Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day Three-Thirty-Nine: Come fly with me



SHIT. WE HAVE A SOLUTION. WE CAN STAY MAYBE. BUT AT A TERRIBLE COST. (My gods that sounded epic.)

After yesterday's apocalyptic battle between my old man and Pagan, all of Pubton came out to celebrate. Robert cooked up a goat, Bora served beer, Edmund played his lute, people danced and sang and laughed, mocking Pagan's gloomy row of tents in the distance as they enjoyed the warmth of a dozen fire pits. The festivities carried on the whole day, my father sitting cross-legged and proud at the centre of it all. He's a gods-be-damned legend in Pubton now, the town hero.

Ugh. Hero. NOT a word that should be applied to my dad.

Yet… it's true. He saved us. He kept us together. I have no doubt that Pubton as a concept would've crumbled had we been forced to leave. People would have departed for other, more stable towns, probably leaving Libby, Grayson 'n me to start a new life somewhere. Because my dad stood up for Pubton, the community has a stronger sense of purpose than ever.

And now, because dad managed to stall Pagan for a day, the old man has a reason to keep us around. I think.

Despite the cold weather everyone slept outside overnight, revelling in their drunkenness and the general feeling of goodwill. I'm sure those flop piles kept them all nice 'n warm, 'cause few of them stirred when Hoban, squirrely little Hoban, came charging up to us out of the early morning fog.

"You!" He yelled into my ear, shaking my shoulder and shrinking back when I turned over to glare at him from my swaddle of cloth. "You, you! Mayor Asshole! My master wants to talk to you! Hurry up!"

Libby, growling, swiped at him. Hoban flinched back and disappeared into the fog. Putting on my armour and floppy hat, never feeling less deserving of my mayorly clothes than in that moment, I followed.

Pagan was waiting for me in front of his war tent. He was seated in a folding chair, his helmet off, clutching an ice pack to the side of his head. Bruises turned his normally pallid face into a patchwork of greens and purples. I'm sure the rest of his body is no better off. At his side was another slave, this one garbed in travelling clothes and fidgeting.

"You," Pagan growled, ushering me over with a swipe of his gauntlet. "You've lucked out. I need your help."

Excitement, or possibly gastric acid from eating too much goat, welled into my throat. "Help? Help? What help? We can help. What kind of help?"

Pagan pointed at the slave at his side. "One of my messengers. He came dashing up a moment ago to tell me my manor's under attack. Something burned the fields last night, and the few slaves I left to tend to the grounds are dead. Only Derrick, here, managed to get away. I need to return in a hurry."

He pointed into the mist, towards a long, thickening black shape that vanished into the fog. It twitched, its owner fast asleep. "I've seen you ride that dragon. Will you take me back to my manor so I can counter this threat to my estate? If I go by foot or horse I will surely arrive too late to do anything."

I forced my face not to stretch into a smile. I now had that most precious of commodities some men dare call leverage. "If I agree -"

"- you can stay, yes, yes." Pagan winced, moving the ice pack to the back of his neck. "Given the nature of the attackers, I suspect my fears at letting you live here have come to pass. There's no point sending you away now."

I paused. "Your… fears? What… what attacked your estate…?"

Pagan motioned to the messenger. He looked pale, even in the poor light of the torches around Pagan's tent, and needed a moment to collect himself before speaking.

"Black giants," he mumbled, looking back at the forest as though it might swallow him for betraying a vital secret. "Black giants with glowing green eyes. Enormous… they were enormous… and their, their skin, it writhed…"

I was sprinting towards Barrel without a second thought. 

Barrel did not awaken willingly, and when I grabbed his tail and shook it like I was playing tug-of-war he sounded ready to eat me. I was not to be dissuaded, as any mention of the shadow creatures seems to energize me. I brazenly glared at him as his head poked out of the forest to watch me, groggy and annoyed.

"C'mon, buddy, c'mon, those things are here. The things that destroyed the castle. We need your wings."

Barrel grunted, flicked me away with a swish of his tail, and retreated into the forest.

I jumped on the retreating tail and held on, yelling "NO! NO! WE HAVE TO GO! PLEASE, BARREL! THIS IS REALLY FUCKING IMPORTANT! I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU'RE MAD AT ME, BUT I WON'T ASK YOU TO DO ANOTHER THING FOR ME IF YOU'LL JUST TAKE US TO PAGAN'S MANOR!"

Barrel stopped. He breathed hard, thoughtfully, his limbs popping and stretching somewhere within the forest. Then, sighing a deep, draconic sigh, he knocked me off his tail again and rumbled out of the trees, yawning. 

I tried to hug one of his legs. He pushed me away. That made me sad, but I thanked him anyway and ran off to tell Pagan the good news. After stopping to grab you, diary, we were on Barrel's back, seated in his weird transforming back seats, and soaring towards Pagan's manor.

Who went, you might ask? Me. And Pagan. And no one else. I forced myself on the trip, telling Pagan the half-fib that Barrel wouldn't take him without my company. It's a half-fib because I don't know if it's true. Everyone else stayed behind, though I'm sure many of them would have come along. 

I didn't want them along. This is dangerous. Too dangerous for dad's or Libby's muscles, Edmund's singing, Robert's cooking, Grylock's assassination fascination and bad attitude, or even the assembled might of everyone in Pubton. Which ain't considerable. Too dangerous.

So why am I going?

Because I have questions that need answered, and I suspect whomever's behind this attack can fill me in. Even if going puts my life in danger again.

Why am I a pansy when it comes to everyday threats, but I can face down hell beasts from the dark corners of the universe without even thinking about it?

We're on Barrel's back now. The manor's only an hour's flight away, I think, and I needed to pass some time, 'cause Pagan's not talkative. Hopefully by daybreak I'll have






OH SHIT WHAT THE HELL IS THAT

5 comments:

  1. IT'S A HELL BEAST. GET ON THE DRAGON.

    THAT, Dragomayor, is your stupid, stupid idea biting you in the ass.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I forced my face not to stretch into a smile. I now had that most precious of commodities some men dare call leverage. "If I agree -"

    A quote from where a obvious error was made in the coding of the word 'leverage'. Just pointing it out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For some reason it did the italics in MY post, but in the actual Paragraph I can see the thingys

      Delete
    2. The italic coding symbols on either end of the word (ALL of my attempts to show it end up failing! I even tried spacing the dang symbols and it didn't work XD)

      Delete
    3. Yeah. See, this is why new Blogger interface is balls. I miss the old one.

      Delete