Part 9: Pain and Penance
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! Ow! Oh-OW-that-sodding-hurts-it-sodding-hurts-it-HURTS-it-HURTS-it-HURTS!
Grabbed the muzzle...just as the gun went off...heat and FIRE...flash burned my hand...oh it hurts...Lucky I didn't blow my fingers off...Ow...Ow...I look at Eric...my vision's all blurry from the tears of PAIN down my face...please by the dragon don't let me be crippled...
He's moving...standing slowly...don't think he was hurt... ohthepainohgodwhydidIdothat... he looks at me...face all blurry, it's the tears...Being STABBED has hurt less than this...he's saying something...I think he's asking why..."I don't sodding KNOW why!" Left hand in agony...
It takes a minute or two for me to calm down. Breathing helps. The fact I'm not dead helps, too. Eric uses some of the sheets as a bandage. My hand REALLY hurts. I vaguely wonder if the makeshift bandage will vanish when the room does, but I find we're not in the room anymore.
"Gaven, I'm sorry."
"Yeah...you SHOULD be." I hiss. Bandage still here. "That was my last shot. Gun's useless now." I take a few more deep breaths. "Look. Killing yourself wouldn't help things. Just makes another dead person. And it's what they want. If you kill yourself, you're gone. You can't make up for what you did. You can't atone, and the Shadows get deeper. Do you want that?”
He shakes his head.
“Good. Clean the Shadows out of yourself first. And find me some Dragon-taken ICE." I'm rambling. Do I believe anything I'm saying? I don't know. It sounds good, though. Nice and heroic. He seems a bit more determined now. Good. I get to tell Naros to fuck off at least once more.
After a few more minutes of rest, I begin to feel more like myself. My hand hurts, but thankfully I don't seem to be crippled. I stand. "Well, Eric, I think we've dawdled enough." I say. "Let's find our guide and get out of these tunnels." He nods. He seems livelier.
We pick our way back out of the steam-filled tunnel, back towards the lava flow. The light of the daggers is much brighter now. We pass from the tunnel back into the cavern.
"I wonder where the goblin got to." Eric muses.
I look around...ah. THERE he is! "HEY! You little prick!" I shout, and run after him. My hand aches, so I cradle it against my side as I run. No pain will stop me, though. Eric follows behind. The Redcap's fast for such a tiny creature. I grab a rock with my off hand and chuck it at his legs. THWAP! He squeals. It slows him down enough for us to catch up. "You led us into a trap, you spawn of a whore." I hiss. "You're going to pay for that."
We've reached a ledge overlooking the lava. That would be a nice place to drop the little fetcher to his doom. I grab at him, and he bites. OW! "Tommy not fooled by Gravymourn!" It cackles. "Tommy knows REAL shadowlords. Like The Silver Lord, who will make you dance dead-waltz!"
"Yeah, well, the Silver Lord isn't here to save you NOW. Die in pain, spawn!" I snarl as I kick at it.
"Ooo! Manny-man so slow!" It giggles as it dodges away.
"Gaven!" Eric shouts. I look up, and hear the sound of bootfalls. SCAT! Bullyboys! How did they find us? The Redcap is grinning ear-to-ear.
"The Silver Lord's servants come for Manny-Man!" It sings. "Yer gonna gets yer face peeled off!"
SCAT! SCAT! SCAT!
The Bullyboys rush from the tunnels. They've all got truncheons and clubs ready. This was an ambush...they come from all sides. “Here you are!” one of the bullyboys chortles. “Led us all a merry chase, didn't ye? Well, thanks to our tiny friend here that's over now.”
He points to the Redcap, who shows a toothy grin as it eyes us. Filthy little bootlicker. It giggles at me. "You gonna die now, manny-man! Tommy iz good powrie. Bring manny-men to servants of the Silver Lord, who keeps powrie all well fed.”
