There was quite a bit of difference between having watched Douglas sign for a few years and watching him and his father go at full speed. There were a few slower sections where Douglas spelled out a new word since they’d last been apart, but that didn’t take long.
“Why did you stop us here?” Douglas looked upset, “You said we’d be secretly shuttled all the way through Dalgare.”
If he could sign with his arms folded in front of him, Sarah got the feeling Xavier would have. However, as he needed his hands free he merely took on a stern expression. “Why are you smuggling a Scoubarran Prince?”
“It was a secret for a reason.”
Sarah sensed the tension between them, and tried to say something- but the area was still covered in magical silence. She looked towards the two Scoubarrans, but they were waiting… tensely, but obediently. Cletus seemed to be gesturing something related to Cletus, but they didn’t have an actual sign language so Faron mostly seemed confused.
With that moment of distraction, Sarah missed part of what Xavier was saying, “… dangerous and stupid.” He pressed his hands together to emphasize the last word.
Douglas shrugged, “She’s a princess though. We had a plan.”
“Scoubar doesn’t have princesses.”
“Faron is… a daughter of the Mage-King. And willing to fight against him.”
Xavier spit out a puff of air. “You’ll have to explain. Later.” His eyes swept over the two in the wagon, then to Sarah. “Who is this?”
Sarah answered for herself… as she could. “I am… S-a-r-a-h T-a-t-h-a-m,” she rarely had to sign to Douglas, so she was sure she got half of it wrong. “Pleased to meet you.”
“Are you mute as well?” Xavier asked.
Sarah gestured around them. “Magical silence.”
Xavier snapped his fingers- the gesture silent. “Right.” He gestured towards the two in the carriage. “You two. Silent.” He would know they probably didn’t speak sign, but the gesture to his lips should have been clear enough. He waited for them to acknowledge it, then suddenly there was sound. Not much, but the small whispering of the wind after no sound at all was quite noticeable.
“In case you didn’t fully understand, he wishes for you two to remain silent,” Sarah explained to make sure. Cletus nearly responded, then nodded. She saw Xavier was ready, likely with some sort of magic. After a few tense moments, nothing had happened. “Perhaps we should allow him something to write with? He can understand Bryrian.”
Douglas helpfully handed over his slate and chalk, though Cletus merely nodded and seemed to have nothing to say immediately.
Xavier pointed to the two of them and outside the carriage. Sarah translated, “You two step out of the carriage, and walk in front.”
Cletus sighed and gestured Faron along with him. Then Xavier started directing them along. Sarah had never been in a situation with so many difficulties in communicating between people. She could communicate with most of the people a little bit, but all of the others would have difficulties of language or just not being allowed to speak.
“Turn left,” Sarah directed the group through the area with Xaviers instruction, since the two Scoubarrans couldn’t see him. The manor could certainly house many people and guards, but they didn’t pass a single one. Rather than being suspicious, it was clearly intentionally arranged. She knew Xavier had status here, after all. Something like the leading mage in Dalgare.
They eventually arrived in a small sitting room… where explanations were made, though not quickly. Xavier had his own slate to write on, if he wished to communicate directly with Cletus, or when Sarah had trouble understanding something. Faron was waiting patiently, mostly out of the loop, since Xavier didn’t want Cletus exchanging secret messages with her.
Finally, the explanations were finished. “A meeting with the Sisters…” Xavier signed. “A crazy venture. Why shouldn’t I just kill them?”
Douglas seemed rankled by the suggestion, quickly responding. “They’re under my protection. I’ll topple this entire manor if you make me.”
Xavier breathed a dramatic sigh, looking towards Sarah. “Where did I go wrong? His thoughts go straight to collapsing a building.”
Sarah shrugged, “That’s just how the world has made things.”
