Part 7: Blue Jay Way
It takes about ten minutes for me to calm down. Mostly because it suddenly occurs to me that I have no idea where I am. Sobering thought. It's night, I'm high on hallucinogens, and I have no lights or weapons. I have a four-armed mutant and a decadent elf looking for me. I need to pull myself together if I'm going to escape them, because I have no wish to be around either. Jereth can shove his "job."
This is The Bastion, the rich part of the city. I can see very nice houses and buildings, wide courtyards, and fireglass lamps on corners. First things first. I reach one of the lamps, break it with a rock. Glowing shards fly everywhere. Add vandalism to my crimes; I have light.
I take a few moments to breathe. I hurt all over. My stitches, my hand, my ribs...all aching again. Painkillers must be wearing off.
I'm in danger. Rich areas usually mean the best, most attentive, and most vicious city guards. And the gentry will be returning soon. Where do I go, though? I've already traveled from Pen to Bastion, but I have no intention of returning to Lair Dythanus ever again. I need a place to ride out the night. It's not midnight yet...not even curfew. Inns might be open. Hopefully, they won't shoot at me again.
I look about. Hmm. There's something that will serve: a large building with bright lights around a sign proclaiming "The Greycloud Salon." The building is made from the gaudy purple stone, and something in the words on the sign glitters in the light. It's all rather tasteless.
I sneak to the back door, near the kitchens. No way they'll let me in the front. Door's locked. Of course. No tools to work with, naturally. But they have an actual tree growing in a courtyard not far away. Wealthy gardens always provide nice twigs for lock-jamming. They don't work well enough for quality locks, but I'm not working a good lock here. It's amazing how often the worst locks are on the pantry.
The kitchen is busy. This salon must be getting the gentry returning from Le Cirque. I dip my hands in a wash basin and pretend to work. This was how we got into Lair Von Hastur; pretended to be wait staff, served the Lord for a bit, made a break for the goods when we could. If my idiot partner hadn't carried that candle upstairs, we might have gotten away clean. But I know why he was carrying it now. His screaming face comes to mind. Ah. Guilt.
I work for an hour in the kitchen, faking my way through several meals. Some of the other cooks look at me, but none ask who I am. I might make it to curfew here. I might even be able to beg for a bed for the night. The prospect of wiggling out of Exile is sweet.
Then the head waiter bursts through the doors. "Who made Lord Mordok's meal!?" he bellows. The others point my way. Fuck. I'm the scapegoat. He barrels through the cooks, waving his arms wildly as he screams. "Do you KNOW what you've DONE, you PESTILENTIAL little CRETIN!?"
"No. But I have the feeling you're going to tell me, fatso." I shoot back. I'm not in the mood to be yelled at by another self-important pig.
Must be some muscle beneath the girth, because he's just lifted me off my feet. "YOU WILL HOLD YOUR TONGUE, MAGGOT!" he shakes me around. He starts yelling about all the things wrong with whatever dish got served to Lord High-And-Mighty. I don't even understand half the terms.
"Are you done yet? So Lord So-And-So didn't like his gazpacho or whatever. I really don't give a steaming pile of dragondung." I spit.
"You HYDRANT little TICK! Your PENDARIC MORONITY will be your END! Do you HEAR me!?"
"I think they heard you in Heath, Piggy. Look, you want to lick the boots of Lord What's-his-face? Fine. Screaming at me won't get him a new meal. " His face grows purple in anger. "And what in the Dragon's Boiling Belly is a 'pendaric moronity,' anyway? Are those even words, or are you making them up as you go along?"
He gapes for a moment. "I'll have you know they are perfectly CROMULENT words! MAYBE you should EMBIGGEN your VOCABULARY!" he shrieks, slamming me against the wall.
I've had enough of this. I brace my feet against the wall and kick hard. He goes wheeling back and I spill out of his grasp. My shirt rips.
"I will FEED you your own ENTRAILS for your INSOLENCE!" He hollers, and lifts me up by my torn shirt. He grabs one of my stitches and yanks. OWWWWWWWWWWWW! The stitches rip open as he pulls. Then he hauls me to my feet, shoves his hand in the wound, starts pulling out my guts. Before I can react to this, he grabs me round the throat and starts shoving them into my mouth. It's like being force-fed a hollow sausage.
I resist the urge to gag or bite down. I flail about wildly...I feel a handle and grab it. It's a long fork. I start stabbing Piggy with it. Piggy squeals, backs off. He looks at me in terror.
"That's right, Piggy.” I snarl at him. “I'm going to spit you. Maybe roast you after I put my guts back in."
Everyone else is staring at me in horror, too. I grab for my entrails, but slap skin. OW! My stitches are intact. What? I look again. Yup. I look at Piggy again. The only blood on him is his, from the wounds where I stabbed him with the fork. I drop the fork, and stumble back towards the kitchen exit. No one stops me...in fact, several make an effort to get out of my way. Ow. Ow.
Oh. Oh, fuck. I hurt. I hurt because the painkillers wore off. Jereth said he sent down a painkiller, and it would help dull the delirium. Help dull the delirium. Not stop it entirely. I've still been having visions, so I thought he hadn't given me anything. Oh fuck. oh, fuck! Cold sweat rolls down my face as it dawns on me. The guts were a vision. The visions are getting worse. I seem to be acting on them now.
I'm a danger to myself and everyone around me.
I stumble away from the Greycloud Salon. I can hear the hue and cry already. If the guards catch me, I'm screwed. I'm supposed to be in a cell right now, not running around stabbing people. The strings Jereth pulled to keep me out of jail won't tug here. They gave me Exile for blowing out a candle. I don't want to find out what they'll do to me for actually trying to kill someone.
It's hard for me to run. My wounds protest with every step. It's a lot like my first night of Exile, really. I pass a statue. Wait. Go back. Is that...? Yes! It's a Saint, staring serenely out at me. What did Eric say? "Pay them a coin and they'll be your patron?"
I could pass it by. But if ever I was in need of help from a higher power, it's now, with drugs in my system and the watch on my tail. In Calisapas, the Dragon sees all. Outside of Calisapas, the Dragon's not there. Screw it. I'll not piss off the local gods with rudeness.
What will I use for coin, though? I have no money on me, nothing valuable at all...except my light. My little fireglass shard. Oh, please let this be worth it. I place the shard at the saint's feet, drop to my knees, and begin to pray. Someone. Anyone. Please help me.
"Hey! Moron!" Someone whispers in my ear. "Stop jerking that statue off and get up. We need to get out of here."