We attacked before dawn. Before they were prepared, before they were even properly awake.
Eve and I forced ourselves to remain alert through the night, waiting for an opening. Doc was the first to sleep: curling into an odd, amorphous ball, he seated himself atop the prone form of one-third of the sewn-together monstrosity, ordering the other two parts to take shifts in keeping watch. They were joined by Titan Blue for several hours, and even Dragomir, though eventually only one was left to watch.
These creatures, these former humans, they suffer. I watched the strain on the largest one's face, noting the constant perspiration upon his pallid cheeks, the painful throb of the purple veins beneath the skin. Yet he remained awake for four solid hours, watching intently, his broad, square chin not sinking once during his vigil.
The same could not be said for his replacement, the squirrely fellow with the bloodshot eye and tarnished guard's helmet. Perhaps ten minutes after his watch began, he fell asleep.
We did not attack immediately. We wanted all of them to be deep asleep before we put our plan into motion, and within an hour of nodding off the squirrely fellow's legs were kicking, his eyes swivelling rapidly under his eyelids.
It began with the tickle of a line of silk on Dragomir's nose, because, bless the lad, he sleeps on his back.
I'd climbed up into the treetops above the group, helped along by an ensorcelled raccoon. Perched high above Dragomir, praying I'd aimed properly, I spooled out a long strand of silk and rubbed it gently against his nostrils. It was enough to make him sneeze and awaken, and when his head jerked up he blew the thread away. I let it fall on the other sleepers, unnoticed. The subtle roar of the waterfall masked Dragomir's sneeze.
Dragomir might have immediately gone back to sleep then and there - but, fortune favour us, he noticed a slight gleam far above him. The gleam of my eyes. The distinctly orange gleam. And, to his credit, he made no noise, nor did he panic and try to flee. Instead, settling back down, he watched and waited. He was smiling.
As I climbed down the tree, a beaver I'd recruited padded through the camp and quietly bit through the ropes binding Dragomir. When I reached the bottom of the tree, atop my raccoon mount, Dragomir was sitting up and looking around. I flashed my eyes once, and he nodded. Slowly, slowly, slowly, he got to his feet and made for the edge of camp, stepping over limbs and around twitching legs.
This being Dragomir, the plan went awry. He tripped over Driscol, landed on Doc, smacked his head on the edge of the fire pit, and… is still unconscious.
The camp exploded in uproar immediately. Doc is small, and I can't imagine the full weight of a grown man on his amorphous back felt good. The Non squealed and screamed, awakening the rest of the camp, and as Driscol rose from the ground Doc and Dragomir slid onto the dirt.
There was no point holding back. CHARGE, I mentally ordered, and my troops charged.
I mentioned that I've been communing with various animals for the past few days. I didn't mention that I've been collecting a small army in the process. Every creature I've come across has joined us in a quiet march through the wilderness, held by my power and bound to do my bidding. I regret having to use them as such, but Dragomir is more important. He must get home alive, and thanks to them, he probably will.
Emerging from the still-dark morning, a massive contingent of birds and mammals and insects erupted onto the campsite, assaulting the Non. Titan Blue's attempts to rise were thwarted by a huge flock of sparrows spinning about her head, and Doc was buried under at least two dozen writhing squirrels. The monstrosity, too, was assaulted as its three bodies became one -
- but I quickly laid off of it when I saw it lifting Dragomir off of the ground… and carrying him to the edge of the camp. To us.
Driscol addressed me by name, calling me out of hiding. I appeared, standing on Eve's shoulder.
"Hello, Julius," he said, smiling painfully. Purple blood dripped down his face from a wound pecked into his brow. "Get him out of here. Before Doc regains control."
The other two heads nodded. Though both looked incredulous at the idea of handing Dragomir over to a spider and a little girl in a hood.
Summoning the squirrels away from Doc and replacing them with a cloud of mosquitoes, Eve and I left the camp behind. Dragomir flowed along behind us, carried on the backs of nearly a hundred rodents and small mammals. Straining, I relinquished my control over the other animals after we'd moved several hundred meters away. Nobody has pursued us.
We've saved Dragomir. We're taking him home. I suspect he'll wake up soon - the bump to his noggin isn't too bad. Hopefully he can tell us why he was abducted along the way. Even if he can't, I'm sure he'll share some fascinating insights regarding the Non.
Phew. Quite an adventure. I haven't had one like this in a long time. I fear I'll have to moult from all the stress.
It was enjoyable writing in you,
Julius the Familiar