Thursday, November 27, 2014

NaNoWriMo 1K-A-Day: Day 27

“I think what the dream was trying to tell me is that we need to use our respective abilities to work together and escape. Now, Belak,” I turned to him, “as the Bull, you are the strength of this group.”
He nodded and waited for me to continue.
“Larryn has speed to her credit,” I said, patting my friend on the knee.
Even though the gag distended her mouth, she did her best to smile at me.
Greyna grunted and made a hissing noise—or as near as she could manage.
“Right,” I said, “the snake; I was thinking about that, and I realized that, even in real life, snakes are not always devious—but they are agile, and able to bend in ways and fit in places other animals cannot. Greyna, with your small size and the way you move—you, out of all of us, could probably slip out of your bonds the easiest, right?”
In answer, Greyna looked down at her wrists and softly worked her hands back and forth; very slightly, the ropes gave at last and began slipping over her hands.
“Don’t do it just yet,” I warned her, and she stopped. “Now, let me tell you the whole plan, and we can be ready for just the right moment.”
Belak nudged me with a grunt, and nodded to me when I glanced his way.
“What am I going to be doing?” I asked for him.
He nodded, and I saw Greyna and Larryn nod, too.
I took a deep breath; my job was going to be the most difficult and the least assured of success—and yet if I failed, we could all be killed.
“The songbird distracted the bear through singing,” I began.
Larryn made a questioning noise.
I chuckled, “No, I’m not going to sing for Tark. But I will have to be the diversion for him, to talk to him.”
Greyna nodded toward me and tried to say something that sounded like “ho-hee.” I glanced down; the medallion was still hanging around my neck—the medallion I had received after telling a story. I grinned. “Yes, exactly—I can tell him a story.”
Belak let out a series of sarcastic-sounding grunts, which by now I was getting pretty good at ttranslating.
“Yes,” I said, “or just ask him a lot of questions like I always do.” I rolled my eyes at him.
For the remainder of the wagon-ride, I explained to them in detail exactly what we were going to do. By the time the wagon rolled to a stop, we were ready.

Tark sat on a stump and slid the blade of his knife along a whetstone as he watched his followers bustle to set up a makeshift camp. Useless dimwits, the lot of them! He certainly didn't choose them because he needed them—but they each owed him something, so that helped maintain their loyalty, and having a few extra knives and bodies was always handy when they struck a group.
The bald one, Friggo, was a washed-up drunkard sleeping with the pigs when Tark crossed his path. A small detachment of the King's Army was giving Friggo trouble, and nearly got him arrested—till Tark sailed in and freed Friggo, giving the idiot a knife in the process. Together, they spilled blood, and in Friggo's puny mind, there was no closer kinship. He never knew what disdain his hero held for him as Tark watched him unloading the tents and supplies.
Near Friggo was Bert—a woman, as it turned out. Tark kept her around not because his group needed a woman's touch (the fact that she was the only person capable of cooking was negligible, but allowed) but because she wouldn't go away under any circumstances. From what Bert told him continuously when he tried to lose her those first few weeks, the innkeeper she worked for treated her like a tanner treats a nag, and she saw Tark as her salvation, and firmly committed her soul to doing everything possible to please him—except touching him. Tark had made that very clear by breaking three of her fingers when she tried to run his arm, and Bert had never ventured within reach of him since. Traveling with the rough, muscle-bound men had toughened her up, and because men's clothes were easier to acquire than dresses, Bert was nearly indistinguishable from her mates.
The other two, Ham and Jap (his name was Japheth, but he hated it—which was why Tark used it at every available opportunity) were the two dull-minded youngest sons of a large family. They fell in with Tark because he promised them easy money and plenty of action—and to this day they still believed that fools-gold promise. The green young boys thirsted after the idea of being like the "bad men" that their mother always warned them about, and Tark's game of duping and selling other people satisfied that thirst like no other occupation. Tark watched them bustling back and forth, chattering like a bunch of squirrels at a picnic. He scowled moodily as he tested the hair-thin edge of his blade. Bunch of babies on a holiday, they were.

The timbers of the wagon creaked and groaned. Tark grinned as he imagined the three girls and the boy he'd so easily tricked, vainly trying to work free of their bonds. Lucky for him, Ham and Jap knew a thing or two about tying inescapable knots. Still, if they ended up breaking the wagon, that would mean either repairing it or buying a new one—and Tark was in no mood to spend the time or money either option required. He signaled Jap, and the strapping, dark-haired lad ambled over.
"Yeah, boss?" He slurred.
Tark gestured to the wagon. "Go see which one of the prisoners is making all that racket."
Jap lolled his dim blue eyes toward the quaking vehicle. “Whaddaya want me to do with ‘em once I find ‘em?” he asked.
“What do you think, Japheth?” Tark took a swing at him, but Jap had been traveling with him long enough to know when and how far to duck Tark’s reach. “Bring ‘em to me!”