[Author’s note: Here’s the first part in case you missed it.]
The knock echoed in the brooding house.
Blythe slinked a few steps back. She stared with wide eyes at the darkened door. Any moment now, her doom would leap from the doorway.
The darkness in the street squeezed around her.
Blythe wanted to run, but her feet refused to move. Her fear had grown too strong.
The door still didn’t move.
That was it, she was done waiting. If the cask was stolen in the night, she wouldn’t care. She just had to build up the courage to start moving.
A noise in the night. Was it the door? Or something behind her?
The closed her dark eyes and forced a deep breath. It’s nothing to be worried about, just a cat or something.
Another noise. This one clearly behind her. And close.
She gasped and turned. Go!
A shadowy figure sprinted straight at her.
Blythe’s feet started to move, but it was too late.
The figure dove at her and wrapped its arms around her.
Her scream finally burst from her lips.
The arms tightened and pinched off the scream. “Quiet, wench.”
The voice was easily recognizable. Garron! Blythe threw her head back and pushed against the steely grip.
Garron muscled her back a step or two. His breath reeked of ale.
A sliver of light broke the dark of the street. The door to Garron’s house was ajar.
The face of a servant appeared in the doorway. The boy couldn’t have been much older than twelve, but he looked like he had experienced a lifetime’s worth of pain. His clothes were tattered and his face was bruised. He looked out at the struggle.
Blythe worked an arm free and reached out. “Please…”
Tears welled up in the boy’s eyes and he shook his head.
A gruff laugh rumbled from Garron’s lips.
Blythe kept reaching “Please…”
The boy stooped over and dragged the cask inside the house.
The door slammed shut.
Garron renewed his efforts, jerking and dragging Blythe step by step toward an alley across the street. “The boy knows not to fight. The sooner you learn your lesson the better.”
Blythe swung her free elbow back into the side of Garron’s face.
Garron grunted with the impact and his grip loosened.
Blythe doubled her strain. I’m so close…
Garron spun his weight to the side and jerked her clean off her feet.
Blythe’s legs swept out from underneath her.
Blythe extended her hands to soften the fall.
The cobblestone road dug into her knees and hands.
She pushed up again.
Garron’s heavy open hand slammed down on the back of her head and clenched some hair. “Teach you…. treat me with respect.”
She stumbled to her feet and took a clumsy swing at his arm.
Garron walked fast, keeping her off balance and moving forward.
Like he’d done it a dozen times.
Blythe screamed again.
“Shut up, wench.” He jerked her head and walked her through the entrance to the narrow alley. When they got close to the back of the alley, he let go of her hair.
She fell to her knees again.
There was nowhere to run.
He grabbed the back of her blouse and pulled up.
Blythe was beaten, and she knew it. The bastard would have his way with her, and…
Garron let go of the cloth and turned to the sound. “There’s no problem here…”
Blythe turned her head.
Lantern light spilled down the narrow alley.
The voice called out again. “What’s going on back there?”
Blythe pulled herself to her feet and looked past Garron.
Two men wearing the colors of the town guard stood at the opening to the alley.
Garron put on a smile. “You boys are a little slow. You’re lucky I was here to save her from that heathen before it was too late. He ran off.”
Blythe was shocked. Certainly no one could possibly believe a lie like that.
One of the guards looked at Blythe, and then cast a suspicious eye at Garron. “Yeah, good thing you were here.”
Garron strutted out of the alley.
Blythe stood dumbstruck for a moment. They were going to let him go? How could they?
One of the guards motioned to Blythe. “Would you like us to walk you home?”
It was all she could do to make herself nod and scurry out of the alley. She had been so frightened, so alone. Garron was a villain of the worst kind. And now the town guard, who were supposed to protect her, were going to let the pig go. Didn’t they care at all?
The younger guard frowned. “You’re the tavern owner’s daughter, right?”
Blythe stammered out a yes.
Garron slapped the older guard on the back. “I’ll go back with you. I left something there anyway.”
The group made it’s way down the winding street.
Garron looked at the older guard. “I thought you would have finished your rounds by now.”
He shrugged. “We had a problem down at the market.”
Blythe began to shake. The way they spoke, it was almost like they had an arrangement. She slowed a little and whispered to the younger guard.
“Its a lie. Garron dragged me into that alley and he was going to…”
The guard held up a hand. “It was dark. I’m sure a lot could have happened that you didn’t see.”
She shook her head. “You don’t think I know who attacked me?”
She hadn’t meant to say it so loud.
The older guard scowled back at her. “A lot can happen in the dark. I’d wager you got confused.”
Blythe’s stomach dropped. The guard hadn’t believed Garron. He had chosen to take Garron’s side. How could a man be so weak? Her small hands clenched into fists.
The older guard and Garron chatted the rest of the walk.
The younger guard cast an occasional sorrowful glance at Blythe.
Blythe just fumed. Every step made her more angry. If only she had a knife, a sword, or something… she could make it right. She just knew she could. The thought consumed her until the group made it to the tavern.
The casual patrons had mostly left by the time Blythe stormed through the door. That left only the heavy drinkers. They might stick around another couple of hours, but things would be slow for the rest of the night.
Her father finished filling a mug. “What took you so long?”
Blythe took a deep breath. She was ready to lay it all out.
The older guard rushed past her before she could start on her tirade.
“Your daughter had a little problem. Garron was there and chased away her attacher.”
Her father looked around the room and back at Blythe. “Well, I’m glad you’re safe now.”
She walked up to her father. “That’s not what happened. Garron tried to…”
“It was dark and your daughter got confused, but she’s all right now.”
“Quiet, Blythe. Now is not the time. And what happened to your carrying strap?”
She looked at her father’s eyes. They were empty and hard. He was just as afraid as the rest of them. Worthless. It bit at her soul to know her own father was too weak to do what was right. She spun around and looked at the door.
Garron was gone.
The older guard stopped at the entrance and turned his head. “What now?”
“Where did Garron go?”
“He grabbed the sword he had left here and left to walk Mala home.”
Mala was the other girl that worked in the tavern.
Blythe’s heart sank. It was going to happen again.
“Does your patrol take you that way?”
He turned and started to leave. “No, but don’t worry. Garron’s got her. He’ll take care of her.”
Blythe knew that, and she knew how. She started toward the door.
Her father grabbed her harm. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Blythe only wanted to spit in his face. She jerked her am free. “I’m going to get the strap I dropped.”
She strode through the mess of tables, stools, and half-drunk meads.
A drunkard called out to her dad. “You gonna let your girl talk like that at you?”
Blythe grabbed one of the swords from the rack by the door that held the patrons’ weapons. She didn’t care whose it was. She did care what it would cost her.
She walked again out into the night. Someone has to save Mala.
Next Friday, find out what happens to Blythe (and Garron) in the conclusion to “The Apocalypse Of Blythe.”