Take a chance. The thought sounded like an order. With care she climbed down, bracing her boots against the metal of the gate. When she reached the ground, she inhaled deeply and made her way to the small house. She tapped on the unshuttered window.
Bethera appeared. “Come to the door. We have packs to bring.”
Amara gasped. “We?”
“Ciera will come with us. If she stays here, they will punish her for not informing them of the escape.”
“Can we trust her?”
“She’s not one of them. They took her from her family in the large town when she was playing with some other children in the street. She’s been here since her fifth year. She’s learned much but she doesn’t want to remain here.”
Amera felt the warmth of relief. “She can come but we must go quickly before the storm ends.”
Bethera nodded. “Before the guards make rounds to make sure we are sleeping. Come to the door.”
When Amera reached the door, Bethera stepped outside. She carried a pack and handed one to Amera. Ciera followed with two more. They reached the gate. Amera grabbed the rope. “Climb up. Then I’ll tie the packs to the rope and you can pull them up.”
Bethera grasped the rope and started the climb. Amera watched her cousin and stared around the courtyard. Her heart beat rapidly and she prayed her cousin would hurry.
Finally Bethera reached the top and settled. Amera tied the packs to the rope. Bethera pulled them up and unfastened them. When the rope appeared Amera boosted Ciera and watched the girl’s awkward progress. She heard men’s voices and wished the girl would hurry.
Finally Amera caught the rope and climbed. When she reached the top her hands were wet and chilled. As she struggled to untie the rope she nearly fell. She corrected her balance and undid the final knot. The end slipped from her hand and fell to the ground. There was no way to retrieve it. She sighed and dropped to the king stallion’s back. He galloped after the pair of fleeing windsteeds.