The 2,000 gold pieces had been tempting, but before Ercila could cash in on them, Bryantt Sands had already located and captured the errant priest. She sat by the edge of the river and wondered what to do next. She needed the coins for a horse. Then it hit her. She could help the priest escape. Surely he could pay her something for her troubles. Or least the English spy could. She smiled to herself, picked up her basket of herbs and roots and wandered over to the castle, stopping casually along the way to buy and sell and chat with the villagers.
As she approached the castle, she noticed the guard standing leisurely outside, talking to the new baker. She noticed another guard inside, fetching water for a woman who stood by the well, smiling. She glanced around and noticed the Warden in the stall, his hand on his steed as he spoke in earnest tones to the Countess. She stopped a moment to curtsy and acknowledge them, not wanting to draw attention. They ignored her. She moved around a few people chatting nearby, each telling their version of the capture of the mad priest.
Ercila left her basket on the floor near the door and quietly crept up the stairs to the second level where she opened the door a crack and discovered the billets. This was not good, she thought. She climbed another flight and then opened the door just a hair and peaked in. The guard, Gregor, was hunched over, quietly talking to the prisoner – chewing him out. Ercila let the door silently slip back into place as she crossed the hall. That door led to more stairs, but as she worked her way up and down and around, she kept running into either the Warden’s office, the guards or the walled in courtyard.
She went back to the prison and tried again. As she stood in the hall she heard the sound of men talking and the tread of footsteps on the stairs. Her heart racing, she ran up the next flight and out the door, finding herself on the turrets. In front of her lay the sleepy village; behind her the inner courtyard. She walked about, checking the height of the walls, measuring in her mind’s eye. What would it take? she thought. How much rope? Where would it not be seen?
She glanced across the outer courtyard at the baker’s shop and smiled. She remembered the night she had found the trap door and had sneaked into the bakery. Grinning, she could almost feel the gold in her hands as she waited for people to leave the stairwell. Then she slipped back down the stairs and outside. But when she got to the bakery, the trap door was latched. She yelled at it and kicked at it and then realized it had been nailed shut. She had to tell someone. Drago, maybe. He could pry it open. She went looking for the despicable little man.
By noon, all was in place, with instructions to Drago on where to wait with the priest’s horse. Now, there was just the matter of the gold.