So it's been months since I worked on this. I'm sorry, I am obviously a terrible person. Hope you enjoy!

Chapter 8

Malandra's head snapped up at the voice of a young child at her window. Reluctantly she moved to see the little girl she had saved. Her black hair framed her pale, frightened face and blocked the view from the window. With a sigh Malandra voiced a question,

"What's wrong little one?"

"They're going to burn you to death! You saved my life, they can't do that!"

"I knew what I was going to face by doing magic in public," Malandra explained gently. The girl's face crumpled at that and her bottom lip began to quiver.

"But who's going to save me now?"

"You girl, get away from there!"

The girl's eyes widened and she clutched the bars of the window with determination. Malandra had a chronic problem not saying yes to someone in trouble. It's what had gotten her stuck in this dungeon in the first place. The girl was pulling at every heartstring she had.

"Give me your name and a way to find you and I'll do my best."

The little girl smiled, completely reassured. Malandra wondered if the girl had never been lied to, to trust someone so completely. She could only vaguely remember a time when she had been the same way.

"I live in the house near the market with the green curtains on the window. My name's Gwyneira."

The words had barely left her mouth when a soldier came to take her away. Malandra was grateful to see he was gentle with the little girl. To her credit, Gwyneira was taking the soldier's lecture about safety without complaint. She was simply nodding cheerfully. Clearly she had faith in Malandra, which given Malandra's current predicament, seemed beyond misplaced.

With Gwyneira gone, Malandra could see a sizable pyre in the center of the courtyard. All her efforts to avoid the sight were for naught and she strained against her chains as much as she could to get close. The amount of wood was a comfort; once that fire got going it would burn incredibly hot and she wouldn't last long. The scariest part would likely be when they marched her up to it and tied her there.

The image of her body being consumed by flames caused Malandra's heart to speed. Panic was shooting through her body, urging her to lose it. Forcing herself to take deep breaths and to turn away from the window, Malandra sat on the ground, drawing her legs up so she could rest her head.

Ever since her capture that morning she'd been trying to think of ways to escape, but never giving the plotting her full attention. Part of her felt the honorable thing to do would be to allow herself to be executed. She'd go peacefully and they'd kill an innocent woman, showing them that not all who had magic were evil. The other part of her, the side that was plotting, argued the point that no one would care all that very much. In fact, likely no one would realize she'd chosen not to curse them in her dying moments. They would simply return to their homes, congratulating themselves for having killed the witch so efficiently.

But the plotting was, in the end, all for nothing. Malandra knew all sorts of spells; ways to uncurse people, make plants grow at unprecedented rates, even distract guards for a minute or two. She had spent most of her life focused on healing magics, but she had studied other spells. Unfortunately for her potential escape, she knew no spell that could rid her of her shackles or unlock the dungeon door. With nothing to do but contemplate her coming death Malandra found herself drifting in and out of an uneasy sleep.

"Wake up if you want to live."

It didn't take much to jolt Malandra out of her light sleep and she sat up from the ball she'd curled into on the floor. Night had set in completely now, and the only light in her cell was from the torch on the wall opposite. Someone stood in the flickering light, looking back over her shoulder every few seconds.

"Who are you?"

"Didn't Helana tell you there would be people coming to help you?" The woman asked, moving to the door and unlocking the door with a large set of keys. "We had to organize it a bit, but you are the first innocent we are actually getting the chance to save. We did not have a fully realized plan until today."

"Were you not at my trial?" Malandra asked stubbornly. A rescue at this point was too good to be true. Maybe they were merely trying to get her to further incriminate herself with an escape attempt. "I may not have attempted to kill the king, but I do have magic."

"We were split on that," the woman admitted as she strode into the cell and began to free Malandra of her shackles. "But mercy one out in the end. Your being put to death would be like sentencing someone to death simply because there has been a murder and the person has sword skill. We all came to an agreement eventually."

Malandra rubbed her ankles where the chains had rubbed her raw. All the straining she had done earlier against the restriction had made it worse. There was a slickness to the skin there that worried her.

"You have really come to free me?"

"Yes," the woman assured her, and Malandra could make out the smile despite the dark. "Now follow me, you're going to be passed from one of us to the other tonight."

"Where are you going to take me?" Malandra asked as she hastened to follow the woman down the passageway.

"There are many tunnels underneath the castle. We found a large cavern where we might hide you until they have lessened their search for you. We cannot give you a great deal of comfort, but we can give you your life."

"For which I am grateful," Malandra replied, slowing suddenly and reaching out to grab hold of the other woman's arm. "Stop, I hear someone coming this way."

A man stepped around the corner, dressed in the armor of a knight of Camelot. The sword on his hip caught the light of a torch he passed. Malandra took to studying the ground as she continued to follow her rescuer. Perhaps he wouldn't recognize her. Her breath caught as he halted upon reaching them and the woman copied his movement.

"Were you seen Moira?" He asked urgently, reaching out to grasp the woman's hand.

"No one but the guards Lancelot, and they won't remember a thing from this night when they awake. The potion Anna put in that wine was quite strong."

"Good," he half whispered. "Now go get those keys back to where they belong and then hurry to be about something. If you are implicated in this. . . "

"I won't be," she replied, squeezing his hand before she released it and turned her full attention to Malandra. "This is Lancelot, one of the people who wants to help you. You can trust him."

With no further introduction Moira went back the way they'd come, turning around only once to smile at Malandra. Feeling somewhat comforted she followed the knight. She had never expected this to come of her trip to Camelot; that people would actually seek to help her. Perhaps there was good left in this world yet.

Sorry it's so short guys! I got really stuck for a while with this story, but every time I got an idea for something else I would think of the fact that I haven't finished this one yet. I promise to work on it more consistently in the coming weeks until I get it done. Let me know what you think!