Janna felt the spell, small as it was, and smiled. She would know the feel of George's magic anywhere. Now, if she could... There was a sudden shout from upstairs and sounds of a struggle. Oh no! Conrad must have caught him! She started to stand up when someone clattered down the stairs.
Janna had never been happier to see the small figure in the large ragged dress. "Claire!" she whispered.
Claire paused at the bottom of the stairs, looking around. She hadn't heard her. Janna reached between the steps and grabbed her shoulder. She squeaked in surprise.
Janna pulled her back, "Shh!" she said in her ear.
Claire barely relaxed. She turned to face Janna. "Shit. Not again. Why c'n I never get away from ya?"
"Is anyone down there?" A man's voice called down.
Claire darted around the stairs towards Janna. "Piglets!" she cried, as loudly as she dared, looking around wildly. "I gotta get out!" She spied the window and started towards it. Janna grabbed her arm and hauled her back.
"No!" She pointed to the girl in the corner, who had slumped over like a rag doll and moaned softly. "See her? She needs help."
"So? Ya help her!" Claire retorted.
"We're coming down." the man announced. Boots started down the steps.
Janna didn't have time to argue. She pushed Claire out into the light.
"Hey! You there!" The Guardsman cried. "What are you doing?" Claire tried to run away, and he grabbed her easily. Janna whispered a spell so she would not be noticed and shrank back under the stairs again. "So you're the one. When I get you back, I'm gonna..." A moan interrupted him.
The Guardsman looked toward the sound. He strode towards the girl, not letting go of Claire. Crouching down, he gently, took hold of her chin and turned her face to the light. "Gods!" He cried softly. He turned back to Claire, "Did you do this?"
"No!" She cried. "I din't do nothin'! I-I – I heard somethin'! Outside! I just came t'see th' noise!"
Good girl. Janna thought.
Another Guardsman came down the stairs followed by George. "Jones, report. What's going on?" She asked. Spying the girl, she looked at her carefully and cursed. Then she walked back to the foot of the stairs. "Get some lanterns down here!" She shouted. She turned to George, "You, Magician." she said. "Can you help her?"
George knelt down beside her, saying a few words he moved his hands just above her. "She's got a broken arm, broken ribs... She's had too much of…" His voice trailed off as he concentrated. "...something. I'm not sure what, but whoever gave it nearly poisoned her." He stood up. "She needs a Healer. The sooner the better."
The Guardsman nodded shortly then turned to the man. "Good job, Jones."
"Thank you Commander." Jones replied, with a salute, he sat down with the girl again, while George finished what little he could do.
She turned to look down at Claire. "Did you find her?"
"I just heard somethin' outside-"
The Guardsman waved her to silence."Yes or no. Did you find her?"
Claire looked up at her. "Yes." she said after a momentary pause.
"Good job. You'll get a reward for this."
George had casually wandered back towards the stairs. Putting his hands behind his back, he smoothed his tunic. Janna felt him cast a small spell. He flicked his fingers at her. Slowly she stood up and gripped the corner of his tunic. Whispering a few words, she meshed her spell with his.
"Do you need anything else Commander?" George asked.
She barely glanced in his direction. "No. Thank you for your help."
George nodded and started up the stairs. Janna followed, never taking her hand off his tunic.
"One more thing, Magician?" the Sergeant called from behind them.
George turned, "Yes?"
"Tell those idiots upstairs to hurry."
"Will do." George continued up the stairs.
The kitchen was full of Guardsmen. One, carrying several lamps, stood aside at the top of the stairs to let George pass, two more hurried in with a stretcher, passing George with barely a glance, a couple more held back the crowd gathering outside. Janna waited until they had turned the corner before letting go of George's tunic and the spell.