The Seduction Plan Ch. 08byPlainJane12©
Gravlor's Peak would take some time to reach, given that we were traveling by wagon. The first night was cold. I worried about Greystone, my horse, left in the town stables by herself. It was a public stable and it was well known that it was my horse – so someone would care for her... maybe. Unless they already knew I was good as dead.
They might steal her. That wouldn't be so bad if they were good to her. Then again, they might kill her – bad luck that she served the Master's whore.
Of course, Eric wasn't dead yet.
They wouldn't kill my horse while Eric still lived and breathed.
But, who knew how long that would last.
It was hard not to panic that night, as the dark and chill descended.
I wanted Eric to save me.
I'm an idiot, basically – so I couldn't help imagining him coming to my rescue, pulling me into his arms. I would say, breathlessly, "I didn't know," and he instinctively would understand that I meant that I hadn't known he wasn't the bad guy, and he would reply, "I forgive you," and kiss me... but...
I didn't want Eric to save me.
What if he came to Gravlor's Peak and was trapped? What if I was still gagged, and I never got to tell him? What if...
If he died...
If I died and never got to tell him... well, that would probably happen anyway. So I had to hope that he wouldn't come to save me, wouldn't even try, because if he never came then I could always imagine that though I hurt him – I hadn't killed him.
Ergh. That left me in the hands of Saymar though.
I looked over at Dartix sleeping off the rough day behind us.
Nope, this was no good.
Given the options, it looked like I was going to have to rescue myself. Had no idea how I was going to do it, but, given that I was a badass, I was sure I could figure out something.
Noon the next day came and went, and I had nothing. There wasn't anything in the back of the wagon that could help us. Once I had figured that out, I had figured I could wait and see what I had to work with when Bolthos came to feed us.
-Except he didn't.
This is when I started drifting in and out of naps. Dartix had slept most of the night, so I noticed now and again that he was playing the same game I had played the night before – looking for something to pick locks with, looking for something to pry apart chains. He kept trying to find some way to get some slack from the chains – but they were wrapped through the wagon so that the driver would notice any slack as well.
The day was hot as the night was cold, and sweat got in my eyes when I didn't keep them closed. Between the hunger and the heat, I thought I was having a dream, then a hallucination when I heard, "Dor!" whispered and hissed, before it was followed by swift kick.
I jostled myself to a full wake and looked at Dartix. His gag was missing. I tried to figure out what happened and he shook his head and whispered, "I ate it."
"You did not!" I tried to say through my gag. Impossible! But he just kicked me again, annoyed at how loud I was despite being incomprehensible.
"I did; you can too," he whispered.
First of all, I could not. Second of all, I'm pretty sure the gags were the least of our problems. He blinked at me. Then he stuck out his chin and nodded me toward him. "Scoot over here," he said.
Not bothering to question Dartix for a moment, I tried leaning toward him, only to fall back into my original spot. We were wrapped up like cocoons really, and the chains were too heavy on me to maneuver well. But, I did find with some creative shifting, I could get closer to him an inch at a time.
When we finally shoulder to shoulder, I was covered in sweat and looked at him expectantly – this better be good.
He lowered his face to my cheek and tried pulling the gag off with his teeth.
It was a good idea, so I tried to ignore the awkwardness of his tongue trying to pull the gag into his mouth, as it slathered against my skin.
But it wasn't working.
Eventually he nudged me to roll over. I tried, and didn't get very far. But he got low enough to work the gag's knot at the back of my head.
Finally it came off.
"Well, that was constructive," I whispered. "Now if you'll just chew through my chains."
He looked at me wide-eyed and scared. "Princess... I mean, Dor, I thought you knew magic words!"
I looked back at him.
I sort of did.
Eric had taught me a few.
Okay, okay, he had taught me more than a few magic words. Geez, we spent most days of the week just working out spells with magic words – and we'd been doing it for years. He quizzed me on that crap often enough; you'd think I'd be all powerful by now.
Except I wasn't.
I mean yeah, sometimes I'd pull off something spectacular.
One time, I think I was like 22, 23, Eric wanted me to learn how to make a clean water spring emerge from desert sands. Survival tool, he said. Why a badass like me would need a survival tool like that, I'm not sure. Last time I had been lost in the desert I drank my own blood and sweat when I got thirsty and was totally fine. –The ant poison chaser wasn't bad either. Sure, I was practically dead and not a little bit loopy for quite a while afterward, but what doesn't kill you, right?
