The Seduction Plan Ch. 06byPlainJane12©
I felt Dartix's little shoulder slip under my armpit as my legs disappeared. I swung my head around; I could still barely see, but he was there. I was cold, slimy and sweating.
"Dor? Dor! ...Damn damn damn."
"Wait. Wait right here." He was easing me to the ground. I was sitting in garbage.
Boy. Everything stank.
My eyes opened. I blinked color back into my vision. I recalled that I hadn't really eaten since the day before, shaking my arms. The smells assaulting me down here were waking me up, but not helping my instinct to swoon in the least.
"What's the problem?" hissed a large man in a cloak. I looked at him lazily, wondering if he was going to be a problem, before realizing that Dartix was behind him.
"She fainted. I told her... anyway, she fainted!"
"Shut up, Boy," the stranger said.
"I'll be fine," I blurted, "I just, I'm tired and hungry and the sun must be getting to me." Both Dartix and the stranger looked around; the alley was pretty much in complete shade. Okay -- so big news affects me. Even badasses faint sometimes. Shut up.
The stranger unhooked his cloak; he was sort of handsome close up, but blurry -- and probably a foreigner, and wrapped it around me. Suddenly he had picked me up, but Dartix pulled on his arm. "No, no, no, Seamus. It'll cause too much attention."
"She can't walk," he replied.
"Yes I can," I said, trying to push out of his grasp. He fought me though --
"Don't," he growled, before I finally got to my feet. ...And almost fell into more garbage. He put out an arm to help me though, and I took it.
"I have to walk. Just help me," I said.
"She needs food," Dartix said, taking my other arm. "And Saymar can't see her."
"Okay!" said the stranger, AKA Seamus, annoyed.
After trekking down the road the ways with the help of Dartix and Seamus, we skirted down an alley and another, where we weren't likely to be seen but more than likely to get food. Dartix's mother had an alehouse out here, not very popular though. The food was expensive and the beer was not tasty. She was ugly and her waitresses were mean. I had no idea how a cute young thing like Dartix had managed to pop out of her; I always smiled trying to imagine that maybe his mother had been with a very handsome man, somehow. Of course, it was impossible to know. Apparently Dartix's dad had been a palace cook once upon a time, but several years after my parents were killed, he met his own end trying to find work out in the islands off the coast of Handrasi. Dartix blamed his father's death on his not being a palace cook, so of course, Dartix was for the resistance. Sometimes I would sit and try to remember the faces of the palace cooks... but I could barely remember the faces of my own family.
It then occurred that Dartix really wasn't much of a boy anymore. He had to be fourteen now. So skinny. I didn't remember kids being that skinny when I was his age. Of course, I only had myself and Eric to really compare him with.
I wouldn't live to have children of my own.
I was the last of my line, and it would die with me.
Dartix interrupted my thoughts with a large tankard of nasty smelling ale. "Oh Dartix!" I said, before putting my hand to my mouth.
"Food's coming up, Dor," he said, eyes wide, before scurrying off.
"It can't be that bad," Seamus said, pulling the tankard away from me and taking a gulp. He looked like he was going to turn green. "Okay. You were right."
I nodded back feebly, and leaned back. The one and only good thing about this place was the padded booth seats. I wanted to roll up in mine and pass out.
"You look terrible," Seamus said. "What happened to you?"
"No, no, no," Dartix said, "You're not authorized to talk to Dor, Seamus. No one but me and Bolthos from now on."
"I just asked her how she was, Dartix," Seamus said.
"I heard you ask her 'what happened,' Seamus. That's not, 'how are you?'" Dartix said.
I closed my eyes and listened to them argue until there was the distinct clang of full dishes hitting the table. I looked down at the plates. Oh, thank Somebody! Food. Breakfast food, like the palace cooks used to make. Why I could remember food and not faces... well, one more strike against me -- I suppose I was always destined to be a horrible person.
"It's on the house, Dor," Dartix said proudly, before adding, "Not for you though, Seamus. You've got to pay." Off Seamus's look, Dartix said, "You're new to the Resistance, Seamus. You don't eat for free for at least... six more months."
"You're making that up," Seamus said.
Dartix just smiled roguishly and began digging into his own plate.
I ate and ate and ate some more. It was soothing, the food. Everything seemed less horrible, and I could feel that I was beginning to think more clearly.
Of course there was no such thing as the Hand.
Eric had worked alone.
