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A loud noise split the silence; the crash of wood splintering under impact.

“That’ll be the front gate,” Jethro observed. “Typical. I just got finished painting it last week.”

Hana laughed. “You’re really something. We have an army smashing the place down to get to us and you gripe about the paintwork?!”

Jethro shrugged. “What, I can’t be houseproud in a crisis? So they’re at the gate, what happens now?”

Pietr spread the castle’s floorplan out on the table, setting his sword down on one side to hold it flat and weighting it with Hana’s crossbow on the other.

“Once they come through the gate here, that brings them into the courtyard. If we had enough time to prepare, we’d be able to flank them from the chapel tower but-”

Hana sighed heavily, grabbed her crossbow and strode across the room to the door.

“Wait,” Pietr shouted, torn between chasing after her and trying to hold the map in place. “What are you doing?”

She turned without breaking her pace, walking backwards down the corridor as she shouted back to him.

“You said you need time to prepare,” she called. “I’m going to the battlements to stall them!”

Pietr started to follow her, to argue, but Jethro stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.

“She knows what she’s doing,” he said. “She won’t be wasting her bolts if you make use of the time. So, the chapel tower. What do we need to do?”

Pietr shook his head. “Not we. I. I… need to speak to the spirits.”

His eyes rolled back into his head and Jethro caught him as he fell. He put Pietr safely into a chair and looked around.

“Well,” he said. “May as well tidy up while I’m waiting.”

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: The Three Word Wednesday prompts this week were Crisis, Gripe and Stall.)

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