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Seals of Power
Remy was alone in the small hut which served the thieves
as their hideout. One of the few privileges of being the thieves'
leader was the possibility to order them to leave him alone
whenever he needed some privacy. And right now he was in desperate
need. There were so many things going on in his head. His
gaze was focused on the object he was holding in his hands.
It was the picture of a young woman, about his age, with flaming
red hair, which surrounded her delicate features. She was
smiling. Remy smiled back, but unlike hers, his was a sad
smile. His fingers clenched around the simple wooden frame
and for a moment he feared it would break.
"LeBeau!" The door was flung open forcefully, causing Remy
to wince and drop the picture. It made a clattering sound
as it hit the floor and rolled a few feet until it came to
a halt at the foot of the small table. Remy looked up to see
who had dared to ignore his order. He felt his anger burn
as he caught sight of Chatton standing in the door frame.
He had never liked this man, but since the incident with the
old noble man his antipathy had turned into loathing.
"My order goes for you as well, Chatton" he said, his voice
threateningly calm. The look Remy shot him would've caused
every other men to back up, but on Chatton it didn't seem
"We have to talk."
"I'm sorry Remy. I told him you didn't want to be disturbed
but he wouldn't listen to me." said a voice from behind Chatton.
Sarah slipped past the big man but remained at the entrance
unsure what to do.
"Don't worry Sarah, it isn't your fault." Remy reassured
her. No, it certainly wasn't. If Chatton wanted to talk to
him, there wasn't much little Sarah could do to stop him.
Nonetheless Remy admired her courage. It took a lot of bravery
to stand up to someone like Chatton. Remy turned to Chatton
"So, what do ya want to talk about?" Chatton finally left
his spot at the door and walked towards Remy.
"No, LeBeau I want to talk to ya alone, without yer pet hanging
around." he gestured towards Sarah. The young girl tensed
at his nickname for her. Remy's pet. How she hated to be called
this - how she hated Chatton. He had been against her inclusion
into the thieves band, had plead that she was too young, that
she'd just be a millstone around their necks. Still Remy had
given her a chance and she had proven herself a valuable member
of their group. She had earned the respect and acceptance
of the others. Well, except Chatton. From her look, Remy could
tell that Sarah was really mad and being short tempered as
she was, he feared she'd try and attack Chatton. Suddenly
the memory of another redhead with an equally hot temper came
up in his mind. No, that one wasn't red, it was more like
auburn... He pushed the thought away. There were more important
matters to attend to right now.
"Leave us alone, Sarah." he told the girl before she could
do anything they'd both regret afterwards.
"NOW!" he cut her off, before she could say anything more.
There was a second of hesitating, but then Sarah turned around
and left the hut, closing the door behind her. When she was
gone, Remy folded his arms in front of his chest. He looked
at Chatton with narrowed eyes, waiting for the other man to
speak. Chatton was about to say something, when he spotted
a small object on the floor. Remy's eyes followed Chatton's
and he noticed the picture still lying under the table. Without
a word he went over to the table to pick it up, but Chatton
was faster. He gave a quiet whistle as he saw the potrait
of the beautiful woman.
"Hey, who is this little honey, LeBeau? Yer mistress?" he
"Dat's none of your goddamn business!" Remy hissed through
clenched teeth as he snatched the picture from Chatton. He
put it away quickly then returned his attention to Chatton
who seemed to be amused by his reaction.
"My my, so irritable today?" Remy wasn't in the mood for
Chatton's games. All he wanted was to get this 'talk' over
with and then get rid of Chattons company. At least for the
rest of the day.
"Say what you want to tell me or leave!"
Jacqueline slowly let herself glide out of the saddle. She
buried her head in the horse's mane and closed her eyes, trying
to clear her head. 'This is crazy' a voice in the back of
her head screamed. She'd left her home, her uncle, Irene,
everyone who had ever cared for her, just to hunt down some
thief who could be anywhere by now. For a moment she played
with the thought of going back, taking Irene's advice and
come up with some kind of plan first. But then she saw her
father, remembered how he used to throw her up in the air
when she'd been a little girl, his face full of love when
he called her 'his little wild princess'.
These happy memories were quickly replaced by the one of
his body, limp and lifeless in her arms and her hate flared
up again. She pushed all thoughts about going back away. No,
she did the right thing. She had to do this and - as much
as René may wanted to help her - she had to do it on
her own. 'It's just the strain I've been under the last couple
of hours' she thought. Jacqueline had been on horseback since
she'd left her home about five hours ago. And now she was
exhausted, hungry and most of all terribly tired. She let
out a low moan, as she stretched and felt her muscles protesting
at the movement. What she'd give for a warm meal and a bed
'You're just not used to this' she told herself angrily 'but
you have to keep moving, if you ever want to find that damned
thief!'. She had tried to find the place again where the thieves
had gotten hold of her father's carriage, because she was
sure, that their 'headquarters' or whatever it was called
in 'thief-language' would not be far away. Thieves bands always
had hideouts in the woods, and they never went away too far
from it for their attacks. That way they had to carry the
loot only a short distance. At least that was what she had
heard and what she hoped was true. Unfortunately lessons in
tracing somebody's trail weren't given in the convent and
her sense of orientation wasn't what she now wished it would
be. Or in other words: she had no clue as to where she was
and if she was even near the place she was searching.
