Wolves at the Door (part 55)

Naked: check.
Weak: check.
Aching: check.
Cold: check.

The feeling was becoming so familiar that it was almost comforting. Almost.

It wasn’t all familiar though. The ropes were an interesting twist on an old theme. Gil’s feet were tied together, as were his hands behind his back. An armed man sat nearby, turning to watch when he heard Gil moving.

“If I were you, I wouldn’t try to escape. You won’t like what I have to do.”

“What’s going on? Why am I tied up like this?”

“You’ve got some nerve, acting all innocent with the evidence still all over your face.”

That didn’t clarify anything. Gil couldn’t see his own face, and could feel nothing but the dull ache that covered his whole body. With his hands bound behind him, he couldn’t use them to check.

“What are you talking about?”

But then he noticed it: he still couldn’t see or feel anything, but his nose was unobstructed. There was no mistaking the smell of blood so close at hand.

“What happened? Why am I bleeding?”

“Don’t waste my time. You know perfectly well that’s not your blood.”

“Oh, dear gods. What did I do?”

It was one of the fears that has driven him to leave home: had he attacked some innocent person in his mindless frenzy? Just the thought of it made him retch.

“You’re serious, aren’t you? You really don’t remember it at all?”

“What… who was it?”

“Poor old Berthild. You dragged her out into the woods and tore her to shreds.”

Gilfrid heaved again, emptying his stomach onto the ground nearby.

“If I … did that, and you caught me, why am I still alive?”

“Give it time. Rest assured, you’ll pay for your crimes.”

The guard grew quiet, perhaps reflecting on the life of Gil’s victim.

“I’m so sorry. Was Berthild part of your family?”

“Practically. None of the other chickens will ever measure up to her.”


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