He landed with knees slightly bent to help absorb the shock of impact, and he waited for the mild stinging in his heels and calves to subside. He flattened his back to the outside wall and looked furtively around even though he knew it was unnecessary; there were never patrols along the outside walls of the monastery, and no one watched the grounds at night. After all, it was a monastery, and anyone who dared molest the friars’ safety did so at their own peril and risked the wrath and vengeance of God Almighty. This, coupled with the isolated location of his bedchamber, meant that the tiny corner of the monastery was also cast into pitch blackness. No one would see him leave, or even notice his absence until they were called upon to fetch him for his nightly whipping. So long as he moved swiftly and silently, he stood little danger of being apprehended at all.

The wall outside the monastery had at first been a different matter entirely. How to scale the wall and land safely on the other side had presented something of a problem to him at first, and during his nightly chores he pondered ways to stockpile supplies without drawing the attention and curiosity of the friars. He had never had either the time or the opportunity to plan an elaborate escape, because he simply didn’t have the resources to manage it.

These were things over which he’d puzzled repeatedly until in his woolgathering had come a moment of wild inspiration and he’d remembered the door. The monastery had been built during a time of great upheaval, and as a life saving measure a small, inconspicuous door had been added into the wall of the monastery that stood closest to the outer forest. If the friars found themselves under attack they could simply flee via that door and take refuge within the foliage until such time as they could either find their way to safety, or wait out the siege under camouflage of the forest. It was unlikely that they would be pursued there, for it was widely known that brigands and outlaws made their homes in the woods and cared nothing for the well-being of the God fearing folk, and few dared to venture. The door had fallen to disrepair in the years that it had sat unused, but it was his most immediate and viable option, and for his quick and relatively unplanned flight, it was perfect.

After ascertaining for himself that no one had heard his landing or noticed his escape, Bowen quickly made his way to the door, skirting the garden at the rear of the monastery and feeling along the wall with his hands. His heart pounded with exhilaration and his blood roared in his ears, fearing discovery and anticipating the thundering bellows of the friars as he searched for the door to his certain freedom.

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