This was the worst plan ever.
Ronan and Kari flanked the sides of the large tent. Lee took the rear. I walked down the center of the camp...again. I felt so exposed, like I had a big blinking sign above my head that said 'GET YOUR FREE SEER HERE'
Lee had assured me that I was perfectly safe. They had us surrounded on all sides, and it was only Art inside. I had tried to act brave at the time. But as Lee laid out the plan for us, I couldn't help my shaking knees. I was starting to believe that this guy really was crazy.
I didn't say anything though. I bit my tongue and nodded my understanding when he told me my role. I had to play the part now. There was no going back.
As I neared the entrance of the tent, I put on my best "please help me I'm injured" face and exaggerated a limp. I had never been good at acting. Curse Lee and his stupid hair brained ideas.
Taking a deep breath, I staggered through the tent flap and dramatically collapsed to the ground. It wasn't hard to act exhausted. That part was easy, considering I was basically dead on my feet. I could barely feel my legs and my head throbbed. Passing out would have been too easy.
Art jumped to his feet. "Who are you?"
"Please?" I choked out. "Help?"
He took out his dagger. "I'm not helping until I know who you are and where you come from."
"Basement...pain...poison," I mumbled.
He frowned. "I don't get it."
I had to try really hard to stay in character. "Darcy...captured...help."
"Yeah," he scratched the back of his head, "I still don't get it. Who are you exactly? You'll have to be a little more specific."
This time I did roll my eyes. I groaned and rolled over onto my back so I could stare up at him. He was frowning down at me. It was clear he was trying to piece it together, but his small mind just wasn't capable of it.
"Let's see if this helps," I said, losing my injured facade, "I'm a seer and my special abilities are sought after by almost everyone outside the Caislean."
Light dawned in his eyes. "You're Brigid! The girl everyone's looking for! Captain Lorcan was just here looking for you."
You don't say, I thought sarcastically. "Ding ding ding! Give the man a prize."
"I am so getting a promotion for this one!"
I looked behind Art to the men bound in the corner of the tent. There were roughly fifteen men. They watched me with wide eyes. Some looked angry. Others looked ready to pass out from the shock that I was still alive. There were a few who were only half conscious, but even they managed to look surprised to see me.
Fifteen. That was more than I had thought. I wasn't sure I could get that many out, but I had to try.
"Right," Art said, kneeling down beside me, "Darcy will probably want you alive."
"I heard you weren't exactly forthcoming with the information Darcy needed from you." He chided.
I scoffed. "I wasn't about to sell out the entire Caislean to a slime ball like him."
"No matter, you're with me now. If I can get you to talk, I'll get an even bigger promotion."
He wrapped his arm around my waist and easily lifted me under one arm. I shouted in protest and struggled against his hold. He walked me over to an old settee at the far side of the tent. The cushions were flat. Moths and other small creatures had eaten through most of the material. I didn't like the idea of being put down there, but I didn't have a choice. He threw me onto the settee and crouched down beside me.
His smile grew as he looked me over. "I am definitely getting a promotion now."
"You keep saying that. Yet, I'm not sure it's even true."
"It had better be true." Art grumbled. "Do you know how long I've worked to get a promotion?"
"Don't you mean, 'how hard you worked'?"
He looked at me like I'd gone insane. "No. I meant long. As in I've been working for him for almost a year now and I haven't gotten a single promotion! Why on earth would I work hard when there's no real benefits to it? But this, this will most surely get me that promotion! I'll finally be able to outrank Lorcan."
"I wouldn't bet on it." I said.
"Do you really think that I'll cooperate? The last few months of my life have been hell. You're nothing compared to Darcy."
He smirked. "I would not say that so confidently. I have my own methods and honestly, I can't wait to get started on breaking you."
"You know, that's a very tempting offer, but I'm going to have to decline. I have no intentions of spending anymore time near you."
Without putting much thought into it, I leapt off the bed and tackled Art to the ground. Before he could come out of his shock enough to fight back, I grabbed the small knife from the scabbard at his side and hit him over the head with the ornate handle. I winced at the sight of the fresh wound which was now leaking bright red liquid all over the floor. Art was out cold. Well, it wasn't exactly according to plan, but I it would work just the same.
Getting back to my feet, I went to the opening of the tent and called the others inside. Ronan rushed in, sword out, ready to fight. He stood there stunned at the sight of Art on the ground. He almost seemed disappointed when he looked back up at me, like I'd taken away his favorite toy.
Lee almost laughed when he walked in.
"I thought the plan was to have Ronan and myself take down Art," Lee said, only barely containing his laughter, "but I guess we underestimated your right arm."
I grinned sheepishly. "It was an accident?"
"How'd you knock a guy out by accident?" Kari asked as she came inside, a crazy grin spread across her face.
I shrugged. "He gave me the opening so I took it. I figured it could save us some time."
