Once the bushes had stopped shaking, and the outraged cries had reduced to a soft moaning, the various hides and camouflage screens could be safely opened – and indeed were. Leaves dislodged from the trees and whipped up by ripping ropes were still swirling and dancing in the disturbed air in the clearing, and these lent an air of hurried readjustment to the proceedings. The group emerged into the open air, brushing themselves clean of errant twigs, leaves, and dirt.
Farren took it upon himself to check the pit on the other side of the now-swept space. He was heard to chuckle before he returned. “Well,” he said, “we didn’t get the monkey, but we did get the organ-grinder. Not sure he’s necessarily the brains of the outfit, mind.” He gestured vaguely behind at the ragged opening in the ground.
Pel and Raak bounded over to peer down. Pel had a coiled rope looped over his arm and shoulder and looked ready to shake it loose. Raak had knocked an arrow and was aiming it generally down into the pit without drawing. Em was the last to emerge from her concealment, and she took a moment to scan the perimeter of the clearing before engaging with Farren.
“So, all that and we didn’t get what we came for?”
“Yet” Farren replied. He jerked his thumb back to the pit where Pel was lowering himself down to their captive. “I can’t imagine he’ll be particularly difficult to persuade to talk.”
“Hope so – that was a lot of work.” Em sat on a large fallen tree trunk on the edge of the trail that had led here and cracked her knuckles. “Remind me again why we took this job?”
“Coin, same as ever, and a promise of passage on the next ship west.” Farren rubbed the back of his neck, then turned towards the pit to see Pel and Raak hoisting a dirt and leaf-covered youth back to the surface. “You’ll see, we’ll be on our way soon enough.”