By Jaap-Peter Hazelhoff
Chapter 64 - The Trophy
Berdusk 1371 DR, Eleint, 11th day (Penultimate Thunder: Hoar)
For how long it has been quiet, Skeen doesn’t know. It doesn’t matter in a way, they haven’t been back. The guards were the least evil of the lot. The image of that cold, hard face peering from underneath the hood at her was much more unsettling and made her tremble in fear. Rather those ugly rapists than HIM. An uncontrollable shiver runs down her naked body at the memory, and cold sweat makes her feel all the more clammy in the dank and damp room.
Skeen tries to control her shivering and focus. She flexes and unflexes her tired and sore muscles trying to see if there’s any way she can get herself out of the mess she’s in. ‘Come on, Erevan,’ she prays silently, ‘Think of how much entertainment you’d miss if I am killed.’ She doesn’t really think he’ll answer, but she figures it never hurts to pay some sort of respect to the gods though if they notice her at all, it’s as plaything, not devout or favored worshipper.
She falls silent for a time and just listens, trying to hear if there is anything or anyone nearby. Time has become meaningless in the darkness of the room. Her elven sight useless without a mere hint of light, only sounds… always the dripping of water somewhere beyond the door; a maddening drip that even fails to help measure time due to its randomness.
Her mind wanders back for the umpteenth time to the small village where she saw daylight for the last time. ‘Who were my assailants? Why me?’ Initially she suspected the merchant in that village – Qheldin’s Mask – who’s purse she ‘liberated’, yet her captors never mentioned anything about that act. They were only interested in her body it seemed, and referring to her as a nice gift to be handed over at the appropriate time – whenever that might be…
As another bout of shivers runs through her frame, she hears muffled sounds form somewhere beyond the door and beyond the walls. Indistinguishable, yet different from the sounds she has come to know in her period of captivity.
Skeen shivers again and renews her attempts to escape her bonds. Staying here just doesn’t seem to be an option though it’s also her only option – unless she can get free, that is. She shakes her head feeling the short golden curls sticking to the clammy sweat on her forehead. Her blue eyes open and close again, searching for any small bit of light. She coughs, the dampness getting into her lungs, a rasping hoarse cough constricted by the scars around her throat. Old scars from old wounds. She flexes again, her long body more slim than muscular, fair skin beaded with damp sweat and goose-bumps. She has to get free. Somehow. She has to get free.
Yet the struggling is to no avail, the bonds that hold her are too tight and too well placed. Skeen has the distinct feeling that she’s not the first person to have been captured in this room… Further contemplating her misery, she hears muffled sounds of shouting and something that resembles fighting…
Skeen listens carefully. This could be either good or bad or perhaps no change. There are often battles between rival gangs and she knows she could become just the spoils for someone or something else. Still, she has to think that something else has to be better. Be better than the scaled man.
A fresh and sudden tremor rips through her body as she shivers uncontrollably in fear. The old scars on her neck ache with the cold and the memory of other life-threatening fear. She won’t call out. Not yet. Her voice doesn’t get loud enough to carry well, but if they get closer…
As Skeen listens, she thinks she can hear yelling, almost words, but not quite loud enough for her to distinguish distinct sounds. She raises her voice, yelling in return, hoarse shouts that hurt her ravaged throat. She curses in elven, the begins to try and rock the table, yelling in hoarse bursts as she tries to flip the table over, hoping to make a loud enough noise to be heard.
The elven woman’s efforts pay off as the table starts to rock first slowly, and then increasingly wilder. The legs slamming on the floor cause the sound to reverberate in the small chamber. One of the legs must have been weaker then the other three, as suddenly the table buckles under the rocking motion and collapses. As the table almost disintegrates, Skeen is thrown painfully on the floor, the ropes that bound her cutting painfully in her flesh and a splintered part of the table penetrating her calf.
Skeen can no more stop the small cry of pain she makes than she can stop her implacable struggle to survive. Shrugging free of the now loosened bonds, she grabs one of the legs of the newly dead table and rises awkwardly to her feet. Unable to walk with her customary grace, she moves with a limp, clutching the table leg as weapon, looking for a way out.
Limping to the door, the moon-elven girl tries to open it, however she finds it locked, and potentially barred from the outside. As Skeen’s eyes rove searching through the cell for an aid or another way out, she notices a small, grimy looking chest on a shelf. The shelf, mounted next to the door is within easy reach. Apart from the remnants of the broken table, the chest appears to be the only other item in the cell.
Moving carefully to the chest, trying to ignore the pain and the fear, Skeen looks at the chest carefully, trying to determine, as best as she can, whether is holds any nasty surprises for her should she try to open it. Seeing nothing dangerous save the dirt on the chest, Skeen tries to open the chest, hoping it will provide a weapon at the very least.
Surprisingly to the nimble fingers of the elven woman, the small chest opens easily. Lifting the lid, she sees that the chest holds two small vials containing some sort of fluid. The one obviously darker then the other in the minimal light of the room. “Great,” snarls Skeen, picking up the vials. She carefully un-stoppers the darker one and sniffs tentatively at it. A hint of some flower, carrots, as well as something that reminds Skeen of a night under a new moon enter her delicate nose.
Her nose twitched and she re-stoppers the darker vial. She then un-stoppers the lighter-colored one and sniffs at it; a mixed fragrance of summer, and sensual joy wafts out of the vial in a small cloud of mist that flows from the neck of the vial down over Skeen’s hand – leaving a pleasant feeling where it covers exposed skin.
As she ponders over what the contents of the vials could be, the sounds of combat above seem to have stopped. A weird silence seems to fall briefly, only to be shattered by a scream of fear, a crash and breaking wood.
…Then there is only silence…
Skeen quickly stoppers the second vial as well. Holding both of them carefully in one hand, she tries to yell as the noise stops. “Is anyone there?” To emphasize her point, she bangs on the ceiling with the table leg, hoping someone that isn’t too terribly hostile will hear her.
Rustling and fast movement above seems to indicate renewed activity, though it doesn’t sound like combat. Hoping that she can draw the attention of whomever is up there, Skeen continues to pound and yell from below, though her pounding is louder than her hoarse yells.
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