Note: Thank you to my first reviewer, Chelina45! I am so glad you liked it, and you made me compelled to finish this chapter faster. :) Thank You for your support!
Will woke to a horrid stench all around him, a blinding light pounding at his severely concussed head. Words in a guttural language filled his ears as he tried vainly to decipher what was being said. He couldn't open his eyes, the light blinding him. Will didn't understand how a light could be so painful; nor did he remember where he was, last he knew he was saddling up Tug to go practice shooting. He shifted, immediately regretting that decision. Not only did it send jarring pains up his back and right side, but it alerted those around the fire to his consciousness.
A dangerous laugh filled the air as one of the men that Will had stabbed, stood up and walked toward him. Still unable to remember what happened Will's mind was in a state of desperation. He pushed his eyes open to small slits, forcing a moan from him as the light shattered into his brain. The laugh returned, closer this time. Will forced his eyes open fully, slowly taking in the colors besides blinding white. Forms appeared as trees and men came into view. Trying to raise his hands to his head, Will found he could not. A rough binding cutting off movement and circulation.
What the? … Will was even more confused and nervous; last time he had been bound it was when being dragged to Skandia. Even then though, his bonds were not tight such as this, and his captures were more kind. It was a cruel thing, for an archer like him to be bound in such a way. He knew the leather that was tightened around his wrists would leave him unable to hold a bow, if even a knife, for at least three days. Being more cautious he glanced around, lifting his chin to see better. He was lying on his back/side against a large boulder. He was on the edge of a camp filled with rough looking seamen. How did I even get here?! Seriously Will! You can't go out for one day without getting in somesort of trouble! No! If you're not stealing pies from Chubb's kitchen, you have to get yourselfcaught by…pirates? They weren't Skandian, Will knew that from his enslavement there, but they were not familiar to him. Oh, what does it matter who they are? More like, how am I going to get out. Actually Will, how did I even let this happen? It doesn't help I have no recollection of the time leading up to this point. He grimaced, knowing the certain stern lecture…if you could call what was waiting a lecture…when he got back to Halt. IF he got back to Halt.
The laughing man had stopped approaching earlier due to a call from the leader. The man snarled and twisted away. Yeesh, Will, what did you do this time? Where's Tug? The thought just occurred to him as he felt the lack of Tug's wisdom in such a situation. Maybe I sent him home? Will tried to remember, if these men had been attacking Will he knew that he would've told Tug to go back, find Halt or Gilan. Maybe that's what he did? Maybe he found other help. If so, would they even understand a horse? Only Rangers could talk to a Ranger horse. Will's mind was wandering, almost delirious with confusion and pain. His back felt as though someone had been using it as an anvil, his head no better. He doubted he would move even if he wanted to, the small movements of his head being more than what should be allowed.
It seemed to be about quarter after eleven, judging by the moon's position, and Will wasn't sure if help was coming. Halt should be on his way, he knows he always comes home by six. That would mean he would be out searching for five hours now; and Will always leaves his signs for Halt, so he should be on the right path. It still worried him though, not knowing where the men were planning on taking him.
The night progressed without much thought toward their young captive, the men enjoying their ale and newly taken money too much to care about him. That is until it was time to go.
The leader approached him with drunken steps, soberer though than any of the others. This was lucky for Will, though still not desirable. He crouches down next to the small form, bound next to the rock, and Will can smell the rank ale on his breath. He tries not to breath in and make a face. Finding it near impossible, he doesn't manage to keep a small shudder from running through his body, making the man lean closer in to taunt him.
"You like that boy? You're going to have a fun trip, you really messed up my brothers real good. Pathetic whelp." With that last word, jabbing his fist into Will's already twisted abdomen. He writhed to the side in a gasp for breath as his possibly broken ribs jarred against muscle and lung. An awful grating sound coming from inside. I don't even remember the fight for pity's sake! Dear Lord, my whole body hurts like the gates of night! Will tried to reign in his pain, not allowing his captor to see his discomfort. Angered by his control the man stood up and kicked him in the side for good measure before snarling curses and promises of a painful future.
"A peasant farm-boy beating up my brothers," he scoffs, "pathetic, pathetic of them; but for you to even dare. Acting so big and mighty with that bow of yours. Let me tell you, that was fun to burn, watch snap in the fire tonight."
He smiled as he watched Will try to jerk toward him in anger,
"You better apologize to the pathetic man you call your father, for ruining such an expensive toy. It looked well made, as though he could've spent his year's wage on it." His body shook with laughter, a maniacal, cruel laughter that filled Will's ears with rage.
He pulled and thrashed, ignoring the shooting pain up his back and through his ribs. He needed to get out, this man would pay for the insults. His father was a greater man than any could hope to be. Will's face twisted from its normally energetic and bright countenance to an animalistic growl. Desperately he tried to move, his back not obeying his wishes. In his mind, he was sobbing, in despair for his lack of ability to move and avenge his dead father.
"He should've known better than to dote upon his son. Unworthy child." The monster's insults poured out in a torrent of hate for the young creature that cost him so much time and pain.
"That pretty stance you showed back there though, and that fancy knife; surely you have been taught aye? I haven't been in these lands for long, but it looked oddly familiar." His mind started thinking, fortunately too drunk to conclude the truth from his facts. Will knew it wouldn't take long though, for him to figure out who he was.
At least my oakleaf is gone, along with my cloak; that would be a dead give-away. Even for a foreigner. The knowledge of losing them still sent a pang in his heart. Ever sense his fifteenth birthday he tried to never to be without them. The pride he felt when he chose the oakleaf over knighthood, seeing Halt's smile for the first time, and receiving the bronze leaf symbolizing apprenticeship was enough to send a deep regret through his heart upon losing such a token. He figured he had two days before things got really bad, if Halt didn't find him before then, Will wasn't sure how long he'd last. Without knowing their destination, and Will had a sinking feeling it wasn't land that they were going to.
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