Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language, violence, and mature content.
Chapter Six of Omens. Comments, crit,suggestions, etc are welcome. Week Six Challenge is complete~ Enjoy!
Word Count: 2,224 approx.
Being slung over the back of a horse was not fun. It was even worse when he was paraded down the main street in front of an entire village, but that had been Baraq's idea, not Kaj's. Devon was still angry about it, not that there was much he could do at the moment. After all, he was slung face-first over the back of Baraq's horse. The man's back was a warm line down his left side, almost burningly hot through the thin, white shirt he wore. They'd stripped him of any Belasi colours earlier that morning and replaced them with a thin white shirt and thin brown pants. His boots were currently missing. He had a feeling Baraq had given them to Kaj. That left him barefoot. They'd even taken his socks.
Devon scowled, taking in the sagging roofs and the foreboding bastion looming over the village. He could only just see the cannons from his awkward postion on Baraq's horse. Or rather, what he could see from beneath his blindfold. Kaj had had the audacity to tell the bulry Baraq to blindfold him before they'd left the camp in the forest.
"Where're we headed, Cap'n?" Baraq's voice was loud to him, blocking out even the slow clip-clop of the horse's hooves. Devon fought not to flinch, and failed. The movement unblaanced him enough that he nearly feel off the horse. Only the sudden placement of Baraq's hand on his arse stopped Devon from slipping off. He tensed up, fighting the urge to snap something nasty at the man. Then again, with the gag in his mouth, he could hardly protest anything. "Easy, kiddo. Can't 'ave you fallin' off 'n' damagin' all t'at pretty skin, aye?"
"Baraq, quite harrassing the prisoner," Kaj called, his voice growing louder, along with the steady clip-clop of another horse's hooves. Devon figured the other man was riding back towards them. "He's jumpy enough as it is; he doesn't need you molesting him."
"Cap'n, he was slippin' off--"
"The tavern is closest to the bastion's walls, though not inside them," the younger man said, cutting over Baraq's protest. "We're headed there. You and Silus will stay with him while I head into the holdfast and speak to the Commander." There was a moment of silence, pregnant with words Kaj couldn't seem to get out. Devon could feel eyes on him. The hand on his arse hadn't moved yet. "I will aquire our new assignment and then we will gather supplies. In a few days, we'll return to the captial." Another pause, another meaningful silence. "With our prisoner."
"Yes, cap'n," Baraq grunted, voice turning gruff and disapproving, though he didn't speak against the captain's orders.
"Now get your hand off his arse and get that horse moving!" Kaj snapped, before flicking the reins and turning back. Devon could hear the leather creak and snap, and then the steady clop of horse hooves moving away. Baraq's hand moved off his arse after the man dragged him up onto the horse's back properly. He relaxed after that, glad to have the big man's hand off him. It was indecent of the bastard to grab him like that. Couldn't he have grabbed his shoulder or something?
Baraq's horse started moving again, jostling him slight. Devon did not like being on the back on the burly man's horse. He was sure the pants he wore were almost seethrough, and he was positive the shirt was. Around him, he could hear the bustle of a busy village. It was quieter than Elysia, the city that housed the Belasian Palace. The city he'd fled from, the one that wsa home to the nastiest man he had ever met. Daeron the Conquerer was not a nice man. Devon understood that now, after meeting him for the first time.
A villager off to his right was calling out something about his or her wares. Devon couldn't really tell. The noise just seemed to mingle together; a mish-mash of garbled bargining, the high-toned voices of women and the lower tones of the men, children begging for coin or food. He couldn't see any of it, though, and so he had to judge by sound. That was hard to do, since the sound didn't want to stay put and his head ached. Baraq must've hit him over the head a little too hard.
Suddenly, the horse stopped moving, nearly unbalancing him. He felt Baraq moved. Devon fingured he was dismounting. He could hear the others doing the same over the sound of the village's busy market street.
"Baraq, get him off that horse and inside," Kaj called out. Devon flinched as he felt Baraq's hand on him again. Thankfully, it wasn't on his arse again, just his shoulders. He stumbled as his feet hit the ground. Only Baraq's hand on his eblow kept him upright. Devon felt dizzy and unbalanced. "Room's unlocked. Fourth floor, rooms 15 through 19."
"Yes, Cap'n," the burly man grunted. Devon was jerked forwards, stumbling as they moved from cobblestones to smooth wooden floors, up a step and into somewhere the was cooler than a moment ago. Devon's arms were tied together at the wrists behind him, restricting his movement. It made it harder for him to stay balanced.
A wall of sound washed over him; yelling, cheering, a murmur of voices. Obviously, this was the tavern Kaj had been talking about. Devon didn't like taverns. He'd avoided them since his escape from the palace, and the close call he'd had at one less than a day out from Elysia, the Belasian capital. He'd met a group of mercenaries. They had thought he'd make for an easy lay. Devon had tried to fight, but they very nearly had him stripped and pushed up against the wall out near the stables. Someone had put a dagger through the back of the leader's head. The rest of his group had fled. Devon never saw who threw the dagger.
He stumbled again as Baraq began dragging him up the stairs. The background din of a busy tavern faded as they trudged upstairs, Devon tripping almost every time. He was trying to pick his way up, but with Baraq dragging him along, it was incredible hard. Every time he thought he had a solid enough footing to move up another step, Baraq was grunting and shoving him. He had to wonder what the villagers saw, and what they thought. He knew they had probably already figured out he was a prisoner. Devon just wanted to know if they thought he was anything else or not. It was probably not worth wondering about, though.
