I came to with my head hanging downward, slung cross-wise, like a dead animal, over my mule’s back. The saddle horn dug into my right side. But my mouth was free so I didn’t choke when I vomited the remaining physicker’s assistant out.
I still had a blindfold on, but it had slipped so that I could see my mule’s feet, rocks, and occasional dry grass.
We were headed south. I could always tell when I was headed south and I could always tell, I suddenly remembered, where people where positioned relative to my position. My childhood friends and I used to make a game of it, hiding in the cellar or up in the tower. We’d run about with tea towels tied over our eyes and play conceal and chase. My mother told me it wasn’t fair to play with the village kids that way because they couldn’t tell what I could tell.
I’d forgotten that. Maybe Torgood was right. There was something wrong with my memory.
I tried to feel the people around me. They felt odd; solid and sharp like the black glass the comes from a volcano. There were others, men, further up the road and one behind. And Torgood, also ahead of me. Six black glass and four men, including Torgood.
A while later, we crossed a dry stream bed and climbed a rocky slope, and came to a camp of some sort. I could hear more people, and tell, if I concentrated, approximately where they were. Torgood seemed off to the side of me and I could hear him cursing. I wanted to tell him that he’d been right about the bandits. I worried about Tiria’s magical items. They’d probably sell them. All that trouble to get change yesterday; waste of time.
“I told you to rob us, not kidnap us,” he said.
“If he is so important that you escort him to the Crown City, we figured he’s important enough to ransom.” The voice seemed familiar.
“He’s the village fool. No one is going to pay for him.”
And then I knew. To say that I was surprised that Torgood was a thief would be to say that I was surprised that a bird flew. That he hung out with bandits? Not so surprising. That he thought I was an idiot? That one caught me off guard and it hurt. I thought we’d been friends.
I wanted to kick him, but obviously couldn’t. The black glass bodies near me took me out of earshot before I could hear what fate they’d assigned me.