Kevin watched him disappear into the dark wood, then turned and walked back to the campfire.
He heard voices and stopped. Dropping to a crouch, he advanced quickly and quietly. Five men on horseback surrounded Rose. He looked at their uniforms. Ducal Guard? He wondered, Why aren't they at the palace? Rose was trying, vainly, to keep all of them in her sight. The Guard behind her drew his sword and pointed it at her as she backed up, away from the Private in front who was crowding her with his horse. Backing into the point, she yelped and leaped forward. They all laughed except for the Sergeant who pulled a scroll from his belt.
He read in a loud voice: "By the order of Gaynor, Duc of Green River, West Egg, and the Southern Reaches, you are ordered to vacate this land..."
Kevin listened, shocked, were they really trying that? No wonder he'd been sent down here.
A sudden gasp to his left, Kevin turned his head and saw Janna standing just ahead of him, almost invisible in the shadows under the trees. Her attention absorbed by the Guard and Rose. She said something to herself, he could not hear what, and a dagger suddenly appeared in her hand. Not now, he thought silently at her, don't be stupid. He stepped up behind her and placed his hands on her shoulders. She jumped, startled, and he barely avoided an elbow to the gut. Turning, she looked at him and relaxed slightly when she saw his face. He put a finger to his lips. She gave him a questioning look. The Sergeant suddenly raised his voice and they both turned back. Kevin kept a hand on Janna's shoulder.
"Are you resisting?" The commander asked Rose again.
"This isn't West Egg! Not yet! We're still on..." she cried.
"Corporal, arrest her for Trespassing! Resisting Arrest, too!" The Sergeant barked, interrupting. "Come quietly, Lady." he said turning back to Rose, "Don't make us use the chains."
The corporal pulled a pair of heavy manacles from his saddlebag. Dismounting he walked towards Rose. Janna tensed under Kevin's hand. He tightened his grip.
"There must be some mistake." Rose continued, "I know there is. It's a mistake." She backed up into the point of the sword again and jumped forward with a cry of pain. Kevin saw a growing spot of blood on her back. Janna leaped and Kevin pushed her forward. The dagger flew from her hands as she fell on the ground. She grunted softly as she fell. Dropping down on top of her, Kevin put a knee in her back. Her hand clawed at the ground but she stopped struggling. Leaning down, Kevin put a finger to his lips. Her look to him was full of hate.
The clink of the chain as the corporal handed it to another guard seemed to echo in the clearing. He tugged and Rose unwillingly stepped forward. The corporal mounted his horse and the captain gave the signal. They all turned and started back to the road. Rose stumbled, but followed behind them.
Janna struggled against Kevin. She started to say something, the words bypassing any understanding in his head. He lifted her elbow and bent it over her wrist. Hissing in pain, she stopped.
"You can't help her now." He whispered, bending over her ear. "They're going back to the wagon and the wagon guards have crossbows. They'll shoot you if you get too close." She relaxed. He did not let her go. He was not stupid. They both listened as the guard rode away. Deciding, finally, that they were far enough away, he stood up and brushed himself off.
Janna sat up and eyed him suspiciously.
"I'll help you." he said, holding out a hand. "But can you be patient?" He watched her carefully. She hadn't used any magic on him, but maybe it was just a matter of time. That Magician in Long Valley had said he wouldn't use any magic, until the featherbed.
"How do you know they have crossbows?" she asked, accepting his hand and standing up.
"I know how these things work. Can you be patient?" he asked again.
"Three months, probably. Depends on how things go in West Egg."
"Three months?!" she exploded. "I could get her out faster than that!"
"You're welcome to try. But I'm not going to help you if you get caught. Do you know someone in West Egg or anywhere in Alcole who would help you?"
She glared at him, but was also clearly thinking. "How?" she asked.
"Can you be patient?" he asked a third time.
She sighed. "All right." she gestured and the dagger appeared in her hand. "How are you going to do it?" She asked, sheathing it.
"Let's check on our things first." He said. "We should make sure everything is all right." He turned and started towards the campsite. He glanced at the ground looking for the dagger she had dropped, but did not see it. Her footsteps were soft behind him, as she followed him back to the campsite.