Lord Stumble-Bum did something he had not done for a very long time, not since he was a child. He ran. In two long strides he jumped from the carriage at the gates to his manor and ran up the path towards his home. The grounds were a mess. Burned tent still lay where it had fallen in the mud and blood. Boot prints, smashed flowers, discarded shoes and gloves. There was also still some bodies lying around and groups of police patrolling the grounds but he payed little attention to these, he was too busy panicking.
He bounded up the steps and barged through the front door with a crash.
He roared at the top of his voice, he did not have time to be subtle. He strode into the living room looking wildly around himself.
“My Lord, are you ok?” Big Martha had emerged from the kitchen, meat cleaver in hand. “We were not expecting you today.”
“You, cook woman, pack your bags now.”
“I said pack your bags, we’re leaving. Where the hell is Sullivan?!”
“He’s in the drawing room your Lordship.”
F. ran from the living room towards the drawing room, panting and sweating in his desperation. He found Sullivan shuffling through with a tray in his hands.
“You called sir?”
“Sullivan!” He grabbed each shoulder of the butler. “We’ve been deceived! The whole city is out to have me killed, I’m at war with the King of Eyes and I didn’t even know it, people think I’m some kind of sorcerer carrying out black magic and to top it all off those… those Vagabonds, those scoundrels and villains I called friends, who I took to my bosom and provided a haven for when all others wanted their heads, have tried to steal my land out from under my feet. Vipers, lairs, thieves.” He shook Sullivan so violently he dropped the tray.
“And what do you intend to do my Lord?” Sullivan replayed impassively and composed.
“I am a general in an army, in a war I didn’t even know existed, and, like any sensible man in a war, we’re going to desert. Pack your bags, have the big carriage brought round, tell Bottle-berry or whatever his name is to go out into the street and let it be known that Lord Stumble-Bum is selling his manner. I cannot protect it when I’m not here and I am not staying to wait for another, literal dagger in my back.”
“What of the Vipers sir?”
“I will deal with them” He said with a face of thunder “now go, hurry we must be gone within the hour!”
He released Sullivan and ran for the stairs, galloping up them two at a time. He ran for his own room, flustered and distressed he didn’t stop to open the door and rather, went through it. Splitters scattered everywhere as he grabbed several bags and filled them with everything he thought he’d need, clothes, boots, papers what little coin he had, he threw it all into the bags in a hurry. He looked around his room, the room that had been his fathers and grandfathers, the room he now was forced to flee, all because of those damned dogs.
He strode from the room purposely, fists clenched, jaw tight. He reached the doctor’s room first. Putting his foot to the door it opened with a crash. He walked straight through the room and pushed open the window. Taking in hand everything he could he began tossing everything that belonged to the doctor through the window. He worked quickly, going through the draw and cupboards, looking under the bed, throwing everything he could find through the window into the mud below.
When he had sated his ire for the doctor he headed towards the Diplomat’s room. Again he forced the door and stormed through the room towards the window, flinging it open. He began to ransack the room, taking everything that looked valuable, shiny, gold, and stuffing it into his pockets, down his trousers, at one point he had to leave the room and return with another bag. His intention had been to fling everything that did not look valuable through the window and take the rest but when he had finished and the bed lay flipped and the cupboards laid bare, there was nothing really to throw through the window. Instead he took all the gold as recompense for the betrayal done to him.
Finally he headed for Grey’s room. It had not escaped his notice that the boy had eluded the authorities and not come to aid in their predicament. He put his weight behind his shoulder and crashed against the door only to find that it wasn’t locked or even closed. He fell through it onto the floor and was met with the site of an empty room. Nothing remained of the manservant, no trace at all. He pulled himself to his feet and left the room feeling unsatisfied that his anger had not found its outlet.
He met Sullivan in the main hallway, the butler was dressed for travel while Lord Stumble-bum was ladened down with bags full of his own possessions and all he’d liberated from the foreign devil.
“Sullivan, are we ready?”
“We are your Lordship, the carriage has been brought round.”
“Good, lets get out of here, who knows when these assassins might strike.”
He headed out through the main doors, he’s trusty servant in tow. Ahead of him, at the end of the pathway a large carriage strapped with luggage waited for him. He could make out Martha’s well-built forearm waiting within for himself and Sullivan. This sight was not what held his attention however. Standing between it and him in the middle of the pathway was a middle aged man with a beard. He was well dressed in a waist coat with his shirt shelves rolled up and his hands clasped behind his back. He stood straight and tall, a commanding figure.
Lord Stumble-Bum Stopped in his tracks and looked the man over.
“And who might you be?”
The man put his fingers to his lips and whistled. From the end of the pathway two large men emerged carrying between them a sizeable chest. They struggled with the weight as they walked, finally coming to a stop before the man and dropping the chest on the ground. Each of them grabbed the lid and flipped it open revealing a chest full of silver.
Lord Stumble-Bum gasped in awe and shock. The man waved one hand loosely and his two servants shut the lid and carried the chest towards the carriage. The gentleman in charge produced from within his waistcoat a piece of paper and advanced up the pathway, presenting it to Sullivan.
“My Lord, it’s a bill of Sale.”
The Lord looked at the man and smiled
“You could not have come at a better time.” The man did not respond, his features did not change as he produced a quill and handed it to Lord Stumble-Bum who eagerly signed. He did not wait for the ink to dry before he took off down towards the carriage with Sullivan behind. The Manor or the bodies in the grounds were no longer his concern.
He climbed into the carriage, pausing briefly to look back at his ancestral home. There had been many happy times here but now, he left the city a much richer man, if a lot less safe. He banged the side of the carriage.
“South Marford Driver, and don’t spare the whip.”
The carriage took off down the lane towards the city gates. As they left he heard another whistle ring out and what looked like 50 workers carrying sledge hammers appeared from side streets and headed towards tumbledown hill.