Exhaustion assailed Jetsam, and with a glance at his sweaty twin, he confirmed Flotsam was as tired, if not more so. Jetsam also understood there were plenty of soldiers to join the hunt. Running in circles’ll prove fruitless. His legs burned and his soles ached from the pounding. His worn leather boots offered no comfort. Jetsam saw his brother gasping and grimacing.
Upon spotting a shed tucked among a stand of oaks, Jetsam grabbed his brother once more. A glance behind revealed the guards momentarily out of view. Still grasping Flotsam’s arm, he pointed with his head and veered toward the shanty. Flotsam’s face showed doubt and concern, but he followed Jetsam. With his twin on his heels, Jetsam slipped through the shed door, closed it after his brother, and slid the latch into place.
If the guard finds us, we’re trapped like rats, Jetsam comprehended. Then to the mines we’ll go. But running in circles was no longer an option. Some birthday.
Jetsam panted in the darkness, and between his and Flotsam’s heavy breaths, he listened for the guards’ footsteps and clinking chain mail.
So far, so good.
When Jetsam’s keen eyes adjusted, he discerned they hid inside an old well house. He groped around the brick-encased shaft. The well appeared abandoned and without a windlass, as his hand waved in the void.
Jetsam sat on the bricks and listened to Flotsam bite his apple, carried through their hurried flight. The crunching fruit sounded louder than a rusty hinge.
“Quiet,” Jetsam hissed.
Mouth full of apple, Flotsam murmured in concurrence. Jetsam shook his head, his spirits sinking. As Flotsam devoured the fruit, Jetsam wondered how long they should wait until venturing out. His heart stopped when the shed’s door rattled.
For a few moments, the guards tugged, ultimately relenting to the door’s deceptive strength. Jetsam gazed into the darkness, and through the cracks in the door spotted a thin blade poking in, trying to unseat the latch. In a matter of seconds, they would be caught.
As the short sword probed inward, a hand grabbed Jetsam’s shoulder.
When the watchman pried the door, the well house was empty.
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