Jesper was sure this was not the plan. Kaz wasn’t in the habit of revealing his full plan to the team. But something was going wrong, he was sure of it.
Jesper sneaked around the corner, getting a glimpse of the guard who was not supposed to be there. The security was at least double what Inej reported only a week ago. It’s as if the Van Eck household had received a tip of sorts. He glanced around to the far corner catching a glimpse of Inej in the mirror with a questioning tilt of his head. Inej sent back a grimace.
So, this was definitely not the plan. Time to improvise.
Sending a wink over to Inej, he gestured towards where Kaz was supposed to be. The plan had fallen apart to the point that Jesper knew Kaz would likely withdraw. He watched as Inej slid back into the shadows. Only a few seconds later a light flashed off the mirror.
Ok, Jesper was correct, time to withdraw.
Sending a confirming light back, Jesper slid back against the wall and started to make his way down the hallway. Both Matthias and Nina were stationed on the roof, Inej was likely already heading up to get the couple. Jesper just had to find a way to exit the mansion and make his way to the southern meeting point. If that’s been compromised, they would meet at the Slats. With no alarm bells or shouting, Jesper was safe with the knowledge that the others had not been discovered just yet.
As he reached the end of the hallway, two guards passed between the opening. Jesper quickly slid into an alcove.
Well, that’s closed off.
Taking a second to catch his breath, Jesper scanned the rest of the hallway seeing a slightly open door. That’s a plan maybe... According to the plans, the Van Eck mansion had a lot of little quirks, one of which was that most rooms had two exits. Jesper couldn’t remember much past that, but Ghezen he hoped this was the music room. It led nearly directly to an easily accessible window and that would be his way out. Squinting a bit more at the opening, Jesper could see a violin off to the side.
Oh, thank the Saints!
Giving one more glance up and down the hallway, Jesper quickly crossed the hallway stopping by the door and slowly nudging it open. The room was mostly dark with a few scattered candles. Jesper’s eyes swept over his surroundings taking steps into the room as he did. He froze when suddenly he met two shocked blue eyes staring straight back at him. In the darkness, there sat a boy on the piano bench seemingly happily sitting in the darkness until Jesper entered the room.
What was he meant to do now?
Jesper quickly rushed across the room, taking in more of the boy’s appearance as he went. Ruddy red curls surround the face, lit up by the candlelight placed on the piano. He appeared to be about Jesper’s age but smaller in size, dressed in a simple white tunic and brown pants. Jesper grasped onto the still shocked frozen redhead’s arm and dragged him up. An arm wrapped around the boy’s waist with his back to Jesper, and the other went up to cover the mouth with his hand.
“Stay quiet now and it’ll be all fine.”
Jesper dragged himself and the kid towards a darkened wall, ensuring to keep a strong hold around the boy’s waist. As his back hit the wall, Jesper quickly turned in place now holding the boy between the wall and Jesper’s own body. As his front hit the wall suddenly, the redhead shuddered in place ever so slightly. Jesper couldn’t help but feel for him, it was never in the plan to hold up a civilian especially one who might just be a servant wanting to rest.
“Listen carefully blue eyes, I’m going to remove my hands in a second, but you can’t yell for help. Answer my questions softly and quickly then we’ll figure out where to go from here ok?” Jesper whispered into his ears.
As the other nodded in place, Jesper removed his hand, squeezing a shoulder softly as a warning.
“The door across from us leads to a window?”
The shorter gave a nod.
“What’s the likelihood we’ll see guards in that hallway?”
“Very small, they usually leave this wing of the house empty.”
It’s the first time the redhead spoke. He had the accent of an educated Kerch citizen, ok so maybe not just a servant, but still soft-spoken perhaps acquired from living in the household. The tone of his voice was musical of sorts, Jesper couldn’t help but ponder if he was a singer. There was something so intriguing about him.
“Ok that’s great, does the window have a lock? Is there a way down?”
The redhead took a few deep breaths, attempting to calm himself, then turned his head to meet Jesper’s eyes. Oh, Saints that’s some of the bluest eyes Jesper had ever seen; they glimmered in the faint light. The eyes focused on Jesper’s face before he answered.
“The window is unlocked. There’s a lattice leading to a cobblestone pathway. If I lead you there, will you let me go?” The soft tone pleading.
Jesper sighed, no he can’t let the kid go just yet, maybe if he hadn’t so clearly seen Jesper’s face. There’ll be a way to figure it all out later when he’s reunited with others, some kind of blackmail Inej will find to ensure the shorter boy stays quiet.
“Sorry kid, you’ll have to come with me for now at least. Just be good and you’ll be safe. I also have a pistol right here so no trying to escape business.”
