1140 TE, Thaw Season, 2nd Quarter, 17th Sun
My body rattled, and I snapped awake. My head felt like it was going to burst open and spill its contents. It was night time but my eyes were blurred. I shook my head to get rid of the fuzziness. My vision cleared as I focused my eyes. I felt something restrict my movements and then noticed the chains and cuffs. I looked around and saw several others chained in a wooden cage.
I noticed a familiar figure from the corner of my left eye but the next tremor sent me crashing into the thick metal bars of the surrounding cage. I looked at the familiar figure and noticed it was my brother Logan, sleeping.
Why is he sleeping? Does he not realize what will happen to us if we don’t attempt to escape? Does he even ca-
I stopped thinking about it, I had to stop. I started looking at him more intently, my eyebrows furrowing. We needed to escape before we reached our destination. I turned around and noticed several guards all around the cage immediately. They rode horses and wore leather and chainmail armor. Their sigils were on their chest and shoulders. Forest like colors for the Kogul state and a Krag symbol near their chest indicated that they were part of the Kabastar Empire.
The idea of escaping became much more important after seeing the guards. The metal bars looked sturdy and being in chains was not going to help.
I looked around for any opportunities but all I saw was a lush forest on both sides of the dirt road we were on. The road looked like it was clear of any rocks and rubble. It also looked like it was well used. It took me some time to realize that we were on one of the of the main Kogul state roads. These roads were well maintained and were used for official imperial business. If anyone was caught using them they would pay more than just silver. Caravans being the exception, and that was if they paid for imperial protection.
After finding nothing of interest I turned towards my brother. Logan looked like a little lamb while he slept.
He won’t be sleeping for too long. I should kill him for putting us into this mess.
He started to shiver in the cold night, so I stopped thinking of the many ways to kill him. I wanted to hug him, to comfort him.
I gave up on logic and moved my hands to reach him. The chains around my wrists rattled as my hand strained against them, just short of my brother. I felt a little sick knowing there was nothing I could do.
How did our plan fail? How did we get caught?
The mere thought brought all the pain back. My head started to pulse, a headache. Logan and I were both caught just after our seemingly successful theft. I couldn’t spot Jester, our partner in crime. He was rat like, smelled like piss all the time and only liked silver.
Oh, he sure loved his silver all right, perhaps one day I’d let him choke on some. Let him drown in it until his veins grow cold.
I was good at smelling Drek, and Jester was full of it. I had warned my brother about Jester, how I knew he was going to stab us in the back. But my brother insisted that Jester wouldn’t dare, that everything would go smoothly. He yelled at me in private when I had insisted we do not deal with the rat. Logan got angry at me, saying that I was too young to understand. I got angry at his attitude, the way he was treating me was unfair. We were supposed to be family, supposed to have each others back. Once Logan wanted to do something, no one could stop him.
All of this began when Jester came up with an idea to make some easy silver. He wanted us to rob an innkeeper. After a couple of days of planning, we noticed a pattern in the innkeeper’s habits. He would have the same heavy bodyguard protect a locked chest while he went to the brothels; not that these brothels were disgusting to my dear older brother.
I had pleaded with him not to go to a brothel when I first realized that was what he was spending our silver on, but there was nothing I could do at the time to stop him. Since I couldn’t stop him, I decided to use some logic to stop him from continuing his habit. I told him that the whores in these brothels were having sex with as many partners as they could possibly get for the day and that it could not possibly be healthy for him. I was sure they picked up plenty of diseases from their clients. In the end he did seem a little concerned but he insisted that he only bought the expensive ones. I gave up trying to dissuade him after that.
The bodyguard seemed like he was going to be an issue but we got lucky. We convinced Rahul, the innkeeper’s guard, to join our theft. Well, that was what that rat face said. He was the one who approached him, the one that convinced him. My brother was a little skeptical at the time but I knew something was wrong. I didn’t bother to tell my brother about the bad feeling I had.
Now it is more like that he would be splitting the silver in two ways, instead of the four ways that it was meant to be.
Perhaps, Rahul will split Jester’s skull in two, saving me the trouble. It is not like I’ve killed before but how hard could it be? A simple knife to the throat or to the back has got be easiest, right?
