Carpe Diem, Page 35

You’ve been on the road long enough that you know getting stopped on it usually means trouble. Trouble is the last thing you need at this moment, so, you simply turn tail and run away from the guards.

In the beginning, it seems as if you’re making great headway, but then you hear a contemptible sound: the barking of hounds. If you had known they had brought dogs, you might have chosen differently.

With the hounds rapidly approaching, you increase your pace, but it’s to no avail. One of the hounds reaches you and bites down on your calf, pulling you to the ground and tackling you. The other hounds surround you and begin barking viciously while the first hound continues to gnaw on your leg. Your only hope now is to curl up and protect any vital organs that you want to keep.

Fortunately, this torment is short-lived, as you hear a voice call out, “Easy, boys! Easy!” and with that command, the dogs cease barking and stand at attention. The dog gnawing your leg even releases his clamp. Their keeper isn’t the sadistic type, thankfully.

This is only the beginning of your troubles though, as soon as the guards surround you, they put manacles on you and take you with them. Cursed be the destiny that prescribed you such a roguish fate! As you’re escorted to the town in the plains, your leg continues to bleed from the dog bite. You reflect that if you don’t treat that soon, you might lose the leg. This dire thought keeps you awake, though not happily so, as your vision dims from blood-loss.

When you finally reach the town gate, one of the guardsmen calls out for the watchman to open the way. The doors gape wide and you pass through. As you make your way through the streets, you notice the townsfolk staring at you: some with contempt, others with pity, and yet others with a jesterly grin. Eventually, you make it to the guard’s barracks. The guards escort you into a room with a small window and a single, three-legged chair, after which they throw you to the floor and shut the door behind you. Not the most ideal of hosts, you think, but then, you did make a bad first impression.

Now. Onto more pressing matters. Like the condition of your leg. Animal bites are a horrid thing; you know they have to be cleaned as soon as possible. So, you sit down, place your bag on the floor, and open it, and after rummaging through it for a moment, you pull out a flask. I hate to waste my drink, but I’d hate to lose the leg more, you think.

So you open the flask and pour its contents on your wounded leg. It burns horribly, but you grind your teeth and push through the pain. Then, you rip a piece of cloth from your shirt and bandage the wound. That would have to do for now.

Your treatment is suddenly interrupted by the door opening. You look up, and a formidable-looking man enters.