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23 November 2008 @ 10:03 pm
NaNoWriMo Entry: 09  

Chapter Eight: A Princely Price, an interlude

They had been traveling for so long without meeting people that when they did arrive upon a town, most of them were surprised. The foreigners, especially, seemed fascinated that the common peasant looked very different from the Autopians in their midst.

To be fair, they had been previously traveling at the edges of the Autopia, the rear parts that no man would journey to after the chaos that Roderick of the Twilight had wrecked. To move in the outer edges of the country would have been tantamount to suicide and Elsith would like to think that most people were smarter than that.

“Oh, hey,” Rebi commented as they stepped into the town proper. “I was startin’ to think that you were princes of nothing, ya know, just land and more land. Who’da thought that you have actual people.”

Elsith was about to bite out a remark when Watanuki tugged at Kalien’s sleeve, a little nervous.

“What is it, young Watanuki?”

“Shouldn’t we… change clothes to blend in more? We’re sort of standing out.”

Which was true, Elsith supposed, people were staring at them, particularly at Kalien and Dino. His more sensitive sense of hearing picked up what the townsmen were whispering about and he scoffed.

“They know who you are, brother, but they think that young Dino is me. How insulting!” Dino laughed, amused, and sidled closer to Kalien just to be contrary. Elsith scoffed some more. “I did not look like that before!”

Abe leered at him. “You didn’t look like a horse back then, either.”

Elsith glared at him so hard Abe floated away to smirk at him from beside Cairre. Elsith glared at him, too, for good measure. The magician merely looked confused, tilting his head at him, then becoming distracted at the next second by a passing cart full of rugs.

“Are you not very used to towns, Cairre?” Kalien asked, kindly.

“I rarely went to them,” he answered vaguely.

“Ah, I understand!” his brother said, smiling. “I did not use to go to towns very often, either, though I made it a point to pass by one several times a month.”

Stormbringer nodded and started wandering around, pulling the horses (and therefore, the cart) with him to a nearby stall. He knew how to purchase or bargain, at least, and came back with a bag of apples to share with them all. When he was done giving everyone a piece, he took out a last apple from his cloak and offered them to Elsith on the flat of his palm.

He gave it a suspicious look, but was otherwise hungry enough to eat it in a bite. Cairre brought his hand close to his face and counted his fingers.

“I am not a barbarian, you know,” he huffed darkly.

“Of course,” was the vague reply. And then, “Would you like some more? I can get more…”

Elsith glanced away, watching a few children loitering just at the edge of their group. Their target seemed to be Kalien. Elsith whinnied at them warningly and they smartly backed away.

------

He had not meant to wander away from the party, but Kalien and Dino were occupied with speaking to the town’s leader and everyone else had taken to walking around in droves to see the wares of the land. Watanuki and Cairre had been obliged to stay with Rebi, her lack of ample clothing attracting the attention of many. They had all agreed that Elsith was to keep his silence, and Abe was hidden in the cart.

This had not given him a lot of options with which to occupy himself, and standing still next to the drum of water laid out for him was not one that he even wanted to consider.

So he had wandered, most people willing enough to stay out of his way after a heated glare or a snort. Not many would dare touch a prince’s horse, although Elsith did not understand why. A lot of what commoners did fail to make sense to him, if he thought about it.

He had not realized when someone started creeping up to him because the street had become crowded, and it required concentration for him to walk forward without stepping on people’s feet or bumping into them. Elsith was mostly successful, although he had hastily trotted off to the side of the road when he bumped a cart and a young boy fell from it.

“I did not realize that this place could get so tight,” he commented to himself, before his vision suddenly went black and heavy weights landed on his back. Beyond that, he could feel rope being tightened around his neck, and in just minutes, he had been dragged forcefully into a nearby alley.

