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Gambits - The White Pawn VIII

The White Pawn VIII

The wine cellar was so dimly lit that William could hardly see a few feet in front of his face; let alone the six men aside him. Derren had his eight best and most trusted men with him that night. Five of them were down there with him, and the other three were keeping an eye out on the entrance to the cellar door upstairs, to make sure no one but Gem and Lewis entered. They had to trust that Madam Fiona's girls would keep Lewis's men well occupied.

The wine cellar itself was a maze of wooden shelves, each filled with wine bottles, the further back you went the dustier they were. And at the very back, where William and the others waited, was a cleared area where only a barrel filled with water lay on the stone floor. The spot was normally used to store ale kegs, but William and the others moved them out of the way to make space for their trap.

The waiting was uncommonly boring when finally the sounds of voices being carried down from the other end of the cellar filled their ears. The voices were too far to understand from whom they spoke and what they were about. Before too long though they cut out and only the sounds of weighted boots stepping on the stone floor was left. Gradually the steps came closer and closer, tailed by the glow of a lantern.

Further, down the rows, William could see Gem, and her uncommon beauty, approaching with a lantern held in front of her and Captain Lewis hobbling closely behind; part drunk. When they were within eyesight of William and the others, though not yet close enough to grab, Gem twirled on her feet and turned her walk into a more seductive slow dance, luring Lewis ever closer to his fate.

Gem was so enchanting that even William was having a hard time not staring at her. But when the time came for it, he and all the others were ready. As Lewis made a grab for Gem, she skipped out of the way, leaving one foot behind to trip him. He fell flat on his face, and William and the men quickly grabbed him.

"What the hell is this?" Lewis wailed in fury as he was hauled to his feet. "You have no idea who you're messing with, unhand me this instant!"

William pivoted his hips as he drove his fist up into Lewis's gut, knocking the breath out of the man. Before he could fully recover the two men holding his arms dragged him over to the barrel filled with water. Soon as Lewis went to speak William grabbed him by the hair on the back of his head, greasy as it was, and pushed it under the water.

As William drowned the captain, Gem went around brightening the lanterns to illuminate better the area of the cellar. It was annoying, after being in the dark for so long, but useful. William almost didn't see the bubbles stop; he was so blinded for a moment.

He pulled Lewis's head up from the barrel of water as he gasped for air, sucking it in so fast he choked on it and coughed uncontrollably for a time. While he had his coughing fit William told Derren and the others to turn down the lanterns, they were blinding him.

Derren and his extra men set out to do so but as they turned the small cog to dim the lanterns nothing happened. They kept turning until they wouldn't turn any further and Derren said, "They won't dim. We'd have to douse them all."

William grunted in annoyance and looked around for Gem while Lewis kept his coughing fit up. But the whore was gone, she left the lantern on the ground and disappeared. He would have to deal with it for now, "Leave it be for the time, we have more important things to worry about."

William turned his attention back to Lewis, who finished coughing, as he looked up at him. Recognizing William, Lewis's face grew red with rage, and he shouted, "You piece of worthless fu-" his words were cut off as William slammed his fist across Lewis's face.

As Lewis spit out the blood in his mouth, William said, "We know that it was you who gathered the men to the barracks for the drinks, and you who distributed them."

Lewis didn't deny it, just looked away in shame. At least, that kid was telling the truth about this, William thought to himself. "And I know you sent that assassin after me in Borx alley."

Lewis smirked, showing off his stained, crooked teeth, "That was a waste of good bits," he said. "I coulda done you in myself for the same trouble and saved me some silver."

"Who gave you the ale?"

Lewis only glared at him, answering in silence with his stares. William nodded to the men holding him and they turned him back to the barrel. He grabbed his hair again and held him under the water.

He kept him under for half as long, and then let him up for a single breath before pushing him back in. When he came out again, Lewis cried, "Alright, alright I'll talk."

After he got his breath back, Lewis said, "It was a whore at Molly’s brothel, after she finished sucking me off she let me put it in her tight little arse."

"The name,” William demanded, growing tired of these games.

"She had that black hair and high cheekbones, I saw you with her before. Alayne, I think it was?"

William had enough of Lewis's mockery this time. He pushed the men aside and turned Lewis back to the barrel and held his head under again. This time, his rage consumed him and he wasn't pulling him back up. Derren saw William had no intention of pulling him out until the bubbles stopped for good and had to yank him up, with the help of a few of his men.

Lewis lay on the ground, in a mix of laughter and coughing. William pushed Derren and his men away and kneeled down and started pounding his fist into Lewis's face, endlessly. "I want. That. Name!" William demanded between his punches. He didn't stop this time either, and once more Derren and his men had to pull William off him again.

