Continued from The Sand Flea (Part III).
Waking was a trial. He woke always to the reminder that he was in enemy territory. Any time he became upset, or his back started to hurt, Korenila walked in on silent feet and touched his back with a hand that felt like cool water, and sleep claimed him again. He had no idea what time it was, nor any idea how to get back to his home country– or even if he would be allowed to live after his recovery. It seemed strange that they’d let him heal before they executed him– if they were going to, at all.
Once, he woke at night, and laid in the bed. Voices outside of his room slowly filtered in, and he slowly slid from the bed and walked to the door. He pressed one long ear against it and listened quietly, while trying to move as little as possible.
The familiar voice of the woman who tended him spoke. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep making him sleep. He woke up seven times today, and either got violently angry, or his agony made him destroy more of his bed.” She sounded exhausted.
A male voice replied. Its tone was cold. “Stop putting him to sleep. Just use salve. Goblins take a long time to recover from physical injuries– especially infected ones.” He sighed. “I’ll deal with his anger, and the salve will take away his pain and the infection. If this works, you won’t have to waste your energy on his ungrateful ass.”
“He’s just scared. He’s young, and he was obviously raised in Njolr. He thinks he’s among his enemies.” A quiet sob, and she became silent.
For a time, silence ruled, and he continued to listen. His back began to feel sore, but he remained. It felt like an eternity for the short humanoid.
Finally, the pair began to talk again. “I know you want to care for him, and why, but he’s a goblin. Like any other goblin, he’s stubborn and brash. He’s brave, too. If he thinks he’s in danger, I’m sure he’ll protect himself, and I’m not sure I want you in there every time he gets angry.” The male voice was patient. “If he hurts you-“
“If he hurts me, that’s fine. He hasn’t hurt me yet, or even tried to. He doesn’t even try to avoid my touch.” Her voice became firm. “I just get tired, since the magic doesn’t last long, and refreshing it-“
“Just use the salve, and I can restrain him. It will be fine. He might come to hate me for holding him down, but I can live with that.”
Ask closed his eyes and began to walk to the bed. The movement made his flesh erupt in fresh pain, and he collapsed with a thud. His sensitive ears picked up on the hurried approach of two people, and he bit down onto the ground to prevent himself from screaming. His yellow eyes were wide from the pain, and the straw and dirt in his mouth had no taste– not as long as the pain in his back remained.
Stubbornly, he tried to resist his body’s urge to claw at the ground, but it was useless, and his claws slowly sank into the dried dirt and began to drag shallow ridges into it– three in a row, and a fourth off to one side. He breathed heavily and snarled, and a hand rested on his back. He jerked away, and landed hard on his side. “Stupid.” He spat the dirt out and trembled with the pain.
Again, she tried to touch him, but he pushed away. This time, he landed on his back. A scream tore from his throat, and all was dark.
It felt like only a moment.
When he woke, his back felt like it was coated in ice. Speaking voices nearby roused him, but he kept his eyes shut. It was Korenila and her man again.
Korenila sounded worried. “He wouldn’t let me touch him until he made himself faint.”
The man chuckled quietly. “Maybe he heard us earlier?”
“No, I’m sure he was asleep, though how he got as far as the door…” She trailed off with a sigh.
“Maybe he’s starting to feel restless?”
“Maybe.” Footsteps approached him, and a hand like cool water brushed some hair out of his face, then paused. “I think he’s listening in.”
More footsteps, and a more firm hand gripped Ask’s chin. “How can you tell?”
“His breathing is different.” She patted the youth’s cheek. “I know you’re awake.”
He opened his eyes and scowled up at her from his bed. The horse was poking her head through the half-door nearby, and he blinked up at the beast. “Horse?”
“Yes, your horse is here.” She nodded. “She wouldn’t leave you, so we had to put her near you.”
The goblin grunted at his human caretaker. “Guh. Supposed to free… food.” His stomach churned suddenly, and he winced. “Hungry.” His voice didn’t seem content to let some of his words out, and those words that made it out were hoarse. His scowl was very disapproving, and even comical enough that Korenila laughed.
“Here, this should help with your throat.” She pushed a hard candy into his mouth that tasted like honey. “Just suck on it; don’t bite it or you’ll hurt your teeth.”
For a few moments, he awkwardly suckled on the little candy. His mouth was unaccustomed to sucking on things that were inside of his mouth. “When is… to help?” He sucked more on the little candy.
“Once it coats your throat.” She nodded. “Evoxe, go get a bowl of soup please?”
The man behind her– an elf, by his ears and his slight figure– nodded and walked away. He walked with a limp, and something about his skin seemed wrong. Ask paused and looked at the woman. She had a thin body, and very few of the curves many of the men from his old home loved so well. Her breasts were small, and so were her hips. Her hair was a plain brown, and her face was boring.
He closed his eyes and waited.
Her voice roused him when Evoxe returned with the soup, and he ate on his own… although he was messy.
Only when he spilled hot soup onto his groin did he realize that not only was he nude, but that he remembered was missing something vital there. A scream of agony and rage cut through the air.