I had to figure out what the plan for Gravlor's Peak was.
Then return to Eric and figure out... his plan... sometime in the next two weeks we'd be spending in bed. Oh geez... How was I going to...?
I shoveled more food in my mouth.
"You were hungry," Seamus said.
I began to nod when the main door to the establishment swung open. The few others in the room looked up; not in a curious way, but in a ready way. Shit.
"Dartix," I said. He frowned, motioning me to hide under the table.
I slid under, already knowing that it was likely fruitless. After a few steps, I knew who was coming through the door.
I watched his boots approach the table.
"Dartix," he said, in a friendly way. "Seamus..." he added, pausing... I closed my eyes. Of course, he would be looking at my empty plate right about now.
"We're waiting for Hogarth!" blurted Dartix.
"Looks like you couldn't wait for Hogarth," Saymar said. He put a hand on the table, and I watched his knees begin to bend.
I leapt up, knocking the table off its feet and into Saymar. Surprised, and half-covered in food, he stepped back long enough for me to grab Dartix and press a dagger to his chest. Granted, it looked like a bluff at that angle, but that's what it was.
It was Dartix after all! I wasn't putting anything that sharp near his throat.
"I'm leaving," I said.
Saymar smiled and the color of his eyes went flat and still.
"If you want me to leave the boy alive," I added, "You'll let me go." I backed toward the door.
"You'd kill Dartix," Saymar chuckled.
Okay. Bluff called. "Maybe just maim him," I said, eyebrows raised.
Saymar drew his thumb down the deepest scar on his face. "Maybe that's just what the boy needs."
"You're a mess. In the head. You're a headcase, that's what you are! And probably a liar," I said, hoping loud accusations would keep him from following. But they didn't; he stepped slowly toward me, mirroring every step I took - except his strides were terrifyingly longer.
"Please!" Seamus suddenly pleaded, stepping between us and Saymar, "Please don't hurt the boy!"
"Out of my way, Seamus!" Saymar growled.
"He's just a boy!" Seamus said, ignoring Saymar.
I continued to back up. Luckily, Seamus stayed frozen in place. Suddenly Saymar threw a table out of the way to get around Seamus. I threw Dartix into Seamus's arms, and ran for all I was worth out of there.
Once outside, I held my dagger tight and began murmuring words of empowerment. I could hear Saymar following, but I didn't dare look back yet. Once the dagger felt heavy with power in my hand, I took a breath and looked back.
Oh, he was gaining on me, even as he barreled through the townfolk milling about. Geez! Running after me like this, he seemed like he was the same size as that fucking horse thing! Where in him could I put the dagger? What could I cut that would stop him from chasing me?
I quick tried to call Greystone with magic words, the way that Eric taught me... but I had never been any good at that. Greystone didn't come.
I made a sharp turn around a corner, and ran straight into an errand boy. He had been running too. Now we were both on the ground. I moved to leap to my feet, but suddenly my feet were off the ground.
Saymar had picked me up again. He threw me over his shoulder like a bag of potatoes. I quickly thrust the dagger into his back.
He stopped. I froze. He turned his head to look at me, just as I slowly turned my head to get a look at him. "You just stabbed me in the back, Dor," he said quietly, eyes narrow.
"Uh. Wasn't me?" I tried.
He moved a hand to get it out, and I tried to use this as a chance to escape, but he just squeezed his remaining arm around me tighter, like a snake squeezing its dinner to death.
I probably shouldn't have eaten so much. The squeezing was uncomfortable -- something was going to give if he didn't stop.
He batted at the knife a bit before saying, "Take it out of my back, Dor."
"No," I replied.
"Dor, if you don't get it out of me right now," he began.
"Saymar, it was a magical blade. It's not coming out," I lied.
His voice bellowed like the horns of the old royal symphony, "What?!"
"But, if you let me go, I can undo the spell that makes the dagger poisonous." As these lies spilled from my mouth, I began to wonder why I didn't know any spells like these. They certainly would be useful. Maybe I could ask Eric about it... you know, before I betrayed and murdered him and sexed him up. --Not in that order.
"You lie," he said, in a voice that had just a tad more hope than it would if he were sure.
"Okay. Great. I'm lying. Let's uh, go about our business then. What's the plan, man? You're going to kill me, right? Where should we go to do that? Take your time though, it'd be nice if the poison kicked in before you have a chance to make me a good woman."
