3.) Tomber hung naked and upside down, hooks in his heels. I knelt so that I would not be addressing his nether regions.
He spoke first. “Have you come to gloat?”
“That would be unjust of me, would it not?”
“Oh, I think that would be exactly what Evard Just would do. Save your puns for someone who appreciates them.”
The rogue does not know how much dignity I have already afforded him by not spewing my breakfast over the dungeon stones; by not turning heel and walking away; by addressing him in a calm voice despite his wretched state.
I yell over my shoulder. “Guard, my eyes are turning upside down trying to speak to this man. Would you please put him on a level where I can address him properly?”
The guard, who was little more than an elevated prisoner and unlikely to take pity or to disobey orders, didn’t even look at me.
I sighed. “Has all the blood to your brain brought you to your senses, Tomber?”
“I must have admit, my qualms have been stronger than usual,” he said. “For instance, that I thought you would not care if I took that goblet. I merely wanted to drink some wine.”
“Did the gold and emeralds make the wine taste sweeter?”
“It seemed so at the time,” Tomber said. There was genuine regret in his voice.
“Your regret is perhaps misguided,” I said. “I did not report you to the authorities. It must have been someone else.”
If possible, his red face got even redder. “She wouldn’t have…”
“If we are both speaking of the same lady, it is more than likely. I tried to warn you, my friend.”
The iron doors clanked open behind us. The guard slammed the butt of his spear to the stones and stood at attention. Cambral stood at the entrance in all his glory, an orange doublet, with blue leggings and a ruby colored cloak, clasped by a golden chain.
“By the Mirror God, what is that stench! Is he already dead?”
“Already?” Tomber said. “Has any man lasted as long as I have?”
“Release this…man,” the Prince said, pausing on the last word as if uncertain if it was correct.
The guard turned to chain that wrapped around a hook near his station. He let it go.
Tomber tumbled headfirst into the muck. He lay there on his back, breathing deeply. How he could stand the smell of the excrement he lay in I couldn’t understand. I extracted the potion from my cloak and held it over him. He reached up with shaking hands and I made sure he had a firm grip before I let go. “Apply this to your wounds. I’ll be back in few days. Be ready for a long journey.”
He laughed. “Gladly. As long as we move at the pace of my crawling.”
“Trust me, the tonic you now hold will heal anything. It is worth more than everything you have ever stolen, Tomber.”
“Must be an important journey then. But where do I go while I await your return? I don’t even have clothing.”
I hesitated, then removed my own cloak and dropped it over him. “Try the lady of which we spoke earlier. In my experience, she is easy to anger, but also easy to forgive.”
I walked away as Tomber tried to rise.
His scream followed me down the tunnel.