Baraq abruptly shoved him sideways, releasing him. Devon stumbled for a moment, taking several unbalanced steps before he tumbled into something hard. He cried out as something in his side cracked, the noise smothered by the gag in his mouth. He listen to the heavy footsteps as Baraq approached him. Then the blindfold was gone. Devon blinked in the sudden low light, taking in the candle on the nightstand and the other man standing in the doorway. He couldn't tell who it was. They were paritally blocked by Baraq's body. Belatedly, he realised the window shutters were closed.
Side aching, he tried to right himself, wincing as it pulled and shifted something in his side. He had probably broken a rib. Lovely. Baraq was grinning at him. "Kaj said to watch you, so stay put," the big man growled, not moving from his position between Devon and the door.
Devon glared at him meaningfully. He was not impressed, and he would have started scolding the bastard if it weren't for the gag in his mouth. This was not how he had imagined his arrival in Verlisia would go. Not at all. He felt for the mattress of the bed he now realised he'd stumbled into and eased down onto it, trying not to jostle his broken rib too much. That was going to take time to heal; he'd seen broken bones kill a man before. Once, he saw it kill a woman. Devon knew the palace servants were lucky. There had been a healer on the palace staff, though it was rare for the servants to be healed by him. Devon never did learn the grumpy old healer's name. He was just lucky enough to never have to see him. He couldn't say much for some of the others who had seen him. The grumpy Belasian Healer would use herbal remedies more than his abilities. He had seemed adverse to healing others for some reason.
"We need to 'ave a little chat," Baraq said, crossing his arms over his chest. Devon squinted at him, making out very little of the big man's face in the semi-darkness. "Kaj says to leave you be, but you see. I don't always trust what the Cap'n tells me."
The man in the doorway behind Baraq retreated--Devon saw the shadowy figure move--and then the door was slammed shut. Baraq grinned at him. Devon did not like that look, not one bit. He had a feeling the big man was going to do something stupid and nasty, and he really wished he wasn't trussed up like one of the cook's hens just before the cranky old witch boiled the poor bird. Alive. It would probably be a wise idea not to piss the older man off.
"Now, you're gonna tell me why you were running away from Belasi," the big man growled, his tone threatening, as he closed in on Devon. "And none of this 'I tried to kill the Conquerer's favourite toy' crap, either! I don't buy your bullshit, boy."
Devon glared at him meaningfully, trying to convey what he thought of that. He was bound and gagged. How the hell could answer any of the questions Baraq threw at him? Then again, maybe that was the point? Maybe Baraq didn't want him to answer questions. Maybe he just wanted Devon right where he was. Devon hoped that wasn't it.
"Oh, I forgot. You're all tired up and a prakfura's got yer tongue," Baraq sneered mockingly, laying his hands on Devon's shoulders. He tensed up, eyeing the big man warily. "Maybe I should put that pretty mouth to better use, eh? I bet Kaj wanted you to himself, right?" Baraq grinned down at him. Devon felt disgusted. That was what this man wanted? Devon to... Gods, he couldn't even think of what the burly man wanted. It just seemed so...wrong to him. "That's why he warned us off, isn't it? No matter. You've still got a pretty mouth, don't yer?"
The door was abruptly thrown open, swinging to slam against the wall. Baraq jerked back, hands tightening on Devon's shoulders as he half-turned to look towards the doorway. Kaj stood there, boots planted firmly shoulder length apart and a scowl on his face. His hands were clenched by the sides and those pretty grey-green eyes were narrowed dangerously. Devon sure hoped he never made the younger man give him such a frightening look.
"Baraq," Kaj ground out. "Step away from him now."
The burly man slowly lifted his hands and backed up a couple of steps, towards the door. Kaj didn't move from his position in the doorway. "He was causing trouble, Cap'n--"
"That's enough of your bullshit, Baraq," the yougner man interjected smoothly, though he still sounded furious. One hand rose to brush over the hilt of the sword he wore, then the pistol's handle. The actions seemed almost fond. Devon had a feeling Kaj was aware of Baraq's tendencies, and wasn't completely bothered by it. "I want you out of this room and this tavern. You're sleeping in the stables tonight."
Baraq opened his mouth to protest, but once glance from Kaj had him shutting it again, a glower taking over his expression. Devon's eyes flickered from one man to the other, widening when he saw Kaj's jaw clench. Baraq glanced back towards him, eyes trailing over his face and lingering on his mouth. Devon sclowed in his direction.
"Now, Baraq!" Kaj barked, startling the big man and very nearly maknig him jump. Baraq spared them both another glance before he fled the room. Nasim stepped out of the shadows by the window and into the light, casting Devon an odd look. Then he smiled approvingly as Kaj and disappeared out the door. Once he, too, was gone, Kaj stepped into the room. "I... apologise for his behaviour." The yougner man rubbed a hand over his mouth. "He's not normally so intent on disobeying my orders."
Devon would have responded, if he could. As it was, all he could do was stare meaningfully at Kaj while the other man moved about. First, he closed the door and flicked the lock, then he crossed to the window and opened the shutters. Devon watched on in silence, waiting. Finally, Kaj came over to him and eased the gag out of his mouth. "About fucking time," Devon snapped, jerking his head out of the othe man's hands.
"We need to talk," Kaj said, completely ignoring him. Devon stared him down, more than a little confused. It was like being on the back of the horse again, and, well. Being slung over the back of a horse was not fun.