He laughed at me then. "Dor, you bitch. You're in love with enemy. You must be an excellent liar."
"I'm in love with the enemy? Do you think that because I'm not in love with you? Or do you think that because I stuck to the plan? --Because in either case, you're a dumbass."
"You were there, you called out his true name, pled it like a wife."
"That was the plan, Ass-hair."
"And he came for you, not because he wanted you, but because you were his."
"Okay Saymar, I'm surprised they didn't go over this when you joined the resistance, but there's this thing called, 'A plan.'"
"I know what you are, and I'm going to use you," he said, low and slow, practically just to himself. -That scared me. I began a new assault, beating him and slapping him around the neck and back of his head. I kicked as violently as I could, but didn't seem to hit anything.
"What? Couldn't wait for the poison to set in?" he laughed.
But then I heard it; I almost wept from relief at the sound. It was one of Eric's patrols -- his little army men made out of old bones and sand and rain. I looked over my shoulder and saw them. Two dozen of the little faceless guys, all only about 5'5 but bulky and the color of the desert, were coming down the street. The townspeople all did as they had already been doing; retreated further into the buildings but made sure to stick around long enough for the show.
I looked at the shadows the buildings cast. Huh. Wasn't time for a patrol... but I wasn't about to complain.
"Help!" I shrieked.
The little faceless captain jerked in alert, and pointed a sandy finger at me. They all began to march for us.
"Fuck," Saymar said, turning to run. I restarted my assault as he fled with me over his shoulder. He twisted one my arms in his hands until I screamed. I kept my tearing eyes on the soldiers though -- they were coming for me, they would save me.
The captain of the little patrol was close enough on Saymar's heels, I reached out for him, and he did the same. I felt the grain of his fingertips on mine. At the touch, the swirl of his face changed, and I thought I could see the outline of a mouth, a shallow cavern open where a face should be, and it said, "Dor!"
Quickly, its free hand also reached out, but this time not for me. The arm turned to blade and stabbed Saymar through. Saymar jerked on the sword, but even then I think I knew it wasn't as bad a blow as it looked. The way he felt beneath me, I knew something was off.
But I was tumbling away from him, and sand soldiers were throwing themselves on the ground to break my fall, and I wasn't so worried about whether or not he was playacting.
"Thank you," I said to them, even though they weren't real. One put out his hand to help me as I got up, after all. I could return the favor of being polite.
That's when I saw Dartix warily approaching. Obviously, members of the resistance and the masters' armies didn't mix. He kept an anonymous distance.
"You know who I am," I said to the captain. He nodded his head. "I'm second in command to the Master of the Realm. I'm ordering you all to wait here. I have to do some business." He nodded and saluted and began gesturing to the other sand soldiers. I looked at Saymar's body lying on the ground, wounded. His eyes were closed. He looked sort of dead -- but I didn't want to get too close. I kicked him in the ass. He didn't flinch.
Well, that part at least was over.
I walked over to Dartix.
"Sorry, Dor. I ran to get help. I told Seamus to try and stop Saymar, but I don't know where he went." Suddenly he looked surprised. I turned around. Saymar was gone.
Crap. I walked back to the soldiers. I looked at the captain. "Did you see the man you stabbed leave?"
He nodded his head. Damn it. I had ordered them only to stay there.
And Eric always wondered why I wasn't impressed by magic.
I walked back to Dartix. "All I want to do is go home and take a bath, but I need to find out what the plan is."
Dartix nodded. "I'm supposed to bring you. Bolthos was already on his way to... well, we're going somewhere important."
It was getting later in the day. We hadn't gone far on foot, but it was further than I had bothered to go in years. I began thinking about the ride back and what I needed to get so that I didn't return to the palace empty-handed. Lady stuff... Geez. What could I pickup that would look like "lady stuff" to Eric?
I noticed some of the old architecture Dartix and I were passing; these were buildings I hadn't seen since I was a kid. "Gosh," I said, "I remember these. I think. It's been so long."
"You haven't been this far south?" he asked.
"Well, I don't need anything I can't get from the main market. I meet you guys up in the San Drumais area."
"I always thought you traveled more," Dartix said.
"Actually we do. I've been to the towns on the other side of Shoreblood Lake, the islands of the Upsi sea, there are people out north of the deserts so far that there are trees everywhere. But, we never stay long -- a few hours here and there. The Master prefers his palace," I said, rolling my eyes. "I even saw Gravlor's Peak once, from a distance. He pointed it out to me. Something about the stone up there -- it's not from this world."
