Jayce stuck out his hand. Gracie looked warily at it, weighing her options. It didn’t matter, there was only one decision to be made. Trust Jayce or not. Reluctantly, Gracie shook his hand.
“Alrighty then, let’s get to work,” He said with a mischievous smile.
Too late to turn back now, Gracie thought.
Still in the cover of the trees, Gracie pulled out her map of the fortress. She slid her fingers over the inky walls surrounding the massive structure. Through the leaves, they could just see the sentries, eyes glazed, as the looked out into the woods.
“The sentries rotate every four minutes. It takes approximately thirty seconds to get to the next station. That gives us thirty seconds to scale the wall and get all the way over without being seen.” Gracie said gesturing to the walls as she talked.
Jayce looked at her, impressed. “You’ve really got this down to a point.”
“Yeah,” Gracie nodded. “All we need is someone who can get up the wall. Matthew was the obvious choice but since you rebels shot him in the arm, he is in no condition to climb.”
“You rebels,” Jayce mimicked. “Like you’re any better. You are just doing the king’s dirty work.
At that, Gracie huffed and turned red. She turned her focus back to the map. “Once we’re inside, we have to pass twenty heavily armed guards at the doors, then eight guarding the entrance to the safe.”
“Piece of cake,” Jayce smirked. “So here’s the plan; I will climb the wall, and take out the guard so you can take your sweet time coming up. Then you’ll make a diversion for those twenty some guards while I take out the eight by the safe.”
“Since when are you calling the shots?” Gracie asked, but she had to admit, it was a decent idea. She sighed and made up her mind. “I have decided to trust you.”
“A horrible decision.”
“I know. But I’m out of options.” Gracie pulled off the string around her neck, and held the key out to Jayce. “Here.”
His eyes brightened as he grabbed the bronze key. Jayce stood and Gracie rolled up the map and stuffed it in her bag. She pulled her red hair up into a ponytail and repositioned her quiver of arrows.
“Ready?” Jayce asked.
Gracie nodded and started counting as the guards started their rotation. Jayce took off toward the stone wall, Gracie at his heels. The wall was old and provided nice hand and foot holds. Within in seconds, Jayce had reached the wall and was halfway up it.
18, 19, 20, 21. Gracie counted silently as she started up the wall. Sure enough, at 30, a thud came from on top of the wall. She hoped it was the guard and not Jayce. Reaching the top, Gracie swung her leg over the edge. Jayce was low to the ground, watching until she got all the way over. Jayce stood on the opposite ledge and started to lower himself down until he only his hands were seen. Gracie followed suit after she saw Jayce land in the courtyard.
She landed not to gracefully and stumbled backwards. A pair of strong hands caught her. She stood, coming face to face with Jayce. She had never noticed his eyes until now. Green with little gold flecks in them. But there was something else. They looked gentle. Not the harsh criticizing eyes she had seen earlier. These were just the eyes of a boy, dragged into this fight, same as she was.
Gracie stepped back, her eyes still lingering on his. He cleared his throat and Gracie nodded.
“Thanks.” She whispered. “Okay, I’ll go this way, to distract the guards. You go retrieve Stormbreaker.”
“Alright,” Jayce turned, then hesitated. “Gracie? Be careful, okay?”
At that, Gracie smiled. “Good luck, Jayce.”
She turned, heading toward the guards.
Maybe the rebels aren't so bad, Gracie thought, Maybe there’s hope for this fight.