The Wavestrider Interrogation 8 - Same Ol' Conchobhar
I let my last line hang in the area like an overripe apple. After an appropriate pause, I let out a sigh and looked toward the heavens.
“Of course, I wouldn’t say no to a daring rescue right about now.”
I looked over at Targin to see him desperately trying to suppress a laugh.
“Hey man, don’t hold that in. Let it out. It’s okay if you like me. It’s kinda what I do. People can’t help but like me. I had a friend who told me that once. ‘Course, he followed it up with an insult, but I’d like to think that, while our paths took us different places, his compliment rings true.”
“Who the hell told you that?”
“Corvus Dreadbeak, days before he abandoned the Herald and took a third of our damn crew with him. Trust me, he may like me, but he would never hesitate to cut me down if given the chance.”
“Shortstone don’t seem to like you much.”
“Ah true. But Conchobhar never liked me. His coping mechanisms were similar to mine. And you typically don’t like people who do everything better than you. Plus, I kept taking his money gambling. Besides, for Conchobhar to truly like anyone, you have to have two very important things and, alas, the gods deemed it necessary to deny me that advantage.”
“Three things,” Conchobhar replied from the door, “though nowadays I’d take just one.”
I looked at Targin flatly, “Okay, so he’s a better sneak than me.”
As Conchobhar approached, I could hear him muttering to himself. Unfortunately, I never did pick up gnomish, so his thoughts were lost to me. When he finally reached us, he looked up, apparently noticing the lit candle for the first time.
“ARE YOU INSANE!?” Conchobhar cried as he snatched the candle from Targin’s hands and snuffed it. “You’ve heard the stories of what he can do if given an open flame. Why the hell would you possibly tempt fate? You stupid, bumbling, moron!” Then, in a move surprising everyone in the room, he punched Targin right in the jaw.
I saw murder in Targin’s eyes and, for a split second, I thought he was going to tear the gnome that was a third of his size in half. But that was all it lasted. A moment of anger and Targin slipped back behind his mask of obedience.
“Sorry boss, but he’s tied up. What’s he gonna do, blind us and then sit there? I didn’t think-”
“We don’t pay you to think. Just go stand by the door over there and make sure that we aren’t interrupted again!”
Targin shrugged and stepped away from us, heading for the door. Once there he leaned against the wall, positioned perfectly to hear us talk as well as intercept anyone who entered the door.
“Aww, a lover’s quarrel. Maybe in a few hours you two will kiss and make up? I’d be careful though. You keep talking to him like that and he’s going to realize that he’s three times your size.”
Conchobhar’s eyes took on the insane glint they had developed since the Wormwood. “He wouldn’t dare. He knows his place.”
“Fine, fine, just looking out for you. Did you have a good meeting? Everything going as you anticipated?”
“Oh yes,” Conchobhar responded cheerily. “It seems this is taking too long. I’ve been authorized to use more extreme measures to hurry you along.” He took off the pack I had not noticed he was carrying and started to root around. “Ah here it is.”
From his pack, he produced a fine curved blade of about 6 inches in length. The blade was well made with a cherry hilt, inlaid with silver. I recognized it. Anyone who grew up in a kitchen would recognize it. It was a flaying knife. More precisely, it was my flaying knife.
“Now, since you’ve been a disappointment so far and, frankly, you’ve only gotten more insufferable since we last met, I think one cut ought to get the message across, hm?”
He tore the sleeve off my shirt, exposing my shoulder. Then he cut off a sliver of skin.
I’m not going to lie. It hurt. Oh gods how it hurt. But a part of me managed to keep a strange sense of detachment from the entire experience. I immediately began evaluating his technique. It sucked. Then again, how the hell did I know. It’s not like the animals were ever alive when I dressed them. Maybe it would hurt like a son of a bitch. Still, I got the impression that if my mother ever saw me dressing a pig that way, she’d have scolded me firmly but lovingly and shown me where I went wrong. That thought opened a floodgate and for a few moments, I couldn’t help but reflect on my youth. Life as a cook wasn’t that terrible, was it? I remembered being bored with my life and fascinated with the stories I had heard of the open sea. But cooks don’t get flayed alive by sadistic gnomes who seem more interested in hurting you than interrogating you. Well, maybe they do in Cheliax, but that place is weird. A voice in my head started telling me to stop reminiscing about days gone and start living in the present. Gods, for a moment I could understand why Bevel told such long-winded stories. The thought made me shudder.
“What the hell do you want to know?!” I sobbed. Not very manly I know, but when someone cuts of a piece of you, that pain’s gotta come out somewhere. Maybe Brandr could have taken it, but I was no hulking berserker.
“I believe we have arrived at the part of the story when you start liquidating Lady Vanderboren’s assets…”