In the three days which followed, Gremlaw explored every inch of the mouldy cell in which he had been contained, down to tossing through the damp straw on which he had avoided sleeping. One of the smaller stones had begun to come loose from the back wall and rust plagued the iron hinges holding the substantial door in place.
As the youth worked to free the loose stone he kept his ears tuned for any footfalls from patrolling guards. Hearing none so far spurred the young man onwards in his desperate plan to escape. Like a tooth popping from a gum, the fist sized stone came free of the wall and sat in Gremlaw’s hand, a little dirty mortar staining his fingers. The youth moved immediately across to the door and began hammering against the rusting hinges in an attempt to loosen it enough to escape. He managed to loosen the flakes of rust, working his way through to the cleaner metal beneath only to find it was still thick enough to hold the door fast.
Gremlaw slid his back down the wooden planks of the portal which stood between him and freedom, allowing the stone to fall from his fingers. Despair washed through the young man as he realised there would be no hope of escape. Head in hands Gremlaw sat and thought about his mother. How would she cope with the loss of her son, after the devastating passing of her husband?
The tapping of footsteps alerted Gremlaw to the presence of someone else and he stood back from the door, ready to face whoever was on the other side.
“What’s with all the banging?” A gruff voice demanded. Neurons in Gremlaw’s brain fired in rapid order, giving him an idea,
“I want to speak to the man who offered me work.” The youth shouted through the wood. Derisory laughter met his words,
“DeLarouge said you’d be more agreeable after a few days in here.” Gremlaw could hear the jingling of large keys as the door was unlocked and his consciousness shifted as the wood swung inwards.
Gremlaw’s mind picked out the darker area which was bordered by the guard’s leg and the door frame as soon as it opened and he darted forward through the hole which had been created, rolling on his shoulder before sprinting along the grimy corridor beyond.
Gremlaw ran as fast as he could, his lungs burning with the effort as he climbed up stone stairs and into a brighter area. A single guard sat idly beside the door which must lead to the outside world, his expression of shocked surprise would have been comical in other circumstances. As the guard stood to block the door, Gremlaw’s vision shifted, outlining the spaces he might be able to fit through and those he could not. The youth dove into the inverted V made by the guard’s legs and scrambled up, fumbling the door latch open and into the sunlight.
Two burly men started to give chase until a bejewelled hand restrained them,
“Let him go,” the authoritative voice of Duke Wattiern DeLarouge stated, “We have an agent at his home.”
Grey and brown smudges blurred into a whirl of colour as Gremlaw made his way straight for home and his mother, dodging through the wide spaces people seemed to leave between them. No sooner had he entered the small house than Gremlaw sensed something was wrong. His mother had a smile on her face to begin with and another, younger, woman was present.
“Dear brother!” This newcomer exclaimed loudly, “Mother has been expecting you.” Gremlaw flinched from the stare his faux sister burned into him.
What was happening here? Gremlaw wondered. He had no sister!