One eye opened, the other still wincing in pain. His head was throbbing. He could hear it, feel it. Thud. Thud. Thud. How hard did they hit him to knock him out? Merileth always did call him thick headed; suddenly the loving jest seemed more a curse. Thoughts finally started to surface above the haze of dark and hurt. Reason began to take over. Where was he? Who had him? Why? He shifted as best he could in his bound state. At least they didn’t gag him. Then again, if they didn’t gag him, he could only assume that meant they knew no one would hear him even if he did try to call out. He briefly considered trying anyway, but the thudding from the back of his head told him that was not wise. More comfortably leaning against the pole he was tied to, he began to actually think.
Where was he? He sniffed the air. Why did he just sniff the air? He wasn’t an Elf or hunter. He had no idea where he was, short of “in a tent.” With dead grass below him. Which meant he was outside. He knew that already…
Who had him? He heard a few names, but they were all lost in the jumble of unconsciousness. He’d have to listen more carefully…hopefully they wouldn’t drug him. That would make figuring out who had him and why fairly difficult. A quick flexing of his muscles proved no good. They had him lashed up well. These people – bandits, crooks, mercenaries? – were clearly of a higher caliber.
Why? A million reasons, most of them fanciful and absurd and he knew it, flashed through his mind. He had no idea. His head leaned back against the pole and then he hissed and let out a near-silent curse in Sindarin. That was not going to heal fast. Hopefully it wasn’t broken or cracked. They really hit him hard.
Some stomping and quiet talking outside his tent jolted him quickly out of his self-query. An ear perked, head stupidly jolting to toss raven hair away from it. He winced at the sudden pain and wooziness that action caused him before blinking a few times to refocus. Focus. Why are you here? He listened as best he could.
“…Think it’ll be workin’ out?”
“I dunno. It better. Can’t believe … without asking me first … talk.”
“What happens iffen … up?”
“Tha’s a real … redhaired bitch doesn’t pay … no idea. Murder’s not … my back enough a’ready.”
His eyes widened until it hurt too much to do that, then they closed shut with a weary sigh. It was the men harassing her. His eyes shot back open. Was she all right? He suddenly tried to get up, groaning at the pain and settling back down against the ground. She had better be safe.
She had best be safe. He didn’t know what he’d do if she wasn’t, but he didn’t even want to think about it. She just had better be all right. His jaw set and, despite the pain it caused, he kept it clenched. It’s all he could do, but it was something.
He could do nothing else but wait.