Part 3: Fortunes
Eric catches up quick. Not hard...it's difficult to run down here, it's damp and slippery. Fortunately, the guards have as much trouble.
"There's no point in running, Eric!" One shouts. “Lord Dythanus would like some words with you! Give yourself up! Stand and deliver yourself, and maybe we won't break all your bones!”
“That doesn't sound like a city watch.” I say to him as we run down the slick granite tunnel.
“They aren't.” He replies.
“He's got someone with him, Gotz!” I hear.
“Hey! You there! Trip your friend up, and we'll reward you well!”
Like hell I will. My only reward from bullyboys like these will be a swift trip down these sewers with my head smashed open.
We run for half a minute, turn, keep running. The tunnels are slick, and...oh...no...My feet give out, and the tunnel angles down...And I'm sliding, out of control. I slip into the rushing water beside the path. No! I can swim, but this is a torrent! Can't fight it...Rushing...tumbling...water, water, everywhere...BANG my head against a wall...seeing stars...current getting stronger...break surface! Gasp! Very dark...dagger not helping...There's a rushing, thundering sound...Oh god, the water ENDS! paddle against current...no use...going over-
I am sick to death of flying like this.
...And then landing like this. OW! I gasp for a while, trying to get my breath back. I think I broke something when I landed. I HURT. At least I'm on a ledge again, instead of in the water. The tunnel past the fall is a T junction. Nice landmark. Don't really want to move.
The bullyboys won't take too long figuring out what happened, though. I should at least get out of sight. Let them think I drowned. I struggle to my feet. A stone clatters behind me. Apparently, I DID break something...there's a hole in the wall.
And something glitters. It must be a cache, set up so some thief could find his take later, after the heat wore off. I've used similar caches in the past. This is lucky.
Too lucky. Why would they place it here, deep beneath the city streets? Desperation, perhaps? What else makes sense? Dragon take it. I'm due for some good luck to balance out all my bad. If I get out of Miir, some coin would serve me well. I used the dagger to open the whole wider. No pockets--going to have to improvise. I scoop the alcove out onto my cloak, then wrap it into a makeshift sack. Then I limp off and hide.
Not a moment too soon...there's a commotion up near the tunnel I fell through. I quickly wrap my dagger to hide the light. I hear voices.
"Shadows take it. He's gone."
“Was that the Exile?”
“Think so. Shadow snuff it! We'll never get him now!”
"Forget the Exile. We can pick him up in the morning, or let him die down here. Either way he doesn't matter."
"What about the deadbeat? Can't we just let him die here, too? Aren't we just going to kill him anyway?"
“You want to tell Lord Dythanus we let his prize go? No deadbeat, no payment. Way I figure, The Lord has something special in mind for this guy, something he wants more than a corpse. I'm not really interested in replacing the deadbeat in whatever funny game he's got planned, so we need him alive. Got it?”
“And the Exile? What's he want that pile of trouble?”
“I don't know. Why don't you ask him when we deliver him? And that's alive as well, blockhead. Kill either, we don't get out pay. But we can come back for him later.”
They head away. Looks like Eric found another passage. Well, great. I lost my guide. At least the guards aren't looking for me right now. And, hey, Naros gets his wish, too. I'm in a position to do "nothing" as the bullyboys get him. I don't feel good about that.
I've had bullyboys like them after me after I came up late to Longshankes. it wasn't pleasant. I've known people crippled after such visits. Eric seemed like a decent sort. And...oh, God. Am I seriously considering this? I don't owe him anything. I need to look after myself.
Speaking of which, I'd better check that stash I grabbed. I set down the cloak. Ah...Coin. Doesn't do me much good, but see how it shines! There's a decent amount of coin here, all gold. Enough to live comfortably on for a few months - or put a huge dent in my debt to Longshankes.
There's a coil of rope here--that's handy. I would have loved some rope last night. What's this horn here for? it's full of dark powder. And what are all these lead balls for? That's useless. I should just toss these...hello. What's this? Oh. OH! now I see. Powder, ball and...
I've heard of these things--remnants of the Empire. A flint sparks a steel, ignites this powder, which propels the lead ball. Longshankes would kill for something like this--It's more than enough to square my debt to him. Or I could shoot him with it. Either way, my troubles with him would be over. What a lovely thought...ah. True freedom. I just have to get out of here to win it.
All I would have to do is leave Eric to the bullyboys. Just walk away, find a tunnel out, leave Miir. Leave him to the Shadows. Which is exactly what Naros wants. I wonder if he set this up, left this for me to find somehow. I don't trust that. I don't want to owe him.
I spend a minute or so trying to figure out how to load this Dragon-taken thing. Then I stick the flintlock in my belt. I climb back up the tunnel side near the falls. It wasn't much of a drop. I'm lucky I didn't open any of my wounds. By the light of the dagger, I can see a tunnel open to the left. I missed seeing it when I was sliding. The bullyboys are headed that way.
I could go back up the tunnel. I think I could find my way back to the well. Let the bullyboys and Naros and the Shadows take Eric. I wipe some sweat and water from my face. My hand is red. Blood? Did I hurt myself and not know it? I touch my head...and the cap on it.
Of course. The bloody cap I took from the goblin last night. I'd forgotten I was still wearing it. The cap got wet, the blood seeped out. I put it out of my mind and keep going...I've turned to the left. Great. Am I really going to try and take on the bullyboys? Alone?
I'm not leaving Eric to their tender mercies. I'm not letting Naros win. I owe Eric for trying to help me. Sod the Shadows.