She remebered passing a group of trees which had been different
from the others that grew in this wood, shortly before they
were attacked. But how was she supposed to find them? It had
been day then and now in the darkness of the night, all trees
looked alike to her. Knowing that she wouldn't find the thieves
in the dark, she decided to rest for awhile. She took her
bags off the horse and put them down under a tree. Then she
gathered a few small branches and tried to make a fire that
would warm her and keep wild animals away. She wasn't sure
if there were any dangerous animals in the forest at all,
but better safe than sorry.
Fortunately it hadn't been raining for a week and the wood
was dry and caught fire easily. As the flames slowly licked
upwards, Jacqueline silently thanked Irene for teaching her
how to light a fire. Leaning back against a tree she grabbed
for her bag and pulled it onto her lap. She considered eating
a bit of her provisions but decided against it. Who knew how
long they would have to do for her. Getting the picture of
her parents - the only memory of her family she had taken
with her - out of the bag, Jacqueline looked at it for a moment,
then kissed her father and the mother she had never known.
Pressing it to her chest, she drifted off to sleep.
"We have to move. This place is no longer safe." Chatton
said without further ado.
"So? And who says dat?"
"Me. Listen, LeBeau, we've been here for how long now, three
weeks? And we've robbed dozens of rich bastards. What if they
told the gendarms? Maybe this whole forest is already full
of soldiers, searching for us. I have no intention of ending
on the gallow."
"So, do you? Den maybe you got yourself de wrong job, mon
ami?" Remy said mockingly. Still, and has much as Remy hated
to admit it, Chatton was right. It was really time for them
to move on. They had already spent to much time in one and
the same place, and as well hidden as this place may be, it
wasn't untraceable. The risk was just too big. Unconsciously
glancing at the frame he still held in his clenched hands,
"D'accord. Tell de ot'ers to pack up. We're moving tomorrow
When Chatton left the young leader's hut, he heard him whisper
something like 'maybe we will find what we're searching elsewhere...'
but neither was he sure to have heard correctly, nor did he
care enough to ask what he meant with this statement. Grinning
inwardly he yelled orders at the other thieves to prepare
everything for their leave. He had it his way and that was
all that counted.
Sarah was still boiling of rage when she punched at the old
tree in front of her. 'That goddamn Chatton! Who does that
nerd think he is?'. The young girl had been walking through
the dark forest for quite some time now, trying to work off
some steam, but still the thought of the elder man pushing
past her as if she was nonexistent made her guts clench in
anger. And Remy... her only friend... the person she trusted
most all over the world, had nearly thrown her out of the
hut, treating her like the child the other thieves always
pretended she was. He had never done that before! Her lips
started to tremble treacherously, but she fought down the
tears. She wouldn't cry! She wasn't one of those pampered
princesses! She had learned to fight for her life at a very
young age and she had never cried, no matter how harsh life
had treated her. But when somebody showed her that she was
weaker, like Chatton had done today, at such an injustice,
she couldn't help but shed burning tears of helpless rage.
A feral growl escaped her throat as she kicked against another
trunk when she saw the shimmering of a fire through the branches
in front of her. Slowly crawling forward, remembering all
the stealth Remy had taught her, she approached the fireplace.
A still figure laid there, leaned against a tree, a horse
grazing besides. She slowly creeped closer till she could
make out the figure's shape. It was a woman, or more likely
a girl. Probably running away from her evil daddy who wanted
to marry her to an old Lord. Sarah grinned bitterly. Life
was sooooo harsh to these pampered daddy-girls! Her grin turning
evil, she stepped closer to the 'sleeping beauty', planning
to scare the shit out of her. At least she had found someone
where she could let off some steam!
When she bended over the girl she couldn't help but gasp
for air. That was the girl they had robbed a few days ago!
The one whose father Chatton had killed! At the sound of Sarah's
gasp, Jacqueline woke up. The two girls looked into each others
eyes incredously, similary shocked. After a split second,
they both reacted with trained speed, but to her misfortune,
Jacqueline had only the picture of her parents in her range,
while Sarah's belt was bristling with knives, so the odds
were clear. As pigheaded as Jacqueline was, even she yielded
face to face with a sharp knife. In a gesture as old as mankind,
she lifted her hands over her head, defeated.
"Now, look who we have here, the little lady-wildcat." Sarah
snarled as she motioned Jacqueline to get up. "I guess I'll
bring you to leader-dearest and let him decide what we do
with you, and, more important, with your horse and your package!"
Silently, the young Comtess packed up her belongings and
followed the thief's orders, hoping that the girl wouldn't
see her triumphant smile at the thought that she had finally
found a guide to the thieves' hideout.
Continued in Chapter
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