Beck’s leather boots shuffled up the stone steps, scrapping against small stone. He clutched his short sword in his right hand and held the lantern handle in his left. He controlled his breathing and prepared to face whatever was at the top. The candle light cast upon a wooden plank and Beck stepped on to it.
Looking around he found himself in a small room which led off into others, the quarters of the elven guards and their captain, possibly? He crept forward, being aware of the soft creaking boards under him. He stepped into the room that had been ahead of him and found a broke desk and chair. The wall beside them was streaked with red.
Beck walked out and tried the other four rooms. They were all empty. He went back to the spiral staircase and up another floor. Perhaps it had just been the wind or some animal taking shelter like he was? He passed an arrow slit and felt a brush of icy wind on his hand. Tightening his grip on the short sword he felt the pommel digging into his wrist. The wind whistled behind him, calling him back.
He stepped onto the next floor and saw that it had been used as a kitchen, eating area and store room. He went to the large fire place and toed a shard of wood. His eyes looked into the ash pile inside the fire place and saw a little collection of sticks. Someone had been trying to build a fire – recently. Beck spun and cast his eyes around the room. An old black pot lay in the corner and a row of hooks hung on the wall to his light.
He listened and thought he heard a muffled breathing. Shinning the light over to the store room door, he stayed quiet. He counted, listening to his heartbeat in his ears and small breaths. A soft rustle as if someone was moving clothing against skin.
A flicker of a smile curled Beak’s lips and he went over to the store room door. He placed the lantern at his feet and flung the door open, sword slicing through the air on the other side.
A female scream rang in his ears and he stilled his hand. In what light the candle cast inside the small room, he could see a dress wearing figure curled up at the back. He half lowered his sword.
‘Who are you?’ his gruff voice spoke.
‘Are you going to kill me?’ a softer voice whispered.
‘On who and what you are,’ Beak explained.
‘Who are you?’
‘Come out of there and let me see you.’
‘No!’ squeaked the female voice.
Beck nudged the lantern away, slipped his sword into his belt and entered the store room.
‘Keep away from me!’
‘Why?’ Beck growled.
‘I’m not coming out!’
‘Then I’ll have to kill you then.’
A loud gasp came from the shadows and Beck heard the rush of someone standing up. He reached out, felt his hand touched some soft fabric and fisted it. Yanking it, he heard the same scream again, then he grabbed with his other hand and pulled the female out of the room. She tripped on his feet and tumbled to the floor before him. Beck’s free hand shot to his sword and pulled it out in a smooth motion. He aimed the tip just below a gold belt buckle which was catching his candle light.
He looked and saw the young woman- for it was a human woman he could see that now-, throw back her loose dark blonde hair from her face. She looked up at him with small sharp blue eyes and an anger expression covering her pointy face. She put her hand down on the dirty wooden floor and shuffled into a sitting position.
Beak noticed that she was wearing a simple green cotton riding dress, matching cloak and high leather boots. Around her neck was a thin sliver chain dangling an amulet that was in the shape of a long diamond. It was inlayed with small white stones at the edges and had a large oval blue stone in the middle around which green vines and leaves were coming off. He stared at it and recalled it to be the representation of a large and rich city.
‘You are from Breland?’ he asked.
‘What would you know it?’ she snapped back without losing eye contact.
He give a gentle shrugged, ‘you are wear it’s symbol. I passed through there once.’
‘What are you? An elf?’
Beck stepped back and sheathed the short sword, ignoring her question. He glanced over to the fire then back to her, ‘did you try to get it going?’
She followed his gaze, ‘the wood is damp. And you didn’t answer my question.’
‘What’s your name?’ he shot back.
‘Olwyna. What’s your’s?’
He caught the frown on her face as he went to pick up the lantern. He shone it inside the store room, but saw it was empty.
‘Is that short for something?’
He turned, ‘no,’ he answered and began to fully inspect the room.
‘I won’t tell anyone…’ Olwyna said in a low voice.
Beck tried not to pull a face and made himself look busy turning over the black pot.
‘If you are an elf,’ she finished.
‘I have left my horse downstairs and must attend him,’ Beck cut in.
He went to the door and heard the woman stand up behind him. Ignoring her, Beck walked back down the spiral staircase.
To Be Continued…