Night had fallen and the girl, Sylvia, was fighting sleep. The guard had already succumbed to it, and she thought, no wonder. He had been without rest for better than two days now, running wounded and helping her over trails she had never been bred to take. It infuriated and humiliated her to be so — useless — but there was no help for it. At least she would not fail at standing guard.
Her task was easy enough. They were situated on a hill top in a small stand of trees that protected them from arrow flight but left a clear view all around. The moon was full, the sky clear and there was no chance of ambush.
Those were her exact thoughts when the hand clamped her mouth and a black weight pinned her struggling body to the ground.
Swiftly, mercilessly, like a calf in the slaughter pens, she was trussed and a gag stuffed into her mouth. Then the motions stopped, the unspeakable hands were removed from her body and whoever had overcome her sat quietly athwart her rump, crushing her into the mud so that she could hardly breathe. She had shivered with her sisters at the night tales of abduction; now she was shivering again, and there was no fun in it.
The weight left her backside and moved silently toward the guard. He jerked, then lay still, but she could see his open eyes in the moonlight and feel the tension in his body. The outlaw had placed the point of his sword at her guard‘s throat. It would be all over in a moment — for him, if not for her.
Then the black figure chuckled. “I don‘t expect you to believe this, but I’m friendly.” The guard said nothing, and the black figure let the moment drag on, savoring the melodrama. Then he whipped the sword away. The guard didn‘t move and the stranger nodded appreciatively, then said, “Consider what you would have done to me if I had made a more conventional entry into your lives.” His voice was sardonic in the darkness, and Sylvia said, “Mmmf.“
The guard‘s eyes flashed to her, then back to the stranger. Otherwise he did not move. He asked, “What do you want?”
“Would you believe me if I said nothing?”
“I don‘t believe you.”
Blondel shrugged, a useless gesture in the darkness. “Have it your own way. I brought you a bow and four arrows; it‘s all I could grab when I skewered the archer back there at the edge of the moor.”
“I wondered why they stopped shooting.”
“They only had one bow.” more tomorrow