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Cunning - Refuse to Join



You don’t like the tension in the air. Even though the trader had given you the scale back you don’t like his men surrounding you. You shake your head. You will find your own way.

“So be it.” The trader’s jovial nature is gone entirely and his eyes flick to something over your left shoulder. You swing with your blade and connect to another with a ring of steel. The man connected to it is momentarily blocked. Your arm flies back, unable to support the tremors as your other hand grips the scale. Another blade, this time a dagger, thrusts toward you from the opposite side. You twist, swinging your sword like you would a dance partner at the Moon Ball.

You blink aside the memory, but too late, a strike of pain smashes into your temple. All goes dark.

You snort awake, dirt blowing out of your nose. You begin to cough. Your face is 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 the bars of 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. They’re passing around the dragon scale. 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.”

You blink at him and explain in a few short words what you did. He stares at you for a moment before understanding comes over him. “Ah…well, you’ve doomed us all.” He quips cheerfully. “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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