Hardly Worthy

Title: Hardly Worthy
Time Period: June 20, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Beisdean's efforts in heroism are futile when Luna's ego gets in the way.

It happened sometime while Beisdean was asleep. He got company of the feminine variety. Nothing was explained to him (of course), when the female was tossed into the car with him and tied to his pole. With no light to see by, it's impossible to make out her features, except for the fact that she has blonde hair. She was as unconscious then as she is now, whatever they did to silence her, it worked a little too well.

She's been out for the few hours he's been awake and then some. There's no time down here, and even with a creature scouting, there's no certain means of telling it. The sun, the stars, the moon, all bits of celestial equipment that work against Beisdean, especially when his life expectancy is measured by the phases of the moon.

Of course, the mage's familiar knows exactly who it is. He can tell by her scent. He also knows that all three of them will die together.

He watches for some time, waiting for her to wake but not wanting to wake her — it's not that he thinks it would hurt her more than she's already hurt, but he doesn't want to steal any moment of peace she has left. Sleep for him is the only respite from the pain and hunger, from the fear and the resignation.

You there, mate? he asks his familiar, seeking for the familiar both in the dim car and feeling for the marten's consciousness out there in the world. Anything new? I've a fellow inmate, it seems. Who knew this was a co-ed prison? Maybe it's the dehydration that's making him a bit silly, or maybe he just figures there's plenty of time for sobriety in death.

It's Luna Owens, is news that Beisdean didn't want to hear, and he jerks upright.

What? Why… but he already knows the answer to that. You have to help me find a way out of here, brother, he tells the marten, suddenly more interested in escape than he was before.

He rises to begin the work he'd tried the other day — slamming into the pole in hopes of dislodging it from the ceiling or floor. What are they going to do, kill him?

Maybe they don't have to.

There's a reason why the children of this particular settlement have been silenced for nearly a generation. Soon, this reason becomes quite apparent to Beisdean. A sound unlike any that he's heard before echoes through the tunnels, quickly making its way toward the car. Between his slams, before Darklight's mental screams of warning, the mage can make out wet slaps of paw and claw against stone.

The noise and the shaking of the pole seem to rouse Beisdean's fellow guest. "What— " Luna tries to rub her head but finds her hands tied tightly to a piece of metal. "Jorn? Eduard? I'm thirsty, my head hurts, I think something hit— " Then everything must be flooding back to her because she's choked into silence.

Darklight doesn't have a word for what the thing is, so the closest he says is Monster coming, and Beisdean freezes. But whatever it is has already heard him, and he resumes again with renewed determination.

"Lun. Get behind me," he says, stepping forward so she can cower in the small space between the pole and the door, so whatever is coming for them will get him first.

"They tell you anything? Where are the others, did they get taken too?" he asks, just before he pulls away in order to slam his body into the pole again with all of his weight. The ties at his wrists are tearing his flesh, blood dripping down his hands, and every time he bashes his shoulder into the bar, he has to bite his lip to keep from crying out, but he does it again. And again.

"Baizey? Baizey what in heavens are you doing here? Where are Jorn and Eduard? What are you doing here? You're supposed to be— " Whatever she was going to say is cut off as something slams into the side of the car. That roar again, the animal equivalent to one of the machines at the munitions factory, fills the tunnel. Just like Beisdean, its efforts are fruitless because as good as their captors are at keeping their prisoners in, they're just as good at keeping predators out.

"Stop, Baizey, stop. The noise is too much, my head." She reaches up, her bound hands finding his and clinging. "Jorn will rescue us, Jorn and Eduard. As soon as they see I'm missing, they'll come looking. Eduard has many guns and Jorn has those long teeth… and guns."

He doesn't intend to stop til he's free, but one more slam is all his body has in it at the moment, and he falls back onto the seat, staring glumly at his torn wrists. "I rather don't think his teeth will do any good; even Darklight couldn't get through these things," he says with a nod to the ties.

It's a weak joke, and he turns his head to look at her. "How'd you get separated from them? You should have been safe with numbers." He didn't have a group, and a solo traveler has to sleep some time. "Did you wander away?" It seems like something she'd do, after all.

In the dark, the glare that Luna gives him loses some of its effect. "No, I didn't wander off. Eduard and Jorn were fighting some dogs, I climbed up some rocks to get away and I think I fell." The anger turns worried as she glances toward the outside where the loud footsteps of the creature can be heard, pacing back and forth.

