Do you know how many people each year die because they’re gagged (proper gagged) and they throw up and then asphyxiate on the vomitus? Me neither, what kind of lunatic would know such a thing? What I do know is that I almost became one of them today. Even before I nearly died I have very little to recommend about traveling at a high rate of speed while bound at the hands, blindfolded, and gagged. It’s not great even when you’re lying still (as I unfortunately am well aware) but it’s particularly troublesome when you’re bouncing around on the back of a horse. The drugs swirling around inside me probably didn’t help either. After some number of hours being tossed around as we galloped (well, not really, horses can’t actually gallop for that long but you know what I mean) towards Three Rivers I felt that hot sweaty flush come over me that is the precursor to puking your guts out. I tried to alert my captor to this fact by grabbing at his arm and generally freaking out but he failed to get the message.
Have you ever explosively vomited while your mouth was blocked by a gag or otherwise sealed up in some fashion? And this was a real gag, not that bullshit where they tie a strip of cloth over your mouth like that does anything. It’s one of the more horrifying experiences of my life so far. Sadly that list of horrible things I’ve experienced keeps getting longer and longer. It’s basically like instantaneous drowning. The sensation of drowning is bad enough on it’s own, but usually you have a period of running out of breath first to prepare yourself. This was instant “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit I’m dying!” As I was suffocating on the contents of my own stomach I thought that based on all the things I’ve survived that this was a colossally stupid and mundane way to die. I survived a dragon encounter more than once and now I’m going to puke drown like some fat old alcoholic wretch lying in the gutter? The fact that I’ve had this thought more than once is a good indication of how great things are going for my life right now.
But there may also be a nugget of wisdom to be extracted from it – it’s the invisible dangers that you never think about that can lay you low. A man with a knife coming to stab you? That’s an easy danger to bring to the forefront of your mind. On the other hand it’s hard to be vigilant about horseshoe maintenance all the time and then WHAM you get a horse with a bad shoe and your mount shies at the wrong time and you’re on the ground with a bloody broken neck. They say it’s the little things in life and they’re right – it’s the little things that will kill you. You have to be on your guard all the time if you want to make it through. Which sounds exhausting, but there’s nothing for it. If you want to live. Which I do. A lot.
Fortunately (I guess?) once I started dying the man was holding me on the horse realized something was wrong and pulled to a stop. I don’t know if he threw me to the ground in a panic or if he just dropped me or what, but I definitely hit the ground hard and felt something crack in my shoulder. No, not crack, it was more like the sound when you crush the shell of a walnut. I guess that’s a crack. The point is it was more of a crushing than a clean crack. The good news is that the blinding pain of busting my shoulder distracted me from all the dying I was doing. Never let it be said that I don’t look for a positive spin on things.
The next thing that happened was the blinding I experienced when the blindfold was ripped off – I would have gone for the gag first myself, but what do I know? The gag was pulled off second and then someone push their dirty fingers into my mouth to try and clear things out. I bit down on them as hard as I could mostly out of reflex/convulsing but also because get your damn fingers out of my mouth. Next thing I felt was someone put their mouth over my mouth and nose and sucking with the power of a dozen back alley whores pull the vomit out of my airway. You’re probably thinking that is a turn of phrase you never want to hear again – well I’m the one it happened to! It saved my life for sure, but that doesn’t make it any less revolting. Once I was done dry heaving, gasping, and writhing in pain in the dirt I did a goodly amount of screaming and cursing at the men standing around me. Even though they were out of reach I kicked at them pointless as well. I can only think of a few moments when I was more angry than I was at that instant. I realize that this may come off as something hypocritical since I often complain about the lack of gratitude when I save someone, but since these people almost killed me in the first place I think this is different. Once I had exhausted myself they tried to pull me to my feet and I involuntarily made a very pathetic mewling noise.
“You broke my fucking shoulder you fucking fuck!” I tried to stop myself from sobbing and failed “Please, please, for the love of the Gods or whatever you find holy and good in this world do not blindfold and gag me again. I can’t do any magic, I can’t do anything, please just don’t!”
I’m not sure I ever cut a more pathetic picture that I did just then. Even back in Graltontown when I was sick almost to death and hiding in a tomb laying on the cold stone freezing and thinking that I wasn’t going to see the morning I don’t think I was as low as I was sitting in the middle of the road covered with vomit with a shattered shoulder crying my eyes out. One of the men came over with a phial in his hand and offered it to me.
He jabbed it at me “Drink it, it will fix your shoulder.”
I started laugh-crying and blowing big gobs of snot and other grossness out of my nose instead. I couldn’t help myself.
“You’re trying to kill me. Just do it, cut my head off, don’t torture me like this. Don’t drug me and blindfold me and kill me like this. I don’t deserve this, no one deserves anything like this. I haven’t done anything to deserve this!”
He sighed, a sigh of a man who just wants to be done with his work. “This engagement hasn’t gone as planned for any of us. Just drink this, it will heal you and then we can get you to Three Rivers as soon as possible.”
I laughed again “Where I’ll be executed? I may not want to get there as badly as you lot.”
He gestured to his men “Hold her down.”
