The Blood Rose Assassin – Part 6
Isolde’s morning sickness was something she wished she could hide as easily as her stomach. During breakfast one morning, just before she started eating, she shot up from her seat at the table and sprinted away to vomit. Not to mention she craved such odd food at bizarre hours, and she was thankful when Marianne always brought it to her in secret.
“You should always listen to your body, but now more than ever since you’re sharing it with your child,” Marianne told Isolde once while patting her back as Isolde retched.
“Of course. Besides, we’re going to run away tonight. Hopefully, it’ll be easier once I don’t have to hide that I’m with child. Hopefully.”
“Have you thought of any names yet?”
“I have!” Isolde lifted her head and wiped her mouth with a cloth. “He wants to name him Tristan if it’s a boy, which I think is a lovely name, and I would like to call her Sophia if she’s a girl.”
Marianne gave her a warm smile and patted her forehead with another cloth. “I think those are lovely names.”
“You think? Good. Yeah. They feel right, and true. Isn’t it weird how children seem to grow up looking like the name they have? Imagine if someone grew up, and they didn’t look like their name belonged to them.”
Marianne laughed and shook her head. “I never thought of that! Though you’re right. I think most do grow into their names, but I’ve known a few people in my past that don’t look like their names sound. It’s all about connotation, after all.”
“I think there’s also a weird charm to those who don’t look like their names,” Isolde said, laughing. She took a deep breath and felt relaxed, her stomach settled. “I’m okay.”
With a deep sigh, she sat against the wall of the bathroom and looked at Marianne, who regarded her worriedly. She knew Marianne was anxious about her leaving. Eighteen with her lover, alone in the world, and leaving her life behind. Honestly, Isolde didn’t feel like she’d miss anything other than Marianne… and other materialistic things, but she’d deal with it.
“You have your bag?”
“Yes! I packed everything up that I could possibly need to start off my journey. Don’t worry.” Isolde smiled sadly and reached for Marianne’s hands, which were always ice cold, but they were such a familiar touch that Isolde never minded. With a smile, Marianne held both of her hands. “I’m going to miss you so much, Mari.”
”I will, too, more than anything. But you will write to me?”
Isolde beamed. “Of course, I will.”
“Come on, get up, wash yourself up. We have to go through today as if nothing is happening out of the ordinary,” Marianne said, pulling Isolde to her feet. “Nighttime will come sooner than you think.”
With anticipations running high, Isolde went through her day as if nothing were different. Her mother told her about some Lord who was considering marrying Isolde. Her father merely stayed quiet, distant though clearly listening intently as he looked at his wife and daughter with wide eyes. Isolde simply said, “I’d rather not meet someone with the intention of marriage,” and her mother called her an insolent child who was going past her prime.
Isolde was only eighteen, and she looked at her mother, wondering if she should just confess. Besides, a part of her couldn’t believe her mother didn’t know. The pregnancies of women were so often detected by others. “You really think time is running out for me to bear children, mother?”
“Look at me,” Isolde said, “and be honest.” Her parents froze their handling of silverware.
Isolde’s mother lifted her head high and fixed her eyes on her daughter. She glanced down, and for a few long seconds, said nothing. After a while, all she said was a soft “finish your dinner” and continued working through her steak.
“Incredible how I expect nothing and I’m still disappointed,” Isolde said, which made her parents gasp. “Excuse me.” She stood, took her plate, and walked from the dining hall and back up toward her room.
She quickly finished her food and set the plate down on the vanity in her room. The crescent moon shined through a cloudless sky. The moonlight was just light enough for them to find their way, but overall, the night was dim for a perfect escape. Eagerly, she ran to her window and peeked below to see if Niklaus was there yet. “Niklaus?” she called. No answer.
Sprinting footsteps sounded down the hall. Isolde frowned and opened the door to see what had happened. A guard ran down the hall, and another. “My Lady! Stay inside!” one guard commanded, and she quickly slammed the door, not needing to be told twice.
