Chapter 22: Infultraiting the Enemy

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“Do you have a plan somewhere in this mess?” Iain asked some time later. He sat on the edge of the bed with his back to Ailbhe. “Or are we just winging it again.”

“I had a plan,” she said. “Emphasis on had. That was before there was a crazy mob looking for me.”

“Somehow I’m pretty sure the mob is your fault,” the ‘serk said.

“I am in no way responsible for their crazy,” she replied.

“True. But it’s not like you did anything to discourage it either.” He gave her a look.

“Sometimes you just have to roll with it and do what seems funniest,” she paused. “By the way, that is how I am still a paladin.”

Iain gave her a look. “That makes me wonder how your god can have holy powers.”

“Kaggen is mostly a good guy,” she explained. “He just gets a little carried away sometimes.”

The berserker shook his head. “Right. So what’s the plan, Ms. Mostly Holy?”

“Well, we’ve got an invite,” she said. “Why don’t we go use it?”

Iain shook his head. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

“I’m not leaving him,” she said. “For one thing, he knows too much.”

As she spoke, Ailbhe went to the door and peaked out. None of the villagers were lurking in the hallway, so she snuck across the hall into Seamus’s room. Iain followed.

“We’re climbing out a window? We haven’t done this in a while,” the ‘serk said as Ailbhe pulled herself out onto the window ledge.

“We’ve never had to do it because of a mob that thinks I’m a saint,” she said.

“Isn’t that the truth,” he muttered.

Ignoring him, the paladin grasped a fortunately place trellis and climbed down. Iain followed close behind. He was halfway down when a shout came from the front of the inn. One of the villagers had spotted them.

“Jump,” Ailbhe hissed. She regretted it almost immediately when the ‘serk landed on her.

The two of them scrambled to their feet and hurried out of sight. They were just in time, too, as more people rounded the corner. Seeing no one there, they quickly returned to their vigil at the bottom of the stairs. With the way clear, Ailbhe and Iain moved quickly to where the monks had their camp.

There was a guard at the entrance, a tall man who wore the same tabard as the rest of his fellow fighting monks. He drew himself up as they approached.

“Please state your business,” the monk said. His voice was an unexpectedly pleasant baritone.

“We were proffered hospitality by a member of your order earlier this day. It was our sincere hope that we might commune with your brethren that we might regard them more fully,” Ailbhe said.

“Ah, Lady Paladin, not sure what you just said, but they told me you might come,” the monk said as he stepped aside. “Please feel welcome here.”

The paladin nodded to him, and together with the ‘serk she entered the building that was granted (temporarily) to the monks. It was a large structure, and had probably been someone’s private compound before the flood. If the owners were still around, they were probably staying somewhere else.

“Lady Paladin!” another monk called from one of the doorways. “We are so pleased you could join us. Please, won’t you come in?”

Ailbhe smiled. “Indubitably,” she said. “We are obliged to you for your hospitality.”

“It’s a trap,” Iain muttered beside her.

Still smiling broadly, she replied without looking, “If it is then we will just have to deal with it.”

The ‘serk grunted, but said no more as they walked into the building.

Whatever they had been expecting, this was not it. Town residents sat at tables, being waited upon by the monks. The one who had called to her from the doorway led her and Iain back to a table near the rear wall and left, promising someone would be by shortly to take their order.

“I thought this was an order of militant monks,” Iain said quietly.

“It is,” Ailbhe replied. “Or at least it’s supposed to be.”

The ‘serk looked around, skeptical. “Looks like on order of waiters to me.”

“I’d say something about them practicing servitude, but I’m pretty sure they’re just doing it to fool the residents,” the paladin replied. “Or something. Let’s see if their food is any good.”

“What about Seamus?” he asked.

“I’m sure we’ll hear him screaming if he needs us,” she replied. “If he hasn’t blown his cover yet, our showing up won’t help him.”

The two of them ordered dinner, and though Ailbhe felt a little guilty about bailing on Ethel, she was sure the mob keeping vigil outside the inn would be hungry sometime that night and they would eat what the two adventurers hadn’t. Maybe if Ethel was lucky someone would even pay her for her food. They were well into their soup course before Iain spoke again.

“Got another plan yet?” he asked.

“Almost,” she said. “Just give me a few more minutes and I’ll think of something.”

The ‘serk grunted and went back to his food.

After the meat course, Ailbhe sighed. “Alright, I’m going to go find him. With any luck it’ll be before he’s traumatized or harmed.” She pushed back her plate and rose from the table.

“Want me to come with you?” Iain asked, looking up from his own plate. He had a triple helping of everything.

“Nah,” she said. “You’ve still got a lot of eating to do, and one of us needs to stay to make things less suspicious. Besides, I’m sure you’ll hear me yell if I need help. This place isn’t that big.”

Iain gave her a look. “You know, now that you’ve said that you’re going to get in trouble and I won’t be able to hear you.”

“So come and find me in twenty minutes,” she said, shrugging.

“Sure, why not.” He shook his head and went back to his food as Ailbhe headed out.

Before she made her escape, though, she was spotted. “Lady Paladin,” called a monk near the door. “May I ask where you are going?”

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