I did sort of a spring-hop-stand up and dash forward move and slammed the crown of my head into his groin. This would have been a great idea if he hadn’t been wearing armor. I think they call it a codpiece. I don’t know why, it should be called a groinpiece. What the Hells does a fish have to do with anything? Slamming your head as hard as possible into a fluted piece of metal is not ordinarily a great thing to do, but at this point I was beyond feeling the pain. No that’s not right, I felt plenty of pain, I was beyond caring about pain. The headbutt to the metal groin armor did no damage, but it did knock him off balance and it certainly surprised him. With a feral snarl I jumped on him, dragging us both to the ground as I got my bound hands around his throat. I had the heels of my hands underneath his chin and I pulled back as hard as I could. I never wanted anything more than I wanted to kill that man in that moment. It was maybe a whole three seconds before the others pulled me off as easily as undoing a button. There was barely even a red mark on his neck.
He locked eyes with me and help up the phial “This will help you, you want to drink it, drink it. You don’t want to fine, but we’re moving on, if you want to ride in agony that’s your decision.”
Now that I could see them and had half a second where I wasn’t blind and dying, I saw that there was only one of the original crew from the coach in this little fellowship. The fellow who was doing the talking was a broad muscular man with a shaved head and the standard cold look of a true mercenary. One of the men holding me, the one that I think I was riding with, had to be a good six inches taller than me and would have looked very intimidating if not for his silly blonde mustache and his ringed balding head. The third newcomer, who had a large sword drawn and ready to go, was another physical specimen who’s gaunt face and grey hair on the sides did nothing to make him look appealing.
“I’ll drink it, just unbind my hands, I can’t hurt anyone, I can’t do anything.”
“You just tried to strangle me.”
“And it didn’t amount to much did it? I lost control of my emotions for a moment, it won’t happen again. I won’t cause you any trouble.”
“Any more trouble you mean.”
“I haven’t done shit aside from almost die!”
He gestured “Unbind her hands.”
The gaunt swordsman frowned “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”
Shaved head grunted “Probably not, but this whole thing is already a disaster.”
That bothered me more than anything. Okay, not more than almost dying, but it still bothered me. I was the one being dragged to my death and he’s acting like he’s the one who was inconvenienced by the whole thing. That really put some corn in my muffin. Probably everyone in every job grumbles about it when things aren’t going well, but have a little perspective asshole – I’m the one who has the right to complain. I did end up drinking the offer elixir and it really was a healing concoction of some kind – my shoulder still hurt put I could feel it sliding back into place and the worst of the pain was spared. They all kept a close eye on me but I was allowed to ride on my own after that – they had several spare mounts. In other circumstances I would have enjoyed the ride because they were truly top quality horses that had been bred for stamina and a smooth gait, but for SOME reason I couldn’t enjoy it.
With the everwake serum poking at my insides like a stream of angry hornets I couldn’t really enjoy anything. When we stopped the food they gave me tasted bitter and vinegary to the point where I couldn’t even eat it. Not to mention that the drug keeps you from sleep but it doesn’t make you not tired – if anything I felt more fatigued than usual. It was an awful feeling, like I was hung from an iron bar by my armpits – no way to fall but being held up wasn’t great either. The halt was mostly for the horses as far as I could tell, to give them a rest and to give them a chance to eat – the Lodestoners kept me under heavy guard the whole night, only one of them sleeping at a time and for only a few hours. They must be taking something themselves but I didn’t see what it was.
Despite their constant vigilance and overall competence as I sat there against a tree stump in the darkness unable to sleep and with a sour feeling in my stomach I thought about trying to escape. There’s no guarantee that Duke Lodvocka will even get my message or do anything about if he does. Or that if he does it will happen in time – we’ve travelled a shocking distance every quickly, we’ll probably be in Three Rivers tomorrow. Counting on the Duke to save me doesn’t sit well. Not to mention which the Lumber people might just kill me anyway despite what he wants. The problem is that if I try to escape and fail that means it will probably be impossible for the Duke to do much – authorities don’t like it when you escape from them, even when you’re innocent. Which is a cruel joke, seems like if you were wrongfully imprisoned escaping should be fine. But it’s not.
Plus if I did get away I’d be giving up all the stuff they took from me, and I had some great stuff. I should know better, that’s the trap of having a lot of great stuff – as much as it can help you it can also be an anchor around your leg. Stuff should be expendable, you shouldn’t get attached to it. But I had SO much money, it’s foolish to throw that away right? It’s a real pickle. Throughout the night there were several points where I was a half a second away from making my move but I always snuffed out that impulse the last moment. The chances were too bad and the risks too great. I’ll have to see what awaits me in Three Rivers. I’ve gotten out of tighter jams than this. I can’t think of one at the moment, but I’m sure that I have.
Inventory: Whiterock family signet ring (Ring of Binding)
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee, Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage, Essa, eyeless hag, Baron Saltwheel, Baron Harmenkar, Colonel Tarl Ciarán’s wizard soldier, Victor, Beharri, Cebuano, Mayor Eryn, Chimera Trading Company, maker of the manacles