The Unseeing Eyes
Book I, Chapter 11
Patryk shook his head. This had not been part of the plan. Neej-Nash had just tried for the fourth time to lean backwards and snap her jaws shut around the head of the elven guard pushing her further down the roughly-built corridors deeper into the bowels of the Mayor’s Tower. The saurian screeched and pulled as the two guards pushed her roughly against a wall and bent her arms behind her back. This had not been part of the plan at all.
Patryk cursed to himself. He hadn’t even thought of the possibility of being drawn this deep into Bhollom’s and Neej-Nash’s problems. Sure he wanted to help Bhollom, but being arrested along with the saurian… Patryk could think of an infinite number of things he would rather have happened.
The slightly shorter guard, though it was hard to tell as both were in full armor, picked up his spear from the floor where he had dropped it before rushing to help his brother-in-arms with struggling Neej-Nash. The other guard pulled Neej-Nash up and forcibly tilted her head back while holding her arms with his other hand. The shorter guard set the spear’s tip against Neej-Nash’s throat.
“You, sailor! Calm this thing down or I swear I’ll skewer her head!” he bellowed to Patryk. Surprised, he looked up to the guard and pointed a finger at himself. What was he supposed to do, he didn’t even know the saurian! But the guard’s tightening grip on the spear convinced Patryk that he should at least try. As unpleasant as the situation was, he didn’t want to turn the night into bloodshed. Especially when his only ticket out of the tower was under the proverbial axe.
He gestured the guard to back up a step and the guard complied, much to Patryk’s surprise. Turning to Neej-Nash, he grabbed the sides of her head and turned her face towards his own.
Neej-Nash jolted as somebody suddenly laid hands on her face, but her instinct to close her jaws on the person’s wrist subsided as she heard Patryk’s voice.
“Neej… Neej-Nash, right?”
The bearded man slowly and gently turned her head until she could hear his voice in coming from straight in front of her.
Patryk had no idea what he was doing and he would come to wonder how he pulled out of the experience with all his fingers. He was merely imitating what Bhollom had done every time his companion had lost her temper. Patryk had noted that he seemed always begin by touching her. He figured it was to let her know exactly where her addresser was.
Neej-Nash flicked her emotive frills twice at Patryk as a reply. He took the gesture as a sign of having her attention and continued speaking.
“Please calm down,” he pleaded, “The guards won’t hurt you if you don’t force them.”
The two guards shifted as Neej-Nash let out a loud hiss.
“This hates guard men! Tells them they let this go!”
Patryk glanced at the elf holding Neej-Nash. He shook his head. Patryk tried to think quickly.
“They can’t let you go. We’re pretending to be prisoners, right?” he asked Neej-Nash as much as the guards. Receiving no reply from either, he continued.
“They have to take us to the cell. I’m sure it would give the whole thing away if they just let us walk freely.”
Neej-Nash snarled and tried to pull herself free. The taller guard bent her arms backwards more and the other took a step towards her.
“This no goes to prison! No!” Neej-Nash screamed.
“Stop it!” Patryk yelled, again to both Neej-Nash and the guards, “You’re just making it more difficult for Bhollom!”
Neej-Nash suddenly stopped squirming in the guard’s grip. Bingo, Patryk thought.
“Yes! Bhollom needs your help to get out of here! How can you help him with a spear in your throat?”
Neej-Nash’s frill slumped down to her neck. She flicked her tongue and hissed morosely.
“Rags send these to prison. Rags no need help,” she muttered.
“Nonsense!” Patryk said and lifter Neej-Nash’s chin up with her hand, “This is all just part of the plan. Bhollom will join us soon. Then you will blow down the wall like you did before and you’ll be out again, hm?”
Neej-Nash’s cloudy eyes, appearing a curious shade of dark blue in the corridor’s faint torchlight, moved back and forth. If she could’ve seen, Patryk would’ve sworn she was trying to avoid eye contact. She flicked her tongue out of her mouth again but pulled it back quick as its tip brushed against Patryk’s beard.
“Rags leave this alone before,” Neej-Nash whispered.
“What, at the warehouse?” Patryk asked. Neej-Nash’s frills twitched only once. Patryk tried to interpret her response, but found himself at a loss.
