Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day Four-Ninety-Eight: The Friendliest Jailer

How many gods-be-damned times am I gonna wake up in this stupid cave? SERIOUSLY!

I went to sleep last night under an outcropping of shale, a wide, warm rock serving as my pillow. When I opened my eyes I was surrounded by rough stone walls, watched over by a hulking werewolf with a tarantula on its shoulder. Both had orange eyes.

I kinda half expected it to happen, so I didn't freak out. Instead I was mildly pissed. "For fuck's sake, you two, couldn't you have least gotten me a pillow? Why is my head still on a rock?!"

Julius offered a tiny spider shrug. A second later, Antonia did the same, albeit wolfishly - and then, to my astonishment, she spoke, her voice coarse and growling. "Sorry, Dragomir. We're short on pillows."

I skittered back a few feet, whacking my head on the side of the cave and scowling. "Ow! Fuck! What… what the hell is this? Antonia, do you…"

Antonia shook her head. Again, it was in time with Julius. "No, Dragomir. It's me. I'm just talking through her."

I rubbed my head as I accepted this fact. I've seen much weirder things. "Oh. Okay. That's, uh, cool. So, hey, June -"

I turned to look at the magic circle near the back wall, expecting to find the witch hovering in place. She wasn't there. Nor was the circle. Nor, indeed, was the giant picture of the rat's head.

"She's not here, Dragomir," Antonia said, unnecessarily. "She's in the mine the workers are digging. She moved there when she realized she wouldn't get through this door."

I squinted at the back wall. "What door?"

"You're looking at it."

"What, the wall is a door?"

"Yes." Antonia ran her claws along the smoothed stone. It looked as though she was tracing a rat's head. "One of many. June suspects only the rats can open it, as well as the dozen or more beyond. Believe me, she's tried. She couldn't even get this one to budge."

"Well, doesn't that suck." I rose to my feet, hunting for my backpack. Siege or no, I wanted walrus jerky. "'n what's behind it?"

Antonia's ears wagged from side to side. "I don't know. A lock. That's all June will tell me. I don't think she cares what it is, or what it does, so much as what it can allow her to do."

"Y'mean like make a bigass barrier around a mountain?" I pointed towards the cave entrance.

"Like make a bigass barrier around a mountain, yes." She paused, sniffing the air. I wondered if it was Antonia or Julius behind the nose. "Among other things. Don't bother asking, I don't know what they might be."

"Peachy. Well, maybe I can find out. Let's say we start walking, 'cause we haven't got -"

Striding past me, Antonia stopped in front of the entrance to the larger cavern. She turned, and sat, and she and Julius stared at me.

I got the message. "You aren't gonna let me speak to her, huh."

Both creatures shook their heads in a negative. "No. I'm sorry, Dragomir. I have my orders, and I can't go against June. She doesn't want the Non to know you're here."

"Why?" I thought back to the last time I'd visited the mountain. "Why the hell is she so bent on me staying in Pubton?!"

Julius whistled a tiny spider sigh. "She thought - she hoped - that they were after you. That your presence in Pubton would draw fire away from Pubtwon. To a degree, at least, she appears to have been correct. Your town is under attack, is it not?"

"… yeah, I guess it is. Though I'm pretty sure they're there to keep us penned in, not to catch me."

"Perhaps. Perhaps not." Antonia pressed her palms together, as if praying. "Forgive me, Dragomir. Regardless of what you say, or do, or wish to achieve, you must stay here until June commands me otherwise. I have no choice in the matter."

"Because you're her familiar."


"And if you disobey…?"

Antonia cringed. "I cannot."

"But why?"



"I… cannot."

And he hasn't. Though wars are being waged just outside, and back home, I'm stuck in this damned cave. My jailor is a polite, contrite, but insistent werewolf-spider hybrid who has offered to make me tea.

I refused the first time. I also refused the second. I gave in at the third, out of sheer boredom. Now we're playing chess, and I'm trying to figure out a way past Antonia that won't get me killed. Not that I think Julius'll kill me, but… I can't tell how much of Antonia's animal instinct he's able to control.

Fuck. I don't have time for this shit. I don't care if I can take Julius' prostitute with my tax collector, no amount of great chess moves is worth the agonizing wait!

Somebody get me OUT OF HERE,

Dragomir the Prisoner

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