She opened the heavy door to her chamber, and listened, peering out with the candle held out in front of her. No sounds met her ears. A couple of armed guards would be on the lower level but likely dozing by the fire in the great hall just as they had been earlier that evening. Anne had observed them while she and the servants were cleaning up the hall after the feast. The guards did rounds a couple of times a night, but Anne was sure she would hear them coming in their mail slippers. The echoes from the smallest noise went on forever within the castle walls. Anne began to descend the staircase carefully watching her own feet so she that would not stumble or kick a pebble on the way down.
In the pre-dawn shadow, the castle seemed to breathe all around her, exhaling cold air like a mammoth beast. Armor hung in the alcoves with helmets closed, spears up, as if silently guarding the castle. Shivering, Anne descended the staircase. It was so much more creepy than during the day. She had been to many castles in Europe, but they had been turned into someone's home, become a museum, or were in ragged ruins that bore no resemblance to an inposing keep. The museums sometimes held ghosts, but ancient memories seemed stilled during the daylight hours. In 1136, there were fewer memories echoing through the halls, perhaps, but those that were there spoke more loudly. She wished Penelope was there with her, but then there would be two sets of feet on the midnight stair poised to wake the dead instead of one.
At the bottom, Anne turned toward the kitchen. Penelope had said she had gotten the best signal outside the door where the ground began a steady slope straight down the valley toward the rendezvous point in the woods. The stone under her feet was silent now as Anne walked on, as if the castle was now holding its breath, having accepted her secret, as she stepped along the hall and down the back stairs. Then next sweep of the rendezvous area was scheduled soon. Anne's heart beat faster when she remembered how Maël had found Penelope "sleepwalking" two nights ago. She hoped it was a coincidence. She walked through the covered walkway and through the kitchen . She gently closed the kitchen door behind her as she entered the courtyard.
Anne set the candle down on the stones and opened the brooch again and pressed SEND. Nothing. The screen went blank. She tried again a few seconds later. Still nothing. She checked her time piece. It was the time for the scheduled sweep. Why wouldn't it work? Anne tried several more times, but when it was clear that the sweep was over, she stopped. Anne sagged against the kitchen door. Oh my god. She couldn't contact Sarah! A gust of wind whipped Anne's hood from her head and blew her hair across her face. The candle sputtered out. She shivered more deeply than she had yet that night.
She knelt down, fumbling for the candle in the darkness. She had to get Penelope back to the castle! Two minds were better than one. Even if one was a bit off-kilter. What would bring Penelope back to the castle? It would have to be a life and death matter. Anne found the candle base finally and stood up. The wind was till whipping her cloak and hair fiercely and she gripped the latch on the door. Life and death... if Anne had an emergency, surely they would bring her mother back! But what would seem life threatening but not be life threatening? Anne jiggled the latch. It was being stubborn. Finally the door gave way and caught with the wind and swung her inside the kitchen and then slammed the door shut behind her with a force that made her stumble to her knees. She felt a bit dizzy from the impact. That was it! She would feign an illness. It would be easy to fake symptoms that would seem life-threatening to these people. Then they would have to fetch Penelope from Fontevrault.