“Unhand me!” he cried, tossing and twisting, attempting to throw off his assailants and what he recognized as a (dirty, ratty) sack off his head. There was a pause and the rope around his neck was suddenly yanked downward, forcing Elsith to lower his head near the ground. It made him feel like the back of his neck was exposed, which was a horrible thing for a warrior like him, horse or no horse.

“Let me go this instant!” he roared, and there was a pause as the weight on his back (two people by what he could tell) clambered around. Incensed, Elsith shook them off as he felt them let go of his mane, and one of them fell to the ground with a pained thud.

“Serves you right!” was his mildly triumphant scoff.

“Oh, shut up, you stupid horse!” someone bit out, shaking the rope a little. It made Elsith’s throat ache, and he was sure there would be rope burns under his fur in the morning. “I can’t believe the Summorn princes get talking horses.”

He was about to say that he wasn’t a horse, but stopped himself. Partly because he wasn’t supposed to reveal the information, and mostly because someone had taken the (filthy) sack off his head and that distracted him. The dimness of the room and the fact that his eyes had not adjusted yet did nothing to help him see who his captors were, though he could make out shadows moving at the back and at least three people surrounding him. The floor, which he had been forced to look at, was gritty with sand and dried mud. He also had no idea how they had managed to fit him in through the door, and then realized as he struggled against the ropes, that the place was missing a whole wall. There was just a sheet of canvas working as the last wall. He could see sunlight peeking through the tears on it.

“You barbarians!” he resumed ranting, enraged. “I demand that you take these ropes off of me this instant! Do you know who I am?!”

One of the men tried to tie his leg with a rope. He promptly stamped on his hand with a heavy hoof, the crack of bones shattering audible in the shack. The man screamed, and Elsith felt himself forced to lowering his head even more. Someone tackled him at the side, looping more rope around him.

He snorted in anger and pawed at the ground. His head was lowered so much now that he was unable to lift his legs anymore, for fear of overbalancing and falling. Horses were so strangely proportioned, and Elsith feared that he might break his limbs.

“Stop moving around, you stupid donkey!” someone yelled near his ear.

“Oh, that is IT!” He had been pulling at the rope all this time, intent as he was to move back to the direction that he came in, and maybe drag a few people with him outside. Elsith changed his tactic and abruptly surged forward, movement like a wave crashing to shore. He bowled over the men yanking at his slipshod leash, swept the man who had spoken to him off the floor with his neck, and shouldered into another. Five seconds and he had knocked four men off their feet.

Not bad.

Feeling a little spiteful, he stamped on the hand of another man before turning to the entrance, intention clear. His brother and the rest of the party might be worried, and the last thing he needed was for his brother to ask the whole town to search for him.

It was then that two people tripped him up with even more rope and he felt his legs swept up from under him. He fell down hard, a little painfully, and snorting indignantly at the rising cloud of dust from the impact. Before he knew it, several men were holding his legs down (two of them the ones whose hands he had damaged), and his feet were being bound.

This was hardly the dignified death in the battlefield that Elsith had imagined long ago. He struggled more, but he was tired from the long trip, hungry, and really. The men were rather heavy. In minutes, he had been trussed up like some sort of baggage and was left on the floor, hide streaked with gray and brown from the tussle. He was not pleased at all, and he did not restrain himself from telling his captors exactly what he thought of them.

“What is the meaning of this? Let me go right now, before I get Kalien to have you flogged! Do you think that capturing a royal horse will make you any more of men than you already apparently are not?” He whinnied and snorted hot air onto the face of someone who peered too closely at him.

“Let’s gag it,” someone suggested. Elsith doubled his struggles when someone took up the suggestion and made his way over with a strip of rag, obviously intent on locking his mouth closed together with it. He couldn’t lash out and hurt any of the other men, either, considering the way they were already warily avoiding his range. Another minute found him with the strip of cloth securely wrapped around his muzzle. Elsith had never felt so humiliated in his life. The only good thing about it was that they seemed to not know what he really was.