"They'll come, I know they will. Is Darklight with you? He isn't tied up here as well, is he?" Not that she's sure how a familiar could possibly be trapped in such a manner. All things are possible. "Do you think he could find them?"

"I'll have him look." The words are flat and quiet, holding no hope in them. After all, he'd sent him already. He sends the mental plea out to the familiar, once again fighting that wave of despair that he may never hear the creature's voice in his head again.

He doesn't argue with her words, for once, giving a single and unconvincing nod. He leans his head against the pole, watching blood drip from his hands and onto the floor. "Did you at least have some good adventures, before this one?" he asks softly. "Tell me what you've done, where you've been. I could use a story."

It's difficult, trying to keep hope alive when faced with a friend who seems to have none. She can't help but give a small scream when the angled snout of the monster outside slams through the bars of the window before retreating a few steps. Her eyes flit blindly to the now empty space and she shrinks against Beisdean.

"You're not going to be able to keep that promise, are you?" she utters in a small voice, punctuating it with a small worried laugh. "Perhaps my kiss was to blame, aye? It wasn't a very good one, but maybe it was because I didn't want you to leave. Tell me the truth, Baizey, and I'll tell you a story full of adventure with an ending that has good triumphing over evil. Are we going to die in this forsaken place?"

The sight of the creature’s snout makes him jerk back and frown. “What the bloody hell was that?” he asks, voice hushed in awe rather than for fear of upsetting it — it’s already upset, clearly. Despite himself, his lips curve into an amused smirk at her blaming her kiss for their plight. He shakes his head once before turning his eyes to her.

“They plan to kill us. A sacrifice, I guess. I thought to some crazy god or mage or something, but maybe it’s that thing, whatever it is. I’ll try to talk them into letting you go free, but you can see that they don’t much care what I have to say, aye?” His voice, after that momentary bit of awe, has returned to its flat, dry delivery.

"Oh…" She might have asked for it but Luna wasn't quite prepared for such a truthful answer. Her breath stills for a few seconds and then she let's off a haughty sniff. "They won't kill us, Duncan's men will stop it. Jorn and Eduard will find us and then go back to the boat and come back with an army to save us." She's sure of it.

The hissing growls of the creature outside grow a little softer, as though the thing is laying in wait. Waiting for them to come out or someone to come for them, maybe. "Right then, I promised you a story and you'll have it." The prostitute can't really use her hands to help tell it but the stiffening and relaxing of her body animates her feelings on the subject enough.

"We raised anchor on a sunny morning, oh it was beautiful, the sails all puffed out from that salty air. The perfect day for travel, really…" The beginning is sweet, just like all things when they are new and unspoiled.

Though he asked for the story, Beisdean interrupts almost immediately. “We don’t have that kind of time. How full was the moon the last time you saw it? I can’t keep track of the days in here… but it has to be almost time. They plan to do it on the next full moon.”

He winces as he shifts, the ties around his wrists not yielding against his cut flesh. “Duncan isn’t going to be any use to you. Your Eduard and Jorn… Maybe. I don’t know.”

"Waxing gibbous," she replies, her tone as careless as it was moments ago when she made her plan for escape. "But don't you worry, you'll see, they won't have a chance to kill us. Darklight'll find Eduard and Jorn, then they'll bring the militia women and sailors from the boat. We'll be rescued long before the full moon." It could be a good plan, if it didn't rely completely on others.

"Now be quiet and let me tell you how I killed a sea serpent…"

It is a testament to how exhausted and resigned he is, perhaps, that Beisdean doesn’t argue with her, and for once is quiet to let her tell the story. Somewhere, Darklight is on his way to find the others; in flight, he’ll have very literally an eagle’s eye view of the area below him and can hopefully find the men or the boat.

He’s their only chance.

Minutes pass dreadfully slowly as Beisdean is subjected to Luna’s particular brand of cheer. The story of her journey to the city began, just as it did before, with a few more embellishments. The sun was as warm as an old blanket, the wind as crisp on the nose as breathing in winter itself… Little things that make a tale a bit more tangible to the listener. Possibly a trick she learned from a younger version of the man beside her.

“… and then I threw the— “

The creature outside stirs again, this time not toward the car but around and then away from it. The noise it makes seem as angry as when it was trying to get in, if not a little angrier. And then— a light. One that, by now, is familiar to Beisdean. This time, though, the mushrooms are held by a woman who seems to be in her early forties.

