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Chapter 22 – Side Story – Blue’s Escapades II

A lone child, no matter how stealthily she is, cannot travel far alone. She lacks stamina. Her legs are short and slow. Her dress, though of low stock in the houses of nobles, was of high quality compared to the slums. And once she reached the countryside, she would lose any cover at all as she traveled on the road.

She would be lucky if she could find a farmer with a horse and cart.

But if anything, Blue was observant. She was street smart.

She could see the kidnappers observing her. She knew when and where they would strike. She had heard about their MO from her discussions with the spy who taught her stealth. She knew that with no supplies, no food, no water, no tent and no practical weapon, she would not make it very far outside the city and into the countryside. Even the money that had been pressed on her was not of as much use as you would think, as she would be very conspicuous trying to buy something from a store.

She was able to buy food from a stall, acting as a child out running errands for her mother. But she was not able to acquire much more than two meals worth.

What would the Kidnappers do? Well, since she was clean, fed, and dressed in nice clothing, they would probably assume that she was the child of a merchant.

The first step, after securing the target of course, would be to either get her out of the city, or to a safe house with other kidnapped children, as fast as possible. She hoped that it was the former.

Blue ate the food that she carried, two meals worth, and drank the water that she had received, adding in a pinch of salt and sugar as the Assistant Knight Captain had instructed her during her training. Fed and hydrated. She prepared herself mentally, and allowed herself to fall into the kidnappers hands.

To her surprise, the answer to her previous thoughts was a combination of both options. She was hastily thrown, tied up, into the back of a covered wagon. The assailants drove out of the city as quick as they could, passing a guard that looked the other way and tucking a tinkling bag into his pocket.

She looked around. There were five other children with her, in various stages of dress. As they had been captured early in the day, and she had waited until dusk, she was in by far the best shape of the children. She was loosely bound with her wrists behind her back. The others, however, were bound at both hand and foot, and with gags tied over their mouths.

Their dress was a mix. Three girls, and two boys. The girls were of poor dress, but with cute, though haggard, faces. The boys, on the other hand, were dressed alike and of the same age, in well tailored clothing and features that clearly indicated that they were related. Brothers or cousins, Blue guessed.

Those that were conscious stared at them with haggard eyes. They had probably been snatched earlier in the day. The girls throughout the day, the two boys probably an hour or two earlier. Like she planned, she was just the catch of opportunity. She had made herself look helpless and lost, an attractive target, one that they would let their guard down upon and not take any real measures to secure and bound.

Blue assessed the the other children’s situation a bit more. The results were clear, she thought. The girls would be sold into prostitution. The boys would be held ransom, and then sold into slavery if the ransom was not paid. No clue what would happen even if the ransom was paid, however.

Some kidnapping groups held to ransom terms religiously, holding the belief that if they reneged on a deal or hurt a hostage, it would only lead at best to no one ever meeting their demands, and at worst to them being hunted down religiously by angry and wealthy patrons.

But other groups just did it as a crime of opportunity, where they could just sell the kids into slavery regardless.

The fate of the boys would probably rest on if the family was able to calm themselves down enough to think rationally and hire a hostage negotiator. Negotiators were usually on the payroll of the abductors anyways, but this also made them more valuable to hire as they would almost assuredly bring the return of the hostage, and the kidnappers would get a bigger ransom once the negotiators fee was included in the haul.

If the negotiator was not affiliated with the kidnappers, though they were usually affiliated with almost all of them int he area, they would call upon the power of the other kidnapping rackets to beat down the malcontents and retrieve the hostage with only the investigator’s fee. After all, the name of the game was to play by the rules, or get no spoils. You can steal with impunity from the poor without consequence. You cannot steal from the rich-instead, you just turn it into a financial transaction and off you go. Anger, Power and Money is a bad combination to deal with, so just replace the Anger with Relief, and the Power with Negotiations, and you are only left with profit.

While these thoughts went through Blue’s head, she had begun getting herself adjusted and free of her bonds. Tighten the fingers, twist the wrist, did she need to dislocate her elbow too?

No, it was sloppy knot-work.

The other children stared at her with open eyes as she calmly shed her restraints and stood up with no fear in her face.

Was she there to rescue them?

Blue sat down on the bench. and stared back at them curiously.

She was rather annoyed.

The eyes of the girls were a mix of pleading and ‘you will meet the same fate as us’ kind of feeling. The boys were looking at her with expectant, almost demanding gaze. Like she was their servant and of course she would rescue them. Even though they were in the least danger.

But what to do.

She needed to get as far as she could away from the city. Therefore, the longer she rode the wagon, the better off she’d be.

It’s the opposite for these kids.

They would slow her down.

They would likely doom her escape.

Perhaps as a diversion?

No, just the warning would be enough, and they would for sure turn traitor and point out the direction she went.

If she took some with them?

The boys looks pissed her off.

The girls looks kind of irritated her too.

The girls were in the most danger.

They would also be the most dead weight.

Far away from the town, they would be weak, slow and expectant on her.

Since they were poor, maybe they had scavenging skills? Who knows. The boys would be more capable. They were at least twice as big as the girls were. Though they were obviously the sons of merchants, perhaps they had experienced travelling with their father on a trade expedition? Maybe they could camp out? Probably not though. And they would be freed as a matter of course if they just waited. Though if the girls all left, there was also the chance that the kidnappers would just take out their anger on them and sell them into slavery without ransom just to spite them.

Blue sighed to herself. She was too soft, wasn’t she. She held a finger to her lips, and took off the gag of the girls first. The boys looked indignant and starred bitterly.

‘Puhah’ the girls exhaled as their mouths were clear of the cloth bindings. Blue grimaced. So loud.

‘Now, you three. Please listen up, and be silent. No noise must leave your lips, or you will be doomed to the Red Light, you know?’

‘What? No!’

‘Mamma!’

‘shush!’

At least one of the girls had her wits about her. Though that shush was still a bit too loud. Blue held up a hand and listened. The children followed her eyes to the front of the wagon. No change from the drivers seat.

Blue stared at the two boys with her eyes narrowed.

‘Just so that you are aware, this ain’t no rescue mission.’

The first boy’s eyes showed anger. The other’s rolled around his head in panic.

‘Don’t look at me like that. I’m just hitching a ride on this thing anyways.’

Now the girls were looking at her in shock.

‘Wha-ow’ One of the girls started to make a sound, and the third girl headbutted her, then hit her with a glare.

Again, too loud, dammit.

Blue sighed, and then returned her gaze back to the two boys.

‘Look, you two. I’ll bring you along, but I have conditions. Don’t look at me like that. Should I only take big eyes here?’ Blue motioned to the boy who’s eyes were spinning earlier. The first boy’s eyes started to show some fear. Good. Good. ‘Conditions. First, shut up. No talking. Period. Second, follow my instructions to the letter. Three, you, carry her. You, carry her. You, are you fine walking?’ After addressing the two boys, Blue asked the girl who seemed to have her wits about her.

‘Yes, I can keep up.’ she whispered back. A tomboy huh…

Blue looked back at the boys.

‘Decision? If yes, we’ll begin the plan. If no, I’ll just take the girls here, and be off. You two are in the safest position, since you’ll just be held for ransom.’ Their eyes looked relieved and a little defiant. ‘Though with these three gone, they may just sell you into slavery out of spite, though.’ Aww, their eyes fell again. Where was all that fight from just now?

The two boys looked at each other, and give a reluctant nod.

 

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