***Disclaimer*** This is not my story, it is the work of Ka Hmnd AKA Kenneth Hammond. I have not changed or edited this story in anyway.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ CHAPTER SIX ---------------------------------------------------------------- We were sitting with Peter and Mona in front of the tavern. Mona was feeding the baby as Sam tried to get our son to eat. I turned at the approach of a woman, she looked like one of the poor but the look in her eyes was what drew me. I nodded as she bowed, "My lord Kristin, I came to beg your help." I gestured, "What is the problem?" She wouldn't look up as she began, "My son is missing and no one has seen him." I looked at Peter, "How long has he been missing?" She slowly went to her knees, "two days lord." I glanced at Peter again and he turned and gestured for Teresa.
I glanced at Mona, "do we have any other reports?" She nodded, "If it were just girls we might have an idea what was happening." I sighed and turned to a pregnant Adelia as Tim waited on her, "Watch our son." I stood and gestured to Edward and Dett and frowned as I looked at Chris and his new wife Tammie.
She smiled and pushed her husband, "Find the children Charles." I smiled and nodded before looking at the woman, "Show us the last place your son was seen." She stood and turned to walk towards a street.
Dett and Edward moved forward to walk beside her and talk. I glanced at Sam, "Let us go through any doors first." She looked at me before nodding. The street we stopped in wasn't too bad. I glanced around as Dett and Edward split up. Peter and Chris both went into a building to talk to other families.
I shook my head, "What is missing?" Sam almost whispered, "The children." I nodded as I thought about the city map and walked a little further down the street. I looked at a narrow alley and turned to look for Dett. He seemed to read my mind and headed towards the alley. Chris and Peter returned looking grim.
I waited and Peter finally broke, "six children and that is in just those two buildings." I looked at Chris and he nodded. Dett came back holding a scrap of rag, "A sleeping draught to put the kid to sleep before they took them away." Edward had disappeared and then we heard a fight before he was shoving a man out into the street.
I nodded to Peter, "Bring him." Peter growled as he started for the man and I looked at Dett, "We are going to need to watch the street." He nodded and walked off and I smiled at Chris, "find me a street rat that wants a gold piece and some action." He grinned and left and I turned to Peter and Edward. Peter's big hand held the man by the back of his neck with his feet barely touching the ground, "Who took the children?" He shook his head, "I don't." Peter shook him like a rat, I waited and finally nodded to Peter, "Have him put in the plague cells.
We'll see if he wants to talk tomorrow." I turned to the woman that was wringing her hands, "We will find your son or what happened to him." I looked at Sam, "why don't you go with her and have her help draw a sketch of her son." She smiled and kissed my cheek before letting the woman lead her to a narrow building.
I turned to look around and shook my head, "They may have moved to another street." Edward grinned, "There are more kids here. Their mothers are just keeping them indoors." I smiled, "Check the neighboring streets." He nodded and walked away as I turned towards Dett. He was beside a narrow doorway not to far from the alley. I hesitated as Chris returned with a young lad that walked with a swagger. I explained what I wanted him to do and he nodded.
I liked the young rogue and headed to Dett while Chris seemed to disappear into another building. Slowly other kids came out to join the boy as he played in the street. Peter returned and slipped into another building while I saw Sam peek out before stepping back into the building. Dett shifted and I followed his look.
The street rat had chased a ball of rags to the entrance to the alley. As he bent to pick it up two men rushed out. Dett and I were moving as was Peter and Chris. The street rat was more than ready and one man screamed and double up as he fell to the ground.
The other man turned to run only to be hit by Edward who came out of the alley behind him. Dett knelt to secure the man on the ground as Edward slammed the other one into a wall. I waited until they were turned to face me, "Where are the children you took?" They just glared and I nodded and looked at Peter, "have two strangle poles struck." The two men gasped and the one the boy had taken down blurted, "but you can't prove." Peter slapped him and his head snapped back as I stepped closer, "I saw you try to take a child.
That is all I need to see. You refused to help me further so I don't need to waste anymore time." I gestured and they were pulled up and turned. The other man jerked as he tried to look at me, "Wait!" I nodded and Edward turned him.
