These were the last words Riffen heard before a brown potato sack over his head. He tried to act quickly and fight off the assailant. He reached down for his sword.
“Not so fast, pretty boy,” The man said.
The man pulled a dagger from his waistband and plunged it into Riffen’s gut.
Riffen let out a small grunt as the pain spread throughout his body.
“How does that feel,” The man sneered.
Riffen’s whole body seemed to seize up as his muscles strained. His mouth became clenched and he was unable to speak.
“The poison worked,” The man said looking over Riffen’s body. “Now it’s time to take you to the boss.”
The man grabbed Riffen by the waist and drug him into the alleyway. Riffen did his best to fight off the attacker but there was literally nothing he could do. The poison had paralyzed him and he was unable to move a muscle. He tried to call for help, but his voice died in his throat. He was completely powerless to do anything. He was trapped inside his own body as this mysterious man drug him into a nearby alleyway and then down a side street.
By this time the city streets were pretty empty and the man seemed to avoid detection from any civilian wandering by. The man moved with Riffen through back streets in order to avoid anyone seeing them. As Riffen was dragged, he did his best to look around and take in as many details as possible, hoping that this knowledge would help him when he escaped.
Eventually the two of them made it to a dark alleyway that sat behind some larger residential buildings.
“Still awake, pretty boy?” The man asked Riffen as he patted Riffen on the side of his face.
Riffen just starred at the man, unable to speak.
He then pulled Riffen up beside a home with a dark wooden door. Riffen noticed a small, moon-shaped carving in the door. The man gave it a knock of two knocks, small break, and then two more knocks.
“Who is it?” A woman’s voice asked from inside.
“Trix, it’s me, Ralph. I got the guy, boss is looking for,” The man, apparently named Ralph, said.
There was a series of small clicks and the door swung open with a screech.
“Wow. You actually did it,” The woman, apparently named Trix, said. “Now I owe Cassidy five silver.”
“Just help me drag him in,” Ralph said. “He’s heavy.”
“Yeah sure,” Trix said.
They both dragged Riffen in and sat him in a wooden chair.
“Grab some rope and tie him up before the poison wares off,” Trix comanded.
“I’m working on it, I’m working on it,” Ralph said.
He grabbed some heavy rope off of a nearby table and wrapped it around Riffen, tying him to the chair.
“So where is everybody else?” Ralph asked.
“Cassidy and Kingston are currently checking out some other targets,” Trix said as she quickly glanced over at Riffen. “Jace went with the boss to check out some jeweler who owes him money.”
As this conversation was going on, Riffen began to feel some feeling return to his fingers and toes. His mouth unclenched and he let out a small gasp of air. His body was sore but the paralysis was starting to wear off.
“Who…are you..?” Riffen asked through heavy breaths.
“Oh, Pretty Boy is back with us,” Ralph said.
“Pretty boy?” Trix asked.
“Just look at him,” Ralph said with a laugh. “Never seen a more fancy boy just walking through the streets. He was all by himself. I was prepared for a fight.”
“What about the girl?” Trix asked.
“She wasn’t with him,” Ralph said.
“You better stay away from Lillian,” Riffen said, his words coming out as a growl.
“You are really in no place to make demands,” Trix said. “You are within our domain.”
“Yeah, plus you probably want to save your energy for when the Boss gets back,” Ralph said.
“Who is your boss?” Riffen asked.
Almost on cue, a man opened the door, surveying the area. He took a step in to the room and Riffen got a better look at him. He was a blue-skinned man with blue hair a long, lightning bolt like scar, running across his face.
“You…you. I recognize you,” Riffen said. “We fought you on the road.”
“You and your friends made a mess did get the upper hand on me and my friends,” The blue-skinned man said. “I underestimated you, thinking you were just normal traders on The Vern Road. I will not make this mistake again.”
“Although I am a little surprised, Ralph was able to take you all by yourself,” He said looking over at Ralph.
Ralph’s expression dropped a bit and Trix stifled a laugh.
Another man stepped in to the room and shut the door behind him.
“Jace, sit the dog over there!” The blue-skinned man said pointing to the far corner.
“Yes, Boss,” Jace said.
Riffen saw that the man held a steel cage with a small dog inside it. The dog looked quite scared and in bad shape.
“What do you want with me?” Riffen said glancing back to the blue-skinned man.
“You and your friends made a mockery of me and killed many of my men,” He said. “Now it’s time to get some revenge.”
“You’re going to kill me?” Riffen asked.
“No, no. Not you. The rest of them maybe,” He said shrugging his shoulders. “You are special. There’s a bounty out for you.”
Riffen’s eyes widened.
“Bounty? What are you talking about?” Riffen asked.