Who am I kidding, I am no assassin. If I were, I wouldn’t be in this mess.
Jester and Rahul must have been working together since day one. When the innkeeper went whoring, we went for the locked chest. We had to do it quick, the innkeeper did not take too long in his adventures. Rahul feigned his surprised when he spotted us from the shadows. To make sure everything went smoothly; my brother hit him a couple times.
It had to be done to avoid raising suspicion. Jester smashed the lock with a hammer two times, shattering it. He opened the chest and we each took one silver pouch. Jester took one extra pouch for Rahul. Logan and I ran back towards our hideout.
Once both of us reached our room safe, my brother started doing his stupid little dance that he did at the end of every successful job. Once he was done he put his hand out towards me and then I dropped the bag full of silver. I knew he’d want to go out to the gambling dens soon with the silver that we just stole but I wanted him to stay.
He opened the bag but then stopped when he looked at what was inside. He looked angry for a second and I was wondering what was wrong. He threw the bag I gave him on the ground and I noticed that there was nothing but cheap fake coin inside. His bag turned to have nothing but bronze coins as well.
Just when I was about to yell at Logan, telling him that I told him that the rat would steal our share, there was shouting outside. I went to look at the front and he went to look at the back, outside the window. As soon as I opened the wooden door from our little hideout, Kogul guards were climbing the stairs. I closed the door, locked it and then warned my brother. We only had a few seconds to escape.
Logan told me to jump from the window, so I did. I hit the hay a little dazed. He joined me a few seconds later. We had in advance always set up an escape route. Just when we began to gather our bearings from the jump, four guards surrounded us with swords in their hands. Before we even got a chance to run they knocked both of us out. They could have killed us on the spot, but they wanted us alive.
Now being betrayed and losing some silver was not that big of a deal, at least not to me. We could always liberate more. I was however, furious about losing our family heirlooms. It was all what we had left of Sun Star, our old home. We decided to keep them in our room, under the wooden floorboards. We would not be able to get our stuff back, well not until we come back to retrieve it.
Maybe the rat did not sell us out but how had the guards known where we were? Since I’m a vindictive little bitch though, I am going to go ahead and blame the rat for all of this. No, I couldn’t just put all the blame on a predictable Drek like him. I had to blame my brother as well. I still want to punch him in the face for not listening to me. I’m no priest but at least I have some morals unlike some of the other thieves that I have met. Sure I liked to hurt others but there was a big difference from being mean and than being insane.
But where are we even going?
I turned to my right and noticed an old man who smelled worse than Jester. My nose started crumpling up from his unbearable stench.
Why hadn’t I had noticed him until now?
I was not disgusted, because I understood what he was going through. I stared at him for a while though. When he noticed me staring at him, I spoke up and whispered grimly “Where are we were headed old man?”
The old man stared at me hard for a few seconds but he shifted his soulless eyes towards his chained feet and whispered “Ender’s Mine.” I shivered, and my veins went cold. I turned my head back to my brother, still sleeping. I had heard of stories of Ender’s Mine and none of them were good. It was a place where they take prisoners and make them mine until they die. They were more like slaves, digging and digging.
Would I be digging until I die? Could we even escape when we get there?
I knew that prisoners of the state sometimes got the chance to serve the empire as a member in their army.
Being a girl, especially as an ex-thief, would not help. It was not as if the empire was sexist, but you have to have a certain physical strength and age to even be considered. It is not as if I’m a weak little flower, but I’m no brute.
That will need to change.
The guards there would most likely even try to rape me. I laughed faintly and a few wandering eyes shifted towards my direction, so I looked down and kept quiet for a bit. I glanced up again to see what happened to those wandering eyes, and was relieved that they were looking elsewhere now.
After I had thought of every dark thought possible for what could happen to my foolish brother, and perhaps me being the greater fool, I noticed an outpost. It seemed that we were closer than I had initially thought to the dreaded mine. I started to hear someone in the cage praying for mercy, whispering really, but that got a guard’s attention.
He noticed the person praying but decided to ignore him. He started to look for someone else in the cage and then smiled when our eyes locked.
I stared for a little longer, to make sure he did not think I was afraid. After a few moments of tension, I looked away and hoped he would ignore me.
I was a coward. So what.