Christopher stood in shock for a moment. He read the letter over and over again in his hands. He had gotten letters from the Raven before. The mysterious criminal who promised to destroy him. Why did this one feel different?
Christopher heard Tom come over, and felt his hand on his shoulder. “Bridget seems to be doing just fine,” Tom reassured him. He was barely heard. You should be more careful with your things. “There was a lot of blood in there, though. I wonder whose.”
That jolted Christopher back into awareness. He was supposed to be the one solving all the codes, yet three times in a row now, Tom had been the one to see what really mattered.
“Sally!” Christopher exclaimed, or at least he meant to exclaim, as it really came out unrecognizable, though clearly with great concern. Christopher barely remember to grab the potion he had prepared for Isaac before bolting out the door, Tom following behind.
Whacking the door open and flying into Isaac’s shop, Christopher looked for signs of a fight and breathed a great sigh of relief when all appeared to be proceeding as normal. Sally, having just climbed up the stairs, gave him a concerned look.
Christopher’s relief quickly was replaced with anger at himself as he realized that even though she was fine, the Raven could have come for Sally. He had gone for Simon, after all. What was he thinking leaving Sally here all alone. You should be more careful with your things.
Christopher handed Isaac the potion. “We should get out of here now. Go back to Whitehall.” He didn’t mean it as a suggestion. Sally looked at him, clearly not understanding, but perhaps sensing the urgency in Christopher’s voice. So after she said a longer-than-Christopher-would-have-preferred goodbye, the three of them, Tom carrying Bridget, returned to the palace.
In the carriage, Christopher revealed the letter to Tom and Sally. Both of them expressed concern, though not as much as Christopher. Perhaps, he told himself, they did not understand what the Raven was implying.
Even knowing all too well the castle was not totally safe, Christopher was glad to be back. It felt further from the Raven. Although, he was unhappy to drop Sally off at Berkshire House, terrified by the idea that the Raven could come for her and he couldn’t do anything about it. He looked over at Tom, another potential target of the Raven’s, and worried.
Shortly after arriving at his room, Christopher was informed that Ashcombe and Walsingham wanted to see him and proceeded to the meeting location. “Hello, Christopher,” Ashcombe said.
“Good afternoon, my lord,” Christopher replied.
“I just wanted to let you know that the two of us are going to be away for a period of time on some unexpected business. While we are so grateful for your role in saving the kings life”—even though I put it in danger in the first place, thought Christopher—“we think it would make the most sense if you and your friends returned to your private residences.” They turned to leave.
They want me to go back there, thought Christopher. Go back with the Raven at large and his friends in such danger, and—oh! They don’t know, he realized. He turned to Walsingham. “Ma— my lord, may I speak with you about something for just moment?”
“Is this urgent?”
“Yes, my lord.” Christopher couldn’t think of anything more urgent than the lives of his friends. Christopher showed him the letter from the Raven.
“Yes, that is certainly troubling,” Walsingham said, though he added nothing more.
“I think my friends are in serious danger. The Raven will likely come for them, and I have no idea how to protect them.”
Walsingham nodded. Christopher appreciated many of his Master’s quirks, but he wished the man seemed more alarmed by the situation at hand. “Tom is very good with that sword,” but Christopher said nothing, only serving to draw attention to the notable omission. “Would you like some more training on the use of your pistols?”
“Yes, most definitely, my lord. Do you know someone who could do such a thing?”
“I suppose I could spend the next couple hours teaching you.” This only barely surprised Christopher, who was beginning to learn that his master was a man of many talents.
After showing him to a long field with a row of trees at the other end, Christopher’s master explained to him, “the most important things to remember when firing a gun are accuracy and timing. First, let’s focus on accuracy. You see that one tree out there?” Christopher nodded. “Try to hit it.”
It took him a while to get the hang of it—the tree was pretty far away—but eventually he was hitting it on most shots.
“Now,” Walsingham said, “do you carry that second gun just because you thinks it looks good?”
Christopher took the hint, and started trying to shoot the tree with both guns at once. But, eventually, he figured out how to do that, too.
“So you’ve got the accuracy. Now, it’s up to timing. Put your guns away as you would keep them, unloaded.” Christopher did as such. “Now, when I say go, pull them both out as quickly as possible, and shoot at that same tree. Four, three, two, one, go!”
The first time was pretty rocky. It took Christopher at least half a minute to get both guns ready and loaded, and he got nowhere near the tree. But the second time he cut that in half and got a little closer, and kept improving after that.
“Four, three, go.” It was back to square one. Christopher took what felt like ages before firing a shot nowhere near the tree.
“You have to be on your toes,” Walsingham told him. “Your enemies, the Raven, aren’t going to give you a nice warning. They won’t say go.” This time Christopher new what was happening. He quickly pulled out both weapons and hit the tree with a bullet from each. Walsingham seemed to smile at that. He said “alright, not bad,” and walked back towards the palace.
A few hours later, when Christopher, Tom, and Sally arrived at Blackthorn, they found the doctor there. He told them that Simon was going to be moved to a different location. Christopher didn’t fully understand the plan, but he waved goodbye as Simon left. It was just the three of them.
Christopher paced back and forth, both hands on his guns, while the other two walked further into the house. Some was after his friends, after Sally. He couldn’t let anything happen to her.