A rough, foul smelling hand slapped across Seoc’s mouth and stuck there, gripping his face forcefully and muffling his protests. Another hand, which presumably belonged to the same assailant, grabbed him by the back of the belt, lifting him bodily off of the ground and bundling away down the dark corridor. He observed, through the haze of panic, that the torches that normally lined the walls were all dead.
He struggled against his unseen captor, spirit renewed by the sound of Seymour’s voice. But the rough-handed man did not relent. He jerked Seoc towards the wall and pinned him painfully against it as Seymour’s running footsteps drew closer, evidently expecting the Aechyed to miss them in the dark and run past them.
“I’m not stupid,” Seymour hissed, suddenly very close.
The hand left Seoc’s mouth, and something cold and sharp pressed against his neck. “Stay back,” his captor growled.
This again, eh?
But this was different. Yesterday, it had been Henry that had pulled a blade on him, and Seoc had been almost entirely certain that Henry wouldn’t kill him. Torture him, maybe, taunt him, but wouldn’t draw blood. Not so now. This was not Henry.
This was Tormod MacInnes.
This was his father.
And Seoc had not a doubt that he would slit his throat if he thought it advantageous.
Seymour seemed to sense this too. Seoc heard him step backward and curse through his teeth. “I was under the impression,” he snarled, “that we had until midnight.”
“Perhaps I lied.”
Midnight? What were they talking about? How had his father gotten in? Why was he even here? The questions danced at the tip of Seoc’s tongue, but somehow it did not seem wise to ask them. Not when—
There was something crawling up his back.
He suppressed a shudder, knowing that it must be the spider from under the bed, but conscious that any sudden movement might get him cut open. He had forgotten that it must have still been hiding in his tunic. How had it not been dislodged or accidentally squashed? How had he not even noticed it?
What if it had lain eggs on him?
“Let him go,” Seymour demanded. “Or you’ll regret it for the rest of your wretched, insignificant life.”
“An’ what do you plan ta do aboot it, you ugly monster? You canna touch me.” He concluded his statement with a click of his teeth, and then there was a flash of orange light. Seymour screamed in agony, staggering backwards and collapsing. Seoc, to his horror, smelled burning flesh. Since when had his father had magical abilities?
“Shut up, you effete piece o’ shit!”
There was another flash of light, and Seymour cried out again, weaker this time, closer to a whimper than a shout.
The spider was on his neck by then, crawling along on its quick, spindly legs. And then it wasn’t. Either it had made a spectacular leap, which Seoc supposed was possible, or it had climbed onto the blade of his father’s dagger, which seemed more likely, yet miraculous.
Bite him, Seoc thought desperately. Bite the bastard!
And, somehow, the spider must have understood. He knew because his father swore and dropped the dagger, which clattered to the floor. “What the fuck?” he howled, letting Seoc go entirely now and hopping about, by the sound of it, flapping his bitten hand in the air. “What the fuck was that? I—!”
But he never got to finish the statement, because the spider’s venom took effect, sending him twitching and convulsing to the floor.