Jacob pressed himself into the space deep hewn into the granite cliffs beneath the castle walls, he was panting and heavy with tiredness. The stone corridor was clammy, loose sharp stones unbalanced his step. Dank moss hung onto life in every crevice breathing in the damp winds that blew in from the moor. He ducked as the roosting evening bats skittered past and he scrapped his head on the unforgiving rock. He felt warm blood course over matted hair, it was sweet on his chapped lips. Wiping them on rough sleeves he glanced up at the wax candle that was giving up its last light, sputtering and smoking. He pushed further into the depths of the mound. There was no time to waste and pulling the corpse that was wrapped in hessian made his way to the metal gate.
With a fierce kick it stubbornly opened, the rusty iron on iron would have announced his arrival upstairs. The body now showing red blotches through the wrapping was heavy and awkward to maneuver around the circular staircase and with every step Jacob was slowing. He knew all thirty three of the worn blocks in the well that would bring him to the main hall. His sweat slippery hands allowed the rope to run free on the last turn and reaching back held onto a corner of the sack. Pulling himself to the fire-lit room he collapsed, his face on the cold stone floor, heaving and retching with fatigue.
‘Sir, I have him here for you.’ he gasped out the words. A polished boot at the end of a fat leg in a khaki trouser pushed his head to one side and a knife dropped. Jacob sat up and started to stab and pull at the string neck of the sack. Tearing the folds back he turned away, afraid to look at the bruised head and body of the traitor.
‘Bring him to the fire,’ barked the officer who had let his cigarette fall, Jacob wanted to pick it up and draw deeply to let the strong nicotine swirl into his desperate mind. Dragging the body that was half out the sack, he noticed with a stab of terror that one eye had opened and through a broken mouth a bubble of red foam was forming. He was alive.
With a cry of the native in him, Jacob launched himself at the officer who by now was looking into the flames in the large fire pit, kicking at a log that had fallen from the grate. The surprise lurch caught him, his knees crumbled and falling back his head hit the stone floor. He did not bounce but remained still, eyes staring at the vaulted ceiling.
Jacob tore into the remains of the sack and pulled the captive to the wall propping him up. Moving to the table he swept the remains of a supper onto the floor and grabbing a large water flask gently massaged the damaged face, finally slapping him awake.
The fat officer groaned, then stiffened and with a gasp stilled himself in death. Jacob moved fast, dragging the injured man, placing his arms over his shoulders started for the stairs, they would make it out, through that small space and to freedom.