Xavier looked directly at Douglas. “I want you to promise me something. Never let your guard down around them. I don’t think I can stop you from doing something stupid, and I know you’re not a child anymore. Your thought processes baffle me sometimes, but I’m sure your reasons are internally sound. Don’t hesitate to sacrifice them to save yourself, or your friend.” Sarah didn’t translate any of that, since he was speaking straight to Douglas. Xavier proceeded to write out something for Cletus, but kept it hidden from the rest. “Now… you should sleep,” Xavier gestured to the other two. “You must leave in the morning.”
“If you harm a single hair on my son I will hunt you to the ends of the earth.” Cletus shook his head. “A promise straight from The Reaper.”
“… I’ll admit he’s a little bit scary,” Faron said.
The two of them were locked into a room. They’d been warned not to try to leave during the night. The wards were quite secure, but Cletus was at least pleased to see that it wouldn’t be easy to break into either. It was a decent room, with a bed large enough for two. A sort of gilded prison, but honestly no more worrying than sleeping in the princes quarters almost anywhere. And Cletus was fairly certain that The Reaper wasn’t going to kill them in the night. He sure wasn’t going to sleep well, though.
“I can sleep on the couch,” Cletus offered.
“Don’t bother with that,” Faron said. “I’ve slept in barracks before and in rooms with other ‘brothers’. At least try to get some sleep. The carriage is awful for that.“
Cletus nodded. Even though it wasn’t exactly pleasant to travel, he wasn’t looking forward to the destination either. Any number of things could go wrong. Passing the first border would be hardest, but beyond that… the further they went, the more likely he was to be recognized by someone. Faron, at least, wouldn’t have that issue.
Everyone was shuffled out into the courtyard in the early morning after receiving a quick breakfast. There wasn’t a long emotional goodbye between Xavier and Douglas, instead the two of them looking at each other and just nodding. They both understood that delays would only bring more risk of someone else noticing who exactly was being transported, and Douglas could still keep in touch via magic.
As they were on the road, they reviewed the basic plan for traveling once they were out of Dalgare. “Once we get past the border- which we still have to figure out…” Cletus shook his head. “I’m a small time merchant traveling to the imperial capital, Ayesgarth, to learn about business prospects there. If necessary, I’ll admit to being a small-time prince. You two will be my concubines…” Cletus shook his head, “And Douglas is just a servant.”
“What’s wrong?” Faron raised an eyebrow. “Not happy with us?” As long as the speech was simple, she could keep up in Bryrian.
“It’s a terrible plan. Nobody can notice that you can use magic. Any of you. A minor prince wouldn’t have a concubine that could use magic. Especially not with them on a journey.” Cletus held his head in his hands. “I wish we had a better plan.”
Sarah shook her head, “The only other option is trying to sneak through half a country without being noticed at all. I don’t like either option. We don’t exactly fit in.”
Cletus nodded, “At least in Testror everyone would think you could belong, if you don’t speak. At worst, people might assume you two are from Dalgare.” Douglas pointed to himself, “Yes I know you don’t speak. But don’t forget your sign language will stand out. You can still write as long as nobody else sees it.” Cletus laughed, “Everyone will assume I’m in charge even though I’m the least in charge here. Maybe if we get a good night’s sleep we can avoid screwing things up too much.”
Eventually they reached half a day’s walk from the border between Dalgare and Testror. Scoubar had been in control of the neighboring country for several decades, but the area was tense now that Dalgare had managed to break out of Scoubarran control. The carriage driver waited for them to depart with their bags, and a reasonably sized pouch of currency from Testror. Xavier had managed to arrange that as part of Douglas’ request, or else they might stand out with Dalgarian or Bryrian currency, let alone anything from Vospia. It was likely to be accepted regardless, but they’d prefer not to stand out.
“Well, there’s the border somewhere,” Sarah said. “I suppose we can just walk across, if we’re careful. Douglas, you had a spell to make us harder to notice?”
Douglas nodded. Distorting space around four moving people would be difficult, but he didn’t need to go that far. He could just blur the area around them, and from a far enough distance nobody would even think to look more closely. Of course, they would have some hard time hiking off road to be away from anyone watching, but that was how things would have to be.