FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 3 Part 2e

FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 3 Part 2e

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Tipper did not wait a moment. She tossed the messenger satchel at Mr Hollen with her left hand, grabbed the steward by his hair and slammed his head into the door frame.

Lord Sharlok gasped, a look of horrified shock on his face. Mr Hollen drew his knife and advanced, “You bitch! I knew it was you!”

Tipper pushed the steward towards Mr Hollen, stepped into the room and drew her hatchet. Sharlok visibly gave himself a shake and backed up a step towards the hearth.

Mr Hollen easily manoeuvred around the collapsing steward, closing on Tipper with an upward thrust to her guts. Tipper grabbed his knife arm at the wrist, pulled him in towards herself and buried her dwarven hatchet into the crown of the man’s head. As he started to collapse Tipper let go of the hatchet and grabbed his knife.

Sharlok had turned, screaming, “Guards!” He started to reach for the old broadsword mounted above the mantle of the great fireplace. Tipper flipped the knife, caught it by the blade and waited a moment.

Lord Sharlok dragged the sword clear, it scraped along the edge of the stone mantle, he started to turn, shouting for the guards again.

Tipped tossed the knife, the blade flipped across the room and took Sharlok in the eye. He gasped and staggered back, dropped the sword then fell backwards into the fireplace.

Mr Hollen had dropped to his knees, he keeled over with a gasp. Tipper stepped further into the room and checked the steward, he lay motionless, eyes shut.

She heard a racket from above, someone coming down from the roof of the keep. She looked around, it seemed the fight was over. There was no way she was fighting clear of the keep, she thought of grabbing a hostage from the floor below but did not see that working out in her favour. Instead she shouted, “Guards!”

She stepped into the hallway, “Guards!”

Someone was rushing upstairs, a woman shouted up, “Father!?”

A young guard clattered down the stairs from above, nearly falling in his haste, someone with a pronounced limp followed behind him. The young man looked at Tipper and with a shaky arm, raising his short sword. Tipper pointed into the room, “Lord Sharlok has been murdered.”

A young woman in a fancy dress was the first one to come up from below, she held an ornate small sword ready, she advanced cautiously forward. “Ethie, let the guards handle it!” Another woman shouted up after her.

The girl, Tipper did not think she was an adult yet, pointed to Tipper and said to the guard, “If she moves, kill her.”

An old guard limped down to the bottom of the stairs from the roof, the girl moved cautiously to the door of the war room and looked in, she gasped. Others were coming up the stairs, likely the women she had seen doing needle work, one of them called up, “Ethie!”

The young guard approached Tipper, sword still shaking. The older guard stopped, put a hand against the wall and breathed heavily, not quite gasping for breath. Tipper put her hands up, “I’m just going to kneel down on the floor.”

The young guard nodded, his voice cracked when he said, “Do it!”

Tipper saw the young woman, Ethie, kneeling beside the steward. She stood and moved around the table, “Father!”

The old guard limped up to stand beside the younger man. He scowled at Tipper. His short sword remained sheathed.

One of the older women raced up the stairs, a wild look in her eyes, “Ethie!” Two other women, around the same age, also came up behind her.

From within the war room they all heard the girl wail, “Oh, father!”

The old guard limped to the door of the war room, he raised an arm trying to block the mother from entering. She stopped when she saw the bodies, gasped then turned and clutched at the older man’s arm as she swooned.

Men were shouting from the lower levels and the sound of many heavy boots pounding up the stairs could clearly be heard. The guard directed the older woman to her companions and they moved to the other side of the hall, just behind Tipper.

Ethie came back to the doorway, clearly upset, weeping. She wiped at her eyes with a sleeve and pointed her sword at Tipper, “Tell me what happened.”

Tipper was about to stand back up but she was slapped in the head from behind, the older guard growled at her, “Speak up, woman.”

“I had just come up with a message for Lord Sharlok, I could hear that he and Mr Hollen were having some sort of disagreement. After the vicious and pointless assault on the steward I confronted Mr Hollen. I believe you will find Mr Hollen’s knife in Lord Sharlok, I killed Mr Hollen with my hatchet and called for the guards.”

