236 The Plan*
*Eldovian year 1713, 6th day of the 8th month*
Ever since the discussion with Aegin, Ebony had been looking for a way to talk with the Madame again. It seemed, however, that the Madame had said all she had wanted to say to Ebony. It was not until nearly a fortnight after their previous discussion when Ebony was able to talk with the Madame, and it was only because Neva was indisposed.
Lord Revierre, who had since their last unfortunate encounter left to return home from Herguard, had now returned to propose another challenge. He was determined to win back his pride from the Reapers. The bet had doubled in stakes, and Ebony could practically see the chests of gold in the Slave Master's eyes.
Luckily, when Lord Revierre was grabbing slaves to join him in his bedchambers following dinner, Ebony was in the kitchens, and had done her best to remain out of sight anyway. Neva was not so fortunate, and as a result Ebony was called to attend to the Madame that evening.
"You were rather lucky tonight," said the Madame, "If Neva hadn't caught his attention he would have gone looking for you".
Ebony nodded, "I'm aware".
The Madame looked at her, "You seem different, perhaps my warning was more effective than I thought".
"Not exactly," Ebony admitted.
The Madame raised an eyebrow in question.
"I have a deal which I'm sure you'll be interested in," said Ebony.
"Oh? How intriguing," said the Madame, "Go ahead and propose your deal, I could use something to amuse me".
Ebony sighed, "Aegin and I, we're planning an escape-"
The Madame snorted, "How stupid to tell me that-"
"And we're likely going to destroy Herguard in the process," Ebony finished.
The Madame sighed, "If you think you're the first to think of escaping, you're sorely incorrect. You're the first who has been stupid enough to propose it to me however-"
"The Slave Master keeps you here, yes?" asked Ebony, risking interrupting the Madame.
The Madame paused, looking at Ebony and waiting for her to continue.
"If we promise to kill the Master, you could leave, couldn't you? You wouldn't be bound to stay anymore," said Ebony. It was the only reason she could think of that the Madame would have to remain on the Island.
The Madame's eyes narrowed, "Such a feat is easier said than done".
"Not if his Reapers are the ones to do it," said Ebony.
The Madame looked somewhat surprised before she sighed, "Perhaps they could do it, but I doubt they would be given the opportunity".
"That's what you're going to provide," said Ebony.
"I'm sorry?" asked the Madame as she turned back to Ebony.
"Lord Revierre has just issued a challenge against the Reapers," said Ebony, "They'll all be in the Arena at once in 3 days' time. They can't get out through the tunnels because the guards will never open the gates unless they're given the order to, and even then they wouldn't let the Reapers roam freely. But up in the stands..."
"There is no way from the Arena floor to the stands unless one goes through the tunnels," said the Madame.
"Unless we made one," said Ebony, "A few ropes over the walls should be sufficient".
"You're placing the hope of your escape on a few ropes?" asked the Madame.
Ebony sighed, "Look, once the Reapers are up in the stands the crowd will panic. Especially if the tunnels below are also being flooded with the other escaped slaves".
"Other escaped slaves?" asked the Madame.
"You heard the challenge that Revierre issued, it's the biggest one since Aegin and I have been here, and I'd wager it's been longer than that since something like this has gone on in the Arena. Everyone will want to watch the fight, and if the warriors are all locked up where they're supposed to be, the guards won't think about consequences. You only need one slave to release those down there, and after the other hundred or so Slave Warriors are free, they'll have a full riot both above and below ground to deal with," said Ebony.
The Madame looked somewhat convinced, but still sceptical, "Why me? You could have attempted to bribe one of the guards".
"Because you're the only one I've met who truly wants to leave and has the influence to do what is required," said Ebony, "Do you not?"
The Madame looked away in thought, and after a few tense moments during which Ebony couldn't help but wonder if she'd made a mistake, the Madame sighed, "So kill the Master then help those freed navigate away from Herguard I assume, but what of me after that? I have not set foot on any land apart from Herguard in over two hundred years. I may hate my life here but I have no life anywhere else".
Ebony bit her lip in thought. She'd hoped the Madame wouldn't be so long-sighted, but clearly Ebony had hoped a little too much. After a moment, Ebony took the Tracking Charm from her pocket and showed it to the Madame.
"Do you know what this is?" asked Ebony.
"The Charm we attempted to take from you but always seemed to find its way back to you. Your Aegin had one as well. The Protective Charms you had have been quite useful, but I've heard word that the Market for these Charms outside of Herguard has grown. A Moonshadow Trading Company produces them and is the only one despite the efforts of many to replicate the product. Why do you ask?" asked the Madame.
"Because I know Moonshadow's owner and the First Craftsman of the Charms," said Ebony, "If you can free us and get us off this Island, I'll give you an introduction. You're a businesswoman after all, It can't not be a tempting offer".
A slow smile adorned the Madame's face before she couldn't help the laugh that escaped her lips.
"My, my, my little Ebony," she said, "You seem to have the makings of quite the businesswoman yourself".
The Madame leaned forward, offering her hand to Ebony, "I will make preparations, but if the Reapers cannot put on a convincing show in the arena during that challenge, the deal is off. After all, I will not risk my own neck. I will have ropes thrown down when they are on the verge of winning, tell them to be ready, and if they cannot dispose of the Master quickly, there will be no hope of escape. Do I make myself clear?"
Ebony took the Madame's hand, "And the others in the tunnels?"
"They'll be the distraction when the ropes come down," said the Madame, "Don't worry, I've had plenty of years to learn how to get my timing right".
The Challenge was only a few days away, she had to get the message to Aegin.