The Maiden (Montgomery/Taggert 12) - Page 83

“I will test it. Take care of your brother. He is waking.”

Jura only gave a quick glance to Geralt as he sat on the floor and began to rub his aching head as Rowan slid across the marble slab to the safety of the other building. When he was across, one by one, the others followed him.

Geralt refused to go with them. “I will stay here. This is where I belong,” he told Jura. “I will not be second to that Englishman.”

“He is more Lanconian than you are,” she said. “Thal knew what he was doing.”

“I am betrayed on all sides,” Geralt said grimly. “Go with him. I will stay here and bring order out of this chaos.”

Jura was already on the marble slab but she didn’t release the windowsill as she watched her brother straighten his shoulders and head back toward the women.

“Jura, come on,” Rowan shouted behind her.

She made a decision. “I must go after him,” she yelled to Rowan, then threw her leg back over the window.

Rowan allowed himself a few precious moments of cursing, then he untied his boots and went up the inclined marble. The only way he could hold on to it was with his bare feet. Behind him the others begged him not to go, but he ordered them to leave the city as fast as possible.

There was no sign of Jura or Geralt in the corridor but there were several Ulten women removing tapestries from the walls. They paused and glared at Rowan in hatred. Yesterday he had been a god and today he was demon.

He gave the women a tentative little smile and hurried past them. It wasn’t difficult to see Jura and Geralt, since they were a foot taller than the Ulten women. Jura was bodily protecting her brother and trying to talk to the women, but no one understood her.

“Marek is getting away with the gold!” Rowan shouted in Ulten, but got no response. “Marek is taking the children!” He had to repeat himself a few times as he pointed toward Marek’s quarters in the north end of the palace, but he was able to turn the crowd’s attention away from Jura and Geralt.

“I knew you would come,” Jura said, smiling at him. “You should have gone with the others but I knew you would not.”

“Follow me,” Rowan ordered, “and do not do anything foolish.” He gave an angry look at the sword she had taken from the walls. “Do not hurt any of my people.”

“These people tried to kill me,” Geralt said. “I think—”

“Quiet!” Jura ordered. “And follow King Rowan.”

Rowan blinked a couple of times at her words, then began to lead them through the shoving women. Every time a group of women stopped and stared at them, Rowan yelled, “Marek,” and pointed toward the bowels of the castle.

They made it almost to the city gates before the women turned on them.

“There are two of them!” a woman yelled.

“They have kept us prisoners. They have denied us husbands and children. We will kill them and free ourselves.”

The women stood in front of the open gateway while other women tried to shove the heavy gates closed.

“Run!” Rowan ordered, “and kill no one.”

Jura was not attacked but the men were. Out of instinct, she protected Rowan’s body with her own as the women used what weapons they had. Rowan had his head down, trying to protect himself from the blows and so did not see Geralt knock one woman after another down. Jura knew that Rowan’s love for his people extended to protecting them at the cost of his own skin.

They made it through the gate and the women chased them for a while but not for long as Jura, Geralt, and Rowan made their way toward the mountains.

After nearly an hour of running, they stopped for breath. “We must find the others,” Jura said, and only then did she look at Rowan. His pale skin was white and beneath his cloak was a growing bloodstain. And his bare feet were also bleeding.

Jura put her arms around him in a motherly way and bade him to sit down.

“I must—”

“No,” she said softly, “you have done enough for now. It is time that you allowed others to help you.” She looked up at Geralt. “Go ahead and find the others. Tell them that our king is injured and tell them to send Daire to find Brita.” She looked back at Rowan. “If that is what you think we should do. I mean—”

Rowan leaned forward and kissed her. “It is my idea also, and since we are one it does not matter who says the idea.”

“Jura, I—” Geralt began.

Tags: Jude Deveraux Montgomery/Taggert Historical
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