It was the howl of the distant wolves that awakened me. The far off hills echoed their cries of mourning, or pain, or fear. Or maybe indeed they gave out a battle-cry to the forces of death that would soon claim them.
...As they would soon claim me.
Lying prostrate, belly down, bound at the arms and legs and pegged down to the rough, dry earth; a man gets to wondering. Thoughts of how I would die had hit first, then my wonderings at the afterlife - whether the Sisters had been lying to us all those years. My musings on how I had spent my life came next, resulting in smiles at the great and groans at the foolish, heinous or loathsome deeds of my past. I was surprised at the desperation that followed that; the pure unabiding need to survive this foul situation. The desire for revenge came quickly after. ...And then... ...finally...the clean, untainted resolve...to die well.
It was then that an idea began forming in my mind.
I couldn't reach the broad-bladed war-sword that lay strapped to my back, and the rough, aged, leather armour made it almost impossible to manoeuvre myself to pull the pegs free of the ground. Any other man in my profession would have called the wolves to him, but I had not used my time amidst the green for such learning as that. Any company, whether human or animal, was still company. And company wasn't something I had wanted. Needless to say I'd give my eye-teeth and left nut, to have some badly dressed, incessantly jabbering, buffoon of a man come along with a nice dagger to spring me free right about now.
Though knowing me, I'd probably incite him to jab me in the side.
The only option open to me seemed the most foolish one. *Strange how those two should combine. * To think, I'd batted myself across the head more than once for foolish mistakes and foolish behaviour. And now I was betting everything on the most foolish of ideas. Foolish in its actions but sound in its reasoning. *Another strange coincidence.*
Pain split as I began the first part. I couldn't get free but by rubbing against the ropes I could tare my flesh at the wrists. I'd watched the pursuing beasts long enough to know their scavenging philosophy well.
*I pride myself on being solitary but never idle.*
The beasts would go for the easy blood first, and by the pink sky that I could just about see and no more, it wouldn't take them much longer to get here.
Agony worked its way through my nervous-system; making me all but cry out in pain, my own mind begging me to stop every step of the way. Finally, I compromised. The blood was soaking into my bonds, and I reasoned that enough of it was in play to make the plan work. My wrists stung like a son-of-a-bitch, and the taut manner in which I had been suspended just above the ground, didn't help to stem the hurt.
I scrunched my eyes up, trying to keep focus. Ache and fatigue were working together now, and only a God-given urge to go down fighting was driving my will to push on.
Minutes dragged on to be what could have been hours for all I knew. A moment in this pain filled limbo seemed to hold be for an eternity.