Well, here it is. It's been a while since I have had time to work on this, so its about time I got this on. Here y'all go!
The next morning the three boys entered the town. It was much bigger than their little home village, and although it was small as towns go, they were amazed by all the buildings and people. They were stared at suspiciously by many villagers, but no one tried to stop them, so they went to the center of the town, where the market was.
The roads were muddy, although there was not much snow. Most of it had melted, which turned everything into a wet mess. People trudged through the cold, bleak streets, carrying burdens. The boys had never seen so many people, but they had also never seen such poverty. Most of the people wore rags, except for the occasional soldier, and even these were dirty, with matted hair and rusted helmets, drunkenly harassing the people of the village. Owen was disgusted. He watched one short, stout soldier, no older than 20, yelling come-ons to a young lass as she passed by. She ignored his advances, so he grabbed her wrist, pulling her too him. Kallan turned, walking toward the soldier. He continued to grip the girl’s wrist. Kallan grabbed the man’s shoulder, pulling him around so they were face to face.
“Let her go.”
The soldier, still gripping the girl’s wrist, shoved Kallan’s hand off his shoulder. He sneered.
“And who’re you to make me,” He slurred.
“You are not treating her like a man should.” The soldier turned full around, raised his hand to shove Kallan. Kallan grabbed his wrist and flipped him on his back in the mud, making the man let go of the girl. The soldier jumped to his feet, scowling and putting his hands in a fighting stance. A crowd formed around them, eager for some excitement in their otherwise bland life. The girl slipped away, a worried and scared look on her face. Owen and Marcus pushed to the front.
The soldier threw a punch at Kallan. He dodged, then swiped his leg under the man. He tripped, falling down. Instead of getting up, he grabbed Kallan’s leg and pulled him to the ground. Then he jumped on top of him, punching him in the face. Kallan squirmed out from under him, then trapped the man under him, smashing his face with his elbow. The man grabbed Kallan’s chin and twisted it, pulling him to the ground. He trapped him, and pulled out a dagger on his belt.
Faster than the eye could see Marcus whipped an arrow to his bow and aimed it into the center of the man’s forehead. He stopped, holding his knife less than an inch from Kallan’s chest.
“One move and it will be your last.” Marcus held the arrow a centimeter from the man’s head. The crowd shifted uneasily at the change in the fight. Owen looked around, unhappy with the attention they were getting. The crowd suddenly parted as more black mailed soldiers came into the fight. One of them, obviously the leader by the fancy cloak on his back, stepped forward.
“What’s going on here?” he said, pulling the soldier to his feet. Marcus lowered his bow, but the man glared at him.
“Assaulting a soldier of the crown, are we?” He grabbed Marcus, pulling him to the side. “You’ll spend time in the dungeon for this.”
Kallan still sat on the ground, scowling. Owen stepped forward.
“The soldier was in the wrong, sir. Kallan here was trying to stop him from harming a young lass.”
The officer laughed. “A soldier of the crown in the wrong! He! The soldiers are in the right, boy. It’s none of your business what a soldier does. You understand me?”
Owen gritted his teeth.
“Well then, we did not know. Let us be on our way and we will cause no more trouble.”
The soldier grabbed Kallan from the ground, pulling him to his feet and holding him captive. One of the soldiers tied his hands behind his back.
“You can go free, but these two go to the dungeon for assaulting a soldier of the crown.” He glared at Owen. “And you better leave it be, or I’ll throw you in there too.”
Owens mind rushed to find a way out of this situation, but the soldiers grabbed Marcus and Kallan and began to move them off. Owen looked around desperately, then in desperation he grabbed a walking stick that lay by the side of the road and smashed it onto the captains head. The captain fell to the ground, senseless as the stick crashed on his light helmet. Owen took the staff in two hands, and jumping and flailing, he knocked down many of the soldiers from around Marcus and Kallan. Kallan cut his bonds on one of the spearheads, and then drew his sword. The soldiers began to get back up, and the boys started running.
The soldiers came behind, yelling for aid. Owen led the others in a winding pattern through the streets, trying to avoid recapture. Suddenly, Owen heard a yell as he ran out into the main street, and turned straight into a soldier. The butt of a spear fell upon his head, and he knew no more.
When he woke, his head ached with a throbbing pain. He opened his eyes, and saw stone. Not naturally cut stone, like a cave, but crudely cut bricks of a dark color. He rolled over. He lay on a hard surface. In front of him was a small room. He sat up, dizzy, and looked around. He sat on a roughly hewn cot of hardwood in a stone cell about 3 paces wide and 4 paces long. On one side was a grate of metal bars, blocking the way into a thin hallway.
“You’re awake!” A voice spoke out from the end of the cell. Owen turned in the direction in which the voice had come. On a second cot, a strange figure sat. He wore a tunic of dark red cloth, which had once been fine, but now was covered in mud and grime of travelling. Over the tunic was a wool vest of dark green and thin leather belt that held the empty sheath of a dagger. His baggy leggings of thin cloth drooped down to small slip-on cloth shoes. The figure stood and bowed a deep sweeping bow.
“Noren Mettlewool, poet, philosopher, and thinker, at your service.”
Owen, slightly confused and wondering at the strange figure before him, just stared. The young man looked at him, amused, then laughed.