"If we continue to stand around talking," Ronan said, "we'll have waisted all that time she just saved us."
Lee rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Let's hurry before his highness blows a fuse."
Kari laughed. "Ronan's wound so tight, any bit of pressure can make him snap."
Ronan looked like he wanted to say something, but he wisely kept his mouth shut. Instead, he turned and marched over to where his men were. I followed along behind him silently.
We set to work releasing each of them in turn. The few who were badly injured, Kari and I carefully laid on the ground in a more comfortable position. I couldn't help but wonder how someone like Art had taken the entire camp seemingly single-handedly.
Ronan was nervous. He kept glancing over his shoulder, as if he were expecting us to be ambushed at any second. He worked furiously to get his men released.
Apart from a few mumbled 'thank you's' and polite nods, no one spoke to me. They all looked at me like I was a ghost. It was a bit unnerving.
Just as Ronan and I were untying the knots, Kari called over, "Uh, guys? You may want to speed things up. We're about to have company."
Ronan cursed and leapt to his feet. The few men who were still fine and fully functioning, jumped to their feet as well.
"I should have known they would come back." Ronan said.
"You mean you knew there were more of them, but you didn't say anything?" Lee said incredulously.
"Of course I knew there were more! What? Did you think Art took us all captive on his own?"
Kari and I guiltily averted our eyes, but Lee faced him head on without even flinching. "Frankly, yes."
"There were at least three dozen other men who ambushed us. They left right before you got here. They were on their way to raid another camp. I figured it would be a while before they returned and it wasn't even worth mentioning."
"Wasn't worth mentioning?" Lee was growing angrier with each word out of Ronan's mouth. "Are you always this stupid? Or are you just showing off?"
Ronan's hands balled into fists at his side and he took a threatening step toward Lee. "If I had thought those men would be returning this quickly, or that they posed any sort of threat to us, I would have warned you at the start."
"I thought you were supposed to be some sort of tactical genius." Lee scoffed. "I guess I was wrong. Anyone with half a brain would consider three dozen fey to be a threat. Whether they had just left camp or not."
I had to agree with Lee. What had Ronan been thinking? This wasn't like him at all. Ronan was the type of person to take everything as a threat. For him to blow off a threat like that so easily, it was almost like he wasn't Ronan at all. Like the man standing before us was a fake.
I turned to Lee and he seemed to be having the same ideas I was. This wasn't Ronan. He was probably some kind of faery. It would have been easy for a fey to manipulate their appearance to trick us.
We moved in sync, like we'd been training together our entire lives. I kicked the sword from Ronan's hand as Lee tackled him to the ground. He pressed his knee into Ronan's chest to keep him down and his hands were around his throat.
Kari shouted in surprise and Ronan's men surged forward to help him. I held my hand out to stop them. It was clear they didn't like it, but they held back.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"What do you think you're doing?" The Ronan imposter shouted angrily. "Have you lost your minds?"
"We want to know who you really are." Lee demanded, digging his knee further into the boy's chest.
"I'm Ronan! Who do you think I am?"
Kari tried prying Lee off of him, but I held her back. "Stop it! Let him go!"
"You're not Ronan. That much I'm sure of." Lee glowered at him. "If I had to guess, I'd say you were a shapeshifter."
"A shapeshifter? Lee, are you crazy?" Kari asked. She had stopped struggling, but she was staring at the boy like he'd grown a second head.
Ronan, or rather the faery, grinned, revealing a mouthful of crooked yellow teeth. Kari recoiled in disgust as his entire face started to morph. I blinked and it was no longer Ronan lying there, but a scrawny looking boy with really bad teeth. His caramel hair fell over his eyes. He didn't look like much, but I guessed the fey could easily go up even against Lee's skills.
"So you aren't as dumb as you look." The fey turned his head and sneered at me. "The seer over here isn't nearly as impressive as her stories make her out to be."
"Where are you keeping Ronan?" Lee demanded, pressing the boy harder against the ground.
It didn't faze him. He just grinned back up at Lee. "What makes you think he's even still alive? Ronan was a pain to all of us fey. Especially those of us who have chosen the winning side of this war."
"There is no war," I said firmly.
He wriggled his eyebrows. "Not yet. Point is, when the fighting does break out, I'll be on the side of victory. If you lot are somehow able to turn the tables, I'll come join your ranks, but until then, I'm staying where I am."
"You're despicable," Kari spat. I had finally released her and she was staring down at the fey angrily. Her face was almost as red as her hair.
"Don't compliment me, missy. I'm just doing what every smart fey should. If we want to stay alive, we've got to pick the right side."
"We're getting off topic," Lee said, "where's Ronan?"
The boy shook his head. "That's something you'll have to figure out yourself. But it looks like your time is just about up."
As if on cue, the tent flaps billowed open and an army of fey marched in. They encircled us, each one pointing their weapons at our heads.
Hehe a new twist! I'm sorry this chapter is a bit slow again.