Chapter Twenty (Part One)
I was taking in what details I could of the English coast as we dropped anchor at Port Brimscombe where we would then make arrangements for a train on to
, and prepared to disembark. London
I was rendered breathless by the Port, appreciating the sweeping landscape before me. As dusk set, lamplighters were busy at their trade; creating a winking path of golden streetlamps blazing forth to illuminate the lines and depth of the brisk seawall. Streets ahead led under arches and down busy lanes.
Two other similarly impressive ships as ours had moored ahead of us and the bustle surrounding the docks resembled a swarm of insects over the boats. Ours was apparently the last big ship scheduled in for the evening.
I drank in the sea at twilight, pausing for a moment as the sounds of the harbor washed over me, the chaos and hurry, the business and the comings and goings, meetings and partings. There was great beauty before me; I found myself enthralled by the sound of so many different classes and ranges of accents.
I couldn't worry about how Jonathon would find me, for there were men and women, families, friends, all finding one another, somehow, through the chaos. Bonds will out. Longing and fondness will bring the missing reunited. Surely, it would be a matter of moments… We'd come this far by faith. What was one more seeking out…
Ports were full of endless possibility, and I sensed the raw emotion of meetings and partings, of dreams setting sail and hopes deferred, of quests and longings, of departing citizens already dearly missed. The charge and power of a harbor was one of the most invigorating hubs of any society, and I thrilled and thrived in it here, as I did in
. A sea of passengers buffeted
around me as I descended the broad gangplank and onto first the wooden dock,
then ahead, the cobblestones of the bank street. New York
When I looked around for Lavinia, realizing I'd been separated from her in the thick of the disembarking masses, she was nowhere to be seen. This was the first swift kick of terror to my gut.
The second came when I was seized and thrown over a shoulder.
And that was a far more terrible terror indeed.
My cry of surprise was lost in the din as I was taken into an alley. I tried to kick, but my legs were held fast, and though I pounded my fists against a broad back, soon another set of hands put a gag around my mouth, seized my wrists, and bound them with a thick piece of fabric, and I was thrown inside a carriage where Lavinia sat wide-eyed, bound and similarly gagged.
We stared at each other, the panic upon our faces was evident, and I prayed so hard that somehow my message to Jonathon in our previous shared dream would mean that since he was expecting me, he'd notice if I'd gone missing. Somehow, he'd come find me. Somehow he'd know how to save me, just as I had done for him. It was what we were meant to do. A princess who saved a prince who saved his princess…
I wondered if Lavinia was thinking the same thing, wondering if somehow Jonathon and Nathaniel were working together, thinking together, plotting, and problem solving together, would rescue us together…
I looked around at our unexpected prison. It was the finest carriage I had ever been inside. It was spacious, an imposing black lacquer space with silver fittings and detailing, with dark green velvet curtains and the same green velvet covering the benches that faced each other.
Lavinia had been deposited across from me, her lovely black gown fitting for this imperious space were she free to enjoy it. But her bright eyes darted about as mine did. I shifted, hefting myself forward, and as the carriage lurched, I came down on my knees on the dark wooden floorboards.
With a groan of pain, I shifted my torso so that my bound hands behind me could fiddle with the carriage handles, seeing if I could open a door. Lavinia watched me with hopeful eyes. The carriage was locked, that was quite clear from my wresting, shifting efforts with the door and the latch that should have opened it. It must have been secured upon the exterior by another lock or pin.
Lavinia nodded, seeing my efforts, and she then tried to stand. Her red tresses jostled against the dark, carved wooden ceiling as she tried to draw back one of the curtains to see out the glass windows we could only glimpse the edges of. But it would seem the corners of the curtains had been secured in a way we couldn't gain purchase upon, tacked down by ornate silver pins. She tried to wrest the heavy fabric one way, then the other, which only succeeded in her throwing herself inadvertently from one side of the carriage to the other, colliding against the green velvet benches. Her face contorted in a wince of pain.
We sat back down together on the same side, each of us hearing a rip as a hem of our skirts tore. We had no hands to ensure the safe shift of the layers of fabric from one position to another. There was a long moment of us just breathing heavily, swaying and bouncing as the carriage trundled on.
This was the carriage of someone of means. That surely didn't bode well for us. People with means had many resources at their disposal to do with women what they pleased. I could feel the familiar panic of being in a life or death situation—A feeling I did not like but seemed so ridiculously accustomed to by this point—rise within me, the heat of my body, the thump of my heart, the drying of my mouth, the plummet of my gut, the prickling of my hairs, the desire to scream…but none of that physical reeling would keep me or Lavinia alive. Somehow, my mind remained sound.
I tried to get a sense of where we were, any telling clues of sound or scent, but the jostle of the carriage and the occasional neigh of the horse team that was hefting us along at a great clip was din enough; no details surpassed the clatter. At some point we did cross from cobblestones to earth, so we were heading out of the city proper.
At least an hour passed. Maybe two. Time was hard to tell in captivity and helplessness. The fact of how little we'd slept the night prior was catching up to the both of us, and at one point we realized we'd folded over each other in an exhausted collapse, lulled by the constant rhythm and steady pace of the carriage flying over well-packed paths.
When one of us started awake, the other did, all we could do was look into each other's eyes and feel empathy. This went on for some time until the carriage came to an abrupt halt with the sound of a male shout, the piercing whinny of the team of horses, a clatter of the harnesses, and a lurch of the cab.
There was the sound of footsteps climbing down from above, the carriage rocking slightly in the effort, a thud of feet on both sides. And the sound of two deadbolts being thrown back, simultaneous. A hand upon each carriage door. The lever turned…
Lavinia and I stared at each other in abject terror. At least one aspect of our fate was about to become clear. Our heads whipped back to each respective door. I wanted to face my abductor and stare him down with whatever strength I could muster.
The doors on either side of the carriage were flung open, and in leaned our captors: two handsome, black-haired gentlemen, looking rather pleased with themselves…
(End of Chapter 20.1 - Copyright 2013 Leanna Renee Hieber, The Magic Most Foul saga - If you like what you see, please share this link with friends! Tweet it, FB, + it! The Magic Most Foul team really hopes the audience will continue to grow and it can only do so with YOUR help! If you haven't already, do pick up a copy of Magic Most Foul books 1 and 2: Darker Still and the sequel: The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart and/or donate to the cause! Donations directly support the editorial staff.
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