Anyway, turns out Eric was thinking about practicality but I was thinking about taking on Nature itself and well, it's lucky Eric's such a good swimmer.
The palace was nearly destroyed.
The desert around it was basically a swamp for a few days.
And I had never felt so powerful!
But Eric was a little more careful about our projects after that.
I smiled, remembering that. –Because though Eric and I had occasionally rough-housed as younger people, that was one of the first times that as an adult he slung his arm around my shoulders familiarly, as we looked at the devastation I had caused. At the time I had battled with the all the crazy urges running through my body caused by his touch. I didn't want to admit it but I really wanted to lean my head in to rest on his shoulder. But half my brain was screaming about how he killed my family and how I couldn't let him touch me, while the other half was trying to calm it down by pointing out that being relaxed around him would help draw him into my trap.
I didn't end up leaning my head in after all.
But I let him leave his arm there while he laughed at my spell.
"You don't know magic words?" Dartix asked sadly.
I sighed. "Yeah, I do. I just... crap, Dartix. This is bad."
"What is it?"
"It's just, Eri- The Master teaches me new magic words all the time. I mean, all the time. And I haven't exactly been keeping it all straight. And usually we only use certain words for certain projects..." I looked around the wagon. Each handful of words usually came with an action and a goal. Like empowering a blade – that was a spell I had always liked because it was simple. A few words, throw the knife, let it strike down the enemy.
And geez, outside of the palace I had used that spell exactly twice – once on the horse thing and once on Saymar. It was zero for two.
And there weren't any blades here anyway.
I said to Dartix, "I mean, there's things I can do but... Like, I could heat something."
Dartix looked excited, "Yeah?"
"But chained up like this we risk getting burned horribly to death."
"Oh," he replied.
"I can call forth a flood but..."
"Drowning wouldn't save us either. You couldn't burn through the chains? Just a little bit of chain, one link?" he asked.
"What if the spell puts fire through the whole chain? We'd be meat."
"You couldn't shield us somehow?"
"Oh, Dartix. I'm not the Master. Keeping two spells going at once, I don't know."
"Maybe don't heat the chains – turn them to something else?"
I let out a breath. I should know how to do that. Eric had taught me how to transmute things ages ago. We used it to make dinner out of rocks for a week before we began to make ourselves sick.
Suddenly Dartix looked really excited. "Or, or," he said, "You could make us smaller, so we could slip out?" A miniaturization spell? Yeah, I think I'd rather be dead than end up accidentally the size of an ant for the rest of my life.
Boy I wanted to save Dartix.
And I had an idea.
It was a terrible idea, but...
Between needing to save Dartix and definitely not wanting to end up in Saymar's hands, it had to be done.
"Dartix. I'm not good enough to hold two spells at once. I'm just not. But, if you knew some magic words, maybe I could protect us and you could burn through the chains."
"Really? You think I could?"
"If I can do it, you can," I replied honestly. "Not that I'm sure I could do it. This very well may end horribly."
"Yeah, that's a problem because it looks like Bolthos is taking us to my birthday party and I want to see that," he replied.
I smiled at him. I had never heard Dartix so sarcastic. "Okay then," I said. I began teaching him the words.
As night began to fall again, the horses slowed. I didn't imagine we were nearing our destination quite yet, but part of me filled up with panic that I would be handed off to Saymar before Dartix and I even had the chance to try our escape.
Bolthos brought the wagon to a stop, and it sounded like he was taking the horses away for a drink. Dartix was practicing the words, separately, quietly. We weren't ready to give it a try, and I had to make sure I had the protection spell going strong before he did.
I had spent the afternoon and evening whispering to him about confidence and purpose and feeling. I practically quoted some of Eric's old speeches from when he was in professor mode. I had always rolled my eyes at him when he got that way, but here I was spitting it back out at Dartix, and actually remembering things as I did – things about the spell, about all the spells, how to hold your hands, how to use focusing tools, and I just let it all out to Dartix. Dartix listened patiently and thoughtfully. As he tried whispering some of the words back to me, I heard the errors and corrected them, and he began to improve right in front of me.
