So this is called a ship’s log I guess. The earlier pages should prove interesting when there’s better light…and more headspace.
Physically, I am…fine. After a fashion. The ship goes up and down, and the moons are obscured by clouds, but the breeze is refreshing for once, not bone-chilling. Clothes help, I’m sure.
Heiron is patrolling the far end of the deck. I see him as he passes in and out of the light of the torch, avoiding the hastily thrown up pile of dead bodies.
The light isn’t the greatest, but I need to clear my head. And for that, I need to start at the beginning:
We had dinner with that wizard type in the back room of the Welcome Wench. I think his name us Bondril Lastindin, but Lydia says that’s not quite right.
Keom and Ronhass couldn’t come, since the dragons were being fussy or something and wouldn’t take their naps, but all things considered I think we’re all very glad they weren’t there.
I can barely remember the food, though Raven remarked how amazing it was. I do remember the man smoked a pipe…and the room was covered with these horrible, smelly candles…like my subconscious needling me with the weight of my failures until it’s all I can remember.
This Lastindin or whatever his name was said he was very interested in our exploration of the Temple…specifically our discovery of the prince of Furiundy. He kept asking about that, coming back to how such a great warrior could be kidnapped from his very palace…
And now, in hindsight — I hope Lydia got a good look at him, because I think we’ll want to find him when this is all over. If he’s in the business of drugging and kidnapping powerful and important or otherwise interesting people, that’s a business I want to close.
Suffice to say, when I woke up, it was dark…and I couldn’t move my arms – or legs. The wooden walls were so close even I couldn’t roll over, and it sounds like the others fared worse.
When they finally opened the coffin and pulled me out (I thought I was buried alive for a bit), I and all the others (even poor Heiron) were shackled hand and foot, while Ezekiel and Lydia had gags in. The only one missing was Mikael, but our captors were lugging along a beaver in a cage – a beaver that kept chattering at us and making rude gestures at the guards.
Eventually, we were chained up with a bunch of other slaves, and fed some gruel (once I saw it didn’t turn Ezekiel into anything, I decided to try it. Had worse).
I needn’t record that we were all seething mad. They had taken our stuff, too – my armor, my clothes, even my Tressarian! Lydia says, well, they left the clothes that mattered, and I suppose it would be worse for a girl. Especially since people (especially Heiron) couldn’t stop staring at the burns all over her shoulders and down her body. Raven and I told him it was probably just the same burns that were on her face, but you could tell he wasn’t happy about it.
The elf in charge talked with Ezekiel a bit, but he didn’t let him out of the gag…and there were too many armed guards and too many bows to do anything. I’ve been dreaming of that road, the past few nights…a line of jingling, silent prisoners…a throng of guards with whips and scowls…and lines of trees, going on and on, but not in a comforting way. When we left the treeline and headed across bare grass to a ship off the shore, it was as though I had left Ehlonna’s green earth. That’s not true, of course, but it felt that way.
The band that transported us left us at the shore (I think it’s east of Homlette, but I’m not certain of specifics). On board the ship, the captain was an elf in a long fancy robe and no armor, and his men made us kneel down with their feet on our necks (very rude).
This guy loved to talk – almost as much as Ezekiel does. He said we had been annoying to his “masters,” so he was supposed to make us suffer for a while. (Nice to know we actually accomplished something, I guess, since we weren’t sure what we killed in the dark thone-room.) He said we would be slaves for a while, and if we died they would resurrect us so they could kill us again. Shiny.
Then he brought out all our stuff, waved it in front of us, and dumped it in a chest over the side…Ezekiel’s sheep symbol, his mace (all wrapped up), Mikael’s mistletoe, even Tressarian! To the squeaking of the beaver in the cage, they dragged us down below-deck.
The rowers were on upper benches and lower benches. The guards chained us to the oars with manacles that went on with glowing hot bolts (my wrists still smart, but I think it’s a phantom pain – from the weight of the manacle).
My partner on my oar was “Tafosi,” and after we started rowing we could talk in Flannish under the creak of the oars. He seemed nice enough…though I’m not sure…he’s all there. Though that might be unfair. Staying cheerful in the face of adversity is not mutually exclusive with a deep understanding of your situation. On the other hand – Ezekiel?