“Did you think,” he said dangerously, “Did you think that you would be able to stop me from speaking my mind if you did this?” Horses did not have the voice boxes capable of speech, in the first place! Mouth or no mouth, he would have been able to speak no matter what. If he had been turned into a snail, he probably still would have been able to talk.

The barbarians gave each other apprehensive looks, prompting Elsith to start on his tirade again. Some of them winced, while the others looked bewildered. Elsith assumed it was because they were too stupid to understand what he was saying, even though he littered his spiel with “LET ME GO IMMEDIATELY” and the like.

“Do you never shut up?” one of them put in carefully. Elsith turned his head to glare at him.

“I will not deign to answer such a banal question!” he snapped, “How dare you, when you have captured me! What are you planning? Are you going to sell me to some foreigners? I do not let even Kalien ride me, do you think that anyone will buy a wild horse for no other purpose than show?!”

“You might be delicious,” a gruff man muttered. The other criminals gave him a disapproving look, but Elsith only whinnied in horror.

“Delicious?! You cavemen! Why will you—who--- Who would eat a horse?!

A small woman came forward and petted his head. “Don’t worry, we’re not the type!” she said cheerfully. “Horse meat tends to be tough and tasteless, anyway.”

“Did you just imply that I would be tasteless?” he demanded before he could help himself, at the point of anger when his tongue ran off without him and he said anything just to be contrary and antagonistic. Kalien called him difficult when he went into the phase, and Elsith disapproved of how his brother had figured out how to manipulate his annoyance to turn the tables on him.

It wasn’t like he was angry often, back then. Perhaps being a horse had ruined his ability to keep calm. Did horses have no emotional stability at all?

The woman seemed at a loss at his question. Elsith took the opportunity to criticize their methods. “Really! What were you thinking, kidnapping me by using a sack! You’re lucky I’m a horse, or I would have decapitated you with a move and I wouldn’t have had to think about it!”

“How much do you think…” she ventured, “Would this horse make us?”

“Easily fifty gold apiece,” someone answered. Now that he was at the vantage point from where he could look up, the prince quickly counted the people in the room. He snorted.

“Four hundred? You are fools if you sell me for four hundred. I would fetch two thousand easy, if you know the right buyers. Clearly, this is the reason why you have to resort to horse-napping: you do not have an able mind between all eight of you to make decent money on your own.”

“I think we might need to pay someone to take him in,” someone else muttered.

Elsith sniffed, insulted. “You don’t have to pay anyone to take me. I can take myself back to my party without you having to pay anyone, thank you very much. Now let me go, you imbeciles, before I crush your skull with my foot and turn your insides into flattened guts on the ground.”

“May we remind you, sir, that you are tied up and are most definitely in our mercy?” someone said politely. Elsith gave a loud harrumph, and ceased his struggling because it made him feel like a beached whale. The two people whose hands he crushed were wailing painfully in a corner, two other people now tending to their injuries.

“And may I remind you that when you are caught – and you will be caught – you will hang for this crime?”

The woman faltered. The man scoffed.

“Don’t tempt me to hurt you,” was the simple reply. Elsith glared, and because he refused to let them win a verbal argument, kept on talking.

“I have seen it before, what happens to people who dare steal from the Summorn. The last time, the person was burned alive for killing two servants and making away with the Queen’s jewels.” His eyes narrowed. “I doubt if you want to share the same fate, so carefully consider if you want to continue with this or not.”

“I wonder if you’ll get a good price even if you’re in pieces. Stuffed horses have a certain attraction to them.”

Elsith’s voice grew chilling. “I will have you guillotined.”

The woman threw a large canvas sheet over him, leaving him again in darkness. “Stay there, sir horse. We shall come for you when your party has left.”

“They will never leave.”

“Then perhaps we will really have to take you out of here in pieces.”

------

Elsith spent most of that time sleeping or ranting the guards’ ears off. He was very good at ranting, and because he only had to think it instead of actually using his mouth to speak, he was also tireless. It had come to the point that his guards only lasted an hour a shift, which Elsith personally thought was pathetic at best.