What was going on? Marianne couldn’t come see her off if there was too much commotion. She turned from the door and looked out the window again. With the limited moonlight, she couldn’t see any silhouette of a boy running toward her window. Where was Niklaus? He was quite punctual about these things, and of all nights, tonight called for punctuality.
Guards screamed and swords clashed. Isolde’s eyes furrowed, and she looked toward her closed bedroom door. Someone was in their manor, intruding and attacking.
And no sign of Niklaus or Marianne.
The fear of not knowing seemed to elongate time. She paced her room anxiously, listening to the ruckus of fighting from down below and along the hall outside her door. She kept looking out the window and saw guards fighting intruders. There was no way Niklaus could sneak over with so much going on. He was probably hiding somewhere, waiting for the fight to subside.
Isolde held her tummy protectively, as if the anxiety could kill her unborn child. It probably could. She hated being stuck, not knowing what was happening or why. Perhaps she could even help. She did know how to use a sword, after all. She had a sword.
The sounds of screams and blades piercing flesh reached her door. Isolde rushed to grab her sword in its box under her bed. She held it, and in the midst of a real battle, found her hands shaking. She tried to take deep breaths, but her heart raced, and her breathing quickened.
Suddenly, the door was kicked open with ease.
Marianne and Niklaus were hand-in-hand. The guards and intruders at her door were dead in pools of blood. Isolde let out a soft cry of relief.
”I was so worried about you two,” Isolde said, ushering them inside as she lowered her sword. Marianne managed to close the door again and Niklaus ran to her. He wrapped her in his arms and picked her up with enthusiasm. Isolde did not hesitate to hug him back.
”Sorry for worrying you. Marianne found me out there.” He set Isolde down on her feet and looked at her. “I came right when the siege was happening.”
”Who’s attacking the manor?” Isolde asked.
”Lord Umber and his bannermen,” Marianne answered darkly as she peered out the window.
Isolde stared at her and looked up at Niklaus. “It can’t be a coincidence this happened tonight. How did he know we were planning on leaving?”
“I don’t know, I haven’t told anyone! Not even my parents. It doesn’t make any sense. I think it simply is a coincidence. We knew the day would come when you would rue humiliating him at your birthday party with that slap to the face. Remember?”
Isolde groaned and pulled from Niklaus to fetch her bag. “My parents?” she asked. “Are they okay?”
”I haven’t seen them,” Niklaus said. “Lots of dead guards and intruders, though.”
”I hope they’re safe.” Isolde realized just how true it was. While she planned to leave, planned to disappear from their lives, she would never wish them harm or death. A part of her would love them, no matter what.
“Do you think it was when we went out?” Niklaus asked. “Do you think someone knew? Someone heard us?”
”We were cloaked! We were being careful.”
Marianne sighed. “That doesn’t mean a lot, I’m afraid. It’s more than possible that someone overheard your plans, your pregnancy, all of it, even if you were being quiet and speaking amongst the animals. There are monsters listening everywhere.”
”We can’t just stay here,” Isolde said. “Can’t we do something?”
”Well, Marianne? You did get me all the way up here,” Niklaus started. “What if you escorted us out?”
Isolde looked at her. “Which is impressive. How did you?”
”It’s like she’s got survivor’s instinct or something. I never had to lift my sword!” Niklaus exclaimed.
Marianne smiled softly at them, but her eyes held worry. “I’ll try to help you two out. Though you may need your swords this time.”
”You’re a badass, Marianne,” Isolde said. Niklaus grabbed her cloak and helped her in it. She draped the hood over his head and he slung her bag over his shoulder. She gripped her sword tightly, obscuring it under her cloak the same way Niklaus did.
Marianne whisked to the door and pressed her ear to it. The sounds of fighting continued. It seemed like both House Rydell and Umber spared no expense on their bannermen for such an occasion. “Ready?”
Niklaus and Isolde looked at each other. “Ready,” they answered in unison.
Marianne stepped back and opened the door. Niklaus stepped forward, then Isolde, to fight their way out of the manor alive.
To be continued.