The Chosen, Chapter 2H

***

Soon after the New Frisarian had left the prison, Wolf pulled on the iron bars across the windows of her prison cell. There were three bars, each an inch in diameter, and she could tell they ran deep into the masonry both above and below the window. And even if the bars weren’t there, she would be able to crawl through the narrow opening only with great difficulty. The guards posted outside would certainly see her, if they didn’t hear her removing the bars. But she knew that chance was preferable to her imminent trial and execution, or another jail in New Frisaria.

She reached into her mouth, fingers poking into her upper lip, and a moment later she retrieved a needle she had concealed while being captured the day before. Small and thin, it was nonethless sharp and durable, a gift from a master thief who had been her reluctant mentor. In the hands of a skilled brigand like Wolf, the needle could slice a throat, pick a lock, or perform the task she required of it now — digging into the masonry around the window.

Wolf scratched fervently, stopping whenever she heard approaching noises either outside or inside. As darkness fell, she had burrowed into the masonry below the window, reaching the base of the bar on the right. There was much more digging to be done, but she knew she’d be able to squeeze out the window by daybreak. She began digging across to the middle bar.

“Why don’t you just pick the lock?”

Wolf froze at hearing the voice, and assumed one of the guards had caught her by surprise. She flipped the needle back into her lip as she turned, expecting to see the guard scowling outside her cell. But what she saw surprised her even more than the sudden voice.

The speaker was inside her cell, not outside. His height was that of a young teen, but his face was mature. His arms and feet were crossed, and his back was resting against the cell’s iron gate. He wore a thin coat of boiled leather, and a cap that covered the entire top of his head. He pointed a finger toward her — “You do know how to pick locks, right?”

Wolf nodded. “How’d you get in here?”

He seemed perturbed at her question. “I’m afraid that’s not a particularly interesting story, and it’s one we don’t have time for now. Let’s just say that getting myself out would be just as easy as getting in — but getting you out, that’s going to take some work.” He pushed himself from the bars, then opened the gate as if it had never been locked. He took one step into the corridor, then paused, and looked back into the cell.

Wolf had not moved, mesmerized by the appearance of this stranger. It was only when he called to her — “You do want to escape, yes?” — that she finally began to follow.

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