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Roshaun was startled awake by the guard who stood over him. Pain in his right leg meant that the surly man who stood before him had chosen his boot as an adequate waking tool.
“What time is it?” Roshaun asked rubbing his sore leg.
“Does it matter?” the man grumbled, “Ye’ve got visitors.”
“Visitors?” Roshaun’s eyes widened with surprise, “Who would come to visit me?”
“Wouldn’t know would I?” the man snorted, “I’m just a jail-keep and ye just a thief.”
“Now, now” Roshaun’s playful voice hid the scorn he felt, “how am I supposed to survive if I can’t eat?” He looked up at his caretaker. His eyes were glazed over and his breath was saturated by the mead he had been drinking only moments before. He had the look of a man who had spent too much time in a job he hated and decided to indulge in too many spirits to compensate. The man kicked Roshaun again.
“Get up already!”
“All right, all right,” Roshaun said standing to his feet, “Wouldn’t want to make you lose any more of what remains of your hair.” That remark earned a solid thump to the back of his head. The stiffness of his muscles told Roshaun that had been asleep for at least a few hours. His cell was as cold as he remembered. There was no bedding, no light (save for the torch in the wall opposite his cell) and no windows; the only furniture available was the rusted cuffs and chain that he was currently locked into and the rough stone floor upon which he had been sleeping.
“Oy!” the jail-keep said, “Quit yer daydreaming and come on!” He released the shackles from Roshaun’s wrist only to put on a fresh pair that would allow him to leave the room.
“Don’t visitors normally come to me and not the other way around?”
“Not today,” the jail-keep harumphed, “today they be taken ye away.”
“Didn’ ask, an’ they didn’ say. Just showed me the king’s seal and told me to fetch ya.” The jail-keep grabbed a hold of the chain that connected Roshaun’s wrists together and began pulling him toward the main entrance of the jail.
“The king’s seal?” Roshaun could feel the warmth of his face drain as his stomach churned from fear.
“Aye,” chortled the man, “reckon a beatin’ an a hangin’ be headed your way.”
“For a piece of bread?” Roshaun struggled against the man’s pull, but his strength could not overcome the man’s girth.
“Right,” the man said looking back, “Innocent are ye? If I had a tune every time I’ve heard that I’d be rich.”
Whatever Roshaun’s reply would have been was cut short once they reached the main lobby. Awaiting them was a young woman whose hair reminded Roshaun of a fiery autumn afternoon which complemented her fair skin. Her eyes also had a blaze of golden hues about them that made the room feel brighter but no less harsh. Though most of her figure was concealed by her cloak, Roshaun could tell that this woman was strong despite her slim physique. This was a creature of beauty.