“I won’t be part of this.” Ruarc glared at the duchess.
“You’ll do as I tell you.” She narrowed her eyes at him.
“I’ll not help you torture a man.” He shook his head, noting that Jurgen was watching him. With the guard present, there was little he could do to help the man at the moment. And with the man’s companion still threatened, Jurgen wouldn’t come to his own defense. He’d let Durante push him toward the pillory. The man was willing to be tortured to save his friend. That alone told him which side he should be on. He turned, and walked away.
“Ruarc.” Her voice came after him. “There will be consequences for this.”
He ignored her, and continued up the stairs. Ignoring her felt… Freeing. Ruarc took a deep breath, and headed back toward the dungeon. The blond man was pacing his cell, his expression furious. He glared when he saw Ruarc. “If that man is harmed, I will see this castle and all its inhabitants wiped from the face of the world.”
“He’s feisty.” One of the two crossbowmen chuckled.
The man in the cell also wasn’t afraid. At least, not for himself. Ruarc took a deep breath as he walked toward the nearest of the crossbow men. Then he grabbed the man by the throat, spun him to catch the crossbow, and fired it into the second man. The second man fell back, the bolt sticking out of his chest. He screamed. The first man tried to strike at Ruarc, and Ruarc shoved him into the wall and brought his other hand in to gain leverage. Then he snapped the man’s neck. He turned toward the screaming man, and finished him off with a sword thrust before bending down to retrieve the keys.
“You…” Markus was staring at him.
Ruarc turned the key in the lock. “They’ll have heard that. Grab a weapon.”
Immediately, Markus obeyed. Ruarc picked up a shield and tossed it to Markus before picking up another and strapping it to his own arm. He exchanged a brief nod with the other man as a group of guards came to investigate, then moved in alongside Markus to attack.