She stood there, staring at the empty room, muttering a string of curses.
They'd been too late.
Marianna was gone.
She closed the door and put the padlock back on and made her way over to the stairs, blowing out her lantern and plunging the room into darkness.
She waited, listening for sounds of people above her. All was silent.
She slowly walked up the stairs and opened the trapdoor slightly, enough to see out of.
She could see Cayle still speaking with Harriet, now with a meal in front of him that looked as though it had already been eaten.
A waitress walked passed Harriet into the backroom and Deanna dropped the trapdoor, silently slipping back down the stairs and back into her hiding place.
The door opened and she held her breath as the waitresses descended.
She looked around, as confused look on her face and Deanna thought she had been spotted before her expression cleared and she walked over to a box that housed wine, rifled through it for a minute, before pulling out a bottle and returning upstairs.
Deanna released her breath and leaned back against the wall. That had been close.
* * *
Hurry up, Deanna. Cayle thought as he ate his meal, a concoction of ingredients that's origins he did not want to ponder, listening to a story Harriet was telling him, occasionally interjecting a witty comment, making her laugh. I can only be charming for so long.
He saw the trapdoor start to open and was just about to feel relieved when he caught sight of movement out of the corner of his eye: one of the waitresses had walked passed him, heading for the cellar.
He caught his breath as the cellar door slammed shut just as the waitress got close. She didn't appear to have seen the movement, as she opened the door and descended in the cellars depths, emerging a short time later with a bottle of what appeared to be wine, closing the door behind her.
He breathed a silent sigh of relief that she didn't appear to have spotted Deanna when she was below, and turned his focus back to Harriet when he realized she had asked him a question.
"I'm sorry, what?" He asked, smiling.
She returned the smile. "I asked if you had a place to stay tonight. We have plenty of rooms available if you'd like to stay here."
"I'm sorry, but unfortunately, I am only passing through." He said, his smile turning to one of sadness.
Her smile faded. "Alright then, perhaps another time." She said.
"Perhaps." He said, still smiling at her.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of blonde hair beneath a hood walk passed him and a frown threatened to tug at his lips, and he knew that it was time to leave.
He straightened up. "I think I had better get going now,"
"Very well then." Harriet replied, also standing straighter. He left a few coins on the counter and turned to leave, but her voice stopped him. "It occurs to me that you have remained nameless throughout our exchange."
He turns to face her again and waited for her to continue.
"Might you leave me your name?" She asked.
"A little mystery is good for the soul." He replied, dipping his head in a small bow. "Thank you for the meal, milady."
She smiled at the title. "You're welcome, milord."
* * *
He met Deanna at the clearing where they had left their horses.
She was standing near her horse, Krennan, absently patting his neck while he ate an apple.
"Well?" He asked, nearing her.
She looked up at him as he approached, but didn't reply.
"What happened?" He prompted. "Where is Marianna?"
"She's gone." Deanna said simply, her tone distracted.
"Gone?" He repeated. "What kind of gone."
"Missing, vanished, moved." Deanna replied sharply. "She wasn't in the cellar."
"They moved her already?" He asked, frowning, and when she nodded, he continued. "Why do you think they did that?"
"I'm not sure." She said. "They could have just left for the meeting with the Duke, or they could have caught wind that we were coming."
"Harriet didn't seem as though she'd been alerted." He mused.
She looked at him with a strange look in her eyes. "Really? I wouldn't have thought you'd notice anything beyond all the flirting you two were doing."
He didn't say anything. Was that jealousy he heard in her tone?
"Besides," Deanna continued, walking to the center of the clearing. "She's a good liar."