Gormflaith swept into the room like a pale, red-headed, storm-cloud. As she entered she was already challenging, “Why have you come Fionn?”
“Why would I not?” He asked innocently, by the look on her face it seemed not the thing to say.
“Where have you come from Fionn?” Her lip curled with distaste. “From that child, Findabair?”
“Does it matter?. . .”
“I should say it does to some.” Anger fled from her face, leaving it cold and stony, “Findabair’s brothers, the Maines think so. For me it matters less and less and none. But I wonder this Fionn, what is that sickly thing compared to me?”
“Nothing, one I knew before I knew you. No more. . .”
Gormflaith crossed her arms beneath her breasts and the sneer returned, “Where have you come from Fionn?” But his answer came too slow and Gormflaith spun on her heel, turning her back on him.
“No such, I’ve come to you. Nothing else matters. . .” Lugh moved to comfort, to convince. He touched her shoulder and she wrenched it away. “How could there be anyone but you?” but there is, or was, he thought, but too late. She spun, he thought, to accept him so he wasn’t prepared for the searing pain of the knee she brought with such force between his legs and into his crouch. He collapsed in a heap.
“Nothing you say matters to me. Nor do you. I’ll have nothing more to do with you, the Maines on the other hand, they may want you. Maybe your sweet words will convince them. Do you think?” She laughed nastily as she shut the door to the treasure room. He heard the rattle of the key she wore about her neck in the lock and the click of it, barring his way.
Will I die here? Lugh wallowed in his pain. Rolling on his back, his eyes focused on the grill-work barring the way and through it to the thatching that formed the roof. Lugh tried to lie still and breath. The first made the pain seem to diminish, every move that jostled that area seemed to sap his strength anew. His breath came back to him as he was more and more able to be still. Slowly his body uncoiled and relaxed.
Lugh listened from where he lay, Gormflaith was shouting, but what she said he couldn’t guess or who she was haranguing. She’s likely just outside the door to the main room, but with it open. If she was inside, he’d be able to make out the words, if the door was closed to the outdoors he’d probably hear almost nothing at all. But who is she shouting at? Please not the Maines, not yet, I need my strength, or at least a little bit of it, Lugh thought. I’ve almost no time.
Carefully Lugh rolled onto his elbows and knees. To lay completely prone, though using less effort, would cause too much pain, he was sure. Slowly and careful of his pains, Lugh gained his feet though he was still not able to straighten completely and some movements caused significant but ever diminishing pain. I’m going to be alright if I can just focus and endure.
The bars were beyond his reach. He glanced around the room. A few steps led him to the bed and with a careful step up he gained the height of the bed box. He gathered himself and jumped, reaching for the bars, but between the bedding tangling his feet and his pain he wasn’t close. With a gasp he knelt on the bed, dealing with the ache in his crouch, and the weakness radiating from it to his limbs. Oh what you’ve done to me woman, He thought.
He glanced at the wooden head of the bed box and looked above to see the corbel-led ceiling of the strong room curve over it to where the stone work finally gave way to the iron bars. The foot then, or nothing. Lugh turned and then clambered up onto the foot boards balancing and looking up then reaching for the bars above his head. He nearly fell then, but caught himself. There was still space between his fingers and the bars. I’ll have to jump for it, but not so very far as before. With a deep breath he leaped and caught a bar running in each direction with his hands.
With a kick that sent a pain shock through his legs he pulled his head up so his chin was at the bars. Lugh shifted his hands and tried desperately to work his hands and arms so that he could get through and up, but he couldn’t get purchase enough to slip through and his arms were beginning to ache near as much as his balls. In desperation he looked down and saw beneath him the uncertain landing of the stone flag floor, the wood foot-board and the rumpled bedding. A moan escaped his lips, his hands were tiring too, but rocking back and forth he adjusted their grip to a better position. I might only get one chance at this. I have to fit somehow.
Lugh kicked and pulled again, but weaker than before. Exasperated, he kicked and this time his feet came up. With a desperate heave a boot caught on a bar and then he gained purchase with the other. How does this help? I’m still under the grate. Lugh pulled and stepped until his feet were close enough to his hands that he could slip first this feet, then legs into the open space between bars.
It’s going to work, I can slip through, he thought and then suddenly he was caught. His hips were free in the space, there was room, but something was keeping him from slipping further into the space above the grate. His hands were getting slippery with sweat from his exertion and his arms and shoulders ached almost as much as his hands. He was going to fall, with exasperation he let his feet fall out from their purchase and hung, looking for a safe way to land.
His grip was weakening, but he kicked and swung himself then dropped so that he cleared the foot-board and landed in the bed. Lugh collapsed panting. He felt at his waist for what was catching and his fingers closed on his belt hung scabbard. My sword, of course, he realized with relief. Lugh rolled over so that his fingers could undo the buckle holding his belt and scabbard-ed sword.
Lugh listened and was surprised by silence. Had Gormflaith left or was the negotiation for him done. Lugh got up on his knees and wrapped the belt around his blade. He eyed the iron bars above and moved to clamber once again onto the footboards of Gormflaiths bed. Having gained the foot-boards, Lugh tossed his sword up through the bars. With a clank they came to rest across the grating.
Suddenly there was another metal click, it’s the key in the lock, Lugh realized, I’ll only get this one more chance.