I began to feel like we could do this.
But now Bolthos appeared to be getting settled for the night, which would mean that eventually he would come in here and find our gags off. I wasn't sure what he was going to do about it; but if he put them back on, saying the spells was going to be a lot harder.
"He has the one gag now, right? You ate yours. If he tries to put it back on one of us, it should be me. You could get it off again maybe, but if push comes to shove I could still do alright with spell mumbling it... I think." I was trying to convince myself more than Dartix.
"Damn it," Dartix said, just now realizing that this would be a problem. "I should have eaten that one too." Then he looked at me strangely. "Aren't you starving?"
I nodded, and said, "Yes! But not enough to eat that."
We both looked at the cloth Bolthos had used to gag us. After yanking it off me, Dartix had spit it too far away for either of us to reach now anyway.
"He hasn't fed us. Maybe he won't try to gag us until after he's fed us?"
"What was that?" Bolthos suddenly asked, ripping the back of the wagon open and peering down at us. "I didn't want you two talking together." He shook his head. If I hadn't been so mad at him, and a tad tiny, tiny bit scared of him after all that happened, I would have felt sorry for Bolthos. He looked tired, and like he felt guilty.
He really didn't want to be doing this.
I glanced at Dartix and was surprised by the anger on his face. I had never seen him like that before. Sure, Bolthos had betrayed us, roughed us up, and tied us up in the back of a wagon... Okay, I guess it was understandable. Still, Dartix had only been hit in the back of the head with a shovel while I was going to be handed off to Saymar. If anyone should have been angry, it was me.
And I was.
Though, I guess everything was getting overwhelming, because I couldn't get worked up the way Dartix was.
"Traitor!" Dartix said, and he spit. "You'd treat the princess this way? You're as bad as the Master himself!"
Bolthos leaned back. "So if you two haven't been talking about the Master all this time, what have you been talking about?"
Dartix looked confused. –Yeah, I probably should have mentioned something to him about Eric not being the one who killed all the royals and half the commoners. But it wasn't a priority at the moment. "Er, yeah – I forgot. We have the wrong guy," I said to Dartix.
"What?" Dartix asked.
Bolthos just shook his head, released a couple locks in the wagon, and pulled me to my feet. I looked around; he had taken us to the middle of nowhere. There were a lot of trees, sounded like there was a babbling brook nearby, but other than that – nothing. The moon was huge in the sky, giving us almost as much visibility as we would have had in the day. Bolthos looked at Dartix and said, "Don't get any ideas," as he began to unwrap me from the chains. Soon I was practically free except for the hand irons on my hands and feet.
He took off the ones on my feet. But he never let go of the ones on my hands. I briefly considered yanking free long enough to make a run for it – but I didn't know the area and Dartix was still stuck.
I ripped away as hard as I could, and slipped out of Bolthos' grasp. Immediately I lifted my hands and tried to knock him in face, hoping the irons would make enough of a difference to knock him out.
He went down.
"Run Dor! Run!" Dartix screamed, but I wasn't going without him. I knelt by Bolthos and tried to find his keys. He wasn't completely out though – and he tried pushing away at me.
I could see the keys on his waist, and I grabbed for them-
And I was on my back.
Bolthos was above me, one hand on the side of his face where I hit him, the other hand twisted in my shirt and holding me flat on the ground. I fought him, trying to hit him again. He straddled me, letting go of my shirt to grab my shackled hands and hold them against the ground above my head.
Time slowed down then. I was wheezing for air and I think I heard Dartix calling my name. Bolthos let go of his face – already purple where I hit him. He brushed the hair out of my eyes. "I get it," he said. "I get it." His hand lingered on my face a moment, then he traced my jaw down to my neck, and lower.
I looked away, blushing my face off, suddenly completely incapable of speech. He wasn't rough or anything – he ran the back of his knuckles along the sides of my breast, then ran a thumb over the tip. I felt my lower regions clench in response, and I gasped. No – that's not how it should work! I belonged to Eric; body, heart, and sometime in the last couple days, mind. I was panicking and had no idea how to stop the thrill of arousal shooting through my limbs.
"Dor!" Dartix screamed.
