The Long Chron – Online Edition – Chapter Twenty-Nine

“Now, stay close.  There’s a good chance The Wizard left someone behind to trail us.”

We exit the building cautiously, however, it’s immediately apparent there isn’t a single person outside.  Not one.  Griff takes this to be another sign something is up and uses a long and winding route back to The Goat and The Mare, reminding me a few times that you can never be too careful.  After making the five minute walk between the two buildings take thirty, we finally arrive at the tavern.  Molly is still tied up out front.

“We’re back, Aggie,” Griff yells as we enter the building.  He sits down at one of the tables.  I join him, sobbing lightly.  “It’ll get better, kid.  I promise.”

“I know,” I reply.  “It’s not like I knew him all that well or anything, it’s just—“

“It’s not easy to watch someone die.”

“Especially if he died because of you.”

“Yeah,” Griff replies, a somber look crossing his face as he has a staring contest with the table.

 

“Okay, so, what’s the plan, then?” I ask through a sniffle, attempting to regain my sensibility.  “We can’t let him get away with this.”

“I barely had a plan before.  Now I’ve got nothing.  It seemed so easy before.  Get a change of clothes so he doesn’t recognize us.  Nab a few other things, like the horse, to make us look like traveling nobility.  Knock on the door with something to sell and get us in.  You know, a basic Door-to-Door.  Before you know it, we’d be out of there, necklace in hand, and back on our way home.”

“Why can’t we do that now?”

“He’s a killer, kid.  I didn’t have that in my original design.”

“So, where does that leave us?”

“We might just have to get comfortable with the idea of living out the rest of our lives in the Dark Ages.  There’s probably a nice little Wizard-free town somewhere nearby where we can spend the rest of our days.”

“You’re saying we should run?”

“Yeah.  Maybe Aggie will come with us even.  We could have a pretty good life out on a farm somewhere.”

“In England during the Middle Ages?  Do you know what happened to people who lived in England during the Middle Ages?”

“I don’t know, they lived, slept, ate?”

“Ever heard of The Plague?”

“Oh, yeah.  Whatever.  That Christopher Columbus dude has to be going off to find America soon, right?  Maybe we could hitch a ride with him to the New World.”

“That could be hundreds of years from now, in either direction.  We never figured out what year it is.”

“Maybe we could be the ones to find America.  Hell, you don’t know, maybe we’re Columbus.”

“That would be quite the scam,” I laugh.

“Why don’t we see if Aggie wants to come help us find America?  It could be a great adventure.”

“What’s with you and Agnes anyways?  You seem to have latched onto each other pretty well.”

“Hey, anyone who can make me a solid bowl of gruel has found an instant way into my heart.”

“I suppose that’s a pretty small group,” I laugh, happy to know it’s still possible for me to do so.

“Speaking of which, where the heck could she have gotten off to?  I did yell when we came in, didn’t I?”

“Yeah.”

“Aggie!  Where you at, girl?”

We both sit in silence waiting for an answer and hear nothing.

“You think she’s alright?” Griff asks me with a twinge of concern in his eye.

“If Agnes isn’t alright, I don’t know who would be.  If there’s anyone in this town who can take care of themselves, it’s her.”

“Yeah, but it’s not like her not to come down whenever she’s got a guest, is it?”

“Maybe she ran into town to grab some more produce or something?” I offer.

“No, she told me she’d put out the sign if she left.”  He walks to the bar and picks out a sign from behind it which has an image of an open front door which is crossed out by a big X.  The illiterate version of a ‘Be Back Soon’ sign, I guess.

“You don’t think,” I begin before considering how I’m actually going to end the sentence.  Doing so causes me to pause in fear.

Terror fills Griff’s eyes and he bolts into the back of the building.  I hear him opening and slamming doors quickly and loudly until he screams out wildly.  I run to follow him, but he meets me at the doorway, pushing me back into the bar, falling to his knees as he enters the room.

“What?” I ask, fearing I already know the answer.

He buries his face in his hands as he bends in half, his head against the floor now.  I hear sobs escaping from the weeping heap of a man below me.

“No,” I say softly.

Still no response from Griff outside of the physical expression happening at my feet.  My mind goes blank, staring at the doorway and imagining what may lie beyond.

“No,” I repeat.  “He didn’t.”

Griff lifts his face from the ground, taking a deep breath as he does.  Quickly he stands and looks me in the eyes, rage flaring through his entire body.  I can almost feel the heat burning through him as his body fills with resolve.

“But how—“

“I don’t care.  He’s a dead man.”

“We can’t.  You said—“

“Forget what I said. No more games.  He’s dead.”

He storms out of the building without even a glance back to make sure I’m going to join him.  I run to catch up and pull on his shoulder to stop him.  “You can’t, Griff.  You’ll just get yourself killed.”

“I don’t care,” he repeats.  “One of us is going to be dead before the day is out.  If it has to be me, so be it.”

“Killing him won’t change what happened to Agnes or Geoffrey, Griff.  Stop and think for a moment.”

Griff stops pulling against me and looks me in the eyes.  “I’m done planning.”

He turns from me and storms down the cobblestone walkway toward the cathedral.

I fill with panic as I watch him disappear.  Every single outcome of his doing so flashes through my mind.  All of them.  And then suddenly, I realize we’ve had the answer all along.  I realize I know how this is supposed to end.

“Griff!” I shout after him.  “I know what we’re supposed to do!”

 Go to Phase Four

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