Please forgive the shortness of my chapter - I believe most of my chapters are going to be shorter now that I have so many other commitments - but the story will keep going, which is the most important thing, after all. If I go for mass production I'm never going to post XD So - enjoy!
Hue And Cry
“You’re kidding me, right?” Elaby demanded incredulously, trading excited glances with everyone except Percy. “You know this woman?”
“Not know,” Percy amended. “I read her works, I have no personal . . .”
“But you know where she lives!”
“It was printed in the back of the latest edition to The Lives and Habits of Benevolent Spirits . . .”
Elaby was on his feet now, and in one bound had cleared the space between him and the increasingly-nervous man. “But you know where she lives! You can take us there.”
Percy opened his mouth, and the corner of his lips twitched into a dubious smile. “Oh, no I cannot.”
“You have to! You’re the only one that knows where she is! She can help us, she’ll understand. If she knows all about us . . .”
“I will not be dragged into this any further,” cried Percy, breaking free of the hand that the faun had laid firmly on his shoulder. “I helped you. I did what I could. I cannot do anymore! Don’t you understand?” His eyes automatically sought out Lull’s, as she had been the only one in the past who had offered him support, seen things his way. But she had averted her gaze, and now turned away to coddle the unicorn’s head. Drawing himself up, feeling cold inside, Percy turned back toward the alley’s opening.
“At least tell us the address,” Elaby begged.
But Percy was gone, walking fast, turning a corner, and out of sight before his resolve could waver. He really was far too soft-hearted for his own good, and he felt now that delicate muscle bruised and bleeding with guilt at the thought of leaving them alone to foot it as best they could. But for once his good sense had prevailed, had propelled him forward toward freedom.
Sir Calworthy wasn’t exactly sure what kind of freedom that freedom was – it was a bleak picture to say the least. His home, his only friend, all his possessions, everything had been taken. That, factoring in the probability that the authorities probably had him tagged as a radical, Sympathizing magical abolitionist who assisted in the escaping and fleeing of indentured creatures from a distinguished master, made the whole affair seem quite damning, putting it bluntly.
Fumbling in the pocket of his coat, Percy grasped at his handkerchief to mop his suddenly sweating face. He realized once he had dabbed at the perspiration that it was not his handkerchief at all, but the piece of torn paper with Lady Briary’s address on it. He continued dabbing anyway, pressing the damp parchment first to his brow and then his lips to stifle the unmanly moan that almost escaped from behind his gritted teeth.
The stress was just getting to be too much, he realized. He was amazed that he had borne up as well as he had, considering the circumstances. Fires, darkspells, infamy, muggings . . . Well, he thought, knowing even as he did that he was jinxing himself, at least nothing will surprise me anymore.
At which time the hue and cry began in the dark streets, and people rushed from the alleys and the houses that lined the streets. Percy whirled around, taking in the surge of angry faces, raised torches, and makeshift weaponry, and was grabbed from all sides by rough, insistent hands.
“He’s the one, I recognize his clothes,” shouted one man.
“What was you doing, sir? Returning to the scene of the crime?”
“What’d you want to go and blow the tavern up for?”
“No matter. Ye’ll hang anyways. That’s arson, and that’s a nasty business we don’t tolerate. Not from anyone.”
They shoved him forward, the press of bodies herding him forward, several desperate hands still clinging to his coat, his hair . . . He tried crying out that he was innocent of the charges they were hurling at him, that he knew nothing about an arson, but it did no good. His reedy cries of indignant panic were lost under the thunderous bellows of righteous and misguided anger.
He stumbled forward, falling on his face, before being dragged up by the hair and shoved forward again. He realized that at some point his glasses had flown off, and the sea of faces became a fog of flesh-colored blobs.
That was the last thing Percy remembered of the incident. He liked to imagine that someone had hit him over the head with one of their belligerent clubs or canes, because he did not like to think he fainted out of fright alone.