She stalked across the courtyard, her skirts dragging across the floor and sending up a cloud
of dust around her. Her brow was furrowed in an unhappy frown and her hands were clenched.
Those who did not know Lady Ana may have suspected that she had argued with her father,
husband or whichever other male in her life had control over her. They may have thought she had
been denied a new gown, or a trip to the market. They may even have suspected that a suitor had
been rejected by her family. However, all of these suspicions by weary travellers who were taking in
the Lady Ana as she prowled the courtyard would have been wrong. Her grievances lay deeper, and
were far more insurmountable, than that of young gentlemen or dresses.
She turned sharply on her heel and stared up at the fourth window on the eighth, and
highest, level of the castle behind her. Her cage, as she called it, was lit by a candle standing in the
window. This meant that her father was inside. She hesitated a moment, and decided that he could
wait a few moments before she joined him. They were going to be imprisoned within the castle for
many months to come, so ten minutes wait could surely not be too much of an annoyance to him.
There was a chill in the air, a sharp chill which even the heavy cloak covering her could not dispel. It was one of the many small signs which had appeared over the past few days signalling the beginning of winter. Around her the few who had awoken this early had wrapped up tightly in layers of anything they could find blankets, scarves, cloaks, even sackcloth in one case. She didnt pull her cloak tighter around her, even though she could feel herself begin to shiver. She didnt want to show any weakness to the enemy even if that weakness were one everyone suffered from.
She was so intent on keeping up her haughty composure that she didnt notice a man,
equally entranced in his own business, striding towards her. He was a man with piercing blue eyes,
dark brown hair which hung to his shoulders, broad shoulder and a set jaw. His age was not
immediately determinable from his appearance but on closer inspection it could be that he was
thirty years old, perhaps a little older. His height was tall no more than a hairsbreadth short of six
feet, and his build was that of a soldier. They met with force, and she staggered backwards. He
grabbed the hilt of his sword, her slight form barely causing him to lose his balance. When he saw it
was her he had charged into he let go of his sword hilt. However, his face darkened and brow
creased in anger.
Lady Ana, he said brusquely, I trust you are not hurt? His tone clearly stated that he
couldnt care less if she was harmed or not. She tried to make her own, silent, frustration about
crashing into one of her captors known by pointedly brushing down her dress where his body had
touched it and replying, Not in the least Sir John. She wished more than anything to add to her
retort, but knew that if she did then she would regret her words, whether it meant a more vigilant
form of house arrest or being told she could no longer visit her father. He lingered a moment,
allowing her to quickly take in his attire of harsh dark clothing and riding boots, before he sharply
bowed and moved on. She proffered a slight curtsey in return and allowed a small smile to grace her
features only after he had passed her by. His clothing meant only one thing he was leaving.
Whenever Sir John left the castle for any period of time, a number of changes occurred. The
mood lifted, as he was harsh and exacting in his roles given by the King, as well as those in his service
being more lax than normal including his guardsmen. The next day or two, three is she was lucky,
would be an ideal opportunity to claim a little more freedom than usual. It was perfectly timed, just
before the winter snows set in and it was deemed too dangerous for her to leave the castle at all.
Her pace quickened as she put distance between herself and Sir John. She heard behind her the
sound of his voice ordering the stable boy to saddle his horse, followed by an addition to the order
a small entourage would be going with the master to his destination.
Sir John never took an entourage anywhere; she had noted that throughout her long weeks
of captivity. It meant he was going further than his usual trips took him. She felt that perhaps he
hated to be mollycoddled or stifled by others, though she couldnt be sure as she had never had a
Lady Ana, where is your guard? She stopped dead and turned sharply. She thought quickly
about how she could explain her guards absence, which in actual fact was a result of her slipping
away from him. My guard saw that the winter was drawing in, she replied, barely blinking as the
lie slipped easily from her tongue, He thought that after today there would be little opportunity to
take the air. Therefore I have been allowed a little more freedom, if that pleases you, Sir? Sir John
frowned, trying to decipher the true meaning of her words. Did this mean she had found a way to
incapacitate her guard? It wouldnt be the first time. Finally, he sighed, unable to find the strength to
fight the wilful woman before him yet again.
As you may know, he murmured, drawing closer, I am due to leave this place today; and I
shall be gone for a little over a week. At his words Ana desperately tried to suppress her joy. It was
the longest period of time he would spend away from the castle since she was taken prisoner there.
Due to this absence, Lady Ana, I would suggest that if you were to take... he paused, seeming to
want to find exactly the right words, Liberties, he continued, looking intently at her as he spoke,
Then you should do so in the coming week. She frowned, both in shock and confusion. Sir John
was obsessed with sticking to the rules and very harsh when those rules were broken. This
allowance was something he had never ventured to offer before.
When I return, he continued, seeing she would not stand for anything but a full
explanation for his new found kindness, I shall be accompanied by a selection of dignitaries from
various areas of the country. Their presence at the castle must pass without incident. If I find that
any troubles occur due to your actions whilst I am gone, I shall not say a word of it. However, if you
dare to defy my on my return, whilst those accompanying me stay here, my wrath will be that which
you have never seen before. She nodded curtly, showing him that although she didnt like his tone,
Now bringing you back...
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