I was about to vomit down Joras’s back from all the jolting in my gut. I couldn’t even tense against his shoulder driving into my stomach, my hair now plastered across my face. I saw the dart appear in his hip and could only hang there and wait for what came next.
He stumbled. We fell forward as he was continuing to try and run and landed hard, tangled together. I couldn’t see what I hit or what hit me. Something smacked into my head and the shoulder on the other side folded badly. I think some part of Joras landed on my chest as we hit and there was a ‘pop’ and everything flashed white and then just odd. I was in intense pain but the only thing I could do was lie there upon the broken bone and burst into a sweat.
I couldn’t think I couldn’t move without order. My muscles were twitching but not all in one way. I felt I was squirming like a leech with salt poured on it, all coherent action dissolving.
The fight raged but I couldn’t see what was going on around me. Someone seized my arms and hauled me up, making everything go white again. “Spark, come with us.” Someone… a woman… said. Inensa? More than one woman. I stumbled blindly with them, someone pulling on the broken collar bone almost every step. I did vomit, on the ground in front of me, on myself, still trying to obey. I think I splashed some bile around but there wasn’t much in my stomach.
“DOWN!” So strange to hear an order snapped in a female voice.
I wasn’t sure why but I ended up face first in mud… no… sand no, it was mud. I hurt so badly I was numb. Le…lef…leffft collar… bone… was all I could think at first. Sand and mud? I could hear water. The lake?
“Up! Up fast!” I leaped to my feet as best I could, sagging to the left, that arm not anwering me. “Go in, sit down. Be silent.”
It was a tent. Behind the tent… there’s a cliff face… and sand… and more cliffs… shen shen shen. My eyes dropped to get me into the tent despite my wanting to SEE what was going on. I shambled into the tent like a raised corpse, shoulder sagging down, arm hanging. “Sit down on the stump.” Was that Joras’s wife? What was her name? Elsha perhaps. Tisha? No. Elsha. Kaneka… they’ll just cut my throat with theirs. They won’t think I’m a hostage… They think you are chasing me too… or might be…
I was sensitive to Accedence… it was getting harder to THINK… the glass-cage mind getting tinier and harder to THINK but ONLY in the manner ORDERED impulses flowing under the COMMANDS get proper GUIDANCE... STRUGGLE with alternate thoughts eventually becomes... IS WAS an exercise in FUTility. I could only LOOK straight ahead at a tent wall and the corner of a box.
Someone brushed my hair back from my face, the forest bits… I FELT the sharp, cold line of a killing knife under my ear down my neck. Someone standing behind, looking to see how the fighting went. WHO? I couldn’t tell.
“Joras… it’s Joras who was carrying him.”
A voice behind me. “1st Elsha… you are forbidden. Selisa, Ruta, Tesha… get him.” Inensa. My mother. “2nd Inensa, cut a way out back. Women, on my word… go.” I had never heard her say so much before. Mother. Do not kill me. Do not kill yourself. Live. I couldn’t say a word.
“Spark of the Sun’s Ray, are you injured? Answer!”
“How are you injured?”
“Front shoulder bone.”
“Ana. Check him. Istana, is the way clear?”
Perhaps the Mahid men were being overwhelmed? I could not tell. If so, what was she doing? She would only have orders to die if the men did. Do you know I’m your son? Don’t kill me.
“Spark. Get up.” The knife went away from my neck, someone looped something around my hanging arm and strapped it tight to my chest. Someone turned my head using my chin. I desperately wanted to LOOK at her, with the new knowledge I had, but I could not, still focused on the tent wall. She studied my face, glanced outside at the yelling, the sounds of fighting, then back to me. She turned my face toward another Mahid woman. “LOOK at her. Spark, this is 3rd Elsha. Follow her.” She turned to Elsha. “Take him. All of you… go!”
“Spark, come,” 3rd Elsha said, and led me, unresisting, out of the slashed-open back of the tent onto the shore of the lake. Kaneka… don’t kill my mother… you know… mother your duty is to let the men fight… you wouldn’t? Would you? Kaneka….