This made Bolthos close his eyes. He shook his head, pulling back his hand and getting up. He pulled me to my feet. "Don't try anything like that again," he said.
He then went about unwrapping Dartix, but a bit more wary this time. I stood there, anxious, wondering what was wrong with me. Bolthos?!?
When he had us both loose, and then chained up together, he led us to a log we could sit against while he made a fire. He did plan to feed us.
No one spoke while Bolthos built the fire. Dartix stared daggers at him. I found myself watching how the tops of the trees moved in the wind, and the stars beyond.
How had I gotten life so wrong?
I was too old to be this wrong. Shouldn't I have figured this out ages ago? Shouldn't I have realized something, anything, that would have made me realize – you know what, Dor? Maybe this isn't the best life path for you, maybe you shouldn't devote your whole existence to killing Eric. I had been at it so, so long. How had this many years passed in this way?
"You two play this right, you'll still be alive," Bolthos said, back to us as he knelt by the kindling. "We're in a bad situation at the moment."
"We? Did you just say, 'we?' You think we are all in the same boat right now?" Dartix demanded.
Bolthos stood and turned to him, angry. "Yes. Yes we are. We are all in the same boat. The Knows-Way-Too-Much boat. The boat composed entirely of people who know the identity of the Hand. -The Hand who doesn't like having said identity known. –The Hand who brought down a fucking creature from the heavens to crush his enemies. They're all dead now, oh, unless you count us, because we only became a threat a few days ago!"
"So you do count yourself among his enemies?" I asked.
Bolthos sunk to the ground, sitting. "Of course I do, Dor. But, you don't understand. You're not a regular; you don't know what the meetings are like, have been like." Bolthos looked at Dartix. "You think I should walk into the meeting tomorrow, tell everyone that Saymar is the Hand and that the Master is dead, has been dead for years. We've been fighting a... a... mirage?"
Dartix was still pissed, but even I could see in the way his eyes turned that he understood Bolthos' position.
"He's a god, Dor," Bolthos said. "Saymar's been working himself up into leader for some time, and now, now that they know the plan is in place... Those men will follow him to the ends of the earth."
"So let the plan not be in place. Let us go. I'll go back and tell Eric what the miscommunication's been, and we can leave it to him to clear it up. He has magic, remember?"
Bolthos got to his feet, shaking his head. He began busying himself making dinner. "No. We have to ride it through. Those men are hungry for the Master's blood. We have to give it to them. That's top priority. If we lose the people, if we look like we're on the wrong side, we're lost."
"Good thing you have Dartix and me in chains then."
"Saymar needs you alive to tempt the Master into coming to Gravlor's peak. You have the opportunity to do it willingly. Everyone will think of you as a savior. Saymar, to further secure his power, would take you as a wife."
I was about to say hell no, but Dartix said, "No! Never. She's royal blood, Bolthos. That slime-"
"Or," Bolthos began, "You won't do it willingly. You'll be caged and left as bait. The men will be told you've gone mad as result of the Master's spells. When he is dead, Saymar will take you as a slave. I have no doubt in my mind he'll keep you alive. He's too... obsessed, to kill you."
"Awesome," I replied, rolling my eyes.
"Dartix, it will be the same with you – except you may not escape death so easily. The men love you now; you're our little brother, but Saymar will say that the Master used a spell on you to scramble your brain. You can support Saymar, or be put out of your misery."
"Who wants to be in misery?" Dartix spat.
Holy shit! Dartix is a revolutionary! -I felt like I was watching someone evolve into a hero right in front of me.
"Well, you have a little while more to think about it. Saymar isn't coming to hear your decisions for another couple hours."
Crap! Knowing Saymar was about to show up nearly had me up and running then and there. But I was attached to Dartix and enough weight in chain to keep me slow enough for a rabid turtle to catch me, let alone Bolthos.
Yeah... why hadn't Eric used something other than a horse to do that whole rescue shenanigan thing we tried in town? A giant green frothy turtle would have been way better.
Okay, so my mind wanders sometimes.
"I'm thirsty," I said to Bolthos. He stood, and immediately looked off in the direction of the babbling brook.
"You two aren't going to run off in those chains, are you? It'll be embarrassing when I catch you," he said.
I shook my head.
"I'm just going down to the river," he said, pointing.