He licked his lips, "He will kill us if we talk." I smiled, "and if you don't I will have you strangled slowly." He looked around and almost whispered, "Merchant Pellman.
He has a workshop next to the tannery outside the southern gate." I nodded to Peter, "Have them put in an isolated cell and you and Edward meet us by the south gate." He nodded and Edward yanked the man around and they were marched off. I smiled at the boy as I tossed a gold piece, "How would you like to be a city guard?" He blinked and looked at Dett and then Chris.
Sam came out of the building and walked up to stand beside me. The lad finally grinned, "does it come with a place to sleep?" I smiled and looked at Sam who sighed, "We can put you up." He grinned and stuck out his hand, "I'm Allen." I took his hand and looked at Chris and Dett, "Let's take this to the south gate." We started walking and Sam fell back to talk to Allen.
The gate guards stiffened when we walked up and Chris frowned, "Tell us now if you are part of those taking children." The guards blinked and a narrow faced one shook his head, "No Kristin, we sometimes let some of the farmers in early that." Allen laughed, "That have daughters." I smiled as Dett snorted, "give them a kiss for us." Chris was grinning, "My wife used to flirt with the guards too." Sam was grinning, "Just out of curiosity, how many guards have married one of the daughters?" I laughed with Chris and Dett as the guards blushed.
I pulled her close to kiss her, "that's where we lose half the guards." I nodded to the guards, "normal business. We will be outside for awhile." The narrow faced guard cleared his throat, "Kristin?" I looked at him and he looked at the other guards, "You are after someone taking younglings again?" I nodded and he straightened, "You know we don't inspect wagons going out the gate.
There have been a lot more than normal and they seem to have the same bundles they brought in. If someone is taking younglings we want to help." I smiled, "How many guards are here and have you seen anyone watching the gate?" He looked at the other guards and one shrugged, "There used to be a watcher but he stopped a week ago." I nodded, "How many guards can you spare?" The narrow faced guard grinned, "All but one until evening." I turned as Peter and Edward jogged towards us with a double line of guards following, "fall in with the other guards." I looked at Allen, "Do you know where this Merchant Pellman has his workshop?" He grinned, "just a block down the street." I waved, "go scout around it but don't get close.
Keep your eyes open and don't stop moving. Come back after you get a good look." He nodded and trotted out the gate. Sam sighed, "I hope he doesn't try anything." I grinned, "He lives on the street Sam. He will do exactly what I told him." We waited and several minutes later Allen walked back with a swagger. Sam grinned, "arrogant isn't he." Peter laughed, "Wait until Mona starts teaching him." I smiled and waited until he stopped in front of me, "He has three watchers on the street." I glanced at Peter and then Chris, "Think you can keep one busy?" He grinned, "Yes." I nodded, "Okay, tell us everything about the place." Allen looked at Peter, Chris, Dett and Edward before nodding and starting to describe a warehouse in great detail.
I was impressed but didn't say anything until he was done. Sam had been taking notes and glanced at him, "Did you see anyone up on the roof?" Allen blinked and I smiled, "Always look up kid." He closed his eyes and seemed to be murmuring to himself before opening his eyes, "There was one man on the roof." I nodded and looked at Edward, "you take the roof." He nodded and slipped away.
I nodded to Peter and Chris before looking at Allen, "go distract one of the street watchers." I watched them walk away and turned to Dett, "get around to the other side in case one gets out and runs." He left quickly and I nodded to the guards, "Lets go visit with the merchant Pellman." They chuckled as we started walking.
A minute later I saw the watcher arguing with Allen. The two others seemed to have disappeared and Peter and Chris walked towards the one lifting his hand to strike Allen. I glanced up to see Edward waving and ignored the man dangling from Peter's hand.
Four guards rushed forward and the large double doors were kicked open. I walked through the open doors as the guards surged around me with a echoing growl. I glanced at Sam, "pull the children aside and watch them." She looked at me but finally nodded as I headed towards the back of the warehouse. Long tables stretched down the center isle with a lot of frightened children beside them. One look told me they were being used as slave labor to make clothing.
