Fire and Thorns 00.7: King's Guard

Free Fire and Thorns 00.7: King's Guard by Rae Carson

Book: Fire and Thorns 00.7: King's Guard by Rae Carson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rae Carson
ignored their bribes, they will be patrolling here.
    We creep along, hunched over so that our figures are partly obscured by crenellations. I support Isadora as best I can. She stops occasionally, her hand becoming a vise on my arm as a contraction takes her.
    At last we reach the southern wall. “Hurry!” Miria whispers.
    I pull the rope from beneath my cloak and make two loops—a large one to wrap around my waist and slide the rope through, and a small one for Miria to stand in. Miria slips her foot into the loop, and I brace myself to lower her.
    “When the time comes, just let things run their natural course,” Miria tells me. “And be kind. She’s been through a lot.”
    “I will treat her as if she is my next queen,” I say.
    “Wait!” Isadora says. “I need a weapon.”
    Miria takes a dagger from her belt and offers it, handle first. “May God watch over you both,” she says. Isadora grabs the knife, and I let Miria’s rope slide through my fingers.
    My shoulders burn with the effort. We’re taking too long. But suddenly the burden eases. Fernando and Lucio have steadied her from below. Then come two quick tugs on the rope—my signal to let go.
    I toss the rope over the side of the wall. Hushed voices drift up, and then the sound of hooves, which gradually fade away.
    “The only way out is through the front door,” I say. There might be a little time left before the guards resume their patrols, but we’ll have to be fast. “Ready?”
    Her fingers close tight about my wrist, and she pants into another contraction. “Just get me out of here,” she says breathlessly.
     
    The bribes work. The way is clear, and we make it into the servants’ wing, down the back stairs, and into the main hall. Our exit looms large when a door slams behind us. I whirl. Lord Solvaño bears down on us.
    I throw my cloak around Isadora and pull her head to my chest. I keep my body angled to block his view. My heart pounds and my palms sweat as I quickly consider my options, which range from knocking him down and running out with Isadora in my arms to simply running. . . .
    “I was just coming to find you, Squire Hect— What’s the meaning of this?” he says. “Who do you have there?”
    Isadora giggles, a sound that comes across as half mad, and reaches around my side to squeeze my rear.
    “You’ve brought a lady of the docks into my home?” he says. Surely, he is not that stupid. Surely, he has heard reports by now of our scouting of the tower. Then I notice that he sways unsteadily, and his eyes shift as if struggling to find focus.
    “I assure you no money has been exchanged,” I say, because I’m not sure what else to say. Isadora has another contraction, and her suggestive hand turns into a hard squeeze that makes my eyes water. I brace us to keep us both from collapsing. She presses her face against my chest and fights for control, but still looses a choked-off grunt that makes my heart ache for her.
    Her father’s face turns red. “If you weren’t the king’s envoy, I’d beat you both out into the street this instant.” He gesticulates wildly as he says it, which throws him off balance, and he staggers.
    Isadora’s contraction eases, as does her grip. She straightens, looks me in the eye, breathes deep. Though her eyes are rimmed with red and sunken, they are still beautiful. “We were just leaving,” I say gently to her. I back us both away, keeping myself between him and his daughter. Thank God he is drunk.
    “You both should be stripped and lashed and . . . God, what is that smell? Even a lady of the docks should have some pride.”
    Isadora plants herself, stopping us.
    “What are you—?”
    She rips away from my grasp. Before I can stop her, before I can even breathe, she whips Miria’s dagger out from beneath her cloak and bears down on her father.
    “Isadora!” Solvaño gasps. “You whore . I should have—”
    I reach for her, but she is lightning fury. “How dare you!”

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