Episode 14: Captured

Most of his wounds were healed. Even the ones suffered on his face had begun to scab. Noshee picked at them, resisting the urge to scratch. There was no point in looking for a Harton with a sikya spider bite among two hundred thousand or so provincial citizens. It was afternoon. The bite would heal by early evening. There wasn’t room in the day.

And leaving an unconscious Tosai here in the canopy of Nashoba Forest would only add to Noshee’s suspicious behavior. He untangled the steel talons, a result of their duel, and tore the shredded branch from Tosai’s clutch.

The lowly researcher collected some of the linen bandages he’d left behind to hide his scent and secured Tosai’s limp wings. He hoisted the dead weight into his arms and extended his wings toward the clear blue sky. Amber membranes lit from the bright sun.

Noshee’s sight went black. Stars streaked across.

. . .

A voice called as if submerged in water. “Why did you do it?”

Water dripping echoed into the dizziness. Noshee reached up and felt a rather large bump on the back of his head. It was tender, squishy almost. Linen bandages kept the bloody wound clean.

His surroundings were not. Little light eked into what he would describe as a small grimy cave. Thick iron chains cuffed his wrists and ankles to the rock floor. Barbed wire bit into his wings like hundreds of ant bites. A torch flickered through a small square opening of a bulky iron door. A Genaian warrior peeked inside, then slammed the door.

A headache started to emerge that reminded Noshee of a rock splitting.

“Did you hear me?” Chusee said. “Why did you commit such carnage?”

Noshee gazed at the senior researcher, taken aback by his restraints. “I was about to fly Tosai back—”

“Fly back?” she exclaimed. “Toss to the forest floor is more like it.”

“Toss?”

“Noshee. Do the right thing. Confess your crimes against the province of Genai. Then you must confess your attempted murder of Legionnaire Tosai.”

“Attempted murder?”

“Our Warlord may not look favorably upon your Legionnaire wife if you don’t.”

“What does she have to do with anything?”

“Stop stalling.”

“I’m not!” His voiced bounced off the granite walls.

The Genaian warrior peeked through the square opening.

“Neglecting your fellow researchers, allowing Graywolf and his pack to devour them,” she said, counting her fingers. “Fleeing the scene when Warlord Rorkai sent warriors to look for you, accusing them of assaulting you. Such lies.”

“Please listen,” Noshee said.

“Killing your lover who revealed your affair to your wife. Is that why you agreed to this assignment? Revenge?"

"Agree?"

"Murdering another Genaian soldier in the catacombs.” She was running out of fingers. “And you fled the infirmary when we arrived, attacking Tosai when he was alone. Noshee, what has gotten into you?”

“What does it matter?” Noshee sighed. “Just condemn me and allow the families to have their way.”

“This has gone passed a simple duel to the death, Noshee. Apparently, unaware by me, you’re more than capable.” Chusee stood.

Her silk shirt lay flat. She was unusually flat-chested. It was unusual because Destinian women tended to be healthier in that area. But what kind of thought was that to have at this moment? Everything seemed ludicrous, anyway.

All he wanted was to see his wife and cradle his newborn baby daughter. He wished for one more moment with his family before they passed judgment.

“Do you understand what’s going to happen?” she threatened.

“I did not do any of those things. Talk to Rorkai. He knows. He was the one who let me go when you arrived.”

Chusee mouthed the word crow but didn’t swear. She was a lady. She beat the iron door.

The Genaian warrior heaved the door open. The door grated, pounding Noshee’s headache. “My lady,” the warrior said.

Chusee turned to leave. Her left wing dragged behind revealing a sikya spider bite behind her left shoulder.

Choose your poison: As Chusee was about to leave, should Noshee grab her and confront her about the bite?

86% of the readers chose to grab her.