Marshall lifts his head from the ground. The oversize beast finally raises himself up and off to sniff where Delia’s feet are not moving. Marshall curls himself to all fours and crawls towards her. “Delia!” He reaches for her feet to shake them. Nothing. “Delia! Hello? Who’s out there?”
Marshall glares a look at the animal. Delia is no longer in danger of the varmint. Fear no longer compels him to remain silent or immobile. “You think you can be heard over me?”
“Hello! Someone please answer me!” Movement above Delia’s limbs forces him to fall back on his heels. Stone is shifting above her. Pebbles and gravel split, crumble and roll off her to land in front of him. He raises his arm across his forehead. He coughs from the dust accumulating in the chamber. What the devil are they doing? The large stone shifts above Delia. They’re going to cause the entire structure to collapse! But, instead her body is pulled straight through the opening. At least she is out.
“My lord! Can you hear me?” Clear, black darkness replaces the space where she lay.
Marshall bends forward. “Ozanne! Is that you?”
“Yes, my lord. Can you make your way out now that we’ve been able to open the entrance wider?”
Marshall doesn’t respond, but instead starts to make his way through the entrance. He needs to find out what happened to Delia. Is she okay? There has not been a sound from her mouth since she stopped moving after being pinned in the entrance. The amount of men swarming around surprises him.
“Ozanne, where did they all come from?”
“I don’t know, my lord. We came according to your instructions for such instances where you have not returned as planned. They were here. Apparently, they are Russians.”
“But, why are they here? This far north? The Russians are in St. Peter Port and Alderney. Are you sure they are Russians?”
“They are dressed like Russians, my lord, are they not? They speak with the accent. Could they be moving down from Alderney? Perhaps to disembark?”
“Yes, I had heard they were preparing for departure. Although, I thought it already occurred. I suppose it is possible. But, I cannot believe they would be moving now. This late.”
“I apologize, but I didn’t question the help they offered in getting the stone moved. If they hadn’t stepped up to make the stake we used as a lever to maneuver the stone to the side we might not have had you out so soon.”
“Yes, yes. Quite right. I should be thankful for their help. Do you know who’s in charge? I must thank them appropriately.”
“Can’t say as I got that far. The lady worked herself in a panic and we had to get her out. Pulled her out myself, she passed out before we got the stone moved.”
“And, where is Lady Cordelia?” Marshall spins around to find her.
“We sent her to a cottage not far from here where my sister and her family reside. I thought it best not to have her go back with you given these unfortunate circumstances. She’ll need rest after such trauma I’m sure. No doubt an apothecary might need to be called.”
“Good thinking. So, she is well on her way then.”
Marshall now surveys the men milling around a camp fire. They have made camp for the night. No, they do not look like Russians, although Marshall is not quite sure what Russians should look like.
“Which one is giving the orders?”
“That one, there.” Ozanne motioned to the man leaning against the tomb. His hair is unkempt and long around his ears and collar, eyes black are set back in his face. Marshall watches him. There is a firm set to his jaw and a stiffness to his stance. This one’s dress is somewhat better than those around the fire. They serve him. He takes. No doubt. He’s the ‘Fief’ of these serfs. He stares in the fire and sips from a tin cup held with one hand. His glare shifts to peer over the cup, sees Marshall. He raises his cup to him, a silent salute. An invitation.
Marshall accepts. He walks toward him. Ozanne yells from behind.
“Lord Daventry, if I may?”
Marshall turns sideways to Ozanne. “Yes, what is it?”
“It’s Lady Cordelia.”
“What about her? Is she not on her way to the cottage?”
“There’s a problem.” Ozanne pulls at the sleeve a man standing next to him. “This is William and his wife,” the woman curtseyed. “My sister’s servants sent to collect her to the cottage.”
“What are you saying?” Marshall turns all the way around now and rushes back to his Steward.
“I’m saying I don’t know who took Lady Delia and where they took her.”
“What! How did this happen? What direction did they go?” He looks over his shoulder at the Russian ‘Fief’ who has now joined his men at the fire though still perched higher than the rest.
“Can’t say as I know, sir. I handed her off to those who I thought were sent by my sister then went back to help get you, my lord.”
Acid burned Marshall’s stomach. He did not like the sound of what this may imply. Did someone seal them in on purpose? No time to contemplate the reasons just now. He must find Delia. Four directions of roads lead out from the tomb. It is unlikely they took the direction behind it. It’s blocked by the Russians and the tomb and not easily accessible with the cart. That leaves three.
“Ozanne, take a torch and look for tracks. We must determine which of the roads have been traveled.”
Marshall grabs another and runs in the opposite direction. The Russians watch. The ‘Fief’ watches. Marshall discovers two of the roads show signs of travel by cart.
“Ozanne! What have you found?”
“Nothing over here, my lord!”
Good. At least only two directions will need to be scouted. Although both lead to the Braye du Valle. He doesn’t want to think of what might happen if they take her there.
“Ozanne, take William and follow the direction to the east. Send a messenger to the house with word of what has happened. I will go south toward St. Sampson.”
Ozanne runs and calls to bring the carts brought by the servants from Marshall’s house. Marshall continues to study the Russians and their ‘Fief.’ His mind will not let it rest. What are they doing here?
“Shall we await the mutt?”
“What?” Marshall leers back at Ozanne who rolled up beside him and hops off.
“The mutt. Do you want him along?”
“No. He takes care of himself. Did he follow me out of that blasted dolmen?” Marshall steps up on the seat and grabs a hold of the reigns. The second cart is brought near and Ozanne changes places with the driver.
“I believe so, yes. Took off down the road there.” Ozanne waves in the direction of St. Sampson.
Marshall surveys the area one last time to locate the mongrel. Nowhere. “I wonder.”
“Be still my lady.” The female voice speaking above her is soft. Delia’s head hurt. She tries to lift her arm and even it hurt. The weight of it pulls back down toward the ground. Sharp stabs sear through the sinews of her arm. She lay flat on her back jostling back and forth. Where is she? She opens her eyes, but it is dark. She breaths in cold. The woman next to her holds a lantern swaying back and forth. Her round, white face scrunches sour in the middle. She hovers over Delia’s face.
“We’ll have to wait for the surgeon to tell us for sure, but I’d say you’ve nothing a good night’s rest won’t cure.”
Surgeon? The words Delia wants to utter will not come out. She begins to recall the events in the tomb. Where is Lord Daventry? Where are they taking her? What of that dratted animal? Dog? It mustn’t be known she was alone in the tomb with Daventry. Her words will not come out. Her brain is speaking, but her mouth is not willing. Wet tears swell and blur her vision. She stares hard at the woman sitting next to her.
“There, there, my lady. Don’t worry. We’ll take good care of you. The master gave his instructions. It won’t be too long before we’re home. You’ll not need to worry yourself.” She can feel the pat of a hand against her arm. A warm blanket is pulled to her chin. The cool touch of fingers smooth her hair back off of her face and position something in the side of her hair. A flower? What’s the point, who will see it in the dark?
Delia wants relief. Wants to speak out. Wants to thank her or even Lord Daventry. But, nothing will move in her mouth. The thought of home is comforting, but what home are they taking her to? Her rented townhouse in St. Peter Port? It’s much too far. Is he having her go to his home? What will people say? She turns her head to the side and closes her eyes. The shuffle of the cart shakes her wobbly flesh back and forth. Darkness overwhelms the air. Dim waves of glow from the lantern now hanging on the pole attached to the cart emit faint flickers. Shadows outline the edges. What is wrong with her? What was it Lord Daventry spoke to her about? Brownies? Nonsense.