YOU REFUSED TO JOIN THE TRADERS…
YOU ARE IN POSSESSION OF THE PENDANT…
You know your answer even before he’s done speaking to you. You don’t like the way a few of the traders can’t seem to keep their eyes off the scale, the pendant, the sword. You tell them you would be just fine getting on by yourself, and thank them for the offer.
The lead trader lifted his hands up as if surrendering. “‘Aye, but of course.”
You leave them and the barmaid takes pity on you, sliding a bowl of stew and a pint of ale under your nose. You thank her for her kindness and eat your fill. When she circles back to tell you she’s closing early tonight you stretch and decide it would be best to find a local inn. A fresh start in the morning would be best.
The traders are long gone as you exit the tavern. You wonder when they had left, you hadn’t heard them but you were wrapped up in your own thoughts as you ate. You turn the corner around the side of the tavern when sudden pain shoots through your head and everything goes black.
You snort awake, dirt blowing out of your nose. You start coughing, your face pressed into the loose earth. You try to bring your hands around to push yourself up but they’re tied tight behind your back. You test your feet, they’re free. You bring your knees around and push up with your shoulder until you’re crouched, your hair brushing the top bars of what you quickly realize is a cage.
There’s a young man sitting beside you. His mouth is gagged with a strip of linen and he arches an eyebrow at you as if to say, going somewhere? You sit back down, the cage is too small to stand in and crouching is just uncomfortable.
You look through the bars to see a fire in the distance. Men’s voices float to you in waves of ale and gaiety. Something glitters in the firelight. The traders are passing around the dragon scale, pendant, and your sword. You shake your head at your own foolishness. To think they would have just left you well alone.
They don’t seem to be too concerned with what you’re doing as they’re quite a distance away. You bring your arms underneath and tuck your legs through so your hands are now tied in front.
The man beside you clears his throat and before you can question why he’s gagged and you are not you reach over and pull his gag down around his neck.
“About time you finally woke up.” The man works his jaw back and forth. “I’ve been gagged for ages. I’m practically dying of thirst.” His accent sounds like he’s from high court, perhaps somewhere from the eastern regions. You blink, the clues of your past coming back to you in pieces. He gives a sly grin. “You remember me then?”
You shake your head.
“Well, that’s practically adorable. Sounds like we have some reacquainting to do.” His wavy dark hair flops over one of his eyes as he surveys the company beyond. “These old boys will be at this for a while. Drink, boast, eat, sleep. We will wait for the last then off we’ll pop. Prime?”
You nod and ask his name. “Oh, where are my manners? Lord Talloway of course. At your disposal. And we both know who you are.”
You shrug and shake your head, deciding your best bet at finding out any information was confiding in this man. You tell him everything you remember up until this point.
He claps his tied hands together awkwardly in silent praise. “How delightful. Now, you’ll be happy to know that I possess the answers to almost all of your mysteries. I am happy to bestow my knowledge upon you, of course, for one thing in return.”
You nod eagerly. “When we get out of here you need to help me with one teensy little thing before we part ways. Deal?”
You think about this for a moment but know he could ask you for your left hand and you would oblige if only to find out your past. Besides, who could say what would happen after you left this forsaken place. You could always back out later. You nod.
“Oh what fun.” He sits up a bit straighter, his neck forced to tilt to fit his head beneath the bars of the cage. “You are the child of the King and Queen of Carpathan. You have been missing for a few days now, everyone is in such a state.” He gives you a pitying look. “The dragon you speak of is Ashthar, the Bound One. He has been chained to that cave since he was but a hatchling. Legend has it there is a pendant, if given to him, not taken, he will be unbound! Thank the stars it hasn’t been seen in centuries.”
Your shift your eyes to the circle of men still playing with said pendant at the fire.
“Hm?” Lord Talloway blinks his doe eyes at you before following your gaze. “Oh heavens! Well, there it is. There’s also a rumor your parents have been turned onto some kind of elixir of life. Sounds positively delightful if you ask me. Perhaps they’re trying to extend their reign.” He giggles and you find it distasteful. “Now, as to how you got in that cave, I think I may know who did it.”
Everything this Lord Talloway is saying fortifies your memory, he’s telling the truth. Or, at least, part of it.
He claps his hands together again but this time it actually makes noise. When did he untie his ropes? How did he untie them? You look up to see him grinning wickedly, his eyes agleam in the moonlight. “So, do we sneak away like a couple of maidens from the tavern? Or do we strike them while they slumber?”
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