“Welcome to prison, my good fellow. You are now part of the fellowship that many an ill-fated man has fallen into.”
Owen stood up, then staggered and steadied himself on the wall.
“Where are the others?” he said. “Did they escape?”
Noren looked sympathetically at him. “Unfortunately not. They are in the next cell. That Kallan chap put up quite a struggle when they hauled you fellows in here.”
Owen rubbed his hand on his head, and felt a husk of dried blood on the back of his head. He grimaced, then looked at Noren.
“My name is Owen.” He held out his hand. Noren took it and shook it vigorously.
“Good to meet you!” He said. “It is good to see another unfortunate soul, even if he be a brigand and a murderer.” He looked Owen up and down. “Although you, my friend, do not have the look of a bad man to me. What crime were you put here for?”
Owen frowned. “Kallan tried to stop a soldier from assaulting a girl. They started fighting, Marcus stepped in, one thing led to another and the soldiers came. I tried to help them, and got hit in the head.” He rubbed the back of his head ruefully. “It might have been better if I had just let them be captured.” He looked at the strangely dressed man. “What about you? You don’t look like the type to get thrown in jail as a robber or ruffian.”
“Let’s just say the soldiers didn’t appreciate my views on their leader. I didn’t try to hide my feelings for that scumbag of a greasy villain, and they didn’t take any chances of letting me go free.”
“Who is their leader?” Asked Owen.
Noren looked at him in surprise. “You don’t know! ‘Lord’ Cardowac is well known in these parts as a greasy, good-for-nothing, dishonoring, filthbag of a Lord with no qualms about letting his soldiers have their way with the people of the province.”
“I’m not familiar with the empire.” Said Owen quietly.
“Then you must come from a happier place or time.” Noren lowered his voice. “Hurrah, they say, for the great emperor. A cheer, for the benevolent ruler of this realm. But, I say, if every country put into place the laws of this land, the world would soon be upside down and torn apart.”
He looked around the cell, looking for any possible way of escape. A grate let in a small bit of light above Noren’s cot, but that was the only other flaw in the heavy stone wall.
“Is there anyone else in the jail?”
“Only an older fellow, about 40 or 50 year old, who was brought in before me. He hasn’t done much.”
“Is he like us, or is he a brigand or robber who deserves to be locked up?”
Noren shrugged. “There’s really no way to tell. I’ve only seen him once, when I was first brought through, and he’s several cells down.”
Owen sighed and looked around. Hopelessness overwhelmed him. Here, they had got so close, and it was all gone.
Noren interrupted his thoughts. “Well, now that you’re here, it’s time to think of escape.”
Owen raised his eyebrows. “How long have you been here?”
Noren counted on his fingers. “Oh, two, maybe three weeks.”
Owen rubbed his hand through his hair. “If you haven’t gotten out by now, then what chance is it that we will be able to escape?”
“Plenty! Now I have you! With two heads, or four, if you count the other fellows in the next cell, we will have a much better chance of getting out.”
“Do you have a plan?”
“No, but plans are easy to come by. All you have to do is think, not a hard occupation, would you say?”
Owen shook his head, and then set to thinking of a decent plan of escape. After a few moments, his mind began to wander. He thought of Nai, and of how he wished he had talked to her of his feelings. He would never forgive himself for never gaining the courage to do what he should have. He wondered if she was alive, if she was safe.
Suddenly his attention was brought back to the present by the sound of footsteps in the hallway. They stopped a little before the hall. Slowly, he stepped to the door and turned his head so he could look down the hall. A small, slight, figure crouched outside of the door to Marcus and Kallan’s cell. Owen picked up a quiet whisper. The figure passed something through the bars. It moved off quietly down the hall.
Noren looked up from where he had been sitting on his cot, an expression of excitement on his face.
“I have it!” Owen turned around as Noren jumped to his feet. “It’s perfect! The four of us shall go down in legend as those who escaped out from under the noses of the guards of the empire. It will make a tale worthy of Shamsburrow himself!”
Owen raised his eyebrows, but could not keep a smile from blooming on his face.
Noren began to scrape some of the mortar from a brick on the wall with his fingernails, and then slipped the brick out. Realizing what he was doing, Owen ran to the hole and spoke through it.
“Kallan, Marcus! Are you there?”
Kallan’s face appeared through the crack. “Yes, we’re here. Good to see you alive.”
Owen smiled. “Good to see you too.”
Kallan spoke again. “What you did there, standing up for us, I admire that, but it was pretty stupid. You were more likely to get yourself killed than actually help with all those soldiers.”
Owen nodded. “I know. It wasn’t very wise of me. But there’s nothing we can do about that now. Who was at the door?”
Kallan lightly blushed, although Owen could see no reason.
“It was a girl.” He looked back at Marcus. “The one from the market. She was grateful for my, uh, assistance. She brought food.” He reached back and grabbed a small parcel. “Here, take some.” He passed a half loaf of coarse bread. “It’s not much, but it is better than nothing at all.”
Owen took the bread gratefully and broke it in half, passing one to Noren and having a small bite himself. Owen glanced at Noren. “We have a plan.” Kallan raised his eyebrows. “Or rather, Noren here has a plan.”
Noren smiled. “And with the help of our new friend, we will have an escape worthy of the men of old.”