Lugh slipped up through the bars, twisting and inching his way on top of the iron grid, until he was completely free of the confinement. No sooner had he gained the top when the door burst open, and as he watched three of the Maines burst into the room, swords drawn.
Slowly, with extreme care, Lugh retrieved his sword and belt from where he had laid them. He set his feet, careful of his balance, and stood, watching the Maines below him. They were wary at first, not seeing him, but after that short hesitation they began to tear the room apart, searching every possible hiding spot. “She lied, we but waste our time!” shouted one of the brothers, “Fionn is not here, though the bed looks like perhaps they were here not long ago.” Lugh smirked to himself and belted his scabbard and sword to his side.
The Maine who spoke tore off the bedding and flung it to the floor, then he even took the precaution of heaving the down mattress onto the floor with the bedding. “He’s not here!”
Gormflaith was just outside, and she stormed in to protect her possessions. “Stop destroying my things! What are you babbling about? You idiots, I locked him in when I left. and I left him clutching his tender parts there on the rug. Are you blind?” He enjoyed the shock on her face for a moment. Lugh walked carefully to the place where the corbelled stone wall was closest to the thatched roof. Thankfully, the Maines vandalism covered the slight hiss of his feet on the iron bars.
The thatch was supported on wooden cross-pieces attached to rafters that reached up to a peak at the center. This wooden grid was as tight as the iron one he’d clambered through and covered over with thatch as well. Lugh drew his sword free of its scabbard, glancing down to see if the slight sound had betrayed him. Lugh pressed the ancient bronze blade deep into the thatch above one of the cross-pieces. With steady downward pressure he worked the blade into wood, deeply notching it. He wrenched it free and pressed back down clearing out a notch and cutting deeper. Back and forth he worked the blade until, pressing hard it gave with a soft crack, and his sword slipped free of the thatch. It was all Lugh could do to keep the blade from cutting his leg and it made a ringing sound as it struck stone. Lugh looked down, but the Maines and Gormflaith were busy loudly arguing his seeming magical departure from the locked strong-room and they didn’t notice his desperate attempt to win free of the building as he did the strong-room.
Lugh shifted to the other side of the cross-piece. With growing confidence he repeated the notching, but this time he took care that the final pressure cut through and stopped against the rafter instead of breaking loose and threatening his leg. Lugh’s smug satisfaction fled as the length of crosspiece fell from the roof to clatter on the stone of the room’s wall and then fall first to the grid and then, by misfortunate chance, through the grill and down to clatter on the floor below.
The Maines seemed unfazed, but Lugh watched as Gormflaith’s eyes narrowed as she tried to see what might have caused the additional commotion. Her eyes rose and widened as she for the first time looked through the bars to what was above near the roof. “He’s on top of the strong-room you fools!”
Lugh turned back to his task. He shoved his sword into the thatch again and again, stabbing and cutting across the grain of the reeds to cut path to escape while all hell broke loose below him. He glanced over to see one of the Maines leap for the bars from the head of the bed, smashing into the stone and missing entirely to crash heavily onto the bed box unpadded by the tick.
Gormflaith was shrieking her displeasure as another Maine missed his grip and crushed another piece of her furniture with a mighty crash. “Get out, get out, get out!” she howled. One of them finally gained a grip on the bars, but it didn’t seem likely that he’d figure out the trick of it before he plummeted to the ground, destroying still more treasures.
With a wink and a grin Lugh shoved his sword one last time into the thatch. Lugh followed his arm through and into the cool dark of the night. Wiggling free of the restraining thatch he took stock of his position. I’m free of the prison, but not yet free of the fort.