“He didn’t have much choice there, did he? You would’ve been spotted on the streets in an instant! And besides, he was constantly worried about you at the inn.”
Neej-Nash face sunk toward the floor again. Patryk could sense from the guards’ movements that they were running out of patience.
“Come on,” he said quickly, “You trust Mr. Mohlbad, don’t you?”
Neej-Nash lifted her head slightly. The hiss that came out her mouth resembled a defeated sigh.
“This trust Rags.”
Patryk backed away from Neej-Nash as the guard pulled her back up to her legs. In an instant she back to hissing and snapping her jaws at him, but she didn’t resist being pushed down the corridor. The guard and Neej-Nash passed Patryk and his escort, who put his spear to rest at his side. Patryk and the guard looked at each other and the bearded man shrugged.
“I suppose that’s an improvement.”
The guard grabbed Patryk by his arm and began pushing him forwards as well.
“Aren’t you a hero,” he said.
The corridors went on and on, with many a twist, turn, and staircase leading up or down. The type of stone used to make the walls changed from the limestone of the foundations to a kind of dark, smooth, and shiny rock Patryk couldn’t recognize. The corridors with the dark stone were more delicately built than those in the foundations and Patryk deduced they must have entered the inner chamber of the tower. Before too long, however, the smooth dark stone changed back to limestone, and the staircases all descended further and further down.
Eventually, Neej-Nash and Patryk were led out of the corridors. The sight before him made Patryk’s heart skip a beat. They had obviously reached the tower’s dungeon. A large circular open space with a great bonfire in the middle of it spread out in front of them. Barred doors, set a good fifteen feet apart from each other, dotted the walls. A ramp circled around the room and Patryk counted five more similar levels before the roof. Several soldiers, in the plain uniform of the regular tower guard, stood watch on each level.
“What is? Where is wall?”
Patryk turned his face to Neej-Nash. The saurian’s tongue was swishing in and out of her mouth and faintly glowing purple sparks danced around her face. Patryk wondered what the creature was doing.
The guards shoved Patryk and Neej-Nash forward and begun to lead them up the ramp going around the dungeon. They ascended all the way up to the sixth floor of the prison complex. Despite its size, few of the cells were actually occupied. Once on the top floor, the guards led their escort halfway around the floor before they came to a stop in front of an empty cell. A human guard, with a sword hanging on his side, got up from a small wood stool next to the door.
“What’ve you got there?” he asked.
The two High Guards shoved Neej-Nash and Patryk forward.
“Two prisoners, arrested for the Mayor Mage’s murder,” the shorter one grunted, “To be stored here.”
The prison guard’s eyebrows scrunched under his helmet.
“Here?” he asked, confused, “Sir, we were ordered to empty all first floor cells for the specific purpose of holding…”
“You think we don’t know that?” the taller High Guard asked, “The Captain’s orders, they’re to be stored here for the time being.”
He threw a scroll to the prison guard, who fumbled with it for a while before breaking open a wax seal and unfolding the piece of parchment. He kept glancing to the two High Guards and the scroll before nodding slowly. He took a key from his belt and unlocked the door. Neej-Nash and Patryk were unceremoniously thrown into the small cell and the lock clicked into place behind them.
“How long are they to be kept here, sir,” the prison guard asked, “I would much like to move them as soon as…”
He was cut off again by the shorter High Guard’s derisive snort.
“Questioning Captain’s orders, are we now?” the High Guard with amusement in his voice, “Maybe we should report this to him?”
The prison guard snapped to attention and crossed his arms in a salute.
“Of course not, sir! They’ll remain here, sir!”
The two High Guards chuckled and turned away, joking to each other about the collective intelligence in the lower guard. The prison guard stood at attention until they were at a safe distance and sat back down on his stool.
“Arrogant bastards,” he muttered as he picked up a knife and a piece of wood from the ground and began whittling.
Patryk back away from the cell door and turned to Neej-Nash. She had slumped down onto the floor, leaning against the back wall of the cell. Despite her face expressionless face, Patryk thought she looked miserable.
“Don’t worry,” he whispered as he squatted down next to her and patted her on the shoulder, “Mr. Mohlbad will be here in just a bit. You’ll see.”
Neej-Nash flicked her tongue.
“This trust Rags,” she muttered.