The Unseeing Eyes
Book I, Chapter 12
Bhollom considered his options. Kheret stood in front of him with his sword in his hand and his sharpened teeth revealed in a wide grin. The sound of Neej-Nash’s curses faded and soon disappeared altogether as the guards dragged her and Patryk away. Bhollom let his eyes wonder around. The room was small and bare apart from the table and two chairs in the middle of it. Its rough stone walls glistened with moisture near the roof. In the dim light of tiny fireplace in the corner, Kheret’s face looked positively terrifying.
Kheret’s grin faded as Bhollom kept biding his time. He gestured towards the table with his sword.
“I told you sit, stub.”
Bhollom glanced at the door. It seemed heavy, but he might be able to get to it and push it open before…
Before Kheret could take two steps and stab him to death.
Bhollom considered his options and found only one. With a heavy sigh, he turned to the table and grabbed one of the chairs. Kheret smirk returned to his lips. He set his bull-helmet on the table and thrust his sword back into its scabbard.
“Good,” he said and turned his eyes to Bhollom as he sat down, “I like you, stub. You are submissive. Prisoners often lack respect towards the man with the sword.”
Bhollom bit his tongue to keep himself from retorting. He was not going to let the captain’s barely veiled insults get to him. He would what Kheret wanted, get Neej-Nash, and get out of Westerport.
The thought hadn’t even occurred to him before, but get Neej-Nash? He bit his tongue again. Would he really have to do that? He felt he owed her after she had helped him get away from the Cliff, but surely he had helped her enough by now to make up for it. Why should he keep dragging her out of trouble? After all, this whole mess was Neej-Nash’s fault! She was the one who got into the row with the Mayor’s aide. She was the one who begun the fight at the inn. And now she was upset with Bhollom despite him doing everything in his power to keep her safe.
Kheret rested his cheek on his palmed and rapped the fingers of his other on the table impatiently.
Bhollom snapped out of his daydream. He picked up the pile of clothes from his seat and set them on the table. As he sat down, he glanced at the guard captain. His plan had called for Neej-Nash to burst them out of the Tower’s dungeon, but did it have to be so? Maybe Bhollom could negotiate a different deal.
“I have a name, you know,” he said, dismissing the thought for now, “I’m Mohlbad Bho…”
Kheret slammed his hand on the table with such force that its rickety joints creaked.
“Your name? I am not here to share wine with you or invite you to my home!”
He jumped up from his seat and leaned over the small table. He grabbed Bhollom by his vest and pulled him closer until there was a mere inch between their noses.
“Do not act insolent with me,” he hissed, “I do not care about your name.”
The captain’s filed teeth flashed from between his lips as he spoke and Bhollom was uncomfortably reminded of Neej-Nash’s denture. He swallowed and fought to keep his voice steady.
“I apologize, sire,” he stammered. Kheret released him and Bhollom fell back onto his seat. The captain wiped his hand as if he had just touched something dirty.
“I was wrong about you, stub. You are just as insubordinate as your lizard pet.”
Bhollom glared at the captain but kept his mouth shut. The elf’s temper had definitely put him off of trying to break any deals with him. At least for now.
Kheret scrunched his nose at Bhollom. He re-seated himself.
“Let us be done with this. Change your clothes.”
Bhollom blinked at Kheret.
“Excuse me?” he asked. The captain rolled his eyes.
“Change your clothes, stub,” he said, as if to a child who didn’t understand a word, “Tonight, you shall be a servant.”
Bhollom looked at the pile of clothes on the table. It was really more of a pile of rags. He picked up a tattered sackcloth tunic and a pair of green trousers.
“I see. Disguise,” he said.
The captain clapped slowly as Bhollom began to unbutton his shirt.
“Good, you are bright for a stub,” he said, smirking at Bhollom’s angry glare. Kheret got up and walked to the fireplace. He warmed his hands at the flame for a while before grabbing something from the corner. Bhollom was tying a piece of string as a makeshift belt to keep his oversized new trousers from falling as Kheret approached him with a broom and a bucket of water in his hands. The elf dropped the cleaning implements at Bhollom’s feet, spilling a good amount of water on him in the process.
Kheret rounded the table and sat down once more.
“The letter is in the Vice Mayor’s study on the fourteenth floor. Possibly in his desk,” he said, grinning at Bhollom who was emptying his shoes of water. He set a small key on the table.
“This key will get you into the study. I suggest you hide it, as you are not supposed to have it. Heribert should be in his bedchambers for tonight, but if anyone asks, tell them you were told to clean the whole floor and the door was unlocked.”
Bhollom took a look at the ornate key and stuck it into his trousers’ right pocket. The key fell to the floor with a cling.
“There seems to be a hole,” Bhollom muttered as he picked the key up and put it into his left pocket. Kheret was paying no attention to him and continued to explain his plan.
“You will find the letter in the study. You will recognize it, it has a purple wax seal on it.”
“How do you know all this? Where the letter is, what it looks like…” Bhollom asked and pulled the sackcloth tunic over his head. His head popped out from the dirty cloth.
“Couldn’t you just get it yourself?”
Kheret glared at Bhollom.
“I delivered the letter to him and watched him read it. And as I have already told you, I am not compromising my own position for the sake of this plot.”
He stood and walked over to Bhollom.
“He murdered my brother, yes, but the only reason I am going to these lengths to get back at him is because you and the lizard were conveniently available.”
He picked up the broom and threw it at Bhollom.
“Had you refused, you would be in the dungeon with her right now.”
The captain had thought of everything. Bhollom inspected the broom. It had only a few hairs left on it, but it might fool a weary night guard into believing the cover-up story.
“Right,” Bhollom said, “Fair enough. So once I have the letter, I get arrested?”
“Yes. Two of my High Guard will be keeping an eye on the Vice Mayor’s study. They will not stop you from getting in, but they will arrest you the second you step out. Whether you have the letter or not.”
It was Bhollom’s turn to nod.
“They will take me to Neej-Nash, she will blow down the wall, and we get out,” he said before looking Kheret in the eye, “Are you aware that she will not be walking away after she does that? You saw her after we escaped last time.”
“That is your problem, stub, not mine.”
Bhollom let his eyes sink back to the broom. He considered his earlier plan. Dragging Neej-Nash along would slow his and Patryk’s escape again. Perhaps Patryk wouldn’t want to do it. Would he insist on it or go off on his own?
“If you have questions, now is the time,” Kheret said.
Bhollom opened his mouth, but in the end thought better of it. He shook his head. He would make his decision later.
“Good. Get your bucket,” Kheret said. Bhollom picked up his broom and bucket and follow the elf to the door. Kheret peeked out of the door and – satisfied that the coast was clear – opened the door for Bhollom.
“Go right. Keep walking until you see stairs going up. Take them and you will be in the main hall of the Tower.”
“Fourteenth floor, right?” Bhollom asked.
Kheret let out an evil chuckle.
“Indeed. At least you have your priorities straight,” he said.
Bhollom said nothing. He stepped out and turned right. Heavy thoughts swirled in his head as began to walk down the dark corridor.