Elizabeth kept her eyes and ears open and even though she could hardly read, she could count and the number of guards surrounding the perimeter were greatly reduced. In fact the red uniforms of the Stretlsy guard were lacking, the uniforms were of the Royal Guard — this was notable.
Elizabeth could see a contingent of the Stretlsy guard approaching with a determined Katrina leading the way. The few Streltsy guard were called to her and given orders, the Tsarina was to return to the Royal Residence immediately. Elizabeth, Sophia and Ludmilla huddled together and were left behind with the familiar old guard.
Elizabeth approached General Hans Reichter the man in charge. Mierda by her side, veil in place.
“General, what has happened?”
“We are to remain here until further orders.”
“Is my father …” she was interrupted.
“Oh no, princess, your father is alive.”
“Why are you here?” she asked boldly.
“We are here for your protection, why is that so different?”
Elizabeth realized she wasn’t going to get a straight answer and decided to stick close to her sisters. She scanned the area marking the position of the soldiers, just as Irina has ordered.
The lantern made all the difference, Irina was able to see the narrow passageway with empty wall sconces and stone cold isolation. She was able to navigate the entire network of the hidden avenue. She stopped at each hidden doorway and listened. Most of the activity was on the first and second levels, she was highly suspicious when she listened to several conversations and the nerves kicked in. She was nauseated by the feeling of dread that came upon her. She decided time for exploring was over it was now time for preparation.
She gathered candles, clothing and food from the Tea Room and placed it in an alcove in the third level passageway. She still had Katrina to worry about. She wondered if the hidden avenue was a secret Katrina kept to herself or shared it with the Streltsy Guard. That was not a question she could ever ask.
Irina then realized, as clever as she thought she had been, she still had no idea how to get away from the Royal Residence — unseen, if necessary. She put the remainder of the time she had left to explore that possibility. Feeling confident, she returned to the Tea Room but her sisters had not returned, and the personal servants were no where to be found.
A fury of footsteps could be heard coming down the hallway from the main stairwell, Irina dissipated into the secret passage as the red uniforms entered the Tea Room.
“All clear,” the room was swept by the guard and the pronouncement was made.
Irina knew her time was up. She could no longer walk freely in her own home. She dared to linger outside the wall of her father’s chamber. She could hear her mother crying and Katrina’s voice ordering the guard to follow the orders they just received.
Elizabeth huddled with her sisters in the first floor solar where they were placed upon returning to the residence. The attention to their privacy and station seemed to have gone by the wayside. The personal servants were dismissed and guards were placed outside the door.
Irina could hear screams and the clash of weapons all around her.