“Well apparently you aren’t just some adventurer who travels the road and lives off the land. You are used to living a life of luxury in a bed made of ivory with silken robes.”
Riffen grew silent.
“You see. One of my contacts in Frost Haven let me know that the Prince is missing,” The man said. “Officially you are currently spending some time in The Ohn’serine countryside. Seeing the sights. But I know the truth.”
The man held a dagger to Riffen’s chest.
“I bet I can get a lot of money,” The man said. “Your Dad might give me a personal tour of your vault of gold and treasure.”
The rest of the crew chuckled to themselves.
Riffen’s mind raced. He knew he had messed up. He thought he was safe here in the city and wouldn’t be discovered. Now he was alone and in major danger. He needed to find a way out of this.
“So what do you plan to do with me? Just hold me here while you send a ransom letter to Frost Haven?” Riffen asked.
“I thought about it, but I don’t want any trouble. Keeping you here could be quite dangerous if The Xylon City Guard found out or The Robinhearts. Or even The Mardrec Army. Lots of people I don’t want breathing down my neck. Plus I’m sure your rich Daddy is sending his own people to come get you.”
“So what’s your plan?”
The man looked Riffen up and down for a second before a smile crawled across his face.
“Some a inquisitive fellow,” He said. “Don’t worry. I’ll keep in good condition.”
He poked the dagger into Riffen’s chest and Riffen felt a small amount of pain.
“But not too good of a condition. I do want to have my fun,” The man said.
“Hey, Boss. What’s with the dog?” Ralph asked.
The man turned and looked over at Ralph.
“Well I went over to our jeweler friend and reminded him that he owes us quite a bit of money. He recently picked up an interesting animal and I thought I’d take it his hands until he can get us our money,” He said.
“Can I have your name?” Riffen asked.
He turned back towards Riffen.
“Too many conversations going on,” He said. “My name is Krumb. I’m sure you met the other members of my crew.”
“I did,” Riffen said.
“Well not all of them,” Krumb said offhandedly.
“What do you mean?” Riffen asked.
Krumb looked around the room.
“These aren’t the only members of my crew. I like having eyes and ears everywhere. Makes my job a lot easier.”
“What exactly is your job?”
“Questions. Questions. Well, my job is a little bit of everything. Trading. Moving people and goods. Lots of businesses,” Krumb said.
“I’m sure it’s all above board.”
“Of course,” Krumb said with a laugh. “Now why don’t you sit there and get comfy. I have some more to do. Ralph, Jace. Watch the Prince. I have work to do.”
Krumb sheathed his dagger and pulled some cloth from his pocket. He shoved a bit into Riffen’s mouth and tied it around Riffen, so it muffled him. Then Krumb left the room. Trix wiggled her fingers with a wave and followed Krumb out of the room. Ralph moved over to place some wood in the fireplace and start a small fire which let a little bit of warmth into the room.
There was a small whimper from the cage in the corner and Jace stood up. He kicked the cage and the whimpers stopped.
“Shut up, mutt,” He said.
Ralph gave him a strange look.
“Dang thing bit me,” Jace said before sitting down on the table. He held a crossbow which he polished and cleaned.
Riffen just sat there, starring down at the floor. He was worried for his friends as well as scared of what was going to happen to him. He knew being an adventurer was dangerous, but he thought he was safe within the city. He let his guard down and he was ambushed. Now he was stuck here with a bunch of bandits. Riffen had no idea where everyone else was and if they were in danger. He thought of Lillian. He had come here for her. He wanted to return home with her. Riffen didn’t know where she was. Maybe she was still in the city or maybe she left. On one hand, he hoped that she would be breaking down the door and rescuing him, but on the other hand, he hoped that she had fled the city and was safe.
The fact that Krumb mentioned he had eyes and ears everywhere and a contact in Frost Haven. He had no idea how wide of a web, Krumb had but he knew it was bad news. Once he freed himself, he would kill Krumb and anyone connected to him. If there was an underbelly that served Krumb, Riffen would have to use the might of Frost Haven to flush it out.
He blinked and his eyes came into focus. Riffen noticed that Ralph was starring at him. Riffen looked over in Ralph’s direction.
“What?” Riffen mumbled but it was not able to be understood.
“You better get some rest,” Ralph said as he poked the fire. “We’ll be leaving tomorrow.”
“Don’t talk to the prisoner while the boss ins’t here,” Jace said.
“Whatever, Jace,” Ralph said as he turned back to the fire.
Riffen hung his head and closed his eyes. If he wanted to escape, he needed his strength. The poison had left him weakened and a little sore. A little rest would do him some good. Plus this would give him a chance to come up with some sort of plan.
Header Photo Credit to Jokim Olofsson on DeviantArt