The light was gone and the man was on me. I couldn’t move my legs or the arm that held the ring. He bit me in the neck as I grabbed at him with my off hand. Ice shot down my my left side from my neck and fire shot up my right arm from the ring. They met and swirled in my chest and then reversed. My neck burned and my hand froze. My head spun and I must have crumpled to the floor because the man stood over me, looking at the ring in his hand. He made a derisive sound, just a small grunt to illustrate his contempt. He dropped the ring on my prone body and gestured to someone and walked away.
The butler, a hulking man with a bald head and a permanent sneer, hobbled in. He picked me up like a sack of grain and slung me over his shoulder.
I must have passed out again, because I came to as when my body hit the ground. Pain, lots and lots of pain, ran like a pack of hounds in my body, in my head. After a moment, the general pain faded although my neck felt like someone had put a hot poker in it. I opened my eyes, and realized I had no idea where I was.
I could smell damp earth, so I was definitely on the ground, sort of on my right side, and I felt the tickle of grass on my cheek, and maybe a lump of rock bored into the small of my back.
The butler stood a few feet away, watching me. Dawn was dancing around, making the birds sing and rustle. I realized I was in a park, for the grass was cut, and the tree shapes in the distance appeared tame.
The butler turned and walked away in his odd bowlegged gate. He looked like he’d be better of on horseback. The liar. I’m not much on torture, and I’m not a killer, but I can apply pressure to find out what I need. And he was just so ugly – but physically and spiritually, it’d been kind of a pleasure to make him tell me where the book was.
I groaned softly. The book.
The butler turned, an evil smile making his simian face even less attractive. He hobbled back and kicked me in the stomach.
I curled into a ball, retching.
He made a horrible high pitched yipping noise, and I realized, as he hobbled off again, that the noise was his laugh.