"That's how they'll trap him," Dartix said. "Those stones will make him normal, take his power. Then he'll be like any other man."
"I didn't know that," I replied, truthfully. But part of me doubted it immediately -- because Eric wasn't like a sand soldier or a magic apple or even the palace. He wasn't composed of something other than normalness, he wasn't composed of magic. He just knew how to use it. Saying that something could take his power from his body was like saying it could take his mind from his brain.
"When he's just a man, they'll hunt him down like a dog. Bolthos is worried he's too smart to be captured easily in any case, which is way we're building the big, spring loaded," Dartix was saying just when Seamus appeared out of nowhere and smacked him hard in the face.
I immediately punched Seamus in the eye, and he staggered back.
"The boy shouldn't talk in the street!" Seamus sputtered, like he was going to cry but was just this side of able to refuse it.
"He's right, Dartix," I agreed, though I would have loved to hear the rest here rather than bother with more clandestine meetings.
"Where have you been?" demanded Dartix, still rubbing his sore mouth.
"I uh, was going to cut off Saymar, but those soldiers got in the way. In any case, she's safe."
"No thanks to you, Seamus," Dartix grumbled.
"Okay, okay -- how much further do we have to go?" I asked. Dartix and Seamus exchanged a look.
"Daaartix!" I whined, looking at the sky. I still had shopping to do, we were an hour's walk from the marketplace, and we still hadn't reached the meeting location. "Why didn't Bolthos just wait for us?"
"We already had a meeting planned, Dor."
He smiled and pointed up ahead at an abandoned building. "You'll see."
Inside, everything was dark. Dartix took my hand and led me through the labyrinthine ruins of what might have once been a complex building. We came to a curtained door, and Dartix slowed down, holding the curtain open for me.
"Here we are!" he announced brightly. Then, he faltered. Looking around, I could guess his confusion.
"No one's here," I said.
"The whole resistance should be here tonight," he said, worried. "All the men, anyway. What happened?"
I realized there was someone behind him; seeing the look on my face, Dartix began to turn, but whoever it was hit him in the back of the head. "Dartix!" I yelled.
I moved to catch him before he hit the ground, but there were arms linked with mine suddenly, holding me. Seamus was pulling me away from Dartix. I struggled to get off his grasp, then I saw Bolthos come out of the darkness with a shovel. He looked sad.
I couldn't breathe.
Why? Why would he do that to Dartix?
Bolthos wouldn't look at me.
"Dartix!" I said again.
"That's what happens to traitors, Dor," came a voice still in the shadows, though I knew who it was.
Saymar strode into the light then, eyes dancing.
"Dartix isn't a traitor!" I said, finding my voice. I looked to Bolthos. "How could you do this? He's just a boy!" Bolthos hung back, not answering. I looked back at Saymar. "It's you. It's you that's poisoned everything. Out of, out of jealously and, just plain evil. That boy lying on the ground is the very spirit of the resistance. He's the reason we fight for a better world, and you, you couldn't stand it. You see something pure and honest and you just want to rub it out, don't you?"
He grabbed me by the shirt, shaking me loose from Seamus' grasp. "Purity? I'd have saved your purity."
"No, you just wanted to destroy it yourself."
"You're one to talk." He threw me to the ground. It hurt, but there was still run in me. I could have made a break for it. But something was telling me that they weren't finished with Dartix. "You're the one that made that boy a traitor. You seduced him to your side," Saymar said.
"I always knew the kid would follow you to the ends of the earth; months ago, Bolthos and I had tried having a talk with him, warn him not to be too attached. We thought you might be a traitor. He'd have none of it."
"Maybe because I'm not," I replied, but my voice struggled -- and everyone in the room heard. It wasn't that it was simply a lie. This, all this, all my lies and deceit and double-dealing, had hurt Dartix. --The only innocent involved.
Saymar just smiled. "We've been paying attention, Dor. If you became a traitor, we knew he would too. And it was much, much too easy for Bolthos to set me up as the bad guy. -As the Hand?"
I wanted to cry then. "Why? Why do this to Dartix? Even if he did like me, follow me, what's the problem? He's not all-powerful. He's not special. He's just a kid in the resistance, trying to do what's right. Bolthos?" I pleaded. Bolthos still wasn't looking at me.