Hearts and Pistons
Fight or Flight
I am so over this. I am so upset right now I could scream! First I’m assaulted in the face by an officer of Rana with a rifle butt in the face, then no one takes my name, no one listens to my story, then I am wrongly accused of being a terrorist, thrown in a cell, and forced to wait just to die in a mine later? Nono, I think not. This is absurd! I am a member of the high aristocracy in Rana, I do not get treated like a common thief. If I die, get hurt… rip a dress, heads will roll!
There is excrement all around me! If I walk a few feet in certain directions I could be in it. I think I may gag. The smell is beyond awful. I had the foresight to tie a handkerchief around my mouth and put some perfume on it. While it is helping, I don’t think there could be anything to save me from this horrific odor. I’m going to be sick. If my servants can’t get the stains and smell out of this dress, it may just have to be burned. That would he a terrible shame for this tailored beauty. I don’t even want to imagine the long term effects on my hair right now.
Oh great, now we’re stopping. Why are my rescuers such a rag tag group? Sure I’m appreciative I suppose, but why so many? Why not just send one exceptionally competent one? Why send rescuers when anyone with common sense could just as easily tell the guards upstairs about the grave mistake that has been made? I shouldn’t be here, I’m beyond annoyed at this point. Why aren’t we moving!?
What was that sound? The rude Tengu and the young locksmith move away from me, with their weapons out. I wonder what all the commotion is? Then there is a gun shot! I can’t even tell the direction, it’s just so loud. It practically startles me out of my skin! I’ve heard guns fired before but never only a few feet away and inside a stone cage. I plug my ears, the vibrations tear apart my ears from the inside. What would possess someone to be so stupid to fire a weapon in such a tight… corridor…
I catch the creature from my peripherals, a beast of nightmares. Standing right next to me, nearly as large as my entire body, is a dog-sized rodent. It’s beady red eyes lock with mine, it stares without fear or emotion. Its face is corroded from living in filth. Every ounce of its fur is covered is fresh excrement and disease. It is the most horrific thing I have ever seen in all my life, it is terrifying, and it is directly next to me.
My entire body locks up. I… I’ve never been in this situation before. Are there more of these things? Is that what the others are firing at? Why did everyone leave me here? What does this monster want? Me. The answer is me! Before I find the energy to move it lunges at me. I raise my arms up to block the assault but I’m too caught off guard. Those filthy buck teeth sink deeply into my right arm. The feeling of those fangs penetrating my flesh is something I know I’ll never forget; if I survive.
It wants to kill me. It wants to eat me. This beast views me as food. It cares not about my prestige, my etiquette, my pure bloodline… in this horror filled moment I am just food. While it latches onto my arm, all I can think about is my own death. Nothing before this moment has mattered, this experience will kill me – everything else has been just an enormous waste of time. What is the point of magic if I am eaten by the first abomination I came across? My eyes are welling up. I die paralyzed by fear and tears down my cheek, “Father…”
That look in its eyes. I now know that emotion, it is hunger. This is what Larisa told me about. It apparently affects halfling-sized rodents as well. It is as if time stops as the the fangs tear out of my arm. Some sort of intense hyper-sensitive sensation takes over my body. Each slight twist and turn from those teeth hurts more than any pain I’ve ever encountered. The moment the creature lands back on its feet it glares a hateful yet satisfied look towards me. It likes how I taste, it wants more.
That is the final step to stop my paralyzed state. Something in my lungs frees up and I just scream as loudly as I possibly can. In my head, my voice reaches out louder than the rats, louder than the gunfire, reaching all of Rana and far past Fort Sterling! Fear has engulfed me and nothing else can be controlled. This is it.
Something in my mind fails and I begin to black out. I don’t remember the next minute or so. That horrible beast in front of me gets shot and splatters all over the wall, my dress, and its warm putrid blood all over my face. I think the odd gentleman with the whip closed the festering wound on my arm. At one point the young locksmith was yelling my name and motioning for me to get behind him… it’s all a blur. Deaf and covered in gunpowder smoke, my traveling companions were victorious vs. the pack of would be bloodthirsty assassins.
My heart begins to lower to a normal pulse, my muscles find strength again, and the black smoke exits my lungs. I did nothing, yet I am alive. These people saved me. In their gratitude, I’ll do my best not to complain the rest of this trip. If I am to survive the remainder of these sewers, I will definitely need their assistance. This was easily the second scariest moment of my life. All I care about right now, it getting out of here. I’m going directly behind the elderly gentleman, he seems to pushing for a faster exodus of this horrible place. At least we agree on this.