When she enters the prison, she doesn’t announce herself or give any sort of verbal greeting. Instead, she inspects the cuts on Beisdean’s wrists and clicks her tongue against her teeth. Luna, on the other hand, is given a much more thorough examination. Her hair is picked at and one long filament pulled from her scalp, her eyes are given a close observance, the mushrooms moving from one to the other a few times.

“Well well…” the woman’s voice is smooth as silk and as quiet as a serpent slithering through the grass. “Tell me, child, what is your name?”

The man lurches away at the woman’s touch, but he can’t get far because of his bindings, then seems to remember what he’d promised moments ago, and leans to try to see her face.

“Listen,” Beisdean says, “whatever it is you plan to do to me, I make you this deal. I won’t fight. I won’t resist. I won’t use my magic to try to harm you or your people.” Hopefully Luna won’t call that bluff. He doesn’t look at her but stares at the witch.

“But you have to let this one go. I will be your tribute. Killing me will serve your purpose,” he says, voice growing quieter and colder with each word. “Killing her will bring an army upon your people the likes of such you have never seen.”

“Luna Owens,” the blonde replies before Beisdean cuts in with his own personal brand of heroism. Though he’s focused on the other woman, her eyes are caught on him, her eyebrows twitching upward when he offers himself as a bargain for both. She doesn’t correct him on his use of magic, but does bite her lip to keep from making an objection.

“You’re quite the courageous soul, but really, you should thank her. Luna, a celestial name for a celestial body, isn’t it?” Once again, her tongue clicks against her teeth just before she smiles to display them. Perfectly aligned and almost glowing white, she reaches out to lift the blonde’s chin. “The children believe that you might be here to save them, how is that possible when you were so easily caught?” She turns to Beisdean and the smile fades to a look of contempt. “Your magic would have been used weeks ago, if you had any, but you can thank this woman for saving your life. She’ll be offered up instead of you, after God has his feast, you will be set free.”

There is an angry shake of head from Beisdean. “The children think… The children think? Why, because her name is Luna? That’s enough reason to kill someone, to offer them up as sacrifice? She isn’t a savior. She isn’t some pure sacrifice, her skin white as snow and her soul as pure to match.”

He glances at Luna, apology in his feature for the argument he’s about to make on her behalf, but his voice grows stronger, more passionate with his plea. “She’s a whore. A prostitute. Hardly a worthy offering to a God. Me? He sends his angels. I can speak with those who live in the heavens. Am I not more worthy a tribute?”

The dim light of the mushrooms casts an eerie glow over Luna’s face, making the twist of her expression quite ugly, enough that it lends a slight inclination of the other woman’s eyebrow. “You bastard,” she spits the venom at Beisdean, calling him a name that she’s never spoken before. Apology apparently not accepted. “Don’t you be putting on airs and pretending to be all high and mighty with that little parlor trick you do. I’m Luna Owens, better than anyone, and I may have been a courtesan but don’t you dare call me a whore.” One of her pointed boots lashes out in an attempt to catch him in the shin.

The other woman merely smiles and then glances toward Beisdean, ignoring Luna for the tantrum rather than acknowledging it. “If you insist, I can keep you as tribute for next month but she will be going up on the stake. I will not allow the whispering among the little ones to continue, they must learn that our god will always triumph over what was there before. This angel, as they call her, is nothing.” Instead of taking the mushrooms, she breaks them apart, kindly leaving Beisdean and Luna some of the fungus in order to spend some of their remaining hours in its light. Then she straightens proudly and moves toward the entrance.

“Scab will return to take you for preparation, you will require cleaning. I don’t wish for you to leave God with a bad taste.”

Exasperation at Luna’s missing the purpose of his ploy, he raises his eyes to the ceiling and shakes his head. “You need a court to be a courtesan, princess, and you and I both know there isn’t a prince who’s set foot in the brothel,” Beisdean says drily to Luna. “And aye, I am a bastard. At least I can accept the truth.”

So much for heroics.

Weary and resigned eyes turn to the stranger as she leaves the car. “Thank you but I’ll decline that honor,” he says flatly, and closes his eyes, leaning back as far as he can to rest his head against the edge of the seat.

“Best rest up, Loon. Being so important. Looks like this’ll be your finest hour, angel.”