WOLFF DRANK enough to loosen the wires that seemed to be wound around him. He even began to talk with the Lady Alison, wife of the baron of the Wenzelbricht March. A dark-haired and blue-eyed woman of statuesque beauty, she wore a clinging white samite gown. It was so low cut that she should have been satisfied with its exhilarating effect on the men, but she kept dropping her fan and picking it up herself. At any time other than this, Wolff would have been happy to break his woman-fast with her. It was obvious he would have no trouble doing so, for she was flattered that the great von Wolfram was interested in her. She had heard of his victory over funem Laksfalk. But he could think only of Chryseis, who must be somewhere in the castle. Nobody had mentioned her, and he dared not. Yet he was aching to do so and several times found that he had to bite the question off the tip of his tongue.
Presently, and just at the right time for him-since he could not any longer refuse the Lady Alison’s bold hints without offending her-Kickaha was at his side. Kickaha had brought Alison’s husband along to give Wolff a reasonable excuse for leaving. Later, Kickaha revealed that he had dragged von Wenzelbricht away from another woman on the pretext that his wife demanded he come to her. Both Kickaha and
Wolff walked away, leaving the beer-stupored baron to explain just what he wanted of her. Since neither he nor his wife knew, they must have had an interesting, if mystifying conversation.
Wolff gestured at funem Laksfalk to join them. Together, the three pretended to stagger off to the toilet. Once out of sight of those in the dining-hall, they hurried down a hall away from their supposed destination. Unhindered, they climbed four flights of steps. They were armed only with daggers, for it would have been an insult to wear armor or swords to dinner. Wolff, however, had managed to untie a long cord from the draperies in his apartment. He wore this coiled around his waist under his shirt.
The Yidshe knight said, “I overheard Abiru talk with his lieutenant, Rhamnish. They spoke in the trade language of H’vaizhum, little knowing that I have traveled on the Guzirit River in the jungle area. Abiru asked Rhamnish if he had found out yet where von Elgers had taken Chryseis. Rhamnish said that he had spent some gold and time in talking to servants and guards. All he could find out was that she is on the east side of the castle. The gworl, by the way, are in the dungeon.”
“Why should von Elgers keep Chryseis from Abiru?” Wolff said. “Isn’t she Abiru’s property?”
“Maybe the baron has some designs on her,” Kickaha said. “If she’s as extraordinary and beautiful as you say . . .”
“We’ve got to find her!”
“Don’t get your neck hot. We will. Oh, oh, there’s a guard at the end of the hall. Keep walking toward him-stagger a little more.”
The guard raised his spear as they reeled in front of him. In a polite but firm voice, he told them they must go back. The baron had forbidden anybody, under pain of death, to proceed further.
“All right,” Wolff said, slurring the words. He started to turn, then suddenly leaped and grabbed the spear. Before the startled sentry could loose the yell from his open mouth, he was slammed against the door and the shaft of the spear was brought up hard against his throat. Wolff continued to press it. The sentry’s eyes goggled, his face became red, then blue. A minute later, he slumped forward, dead.
The Yidshe dragged the body down the hall and into a side-room. When he returned, he reported that he had hidden the corpse behind a large chest.
“Too bad,” Kickaha said cheerfully. “He may have been a nice kid. But if we have to fight our way out, we’ll have one less in our way.”
However, the dead man had had no key to unlock the door.
“Von Elgers is probably the only man who has one, and we’d play hell getting it off him,” Kickaha said. “Okay. We’ll go around.”