Ah, Ezekiel. He started it all, of course.
The day passed in a blur, but it did end at last – the drummer stopped drumming, and they told everybody to stop rowing. A couple overseers came down the other bank of rowers, doing something with the chains.
Ezekiel was just ahead of and across from me. As soon as the one guy got the chain unblocked from the oar, Ezekiel frowned at him and snapped something through that leather thing he had on his face.
The overseer dropped to his knees, whimpering and wringing his hands.
I – …Hindsight will tell us many things. One thing I trust I have always been is a team player.
And, well – also, I was kind of angry.
I mentioned to Ehlonna how upset I was, and how useful it would be to smite the other two overseers. I guess she agreed, because beams of light shot across the hold and exploded into their backs with sparkles. They yelped in a satisfying way, and smacked Ezekiel in the face.
And then hindsight comes along. Apparently there were guards standing behind me, that I couldn’t see – besides a couple guards with crossbows standing with the drummer at the far end of the hold. Next thing I knew, someone was stabbing me in the back – and I heard Lydia crying out across the way.
Footsteps pounded, men shouted, and crossbow bolts flew hither and thither. All the slaves were hiding under the oars the entire time, and frankly, I didn’t see much else with the crowd that gathered around the hammer on my head. I still had my wrists chained to the oar, so I couldn’t do much else besides kick at their shins.
I did see one thing — Heiron ripped his chain free with a roar, and charged across the center walkway. He tackled a guy so hard they rolled down into the storage hold and wrestled there until he “decided to try escaping overboard,” as he put it.
That might be about the time I heard a banshee scream. I – don’t know that there was a banshee there, but all I could think about was that dead elf lady who killed Wonillon in an instant, and for some reason that reminded me of the fat, hideous mushroom monster we killed – who stomped all over Raven – and I vaguely remember hurting all over, and blood running into my eyes, but after that I have nothing.
Ezekiel and Raven say I missed a whole lot – like the captain throwing a stinking cloud at Ezekiel (which just let him escape the guards) and how Raven dislocated his thumbs to get out of the manacles and grapple the captain until he almost choked him to death – but I was a little busy.
When I came out of the darkness and opened my eyes, I was flat on my back. My ankles and wrists were attached to the deck with straps of some kind, and there was leather strapping around my mouth that kept me from opening my jaw.
The elf captain waved our rod of resurrection around in the air and made some pompous, threatening speeches…but really, who cares about that?
They still hadn’t dressed us in more than the essentials, and with the year turning, it was cold. Lydia was tied beside me, but I tried not to look at her. It’s not like we could talk to each other anyway. I never thought about what a pasty Suluese she is, but as the days went by, the sun just ate her up. I haven’t been this brown since I was a little kid and spent all summer running from the trees to the pond behind the Ertuli house and back.
Still, I think the worst part of all was no water. Once, after days of this, they moved the muzzle far enough to drop some potion into my mouth – but that was barely enough to wet my throat. I tried chewing on the muzzle, and that kept me busy for a day or two, but it wasn’t satisfying at all.
One thing kept me holding on. With a sliver in my back and no way to scratch my nose, stretched out in a state that would embarrass my mother, while the rays of the sun – the only warmth there was – slowly sapped the moisture and strength from my body…one thing held my mind together.
Ehlonna is not a fickle goddess of mayhem, who abandons her followers. And she is no weakling, to lose those who trust her to the darkness. Even if she were, I have come to believe there’s Someone higher – a God even gods must acknowledge – and that He is good. And that Ezekiel is His cleric. It explains quite a lot, actually, and it also reinforces that Good never does something for no reason. I suppose that’s easy to say, here on the other side of the night, with the dawn blowing in across the water…but that doesn’t take away the fact it’s good to have a purpose.
As Master Elmo would say, if you get strong just so that you’re strong – then you’re thinking of yourself. But if you get strong so you can do things for others – well then you have a purpose. I’ve been given so much…so much that I can use, that I can work with. I know it can’t end here. That would be…anti-climactic.
When I have time, I have to record how Mikael got us free.
Find the previous entry here.