Well that explains something. This "Silver Lord," probably Lord Dythanus, must be protecting the the goblins from the rest of the city watch. They WORK for him! Nice set up. He gets toadies and they get to hunt the city freely at night. No wonder the rest of the watch thought they were rumors.
I see Broke-Nose leering at me. “What's the matter? Got no clever words to save you now? All out of tricks?”
“Kroovy-head manny-man calls fire from sky!” The redcap points at me. “Watch close-close!” Well, fuck you too, little buddy. There's no fireglass to spark anyway. And I doubt they'd be as easily cowed by a few sparks as the Redcaps. Looks like we'll have to fight.
Eric stands at my back, sword ready. “Fancy a little scrap, Gaven?” he sounds way too cheerful. It's kinda scary. At least he's not moping. My hand hurts too much to use. Going to have to use my off-hand to grip my dagger. Awkward, but better than nothing.
"Sure. I need exercise. I'll take the ugly one." I quip.
Eric chuckles. "Rather spoiled for choices there, aren't you?"
"Seems that way."
The leader of the bullyboys narrows his eyes. “Enough of this. We've wasted a whole night chasing you down already. Take them!” They charge.
Back to back, Eric and I brace ourselves. Broke-Nose comes straight after me. I figured he would. He didn't seem too bright. He's smiling.
“Well now, wha--gak!” I start to speak, but the bastard jabs me in the throat with his truncheon.
“No talking for you!”
Alrighty then. I stomp on his foot, hard. Bones in his toes crack and he lets out an unholy shriek before I finish my kick, ringing his family bells. Down he goes, gasping for air. Beside me, Eric trips one of the bullyboys, who gets close enough to me that I can strike. I do.
The fireglass dagger flickers in the light of the lava pit. The bullyboy grunts as I tear through his heavy shirt and tag his side. Broke-nose is still sobbing on the ground, but there are four others, plus the goblin, who flits around us looking for an opening.
The leader moves in. I hear the air sing around his club as he swings at me. I panic, and try to block it with my burned hand. Bad move! I grunt in pain. My whole arm hurts. Great. Eric yelps as a pair of bullyboys thwack him with billy clubs. He's still standing, though.
Broke-Nose crawls to his knees and jabs his truncheon at me like a sword. What an idiot. I kick the club out of his hand. Then I run at him. He yelps as I plant a foot on his shoulder to leap over his head. I land and whip off my cap.
“Pay in Kroovy.” I hiss as I stab. He shrieks. Blood pours out his back. His breath rattles...I must have punctured a lung. I catch blood in my cap as he collapses. Scratch one bullyboy. I turn to the Redcap. “Now you get yours, traitor. It's time YOU did the dead-waltz.” Its eyes boggle, and it stares slack-jawed at me.
Uh-oh. Eric's not doing well. The leader's got his attention on me, but the other three are taking turns batting him around. Not good! “This would be a fine end.” He mutters as they surround him. “But it will not be mine today! I will make you pay for every bruise and blow!"
His pep talk seems to have helped him. He stands tall, then leaps at them, furiously slashing at them while leaving an opening for me. I slip back towards him, and we're back to back again. The leader steps up to me. “Fall down like a good boy!” he snarls as he swings. Miss!
The Redcap seems to have gotten its courage back. It darts in and tries to bite me again. OUCH! Filthy little spawn! I hope it's not rabid. I shake him around, trying to get it off. I struggle closer to the lava pit as I whip it back and forth. It begins to gnaw. OW! OW! OW! We dance around for a bit. The goblin clings like ivy as it gnaws me. I manage to pry it off...It drops, and teeters on the ledge. So I kick it, hard. The Redcap goes squealing into space, face frozen in numb shock before it vanishes into the lava pool below. I smile.
My joy is short-lived. The leader takes advantage of me dancing with Happy goblin Boy to sneak up behind me and whack me in the head.
Ooo. Stars. Pretty.
Then everything goes black.