10. The Flight from Liamelia

Inglorion seeks out Collatinus the very next morning, and they talk quietly in the garden. “You were right,” Inglorion says. “They can do it. We shook hands on it.” He adds shyly, “He said between 100 and 120 gold pieces, though. I have 17 GP saved. I don’t know how I’ll get the rest. My annual salary is 10 GP.”

“It’s a good price,” says Collatinus, “Less than I feared. I’ll pay it. Keep your 17 GP to cover expenses until you find work.”

“I can’t accept a loan of that size. I don’t know that I could ever pay it back. I don’t even know when I’ll be back in Liamelia.”

“My grandmother always said that loans ruin friendships. Consider it a gift. You’ll have your sister to care for. You can’t start out with an obligation like that.” Inglorion looks poised to argue, so Collatinus cuts him off, saying, “Don’t be so fucking stubborn, Inglorion. I have my army pension on top of what I make here, and I don’t have a family. It’s not like you’d be stealing bread from the mouths of my children. Besides, how would you get it? You can’t earn that much, and it’s too risky to steal it. You’d be caught before you started out.”

Inglorion makes the first payment on schedule, then. Soon thereafter, Krysztof arrives at the Shelawn townhouse disguised, and makes his way to the servants’ quarters, apparently undetected. 

“Bring her to our camp next Thursday, at sundown. Don’t bring any personal possessions — just your weapons and the clothes you’re wearing. Nothing to cause suspicion that you’ve left. The rest of the money, of course. It’s been in cash all this time, right? No bank transactions or visits to the pawnbroker?”

“I pawned a few silver pieces’ worth of items a month ago — nothing to create suspicion.”

“Perfect. The two of you will travel in a closed wagon as part of a caravan. If we’re stopped and searched, I’ll cast a charm that will allow you to pass for gypsies. We’ll cross a pass in the North mountains. Which one doesn’t matter to you. Once we reach the other side, there’s a network of post roads, all poorly patrolled, in unincorporated areas. There are hamlets and villages, places where you can buy food and find work. It’s a rough area, plenty of brigands, so you should be able to find work as a bodyguard or outrider.”

And so brother and sister pass through the city gates 10 days later, cloaked and hooded, Sieia carrying a small bundle. Inglorion is armed to the teeth, and praying they won’t excite the curiosity of the sentries. He need not have worried. The two young men who are posted at the city gates are preoccupied with maintaining a scorecard rating the charms of the women they’ve seen. They’re arguing vigorously over whether a fishmonger’s bosom rates a seven, as one insists, or if the perfect shape and prominent nipples are worth an eight. They wave Inglorion and Sieia through distractedly, without a second glance.

As promised, a caravan is loading up in the gypsy camp. Krysztof directs them to their wagon. Once they’re safely inside, he greets Sieia, solemnly shaking her hand. “Pleased to meet you, Lady Shelawn. I’m honored to have you as a guest. If you have any questions or need anything, please speak to me instead of to my people. You’ll be snug in here with your brother, and we should have you safe over the pass in three days, perhaps even sooner. The ride may be bumpy. If you feel sick, you can open a window for fresh air. Don’t look out or leave the wagon without asking me or your brother first. I will bring you meals, and things to drink. Would you like some tea now, before we go?”

“Yes, please,” she says. 

When Krysztof returns with their tea, she says, “I’m afraid I did not follow your instructions perfectly. My brother said I might bring spare stockings and such, but nothing else.”

“What did you bring, my dear?”

“I have brought my doll, Melody. I did not like to leave her.” He nods solemnly. “Also, I took a cloak, because Inglorion’s is very thin, and I didn’t wish him to be cold.” She unfolds her bundle, revealing a gorgeous, dark blue cloak of quilted brocade. It’s intricately embroidered with oak leaves, and lined with indigo satin. The buttons are silver, and the collar and seams are lavishly ornamented with silver braiding. 

Inglorion says sharply, “Sieia, you shouldn’t have taken that! Tereus was wearing it when he had his portrait painted — it’s valuable, practically historic!”

Sieia frowns, and traces the oak leaf pattern with one finger. “It’s warm, and you needed a cloak.”

“We’ll have to figure out how to return it! He’s sure to miss it. You can’t steal something that valuable and expect to get away with it.”

Her frown deepens, and she crosses her arms. “He doesn’t need it, and you do.”

Inglorion groans. “That’s exactly what I didn’t want — to pile one felony on top of another. I don’t know how we’ll get it back there.” He’s genuinely fretful. The stolen cloak taps into all his fears of being caught and punished.

Krysztof says, “The maid is right, you know. It’s too late to return it. If you’re still worried in a few days, you can sell it. It should fetch a pretty penny from the right buyer.”

Inglorion looks worried and dissatisfied. Sieia sticks her tongue out at her brother, making it clear that he can’t expect obedience just because he’s older and rescued her from her parents.

Despite the illicit doll and stolen cloak, their flight from Liamelia is entirely uneventful. Far from being searched, they have no contact with the authorities at all. Sieia proves to be an excellent traveler. She’s a bit bored and restless by the end of the second day, but not at all prone to carriage sickness. She understands the gravity of the situation, but remains calm and polite, and follows instructions, thereby charming Krysztof and the few other gypsies who spot her. Once they’re over the pass, Inglorion begins to relax, and finally calms down enough to strike up a mild flirtation with a dark-eyed beauty in a neighboring wagon, ensuring that both brother and sister will be missed. They strike out on their own on a clear, fine Sunday, on the North side of a mountain range, in a land with a similar climate, but entirely different people and customs. Their adventure has begun.

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