Galadriel paced back and forth as she watched the sun rise higher in the sky. Where was he? It shouldn’t have taken him this long. Her mind raced with all the things that could have gone wrong.
Finally, she heard hoof beats. She dove for cover behind a tree, in case in wasn’t him.
The hoof beats got much quieter as they left the gravel road for the muddy earth, made soft by the recent spring rains. Then she heard his voice call out, softly, “Gala!”
She closed her eyes in a brief thanks as she released the breath she had been holding in.
“What took you so long?” she hissed as she emerged from behind her tree. “I’ve been waiting here since midnight!”
“I know, ” he said as he dismounted. ‘Forgive me. There was a change in the guards. Edward was not at his usual post and so I had to sneak out without being noticed. It wasn’t easy, but I do not think my exit was marked.”
He took a black felt bag from his belt and held it out to her. Galadriel snatched it from him then turned her back to him as she checked the bag’s contents. Two perfectly spherical orbs looked back at her. They were a dark pink, or perhaps a light red, depending on how the light caught them. They seemed to almost glow from the darkness of the bag’s bottom. Perfect.
She tucked the bag into her bodice. “And every thing else is in place?” she asked, scarlet skirts swirling as she turned abruptly back around to face him.
“Excellent. Go and tell The Madame that we are ready.”
He made a curt bow, remounted his horse, and took the road back south, the way he had come.
Galadriel waited until he was out of sight. The plan was for her to wait a few moments then follow him down the road towards the city.
But she had other plans.
Instead, she headed deeper into the woods. She would use the trees as cover to circle around to the back of the city where no on was expecting her to go. Except for one man. One man who would be very happy to get his orbs back.
Galadriel huffed and puffed her way through the gate. She had run all through the forest to get to The Gentleman as fast as she could. The delay of the orbs would surely reflect on her and, if there was one thing in the world she did not want, it was for The Gentleman to think ill of her.
She passed through the city’s back gate with a nod to the guards. She slowed her pace and gave herself a chance to catch her breath as she made her way through the streets to the door she was looking for.
She lifted her hand to knock but the door swung open before she had a chance to make any sound.
“You have the orbs?” said a soft voice from the shadows beyond the door.
The door swung wider to give Galadriel room to enter. She stepped in and, the moment she crossed the threshold, the door was closed behind her.
“Let’s see them, then.”
She pulled the back out of her bodice and held it before her.
He took it from her gently, almost reverently, and slowly opened the top to check its contents. He exhaled slowly, as if he hardly dared to breathe, as he looked into the bag.
“Do you think they’ll meet with The Gentleman’s approval?” asked Galadriel.
“Oh, yes,” The Gentleman breathed, as he rolled the orbs about in his palm. “Yes, I am sure he will be quite pleased with these. Thank you, Gala.”
Galadriel was too busy smiling in self-satisfaction to see the knife flash. It was only a moment. Then she was lying on the floor, her life gushing out of the gash in her throat.