Part 1: White Rabbit
The padded room is a nice touch. Jereth had me tossed here after I threatened to eat his face off. Three burly human guards held me down, forced me into a restraining coat. One of the elvish nurses force-fed me some kind of pill that made my body go numb. I nearly bit her finger off. Then they hauled me here. Clearly, I've moved from "honored guest" status to "dangerous lunatic."
When the numbness wears off off, I toss myself against the door a bit. When that doesn't work, I toss myself against the padded walls. When I tire myself out, I sit down. That's when he returns.
"Hello there, Gaven." His voice comes from a slit in the door. "Are you calmed down yet? I really didn't want to resort to this."
"Go fuck a dragon, you sparkle-faced, limp-wristed butterfly!" I growl. My voice is horse from screaming this last hour.
"Tsk. You'll be calmer in the morning, I'm sure. Really, this is for the best. A nice, soft room, instead of the cold, haunted streets."
"You're the son of a thousand fathers, all whore-spawned jackal-gits like you!" I spit back. The slot closes. I'm alone. Finally.
It takes some painful contortions, and I think I tore a stitch, but I get the restraint coat off. Free! Well, free of that Dragon-taken jacket. But I'm alone, and I can't work that lock from my side. So I sit, and think to pass the time.
I could stay here, I suppose. Figure out what Jereth really wants from me. He's gone to a lot of trouble to keep me safe and convenient. But if he thinks I'm going to roll over and bare my stomach to him like a pampered little kitty, he's delusional.
I had a kitty once, a stray. It followed me around and I fed it scraps when I had them to spare. When I got the loan from Longshankes. I thought, "I can take care of it now.” Then I was late on a payment, and the kitty vanished. Longshankes sent its head to me in a box with a note saying "Don't be late again."
But the shop was failing, and she needed the doctor, on account of the baby, and I thought, "Maybe he won't mind if I miss just this once." Then three bullyboys showed up and worked me over with clubs. So I had to pull a job, but there was the fire and...
I punch the padded wall. My burned hand is still burning. Good. The pain keeps me here, in the now, instead of being swallowed by the past. I stare at my hand. There's a part of me that understands that it's not really on fire, just hurting. That part tells me the flames on my fingers are unreal. That part of me isn't the one in control right now.
I watch the fire turning my skin to ash, flecking away to leave bone behind. I move it around, marveling at the way the sinews tense and make the bones dance, while the flames sputter and curve like The Living Doll around them. It's a ballet of torment, a dance of destruction, crumbling my digits by degrees. Will I ever be able to use this hand again?
What was that?
I feel the world rattle, hear something like a crystal windchime ringing in the distance, and the whole room is moving. It's shrinking! The padded walls shake as they begin to close inwards, a deadly box growing smaller and smaller. I jam myself into a corner. So it was all a trap! I'm going to die, smothered by padding, crushed by a crazy room...there's a crack as the door pops out of its frame...
Run, Gaven! I half slide, half crawl across the pads to the opened door, racing against the shrinking box room. Almost there! Almost there! Success! I wiggle through the door, and I'm rewarded by a discreet little shriek from the nurse on the other side. I stand triumphantly!
The nurse doesn't seem to know what to make of me escaping her lord's trap. She looks at with with those big almond eyes. She looks familiar. "Are...are you alright, sir?" she asks tentatively. "There's been an earthquake and..."
"Ha! LIES!" I shout. "Behold me! I have escaped your lord's insidious murder box, girl! What will his laughing asshole face make of that? I'm free! Free to ruin his dinner!”
`"But..." she stutters.
I grab her arm. "Come on! I have a few words for his ladyship Jereth Dythanus. Consider yourself my hostage."
She gives me a look that screams "Help! Save me from the barking lunatic!" but I ignore it. I haul her down the porcelain corridor. I suddenly notice how dark the corridor ahead is. That's not right. The fireglass mosaics in the wall should shed plenty of light. Uh-oh. Fuck. The fireglass near us is dimming down, only as bright as a candle now. I've seen this before. It's The Shadows. Must be midnight.
The elf in my grip is terrified. She sees it too, which means that probably isn't delirium.
"Change of plans! We go this way." I say, and run.