Episode 28 - The Girl With The Sword
by Camille LaGuire
Alex stood still a moment, the sword at his throat.
It was a sabre, and the girl was holding it not with the point toward him, but with the edge angled, ready to slash. Alex's first thought was that she seemed more afraid of him than she had been of Pookiterin.
His second thought was why?
"Why did you try to poison that officer?" she repeated, perhaps answering the question.
"I was just trying to help you."
"Are you an assassin?" she said, narrowing her eyes further. "Were you trying to stop him from finding out something?
"No!" said Alex. "It was just a drug. It's anti-poison, actually. It's in my pocket. Can I show you?"
"No. Put your hands on your head and turn around."
When he obeyed, she patted his pockets and found the bottle. She stepped back to read it, and he turned around to watch. She frowned at the bottle and mouthed the words with difficulty. She was a peasant girl and probably couldn't read very well, but at least the writing was in Awarshi. After a second, she looked up.
"It's ipecac," she said, and she almost smiled. She knew what ipecac was.
"That's right. It would just make him throw up. And then I could get the drop on him, and you could get away."
She lowered the sword, although kept it at the ready. She squinted at him as she thought for a moment.
"Why would you help me?" she said.
"I think you were arrested with a friend of mine. Professor Thornton. He is--"
"Wet and old and drunk?"
"Yes, he fell in the river. Or, actually, he jumped, but he wasn't trying to kill himself. He was just so drunk he thought it was a cool idea."
"He is foolish," she said with a knowing nod. "He talks too much."
"He's a professor," he replied. "Words are his business." He paused and then added. "I'm Alex."
"My name is Lina," she said and she rested the tip of the sword casually on the ground. He remembered, though, how wildly she could wield it.
"So you've see him, then?" said Alex. "Is he okay? Did they hurt him?"
"He'll have some bruises," she said. "Who is he?"
"He's just a professor of literature."
"Why are the captain and the colonel fighting over him?"
"No reason at all. He's just an old man."
She sank down to sit on a pile of sacks, and blew air out between her lips. She avoided looking at him, and didn't question his answer, like maybe she had an answer of her own. He remembered the questions she asked Pookiterin.
"You think my friend was mistaken for somebody else, don't you?" he said.
She nodded slowly. "I think he fits the description of a real spy who was killed in the train wreck."
"And you know something about this real spy?"
"I saw him die," she said. "I was with him. It was no accident."
Alex pulled one of the bales of blankets down and put it on the floor and sat himself.
"Maybe you'd better tell me about it."
Stay Tuned for Episode Twenty-Nine: "Thorny Revealed"
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