It was getting a little difficult to breath, on his side all day as he was. They also hadn’t bothered to give him drink nor food, and his hunger and thirst were becoming a little unbearable. Despite that, he kept the nagging up and satisfied himself with the thought that his guards were suffering as much as him.

Elsith did not know how long he had been kept captive; the hours were immeasurable and he couldn’t tell how long he slept every time he did. His naps were also starting to be frequent, something he attributed to the lack of meals.

It was during one of his frequent naps that someone finally deigned to uncover him from under the canvas. He blinked away, groggy, and was about to start another tirade when he realized that he was looking at the concerned face of the magician from an eye.

“Elsith!” Cairre said urgently amidst the panicked screaming going on behind him. It looked a few seconds for his surroundings to register in his head, before the prince responded.

“Took you long enough!” he snapped. “Now help me out of these bonds! I wish to stand up!”

Cairre seemed too relieved to argue and cut the ropes with a quick spell. Elsith heaved himself up to his feet, suddenly dizzy and disoriented, and would have stumbled back to the ground if he hadn’t noticed a man coming up behind the magician.

“Stormbringer!” he cried, moving forward to deal with the attacker -- his movements were slow and sluggish, and he watched in horror as the man attempted to bludgeon Cairre on the head. Surprisingly, the magician turned around in time and held out a hand, flinging the man to the far wall. The criminal did not slide down, and instead was held up by invisible hands, pinned like a butterfly to his place several feet above the ground.

“Do not tempt me to end you,” he murmured, fixing the man with a cold glare. The guards stopped struggling and Cairre sent them hurling to the wall with their leader. They looked upon the party with fright, surprised that they would have a magician in their midst.

It was Elsith who spoke up, voice ringing clearly in the room. “Leave them, mage.”

“If they have hurt you, I swear upon my master’s grave that I will make their deaths slow and painful.”

“They did not hurt me, you stupid man! Although… how long was I gone? I have not been fed. It would be nice to have an apple. How did you find me?”

Kalien walked closer to him and started inspecting him for signs of abuse. “Three days. We were very worried. And we followed two men walking together. We found it odd that their hands had identical injuries.”

“I wasn’t worried,” Abe muttered, hovering over the man and unconcerned. Some of the captives cowered away from him. He leered, sending a young man into a fit of screaming. Rebi, annoyed, quite casually knocked him unconscious.

Elsith, on the other hand, was scandalized. “I was lying on that dirty, muddy ground for three days? Oh, dear lord, I need a bath. Stormbringer, leave those men alone already, I need you to wash me.”

The magician seemed surprised enough to drop his hold on the kidnapping party, which Elsith refused to admit to himself was the point of it. “Yes, your highness.”

“Your highness?” the woman echoed as her and her group huddled close together.

They waved her questions off and hustled Elsith outside before he could rant at her. Rebi looked disappointed that she had not been allowed to kill anyone.
 
 
 
a mind as vivid as it is absentmiir on November 23rd, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC)
<333333 OH STORMBRINGER.

Where are my updates, Yukeh ;_____;
.Yukeh. ( ̄‿ ̄)ノ: :3yukitsu on November 23rd, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
<33333 Huhuhu!

Ah, well ! I do not send emails to myself over the weekend. I shall send us one now. :'D
Lynlyn: stein snerkskye_kestrel on November 30th, 2008 09:22 am (UTC)
Asdfa;sdasfd it's the kidnapping scene! And Cairre actually losing his temper at the thought that Elsith may have been hurt haha so cute~ ♥♥♥

And Elsith, asking Cairre to give him a bath? |D Oh, he is learning, yes he is. *leer*
.Yukeh. ( ̄‿ ̄)ノ: /ggyukitsu on November 30th, 2008 09:29 am (UTC)
The stupid kidnapping scene! lmao. |D YES, CAIRRE! ♥

HUHUHU. BD