Owin #55 — Enter before knocking

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Photo ©Depositphotos.com / Oleksandr Minyaylo
Photo ©Depositphotos.com / Oleksandr Minyaylo

Owin twisted his head to fight the exhaustion that ate at his composure. He and Gwen had raced back across the city once again and it was now either quite late or very early; Owin could not tell the difference and he began to think it did not really matter.

“How are we going to get in there?” Gwen asked. “Through the front door?”

Owin shook his head. “I don’t want to do that. Too much risk.”

The two of them were crouched in the location where he had watched the shop earlier. After a moment, he spoke again. “Gwen, I want you to stay here and keep watch. If someone comes out, I want to know about it.” He turned to face her. “But I don’t want you to do anything about it. Stay here and wait for me.”

“Owin, I don’t like that plan.”

He put a hand on her shoulder and forced a smile that she probably did not see in the faint light from the distant lamps. “The front door likely has traps, which means we’ll either get killed going through it, or someone will hear us coming, and we’ll get killed a few moments later.” Owin looked at the long row of connected buildings and pursed his lips as he considered each one.

“How are you going in?” She asked.

All the buildings in this block stood three stories tall, but the wattle and daub building across from them had a more decorative exterior with architectural details that would provide some hand-holds. And it looks worn enough I could probably jab a dagger into the daub if I needed a better hold in places.

He glanced up to the roof line and frowned. In the darkness, the actual pitch of the tile roof was hard to determine and he really did not have a good way to secure himself.  A fall would be the end of this endeavor to be certain.

He squinted into the night and tried to see where the chimneys were located.  “I’ll need that rope we picked up on the way.”  Still looking at the roof line, he took the coil of rope from Gwen and draped it over his head and shoulder.

“You’re planning on climbing up there, aren’t you?” Her voice lacked the confidence she normally projected. “Then it’ll be three on one.”

Owin nodded his head. “I’ve known I was going to face several people by myself the whole time. If I can catch them asleep, it will give me the advantage.” He turned to her and put his arms around her to give her a hug. “I’ll do my best to come out of this in one piece. But,” he added, “if something doesn’t go right, take the money and run. Get out and try to reach your mother. Then leave Rhyl. If I were you, I’d try to get to Arn and have him take you where you need to go. I can’t say he’s completely trustworthy, but he’s at least a known quantity and there is going to be some amount of obligation on his part for what we did to help him. It might be enough to keep you safe.”

“Owin, let’s just forget this and find a different way to get mother free.” She started to stand, but he held her in their squat. “Please, Owin!”

He embraced her for another hug and then let her go. “I can’t trust Denton to release her if we don’t do this. If I’m dead, he’s likely to release her. If we run, I doubt he would free her and it is very hard to kill a priest.”

“Please, Owin! I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want you to die.”

He forced a chuckle. “I don’t want to die either. So, just stay here and keep safe. I’ll be out before you know it.” He rose to his feet and she did the same. “If you keep safe, I’ll not get distracted worrying about you, and that’ll mean I won’t get killed..”

She moved closer, rose to her tiptoes, and kissed him. “You’ve been a father to me even if you never meant to be. Just remember that.” She took a deep breath and then leaned against the building behind her.

He had felt her tremble and could still discern some amount anxiety in her movement. “I’m glad I could fill in, but enough of that talk. I’ll be back before you know it.” With a squeeze of her hand, he turned and crossed to the other side of the narrow street. I hope I’ll be back.

He put the thoughts of failure from him and quickly started climbing the building.  The corner of a small bump-out, which provided additional floor space and a makeshift counter, gave him a means to reach the top of the large wooden panel that would swing up to open the shop and provide a roof for the counter. The exposed timber framing of the second-story gave him another hand-hold, and eventually a foothold as he nimbly pulled himself up to a large open window on the third floor.

Slowing his pace, his muscles strained as he slowly rose high enough to look into the open window frame. The darkened room held little that could be discerned, but Owin suspected it was a bedroom.

With great care, he lifted his feet up to the windowsill. His weapons, although wrapped in bits of cloth, still bounced against the side of the building as he shifted his position.  With his hands, he gripped the sides of the window frame for balance as he waited, listening for any sounds that indicated someone inside the room might have stirred. After a long pause, he slowly stood, keeping his head outside the building. Just above the large window a wooden beam that extended outward from the building, providing means to attach a pulley that allowed larger furnishings to be lifted into the upper floors.

Standing on his tiptoes, Owin quickly moved his hands from the top of the window frame to grab the beam. He quickly adjusted his grip as his feet came away from the window. Straining his arms again, he pulled himself up until he could put his feet on the top of the window frame and then move to the top of the four-inch wide beam. The transition onto the slippery tile roof took even more effort and he gave up on being silent in the effort reach the peak and avoid the deadly edge. The noise sent a handful of birds into the night.

At the top, he paused and took a deep breath. From that vantage point, he could see out across the city and the small pools of light scattered between the groupings of buildings. He waited until his blood stopped pounding in his ears and he could once again listen to the sounds of the city. Below him, he waited until he could confidently say no one had stirred, then he rose to his feet and carefully walked along the peak of the roof until he reached the point where he was above the boarded-up shop. Unwinding the rope, the slowly lowered one end over the front of the roof. The other end he wrapped around a chimney and tied a knot to secure the rope. Having stolen it earlier in the night, he could part with the rope as he wanted to have an escape route back out the window if it should be necessary.

With the rope in hand, he sat down and slowly moved his way to the edge of the roof. At the edge, he moved to his left a couple of feet so he was positioned over a similar beam to the one he had used to get onto the roof. He then flicked the rope so that it dangled over the beam and would not slide along the edge and away from the window.

He glanced over the edge of the roof. His hands clenched around the rope as he slipped a little further toward a long fall to the ground. Forcing himself to breathe slowly, he looked at where the rope fell and estimated it ended about eight feet from the ground.

He bit his lip and wiped sweat from his face. The warm night helped in that the shutters were open, leaving a large window frame for him to enter through, but he felt sticky and uncomfortable. Waiting won’t make it better, so let’s get it done, he thought as he rolled over and lowered himself from the roof onto the beam.

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