arrogant nasal voice, now the voice of reason, just out of reach.

“Hmmm? I ask you, where would we plan this coup? After we were thrown out of the ball, each and every one of us have been scared to breathe in our own homes. What if someone hears, or worse, says something?”

His fist slammed against the door. “Viola has taken everything from us. That little whore of hers turned against me, and now we live in fear. To two girls with nothing more than a whisper between their thighs. I cannot stand it. I want to strike them down where they stand.

“But we need. To. Be. Patient.”

“Quite right,” Canterwright’s voice called out. It was wearied, but still rang through. The other voices hushed, realizing that the lord was there among them.

“I know you all are disappointed with our progress, but I assure you, we are close. A few more days, and the people will overthrow the Ice Countess without us even needing to lift a finger.”

There were more grumbles, but this time there was an assent.

“Now, how about a bottle from downstairs to lighten the mood?”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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