Lovelace, pt. 9/?

It was lucky I had them swimming lessons back when I was a girl, or the drop into Lake Arl from the ass-end of the Cloaca would’ve been a sight messier. As it is, I manag to scrub off the majority of the filth, but the stink stains me worse than what made it. Hiding out won’t be much of an option, not if anyone comes looking has a nose to use. I pick myself along the south shore, heading I don’t know where, anywhere but back to Allerhan, when I come on an old trail. It looks unused, but well-worn at the same time, I don’t have the words for it. Mostly it just looks like it was a popular spot once, and now it isn’t. And since it leads away from the city proper, I take it.

The sky isn’t cloudy anymore, lookin’ like the rain might’ve made off east, taking the sun with it. I figure I have less than a half hour til nightfall, and that only helps to make me move faster, brambles be damned. And brambles there are aplenty, tearing at my legs, my tunic, my anything that dares hang loose. I’m well bloody by the time I break through the patch, stumbling out into a clear patch. Brambles behind me, now it’s the biting flies. There is no relief for the wicked, I swear it. The gnats and stingers are all over me and I take to holding the hem of my tunic up over my mouth, damp with stench as it is, to keep from swallowing the lot of them. It’s about this time that I hear a shout of alarm some ways back, and decide that maybe swallowing my share of bugs is a fine risk to take. I run.

The path stays blessedly clear, but I can still hear whoever is behind me running through, all clanking armour and heavy breathing. There must be at least five of them, for all the noise they’re making, and it sounds very much like they’re catching up and quick. I make a break for a clearing not twenty paces off west and head into the fringe of the Godswood that I’d been skirting. There’re plenty of stories about the Godswood, not most of ’em endin’ well, but I’ll take the devils I don’t know over the pack of ’em on my ass.

The light is fading fast now, takin’ my speed with it. I push on, and the sounds of the chase muffle up, crowded out by the thick trees and vines and such. I’m navigating more by feel’n anything useful like sight, when the ground gives way and I go for a tumble down a sudden embankment, ass over teakettle and the rest of the place setting. I hit the bottom hard and the breath is clear knocked out of me. I’m choking at even trying to gasp and there’re flashing lights all in front of me. A rock has dug its way well into my side, joining a stitch I was gettin’ earlier, and everything is pain.

I give it a moment, and it passes, and I’m breathing, but that’s the least of my worries. Now I hear, somewhere too close to be anything near comforting, a snuffling and snorting pick up in front of me. I have a few options in front of me, and none of them are coming up rosey. If it’s a wolf, I’m meat. If it’s a boar, I’m meat. If it’s something worse, I’m screaming meat. I grip the rock and scurry backwards until I’m more’r less upright, and I crouch down low, ready enough to go down fightin’.

 

 

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