Lainie woke up on a cold stone floor in a dark room. Moonlight streamed in through a single small window high up on the wall; more dim light shone from somewhere behind her. Memories came to her mind, the battle with Lord Astentias, and then a violent blast that had sent her flying –
She sat up, groaning at the aches and pains that flared into life all over her body, and looked around the room. The window wasn’t barred, but it was too high and too narrow for anyone to be able to climb through. Three of the walls of the small cell were solid, made of hard-baked mud brick; the fourth had a door of iron bars set into it. On the other side of the door, a barrel-chested man with the copper badge of a deputy pinned to his vest sat at a desk, feet propped up on the desktop, snoring softly. A half-empty whiskey bottle stood on the floor by his chair. Lainie and Silas’s gunbelts were piled on the desk. Lainie pushed her face against the bars to get a better look to either side of her cell; she was on the left end of a row of four cells. “Silas?” she whispered loudly.
His hand appeared from between the bars of the cell at the other end. “Over here, darlin’,” he answered, likewise keeping his voice low. “You okay over there?”
“I’m fine. I’m kind of sore.” In truth, she felt like she had fallen off her horse. Everything felt bumped and bruised and scraped, but at least nothing seemed to be broken. “How are we going to get out of here?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll have us out of here right quick. Let’s be ready to restrain the good deputy there if he wakes up.”
“I don’t think he’ll wake up; it looks like he’s got a good dose of whiskey in him.” At that moment, the man at the desk let out a loud, gasping snore. Lainie froze; the deputy mumbled to himself, then fell quiet again.
Lainie let out a long breath; still, she kept a wary eye on the deputy, a thread of power at the ready to bind him if he woke up. A soft chunking sound came from the other end of the room, then the barred door of Silas’s cell swung open. Noiselessly, he walked over to Lainie’s cell and set the forefinger of his left hand against the lock. The ring on his finger pulsed with faint light, blue streaked with amber. With a murmured word and a slight gesture of his finger, the tumblers in the lock turned and the lock came open.
“That was too easy,” Lainie whispered as she stepped out of the cell.
Silas nodded. “There was a charm on the locks that probably alerted someone when I opened them. We better hurry.”
They went quietly to the desk and buckled on their gunbelts, then left the jailhouse, managing to not wake the deputy. Outside, they stood in the shadows of the covered walkway, pressed back against the wall of the building, looking to see if the way was clear. “How come you never showed me how to do that unlocking spell?” Lainie asked quietly.
“I wouldn’t want to corrupt your morals, Miss Lainie,” Silas said with a wink.
“It’s far too late to be worrying about that, Mr. Vendine.” Lainie looked around at the dark, deserted street. The night was cold and quiet; the moonlight shone on the snow frosting the roofs of the unburned buildings and piled along the edges of the street. “I wonder where that boy got to.”
“I didn’t see him in the jail,” Silas said.
Lainie’s heart froze. “I hope they didn’t hang him after they locked us up.”
“Mister?” a voice said from nearby. “Ma’am?”
Lainie just about jumped out of her skin. She and Silas spun towards the voice, hands instinctively going to their guns. A skinny figure stood at the opening of the narrow gap between the sheriff’s office and the neighboring building – Jimmo, the boy who’d nearly been hanged. Lainie willed her heart to stop pounding like a herd on the stampede. “Thank the gods, they didn’t hang you,” she whispered.