The redhead’s eyes flashed darkly for a second, a small pout forming on his face.
“I’m not a kid.”
Jesper let out a quiet snort, that’s the part he focused on?
“Ok Red, sure. Before we continue what’s your name? It’s slightly annoying calling you ‘blue eyes’ in my head.” Jesper couldn’t help but give a playful smirk.
This wasn’t the time to flirt but the kid was pretty, maybe Jesper could seduce him to the dark side.
“Nice to meet you Wylan, maybe not under these circumstances-”
Jesper stopped suddenly as the name registered in his brain. Wylan? Where had he heard that name before? Oh! Oh… Wylan Van Eck! The heir to the Van Eck fortune, future mercher in the making. Oh Ghezen, this is about to get so much more complicated.
“Wylan Van Eck?”
Wylan seemed to cringe onto himself as if the name itself caused pain before nodding reluctantly. Jesper could only guess that the merchling hoped he wouldn’t recognise the name.
“Well, well, little Van Eck maybe you’ll be more helpful than just to escape.”
For the first time in the night, the redhead’s eyes flashed defiance and anger.
“If you are going to kidnap me, at least call me Wylan!” he hissed while still staying in a whisper.
Jesper raised an eyebrow in part amusement, part questioning.
“Relax merchling, I’ll call you Wylan and now let’s get us out of here so I can proceed to kidnap you.”
Slightly loosening his grip on Wylan, Jesper started to crowd the two towards the far-right door. After taking a moment to listen for guards, the door was pushed open with a soft groan. Jesper heard Wylan’s breathing speeding slightly before settling once again when no guards came yelling. The coast was clear. He couldn’t help but be surprised the merchling wasn’t disappointed that he wouldn’t be rescued.
The window was unlocked as Wylan predicted and slid open with no resistance. It’s as if this route has been used frequently to escape the house. Jesper gave his companion an intrigued glance, why would the heir of a household need to sneak out of the house? How did Wylan know the window will be unlocked? What about the guard routes? Questions to be asked later.
Looking down the open window Jesper quickly realised that there was no chance he was going to be able to hold onto Wylan and climb. He looked down towards the smaller boy once again before quietly explaining.
“You know I have my pistols Wylan and I’m not afraid to use them.” It was a lie. Jesper would be very hesitant to shoot an unarmed man but the merchling doesn’t know that.
“So, you’re going to climb down first and then not run when you reach the bottom. I’ll follow straight away, are you following?”
Wylan stared at him for a second then nodded with an eye roll as if to say, yeah, I follow, you idiot. For a spoiled rich kid, his eyerolls are oddly endearing, Jesper really needed to snap out of this. This is Wylan Van Eck future millionaire not a cute member of the barrel to seduce.
Once Jesper let go of his arm, Wylan began to climb down the lattice closely followed by Jesper. Jesper intentionally being as quiet as possible with Wylan seemingly following suit.
In turn, they both hit the cobblestones safely, thankfully escaping any injury. Jesper nearly hugged Wylan in excitement before he realised oh right kidnapping and grabbed the other’s arm instead. He set off speedily towards the meeting point, dragging Wylan along with him.
He quickly rounded the corner still holding onto Wylan’s arm. Jesper couldn’t help but let out a relieved laugh when he spotted the other 4 waiting. The relief lasted about as long as he remembered exactly who he was holding on to and met Kaz’s confused but nevertheless already angry gaze.
“Jesper, what exactly are you doing with the Van Eck heir?”
The others all turned with wide eyes, as Wylan also seemed to have frozen in place next to Jesper.
Jesper's hesitating eyes jumped from person to person to gain time, what exactly was he meant to say now? Oh yeah, Kaz so I ran into Wylan Van Eck, heir of a large fortune, and then kidnapped him! We’ll probably have the Stadwatch searching for him bright and early! How was your day?
“Um- Long story Kaz but hey we’re out!”
Just as he went to move closer, he felt Wylan’s weight lean more against him causing Jesper to turn. There behind Wylan stood Inej, holding two fingers against Wylan’s neck. How does she keep doing that?!
With a worrying moment of concern that confused Jesper himself, he asked, “He’s just knocked out right?”
“Yes, Jes don’t worry. Now turn around I think Kaz is about to blow.”
Now fully supporting Wylan’s weight with Inej’s help, Jesper quickly turned to see Kaz glaring at Inej before those dark eyes turned to him. He’s fully fuming, gripping tightly at the crow-headed cane, this isn’t going to end well.
“Explain exactly what happened Jesper. I swear to Ghezen you better not leave anything out.”