Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sixty-seventh excerpt of 'Twelve Towers'

          “Well, well. If it isn’t my old friend Gwilym. Don’t think about the torch, you’ll be dead before you reach it.”
        “Do you think one crossbow bolt will stop me? It will hurt but then you’ll be dead. I’ll squeeze the life out of you with one hand.”
        “Gwilym! Always the brute. You’ve never had a brain to use so you always have to rely on your giant strength. But I have a plan. I use my brain. I’m not stupid. Come in boys!”
        Two other men entered the room, each with a loaded crossbow. The room was crowded now.
        “You brought a rope! How convenient. Tie him up to that couch, Brendan. And don’t spare him any pain. He’s strong, you see. Strong, but stupid.”
        One of Tarrant’s henchmen tied Gwilym’s hands together behind him and then around the back and under the couch and around his ankles. He secured both his hands and ankles to the couch, then looped the remainder around his neck and back to the couch. Gwilym’s hands were losing their feeling. He had tried to keep them clenched so that he would be able to slip them out when the man was done tying him but Brendan had responded to that by tying them tighter, then looping rope around the initial loops between his hands, cutting off his circulation.
        The whole time, Tarrant and the other man were pointing their loaded crossbows at Gwilym’s head and chest, precluding any escape attempts. When Brendan stepped away, Gwilym tried to flex his muscles to rid himself of the knots but he soon discovered there was no hope.
        “What now, boss?” asked the other man.      
        “Go back to your job. I think we’re almost through to the next chamber.” The men walked back through the other entrance. After a few minutes, Gwilym heard them digging. The whole time, Tarrant stared at Gwilym. Gwilym’s mind was working fast. He was completely under Tarrant’s power. He had been in situations before that looked bleak and he had always found that time helped the person who was in the worst situation. Things rarely became worse. He had to buy as much time as possible.
        “So, dummy. Have you figured out yet why you’re not dead?”
        That was the third time Tarrant had said he was smart and I’m dumb. Why is that so important to him? He must have some deep-seated fears about his own intelligence to keep bringing it up. I must use that.
        He knew why he was being kept alive and helpless by Tarrant. Tarrant worked for Palomides. Palomides wanted his book and so he wanted Gwilym alive. If Tarrant could torture the information out of him, then Gwilym could be killed. He needed to be prepared to tell Tarrant a lie that would lead him to be caught by someone. For that he needed time. Let’s live up to Tarrant’s wishes and act dumb.
        “Because you want to make me die slowly. You like causing pain.” Gwilym glanced down at his injured leg.
        “Ha!” said Tarrant. “Such an idiot! I will cause you pain, but I’ll do it for a reason. I’ll do it until you tell me what I want to know. Do you understand?”
        Again Gwilym glanced down at his injured leg, lingering on the lower part, below the old break, before looking up again to meet Tarrant’s eye.
        Tarrant’s smile grew from his sneer and he asked Gwilym, “What is the most sensitive part of your body?”
        Gwilym’s eyes flicked to his lower leg and then back to Tarrant’s eyes. “My back, Tarrant. I was whipped in Lebanon once and my back is the most painful.”
        “Really?” Tarrant stepped forward, standing in front of Gwilym. “More painful than your leg?” As he said the last word, Gwilym watched him poke his boot into the bone of his calf. As soon as contact was made, Gwilym flinched, contracted all his muscles and let out an unearthly scream. He shuddered and gasped breath back into his lungs.
        “I have a hard time believing your back is that painful. I would think you would have flinched from being tied to the couch.” Again he poked Gwilym’s leg with the same result. “I remember this leg. Last time I saw it, a bone was sticking out of it. That must have hurt, huh? Wasn’t that bone sticking out right about here?” He gave Gwilym a vicious kick right where the skin had been broken through and Gwilym almost lifted the couch in his muscle flinch, his screams filling the small chamber. The digging sounds had stopped. Tarrant yelled for them to continue working.
        “What…do…you…want?” choked out Gwilym. Tears forced out of his eyes.
        “What do I want? Revenge for one thing. You’ve cost me so much. First my job!” At that word he kicked Gwilym hard in the shin, resulting in the flinch, the muscle clench, the scream, and the sweat to stand out on Gwilym’s face. “Then my little scam!” Another kick, another scream. “Then my gambling winnings!” Same thing. “Then my lucky dice!” Again. “And now I’m a wanted man, hiding from the king’s men.” When Gwilym was kicked this time, he made a choking sound, his eyes rolled up in his head and he slumped against his ropes.
        Tarrant stopped, then kicked him again. This time there was no response. He pulled an eyelid open and saw the whites of Gwilym’s eyes. He put his hand on Gwilym’s chest and felt his victim’s shallow breathing.         “Damn!” he muttered. He checked Gwilym’s knots and then moved down the passage to join his men.

To read the entire first draft in one shot, click here:

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