A/N: I've been having some issues with length in this chapter. There was a point later in on in this chapter where I wasn't sure where to end it, so I showed it to a couple of people, and decided to have this chapter exist in one quite short section, then one longer section. This is the short section, please rip it apart. :P
The trees bobbed past Dannel's vision, their cavities staring at him like gaping eyes. He clenched his stomach muscles and heaved himself up, only to be shoved back down again by seven sharp talons. The breath was knocked from him and his eyes rolled around as he tried to focus on his surroundings.
He was hanging upside down, probably from Frantz’s arms. Lucas was muttering something at Frantz, but the words blurred together before they reached his ears. Dannel groaned and tried to twist out of Frantz’s grasp but Frantz only grunted and readjusted his grip on Dannel’s legs.
"Where...?" was all Dannel could manage.
"Shut it." Dannel still couldn't see Lucas, but he reckoned the voice was his. It didn't have that raspy quality Dannel had come to associate with mature demons.
Dannel squeezed his eyes shut and wished the blackness would wash over him again.
"Watch it!" Lucas shouted.
Dannel felt Frantz stumble forward and a second later his wings fluttered. Dannel wondered what on Tayfir could have pushed him to breaking his wings out.
One of the wings bashed into Dannel’s forehead and he screwed up his eyes as his vision began to slip. He focussed on the back of Lucas’ ankle as it swung like a pendulum out of Dannel’s view. He blinked every second time he saw the ankle. Two, four, six...
Three hundred and twenty-something steps later, Dannel was blinking rapidly as the sun crept up above the horizon. He felt the damp canvas of a tent flap brush against his bare feet, reminding him of weekends camping in the Jilkert woods with his family. The spikes of pain on the sole of his foot also reminded him that he would not be walking three hundred steps any time soon.
Frantz dumped him on a wooden bench which Lucas then bound his arms and legs to.
“Gag him,” Lucas snapped, glaring at Frantz.
“Yes, master.” Frantz snarled and dropped to his knees. He placed a glowing finger over Dannel’s mouth and when he drew it away Dannel felt a stiff clamp holding his lips shut.
“I’m going to go find Garek,” said Lucas, “Stay here.”
Where am I going to go?
“Course not,” replied Frantz, curling up in the corner of the tent.
Dannel raised his eyebrows as the realisation of who Lucas had been talking to dawned on him.
Lucas is brave. If Dannel had tried to command Teersin like that, he’d have been treating the claw-marks Teersin’s talons left in his forehead for weeks.
Lucas left the tent and the squeal of the zip as the door was secured made Dannel wince. Frantz flicked a claw and the zip disappeared, creating a flat canvas wall. Dannel traced Lucas’ footsteps around the side of the tent, the back, then away.
“Teersin is here by the way.”
Dannel glanced at Frantz, who hadn’t even lifted his head from the crook of his tail. Even if he’d been able to speak, Dannel didn’t know what he’d have said; he didn’t want to picture the imp as angry at him as Hannah had been. He made a high-pitched sound from the back of his throat that he hoped sounded like, “Oh?”
“And your sister too,” Frantz continued. There was a pause, which Dannel reckoned would have been his turn to demand to know where. Frantz lifted his head. “Dannel?”
Dannel looked into the demon’s eyes and blinked.
“If I untie you, can you promise you won’t get recaptured?” Frantz’s eyes were worryingly desperate. “I can take whatever punishment I get, but only if I know it’s worth it.”
Dannel moved his shoulders a little, hoping it would come across as something between a shrug and a nod.
“If we act now, I can direct you to Jaravin. She’ll know what to do.” Frantz shot to his feet and darted in a bronze blur to Dannel’s side. With one touch of a talon, the bonds around his arms and legs sprang open, followed by his lips. He gasped and took Frantz’s outstretched hand.
Frantz hauled him to his feet and led him to the centre of the tent.
“You’ll have about ten minutes before Lucas gets back,” said Frantz, “Less if this takes enough energy to make a difference to him.”
Frantz took a deep breath and placed the middle three talons of his right foreclaw on Dannel’s brow. Dannel winced as the sharp points dug into his skin, but tried to hold himself as still as possible; Frantz’s job didn’t need to be made any harder.