Guards held several men against an office wall as I walked up. I glanced at the young girl huddled on a bare mattress before looking at the men, "Which one touched the girl?" One guard pulled a man out and then slammed him into the wall again, "This one." I nodded and looked at the other men. They looked like regular street thugs, "Where is the merchant?" No one said anything and I nodded to Peter, "Have them locked up.
Have a straggle pole struck and then the man that touched the girl is to be placed on it." I looked at Chris and Edward as they walked up, "Check the office paperwork.
Get that clerk from the docks to help. I want the real name of the merchant and any others you find." I looked at the guards, "You men did a very good job. Now comes the hard part, I need the word put out that we have found several missing children." They murmured accent and I turned to see Allen kicking and shoving a man towards us.
I smiled, "You found something?" He shoved the man towards the guards, "this rat was hiding under a table." I smiled and clapped his shoulder, "let's go see if Dett caught any trying to sneak away." A guard grabbed the man as we started walking out. I caught one of the guards with Sam, "Help my wife bring the children to our house." He nodded and turned back to help Sam with the children. Allen cleared his throat, "You know the merchant probably didn't use his real name." I glanced at him as we walked, "That is why we look at any and all paperwork." He looked down, "I don't know how to read." I smiled and put my hand on his shoulder, "You will learn." Dett was sitting on a barrel with his feet on the back of a man on the ground.
Allen grinned as we stopped and Dett stood. He gestured, "this weasel came from the back, probably a hidden door." One look and I knew he was a clerk. I glanced at Allen, "Look at him. What can you tell about him before we start questioning him." Allen squatted down, "He isn't a guard or worker." He gestured to the man's hands, "Ink stains so maybe a clerk?" Dett was grinning as I nodded, "Which means?" Allen stood, "He knows the merchant." I shrugged, "Maybe.
What it means is he should know where the clothing was sent and who bought it." The man on the ground turned his head and Dett bent to pull him up. I nodded to Dett, "put him in a cell by himself." He nodded and started pulling him along as Allen and I started following.
I gestured to the other warehouses and workers watching, "go talk to them. See if you can find someone that can remember seeing the merchant and meet me at the city guards building." He grinned and slipped away as I stopped at the warehouse before heading into the city.
I caught up to Sam and the children a block later and helped with the children. I left her at our door as Adelia took charge. I sat with captain Able and told him what we had found so far as I wrote out a message to Jonathan and the duke. I ignored the shouting as the men from the warehouse were brought in and locked away. Peter sat down, "A couple started talking but didn't know the merchant's real name." I nodded, "Check on any reports of missing children and have a guard go to the woman that got us going." He grinned as he stood, "I already sent someone." I grinned and finished the notes I was writing.
I had a runner take them and went next door into organized chaos. Sam came to kiss me before looking at all the children, "I sent for Maria and asked if she could fix something." I nodded, "Hopefully we can find all the parents." Sam nodded, "I have Tim writing down names." I smiled, "as long as you can read his writing." She grinned, "Adelia can." I laughed and looked at her, "Want to come wait for Chris or Edward?" Sam nodded as she turned towards the door, "I want the bastard that did this." I turned with her, "vengeful witch." She laughed, "Like you aren't." I opened the door to Ali and smiled, "Yes?" She grinned, "I was told you had lost children and needed help." I glanced down at her pregnant stomach, "Their inside and Sam already sent to the inn for food." Sam kissed her cheek, "Let Adelia help." Ali laughed, "Well, she does have more experience than me." I grinned as we left her and went next door.
We had barely sat down when Allen opened the door and peeked in. I smiled and turned my head towards captain Able who was giving orders to a couple of men, "Able?" He looked at me as I turned back to Allen as he walked to the table confidently, "A few saw him but they couldn't really say what he looked like. Just tall, dark hair cut short." I nodded and gestured to him, "Captain Able meet Allen." Allen looked at the Able and reddened, "Jones." Captain Able smile, "welcome Allen." I grinned, "I hired him." Able grinned, "I'll let Jonathan know so he can add another guard on the rolls." I glanced around, "Mona?" He laughed, "Three guards came in late and made the mistake of back talking." I winched as Sam laughed.
