It’s so good to see everyone for this adventure! We’re being bold in this next part and addressing the Prince directly. Hopefully he doesn’t get mad!
Prince’s Game Option A: Address Him Directly
The hazel eyed proxy waits, holding you with an unsettlingly steady stare.
“I’m sorry, Sir,” you apologize with a bow of your head. When you look up, you shift your gaze to the younger man, “I don’t know this game but I certainly can learn it.”
The man standing beside you gives a strangled grunt.
“Noon today,” the Proxy tells you. “Be at the fountain in Central Square.”
Then they pass and your heart beats so hard you think it might break a rib.
“How’d you know?” the man beside you whispers.
“Roses,” you mutter.
The Central Square bustles, giving off smells of roasting meat, fresh peaches and human sweat.
You sit cross-legged on the fountain, eating your lunch of meat, cheese and grapes while you watch people hurrying about their day. You’re early but the knot in your stomach makes you wish you didn’t have to wait so long for the Prince’s men to show up. Your lunch doesn’t want to settle.
The press of people adds to the warmth in the square and, since it rained the night before, there’s a heaviness that beads sweat on your skin.
You finish your grapes and tuck the bag you brought them in into your pocket. It bulges out the hip of your dress pants but you refused to change before coming, so now you have to deal with the slight oddity.
The clatter of hooves on the cobblestones draws your eye and you see the Prince’s proxy enter the square on his horse.
“All but those picked, leave the square,” he bellows.
It’s a scurry of frantic motion. Carts get packed up and closed, smaller vendors toss their bobbles into baskets and packs and hustle away.
Before five minutes is out, the Square stands quiet with just you and four others who must have stood in line that morning with you.
You all gather around as the proxy dismounts.
“Welcome,” he says. “Look around, because this is your team. You either make it with your team or you lose.”
You glance around, finding an older woman so hunched she has to strain to look up at the proxy, a boy maybe ten years old with bright red hair and freckles, a man sporting a rapier and high leather boots so caked in mud you can’t tell if they’re died black or just stained that way, and a girl with glasses and a small bag over her shoulder with the spine of a book sticking out of the top.
Once he’s sure you’ve taken each other’s measure, the proxy unfolds a map and places it on the ground.
“The goal,” he tells you all, “is to make it, with everyone of your team, to the castle courtyard by tonight. The challenge is you must arrive with three objects before the other team,” he gives a dark look as you all mutter in dismay. “Your first object is Mother Sanchez’ cane. There will be a note at the cathedral telling you the second object. I suggest you get moving.”
No one move for a long, silent moment.
“All right,” you break the silence and kneel by the map. “We’re here at the Square. The cane’s in the Cathedral on the west side of the city—“
“That’s on the other side of Rat territory,” the red haired boy mutters and backs away a step.
“What?” the girl in glasses asks.
“Rat territory,” Rapier says, “it’s gang territory. We walk in a group through there, we’ll get our throats slit.”
“There’s another way,” Grandmother croaks. “Under the streets.”
“Can you make it?” you ask her. “Under the streets requires several ladders.”
She grins a crooked and broken smile. “I can get anywhere I need with enough time.”
“Time,” you agree, “it might be faster if we bribed our way through. The Rats are greedy.”
“How much would that cost?” Rapier asks.
“For five of us,” you run the numbers, “maybe two silvers.”
“What should we do?” Glasses asks.
They all end up looking at you.
So is it…
Aa. Under Town?
Vote in the comments and we’ll continue the adventure on Tuesday.
Until then, blessings,