Teclemith gently slid the door open again, and the pair tiptoed down the stone stairs back to the courtyard and to the cage. Liberty had surprisingly good hearing, and her good hearing picked up the hurried whispers of the raiders as they tried to figure out how to open the cage without making a ton of noise.
"Craah?" Liberty squawked.
"Shhh, Lib! We're trying to get you out, but you have to be quiet or else we can't," Willow whispered frantically at her bird. Liberty cocked her head.
"Craaawwww!" she agreed, or at least that's what Willow thought she meant.
"Teclemith, have you got it open?" Willow called back to him softly. She had gone to the front of the cage while Teclemith stayed in the back.
"Not yet, but can you keep your bird quiet?" Teclemith called back gently. Rolling her eyes, Willow stuck her arm through the cage bars to stroke the kestrel's wing feathers.
"Uh... Im gelir ceni ad lin, Lib," she tried. I'm pretty sure that's "I'm happy to see you again". Liberty cawed softly back.
"It's unlocked!" Teclemith called as quietly as he could. Willow nodded at him then turned back to Liberty.
"Okay, Libbylib, *tolo hi sedho," Amazingly, Liberty stood almost silently and trumped out of her cage without complaint. "Good girl!" Willow praised her, taking hold of her "collar" and clambering onto her back to tie off a rope to use as reins.
A sudden shout and sounds of clattering feet broke the silence of the scene. Up rushed Killian, Kadesh, Shemesh, all of whom were helping limping newly-freed prisoners. Willow took a step towards them to help, when an arrow, black as night, struck the stones next to her feet. She let out a yelp and jumped back. A cry from Teclemith alerted them to the guards lining up on top of the walls. With crossbows. Oh dear.
Dodging crossbow-arrows, Willow grabbed Liberty's halter to steady her. "Kadesh!" she yelled over the twanging of bowstrings and hissing of arrows. "Kadesh, get on Liberty and help the wounded onto her!" Kadesh nodded and swung himself up, taking care to stay low. Quickly, Killian started helping the wounded up onto Liberty's slick, feathered back.
Four injured. Only four tops can ride! She's too small for anyone else! That means that I'll have to stay and escape the way that the others were going to. You must understand that the only reason that Willow had been allowed to go with the raiders to the fortress was because she was the only one who could calm Liberty down and keep her quiet, and that she would fly her away once she was free. They hadn't thought that there would be four injured people. They had thought that they would be well enough to escape with Killian and Co, and that if there were a couple injured Willow could still ride along. Now that plan was falling to pieces.
Killian realized this about a second too late.
"What's going on?" Kedemeth demanded as the torches were rekindled. One of the Shadow goblins stepped forward, wringing his hands.
"Your Majesty," Zeeb explained. "The bird has been released by a group of rebel raiders." He produced a smooth arrow with a purple feather on the end. Kedemeth plucked it up and turned it over, then glared at Zeeb.
"Well for Tash's sake, we shall go after them. Send the archers first, take down their horses. We will follow. Come brother," he ordered, motioning Tajoreth to follow him to the stables. Through his teeth, he muttered, "They will not get away with this. We will show them that we cannot be trifled with."
*Tolo hi sedho come now quiet
*Noro go hul, bado go Eru run with the wind, go with God!
[Note: Creative Kit has been replaced, so it will take me a while to edit all of the chapter covers.]