Hector gripped the hilt of his scimitar and strode into “the cage.” The place smelled damp with a miasma of vomit and urine. He passed the inmates. Some he knew; some he didn’t.
The acrid smell of vomit grew stronger the closer he got to the end – vomit mixed with alcohol. Hector stopped at the last door. His friend lay curled up on the straw covered floor with his cheek resting against the yew limb of a hand-carved longbow. He wore stained leather pants and boots but his tattooed chest, shoulders, and arms were bare. Dark, unruly hair hung in greasy clumps that covered his face. A seal grey cloak lay huddled in the corner.
“Dave,” Hector whispered. The body on the floor didn’t move.
Still not getting a response, Hector looked around. The last thing he needed was to make a scene. Hefting the heavy ring of keys, he unlocked the door. And still Dave didn’t move. Leaving the key in the lock, Hector opened it wide. Scimitar in hand, he crouched as he entered.
The stench was almost overpowering and Hector gagged involuntarily. Just as he put the back of his hand up to cover his mouth, Dave struck with his bow, slapping it against Hector’s side.
Hector spun when Dave lashed out again – the tip of the yew limb hit nothing but air. The Espian came up behind his friend, the back edge of his scimitar pressed against Dave’s throat.
“It’s me,” Hector hissed.
Now kneeling, Dave struggled, alcohol-laden senses fighting to understand what was happening. Hector pressed harder. Guards stood outside ready to assist.
“Dave, it’s me, Hector.”
“Hector?” Dave said. Red-rimmed eyes peered around as if seeing things for the first time. “Where am I?”
“King Edmund locked you up.”
Hector relaxed as Dave stood up, his tall, lanky form towering over the Espian. Dave rubbed his neck. A fading, thin red line marked where Hector’s sword had been.
“I need a drink.”