I gestured to Allen, "I would like her to work with Allen. Dagger, night stick and short sword." Able nodded, "I'll tell her." I looked at a frowning Allen, "Mona was in my company.
She will teach you to use the weapons I mentioned and I will teach you how to fight unarmed. Sam will teach you to read and write in the evenings." He glanced at Sam and grinned, "they say she can fight." Sam grinned and I laughed, "And Mona taught her so you better pay attention." I looked at captain Able, "Has the clerk started talking?" He nodded, "Peter is with him." I sighed and turned as the door opened again and Chris and Edward walked in with the customs clerk.
They came to sit and the clerk smiled, "Lord Kristin." I nodded and he sighed, "The papers don't really mention the merchant but I have found several receipts for goods from Merchant Allison. The receipts are for goods but don't have amounts which is suspicious." I nodded and looked at Peter coming in from the cells with Dett. After they sat down Peter grinned, "Merchant Allison." I nodded, "Okay, that is cause to bring him in." I stood and looked at the customs clerk, "Would you mind coming with us and looking over his papers while we.
talk to him?" He grinned as he stood, "do I get a club to help. talk to him?" Everyone laughed and I nodded to Peter, "you and Chris take the back door." I glanced at Allen, "Do you know where he lives?" He snorted as he turned towards the door, "I will in a few minutes." I smiled and we walked after him.
I glanced at Able as he followed along calling for Mona and guards. Sam grinned at me, "I think we are going to have help talking to the merchant." Allen was talking to another street urchin at the side of the square.
He turned and handed the boy a coin before trotting towards us, "Yellow street, down by the Rainbow Pigeon!" I glanced at Peter as he grinned and started walking. I gestured to Allen, "go with Peter." He grinned as he ran to catch up. Mona caught up before we left the square. I looked at Sam, "When we return I need you and Mona to pull all the little girls aside and talk to them." She nodded as her mouth tightened, "I already told Adelia what to ask them." Chris slipped away when the inn came into sight.
Allen was talking to another boy before pointing and running after Peter. I walked towards the large shop he had pointed to. Dett and Edward slipped around me and walked through the door. The crowd of guards followed me through the door behind them.
A clerk looked up and his face paled. The merchant turned his head and went white before running towards the back door. Dett and Edward followed him as I gestured to the clerk, "Would someone please take this clerk and start asking him questions?" The crowd of guards growled and two headed towards him.
I glanced back at the custom's clerk, "You can look through the records." It sounded like a fight in the back and the guards surged forward through the doorway.
Allen swaggered out of the back of the shop a minute later, "We have him." I smiled, "And have you checked his quarters upstairs?" He frowned and turned, "No." I smiled as I walked past him to the door beside the hallway with Mona and Sam following. I had to use a knife to break the door lock. I pulled the door open and Allen slipped through with Mona following. Sam even pushed me aside to go up before me. I went after them and came into a living room with Allen rolling around on the floor with a woman.
Mona was watching and Sam kept trying to find a way to help Allen.
I shook my head and waded in. I reached down and grabbed a handful of the woman's hair and pulled her away and up. She screamed and tried to reach for me and I slapped her hard. She froze for a second and I shook her, "Anymore and I will put you over my knee and spank you." She glared as Allen came to his feet, "This is my house!" I shook her again before releasing her, "And we are here on the Duke's business.
Your husband kidnaped children to use them as slaves." She snorted, "They were common trash." I looked at her as my eyes narrowed, "Mona?" "Yes Kristin?" I nodded to the woman, "arrest this person for conspiring to break the king's law on slavery." Mona grabbed her as the woman gasped and yanked her hands behind her back. I glanced at Sam and then at Allen, "You will go with Lieutenant Mona. This woman is to be stripped in the city square and placed against a whipping post.
You will give her twenty lashes and then she is to be sent to the mines." He swallowed, "yes Kristin." I nodded and gestured to Mona. She yanked the woman towards the stairs and Allen followed them. I turned to look around before starting to search. In the merchant's private study I found the ledger he kept.
He received the strangle pole when I finished and those that had kept the children were whipped and sent to work the mines for ten years.