Photo ©Depositphotos.com / Oleksandr Minyaylo
Owin carefully lowered himself from the tile roof onto the four-inch wide beam that extended out from the front of the building. The rope he had tied around the chimney was loosely wrapped around his right arm to help steady himself. The three-story fall to the ground would be as fatal as any sword.
He attempted to listen for any sounds coming from the open window below him but heard nothing. Using the rope for balance, he lowered himself to a seated position and sat with both legs off one side of the beam. Once stable, he rolled over so he could drop down and hang from his arms.
Owin then swung his feet over until he caught the edge of the window frame with the outsides of his boots. Unfortunately, this window sat lower in the wall compared to the bean than the corresponding window in the house he had used to gain access to the roof. To safely reach the window, he lowered himself with the rope until he could put his sweaty hands on the frame.
Again, the sound of his weapons bouncing off his hip was muffled, but still audible. Fearing his silhouette would stand out clearly in the window, Owin immediately climbed into the room and crouched down below the frame to hide his form. He waited there and listened for signs his presence had been detected as his sight adjusted to the fact that the room was even darker than the outside.
Several moments passed before he could make out the shapes in the room. To his right, just an outstretched arm away, sat a bed. Against the back wall, he could see a door because of a faint glow of light that illuminated the gaps at the top and bottom. In the far corner, opposite from the bed, Owin decided a large mass must be a desk and chair.
Minimizing his movements, Owin drew his long dagger and eased his way closer to the center of the bed. He held the dagger in his right hand as he rose to his feet. Not knowing which end was the head of the bed, he slowly extended his left hand downward while holding his right ready to strike. His fingers descended until they encountered a rumpled bed sheet. Applying a little more pressure, he hoped to determine which direction the person might sleep.
A moment later, he stood fully upright. No one in the bed, he thought with a silent sigh. His realized his heart was racing and he took a deep breath to steady himself. I hope they have not gone out while we were getting ready.
Owin took another breath, switched his dagger to his left hand, and then drew his sword. Lightly, he started moving toward the door and the dim glow that he hoped would lead him to those who lived in the building. The wood floor groaned slightly, but as he eased his weight into each footfall, the sound did not seem loud.
At the door, he slid the release and pulled the door open. The hinges squeaked, but there was nothing to be done for it, so he did not hesitate, which would have only drawn out the sound to last longer. Before him was a darkened hall, the light he had seen coming under the door emanated from an opening eight feet down the hall and on the left side.
Owin heard the creak of a chair and then feet moving across the floor. He waited a moment more, trying to judge when the person would reach the doorway from within the side room. Just before he expected the person to stick their head into the hall to look around, Owin leaped forward.
Owin covered the distance in two strides. The person, who had risen to investigate the sounds of the door, had already committed himself to looking into the hall and while the man’s face registered viseral hate, the rest of his body had not caught up with the sight of Owin bearing down on him.
Owin recognized the man as one of the two who had pursued Gwen. Knowing he still had to deal with Urel and at leat one other man, Owin knocked aside the man’s sword and drove his own deep into the man’s chest.
The man grunted and staggered back. Owin yanked his blade free and then slashed once more across the torso of the falling man.
Prepared to dodge backward and away from the door, Owin quickly scanning the room for threats. He observed the contents without conscious attention, noting two beds and chests against the far wall, a table and chairs in the middle of the room. and the remains of a mostly finished meal sitting next to a lamp. However, the dying man was alone in the room.
Owin looked up and down the hall, but no threat appeared to be coming. He waited a moment more as the man in the room gasped and jerked on the floor. Still not seeing or hearing any threats, Owin went into the room. Keeping his face to the door, Owin knelt on one knee next to the man, confirming he had already bled out on the floor.
Where are they? Owin demanded as he continued to listen for sounds that would indicate someone else in the building had heard the noise. He waited for a dozen breaths, but he heard nothing. Damn it.
Owin rose to his feet and took another look around the room. Both beds showed signs of use, but only one of them had boots, clothing, and weapons stacked next to it. A quick glance at the dead man confirmed he had no boots on and was lightly dressed. The sword the man had been carrying lay on the floor next to the door where it had been dropped.
Where are the others? Concern overrode any thankfulness in so easily dealing with the first man. Owin cursed. He preferred dealing with known quantities instead of surprises. If the men were coming to him, he could ambush them instead of the other way around.
No longer willing to wait, Owin wiped the blood from his sword and then put his dagger back into its sheath so he could carry the lamp. He maintained his careful and quiet movement, returning to the hall with the lamp, dimmed to the point where the flame would barely stay lit.
Two other doors stood closed on this floor. He examined each one, careful opening them and peering inside to find rooms filled with dust and cobwebs. When he reached the end of the hall, he glanced out the open window that allowed a warm breeze to move through the building. He still had a couple turns of the glass before the sun would start to brighten the sky. However, he wanted to be out of the building well before that happened. We can’t be caught by the city guard.
He focused himself back to the task at hand and looked down the stairs at the end of the hall. The second floor appeared to be dark and he had yet to hear the sound of any other movement in the building. I don’t like this at all.
Continue to next episode.