Behind Tipper the mother wailed, the girl wiped at her eyes again and sobbed. The men coming up from below had made it to the stairwell, one of them shouted, “Get these children out of here.”

“How are you acquainted with Kite Hollen?” the girl asked.

“We had shared a coach ride, last summer, I was bound for GreensBridge at the time.”

Four more guards and two men in fancy clothes crowded into the hallway from below. One of the men in the fancy clothing, a long sword hanging from his belt, moved forward and addressed Ethie, “My Lady, what has happened?”

The young woman tried to compose herself, “Kite Hollen has killed my father.”

There were gasps and muttered curses. The man with the long sword asked, “May I see?”

The girl lowered her sword and stepped back, “Of course Marshal Lehn.”

Tipper found herself surrounded by a circle of guards, one of the new arrivals asked, “What’s with her?”

The old guard, still standing just behind Tipper, said, “She killed Mr Hollen.”


A while later Ethie and the marshal emerged from the room, the girl commanded, “Master Kritch, would you be so kind as to find my father’s mage. Marshal, take this woman into custody, search her, question her and keep her under guard. I’ll not have her harmed. I want four of you to guard this room, no one enters unless it is with me or Marshal Lehn.”

There was a chorus of “Aye, my Lady.” from those who had just been commanded. Tipper was disarmed and taken downstairs.

She had thought they would put her in a cell below the keep, though that had not happened. Marshal Lehn took the time to talk to some of the guards and ordered the keep to be locked down. No one was permitted out and he gave a very short list of those that could come and go. That list included himself, Master Kritch, the Lord’s Mage and a Priestess Galdi.

Then the marshal and two guards took Tipper from the keep out beyond the walls, north, to a not too distant barracks and a stoat two story fortified house. Tipper noted an old gnarled hanging tree a bit further west. Marshal Lehn ordered his men to muster in front of the barracks and took her by the arm into the other building.

A bell sounded outside. Inside the strong house, the lower level was dim, with few windows. The marshal took her to an office not far from the entry while his men moved in response to the muster call. Once in the office the marshal gave her a push towards a chair then moved around behind a table, though he did not sit. Tipper sat where he had indicated.

He leaned on the table, both hands balled into fists. He looked angry as he glared at Tipper. She held his gaze.

“Why did you kill Kite Hollen?” he eventually asked.

It was not the question she had expect, “Given the fact that Lord Sharlok had just been murdered, I thought it prudent.”

“Prudent? To kill your superior?”

“To my knowledge Mr Hollen was not my superior. As I said, I had met him last year on my way to GreensBridge.”

“Do you know a courier by the name of Whyse?”

With a slight nod, she said, “I do. I had met her coming down along the eastern line.”

“Had you spent any significant amount of time with her?”

“We had a midday meal together, half an eight-day ago. West of your borders.”

“Did you have the impression she might be capable of conspiracy or did she give any indication that Roburns Trading Company might have had issue with Lord Sharlok?”

“None sir. My initial impression was she was very young, and I’d thought she’d be ill suited to the job of courier.”


“She’s rather small, or short I should say.”

“Why would the company hire such a person?”

“A small rider does not weigh as much, it’s easier on the horses, especially over the long trips.”

“Alright. I need you to put all your belongings on the table, for now, including clothing. If I find nothing amiss then I will return your clothing and put you in a comfortable cell.”

Tipper nodded, then proceeded to do as he had suggested. He inspected her body, without touching her. She did not know if he was looking for something specific or just counting her scars. Then he did a thorough search of her clothing, after which he returned a shirt and her underwear. Then he took her to the upper level of the strong house and put her in a comfy little cell with a small bed, near the ceiling was a small barred window.

“I don’t expect you’ll be here long.” He shut and locked the door.

A while later she heard him outside, addressing his men in a loud, commanding voice. He ordered them to the Roburns station, to gather everyone they found there, and to sweep the town for anyone who worked for the company.

Tipper really hoped Adwin had listened to her. She hoped he was well on his way to Wikkersak and that he would keep going.


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