Lewis tried to stand up but fell to his knees. Sobbing he said, "God's please no more, I'll talk I swear it." When he spoke, his mouth was still bloody and a few teeth were missing from William's beating. "I never saw his face, he wore a dark robe and spoke to me only in the shadows.

"Gave me thirty golden bits and specific instructions on who to bring in for the drinks. Said I couldn't take 'no' for an answer. He then returned to me the night I started calling everyone in with a cart full of kegs. That's all I know, please don't kill me."

"That's not enough," William shouted in anger drawing his sword.

Lewis hopped to his feet backing away but was quickly stopped by Derren's men from going further. "Wait, for god's sake Wait A Bloody Minute! I-I-I had one of my men tail this stranger. He met with someone, never saw their faces, but he said the man was-"

Lewis was disrupted by an arrow piercing his throat from behind. His voice turned into a choking gurgle as he fell forward. At the moment William saw a figure in a dark passage through the, now partly opened, wall, all the lanterns went dark. Save for the lantern on the ground, which gave just enough light for Derren and a few of his men to spring forward and stop the rotary style wall from closing off on them.

While the others gave chase into the secret passage, William told the remaining men to stay behind as he searched around the cellar to make sure no one else was lurking down there. He found no one in his search, not expecting to, and retraced his steps back to the end wall where the men waited for him in the dark.

When he returned, bringing the only source of light with him for that area, they set out to relight the lanterns posted on the wall and support beams. "Hell of a time for them to all go out, right ser?" One of the guards commented.

"You guys turned the cogs all the way to the left correct?" William asked him.

"Yes ser, but for all the good it did us. They wasn't working, must have been something loose in them before."

"But to all be loose, and then go out at once, at such a time..." No way it’s coincidence, the timing is too perfect. But what else could it be?

He soon pushed his thoughts aside, he had bigger things to focus on right now; and he didn't even wish to consider the possibility of magical forces. "Just get them lit again," William said as he stared down at Lewis' dead body.

Least now I don't have to kill him myself. William didn't plan on telling Derren this, but after he got whatever answers Lewis had, he planned to gag him and march him back down to Borx alley. Then he was going to slit his throat and leave him there for the scum of that ward to deal with.

There was no way he could let Lewis live, he'd either rat him out to Commander Jorden, or he'd have a target on his back for as long as he remained in the city. Derren might have protested his execution, but that's why William had thought up a distraction for Derren, and his men, to chase while he rid them of Lewis.

Eventually, the men got the lanterns lit, this time at a moderate burning flame. Not too long after, Derren and the others returned from the secret passageways. Once they were back in the cellar the wall closed itself off again, from the sound it made as it shut, it only opened from the other side.

"Whoever was in there eluded us," Derren said, taking some short breaths. "Place is a maze, we barely made it back, if not for what was left at the entrance we wouldn't have known which wall was the correct one to push on."

Derren then held out a blue rose in one hand, and a copper pawn piece in the other. William took the copper pawn to examine it. There were no markings on it like the bronze rook, but the blue rose was left with it, probably in place of the mark.

"What do you think these are?" Derren asked as William handed him back the pawn.

"Clues, maybe," He answered, honestly having no idea.

"Clues to what, though? What sort of killer leaves a trace back to them like this?"

"Insane ones, but maybe they're trying to tell us something. The rose is the old royal family sigil, and those tunnels are the secret passages of the Royals."

"You think the Royal Kirch family is behind all this?" Derren asked cautiously.

"No, this is too inconspicuous for the royal family. I mean if they wanted someone dead it would be a lot easier to do so than all this. I think whoever is behind this; they want us to know it has something to do with the royal family, in some way or another."

"Wasn't there an assassination attempt on the royal family like twenty years ago? Could these be warnings of another one soon to come?"

William shook his head, "I honestly don't know. And until we find out more, I want this to stay between us. None of this gets out to anyone else; we don't know who we can trust right now."

"So then what's our next move? Lewis Gren was our biggest lead and now he's dead. The trail runs dry after him."

"Maybe," William said eyeing the back wall. "That wall only opens from the other side, from the secret passages right?"

Derren glanced to the back wall, "Seems like it. Why?"

"Go try and open it real fast."

Derren nodded to his men to try pushing the rotary wall open. It wouldn't budge.

"Someone had to have told the killer we were down here, with our main suspect. Outside of the madam and the whore, what's her name Gem? Outside of those two, and us, who else knew what we were going to be doing down here?"

"No one I can think of," Derren said. "Madam Fiona is the one who helped me set this up."

William sighed in annoyance; he was very irritated right now. "Alright you and your men search for Gem, I'll question the Madam."

"Alright, but what do we do about the body?"

"For now, leave it be, it's not going anywhere and I doubt the killer is coming back to retrieve it."

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Copyright © © Jake Pendragon all rights reserved 2015

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