Now he was in a mess. Bran the stupid that’s what they’d call him – no! Bran the guilty and executed, if they remembered him at all… He hoped the women had forgotten about him.
Marching in formation back to the barracks it felt like everyone was staring at him, questioning him and accusing him of his crimes, no matter who he looked at they all found him guilty.
Stop being stupid, he told himself. There was no way they would know yet, or if they’d ever know – it’s not like the woman had known his name, he would have plenty of time to sort this out…or make a run for it. Before too long he would have The Watch chasing him through the streets to drag his incompetent hide back for questioning.
“Halt!” came the booming voice of Tilla. They had stopped just outside the barracks, why? They never stopped here usually.
They know! Bran thought to himself as he found himself being the only one questioning their sudden stop. With his eyes darting from left to right faster than his brain could process the world was blurring. With his heart thumping in his chest so heavily he was certain that everyone could hear it, hear his guilt bleeding out of him.
There was no chance of making a run for it if he was picked out as he found himself in the centre of the column. He could run now and get away, push his way past Mills and escape into the city, but what if this wasn’t for him, then he would be damning himself for sure? Time was running out, to run or not to run, take fate into his own hands or pray to Marqué that she was watching over him. No, he would run. Inconspicuously trying to exit to his left, Bran started to push past Mills but before he could make it clear of the column Tilla’s voice boomed down the street, freezing Bran on the spot, balanced on one foot.
“I want volunteers… Volunteers to assist me in finding the woman who escaped.” A silence filled the air as Bran’s brothers in arms realized what it was he was asking. The Brother of The Watch had specifically told them to return to the barracks, to leave them to deal with the escaped convict – and their word is and will always be final. Bran’s balance was the only thing stopping him from falling out of the column into full view.
“I know this is unusual and I appreciate that it may endanger your – integrity, but I have a good reason to find this woman before The Watch does. We have trained and fought together for many years and I have come to trust each and every one of you, which is the only reason as to why I would bring this to your attention. And whilst I realise you have no reason to aid me in my endeavors I ask personally for a few of you to help me but I understand if you cannot.”
Pausing and waiting for someone to step up, Bran took the chance to slip back into the column whilst Tilla’s attention was elsewhere. Taking a step back in he found a smooth polished rock where he expected the rough stone floor to be and he slipped. Placing his feet back under him to the best of his abilities he stayed upright – but upright a clear two feet to the left of Mills.
Looking up he saw Tilla looking at him with a slightly puzzled face as to the exit he had just made. Think fast Bran willed himself as the seconds of silence seemed to transform into hours. “I’ll, erm…volunteer,” were the words he managed to will out his mouth.
Tilla’s face turned to pride as he nodded in recognition to Bran. Definitely Bran the Stupid!