I had to assure Kyska for quite some time that I'm fine, while she proceeded to tend to the eggs within our extremely limited possibilities.
And now there are eggs stacked on the bed.
Getting back to her worries, regarding my earlier behavior, apparently, I just stared into the air while I was pondering what it means to have these thoughts.
Kyska couldn't really help me on that matter since as a nurse she simply doesn't have such knowledge about princesses.
Whatever just happened, I'm none the wiser regarding what to do about my situation.
The biggest issue is to gather information, because, as it seems, they're set on keeping us here until their demands will be fulfilled.
However, I remember something that asshole Gioras said.
Which was, that he intends to send all my eggs to the swarm.
This will serve as an act of goodwill and prove that I'm still alive.
To make this happen they'll have to take care of the eggs to a degree.
This could provide me with a chance.
<Kyska, I have a plan.> (E)
<Yes, my princess?> (K)
<We need to find out more about our current situation. They won't let me leave the room, but you're a different case. When they come to fetch the eggs you'll accompany them under the pretext that you want to ensure that they're taking proper care of them. You're going to use that chance to see the layout of the building. If we can confirm where we are and what's the quickest way to get out of here, we can, at the right time, make use of my acid blades, escape to the next window, and fly away. At night we should be able to evade them.> (E)
<I'm not sure, my princess. This might endanger you if they become aware of your intentions.> (K)
<Kyska, we can't afford to just sit here and hope that it might turn out well for us. We need to find a way to get out of here.> (E)
It's already bad enough as it is, but if the queen hears of this she might restrict my freedom to unknown indefinite levels.
If I can at least show that I'm able to escape by myself it might make things better.
<I have my doubts about this course of action. It might put you at risk, which would be a great failing of mine. Yet I can't go against your command. Is this an order, my princess?> (K)
Now is the moment of truth.
For me, Kyska was always more of a friend.
Yes, I sometimes gave her an order, like that one time with her tongue.
Yet apart from this, I was always careful not to force anything on her.
This time it's different.
Now it comes down to if I'm fine with forcing my will on others to push my ideals.
Is it right to do this to Kyska only because I think I know better?
Do I know better?
Naturally, I can't be completely sure.
As in any situation where opposing opinions are present, there are valid points to both of them or there'd be no reason for the alternative.
But while I'm aware of this fact, I feel like I have to insist.
I have to be determined.
I have responsibility for my brood.
They'll die in droves if I don't get out of here soon.
As a princess, I can't afford to be indecisive and fail them!
<Yes, Kyska, that's an order.> (E)
For a moment, she stares blankly at me, emitting surprised pheromones.
Then she looks down and signals acceptance.
<Alright. You're going to look for the closest windows. Where guards are positioned. And if possible, what the outer defenses look like. We need to know as much as possible, so we can plan our escape.> (E)
<As you command, my princess.> (K)
As I command, huh?
Not as I wish, because I didn't leave her a choice on the matter.
<Then it will commence now. Call the guard.> (E)
She does as I say and moves to the door.
After only a few knocks, it opens.
The man looks with disdain at Kyska and then at me.
"What is it that you want?" (guard)
Even without being able to rely on pheromones here, my perception is not as dull yet that I won't be able to hear the spite in his voice.
"We need help with the eggs." (K)
I point at the bed.
"You see the pile there? I was told by Lord Gioras that he would take care of them. I'd like to see that happen." (E)
He seems to be a bit at a loss, but soon his hostile feelings again claim control of his demeanor.
"Fucking creeps." (guard)
"Ahem, is anything going to happen now?" (E)
"Stay put. I'll need to talk to someone." (guard)
While he's moving out, I see that behind our door are bars.
If I'm right, it's a two-barrier system.
Even if I can squeeze past the guard out of the door I won't be able to go any further. Not without my weapons at least.
Fortunately, this man's attitude doesn't keep him from relaying our message and soon we've got a visit.
I presume he wasn't as stupid to believe that he could forego an essential part of his lord's plan.
Unfortunately, the visit includes Lord Gioras.
"Huh, I'm surprised to see that there are results so soon. I feared the stress of the situation might be detrimental." (G)
I feel like there are far too many scumbags present.
"The princess usually produces in activity intervals which equal twice a day. The eggs have to be accordingly taken care of. The present facilities are honestly lacking in that regard." (K)
"Right. It seems like it was a smart idea to keep you alive. Your expertise is appreciated." (G)
"I'm only serving my princess and her brood." (K)
"And in doing so also me." (G)
It's really difficult to keep on listening to him.
My anger threatens to get the better of me. Maybe I'm just too used to being treated as an esteemed princess to deal with people like him.
"If it's necessary. The brood requires extensive care to develop properly." (K)
"Hm, I plan to deliver them as soon as possible. How long will it take for them to hatch? Living specimens would make the transportation all the more difficult." (G)
"The temperature isn't suitable. Also, it requires an environment with sufficient nourishment. For this reason, they won't hatch anytime soon. This feature prevents younglings while the princess is on a journey. But waiting for too many cycles, or days, will be harmful." (K)
Now that I think about it, I didn't see any eggs hatching during my journey to the capital.
This must be especially helpful when the ways are so long that it wouldn’t be possible for the workers to carry them fast enough if time would be a pressing issue.
"I see. That seems quite complicated. I hope our storage will suffice for now.” (G)
"Regarding that, I'd suggest that you show Kyska the place where you intend to store them. We wouldn't want the eggs to get damaged before they reach their destination. That would make for a poor gesture of goodwill, right?" (E)
"You fucking creep!" (guard)
The one screaming so loud is the same as before.
"Morris, please treat our guests with due respect. We owe that much to them. Regarding your offer, Princess Erys, it might truly be better if the facilities would be checked by someone with insight into the matter. So I believe I'll take you up on that offer." (G)
Does it make me a bad person to wish him some hunters at his throat?
After this, they make quick work and get the eggs out of here.
Naturally, most of the humans who had to deal with this looked quite disgusted while they handled the eggs.
I felt slightly embarrassed since I was the logical second instance they'd find disagreeable.
Of course, I wasn't allowed to leave the chamber, so I have it all to myself again.
Yet I might spend my time doing something practical.
And this is moving my wings.
The ceiling isn't too high in here, but I can still practice.
After all, when I make my escape I'll have to rely on them.
They're a bit stiff but work well enough.
Even in this cramped space, I manage to make small maneuvers.
Mostly left, right, forward, backward, and turning.
This should be enough.
However, there's a point that makes this quite a bit more difficult.
It's cold in here.
Not extremely, but this fortress is certainly not as warm as a Formicean base.
I can endure it, but I feel how my movements become more sluggish due to this factor.
So I have to spend the rest of the time on the now free bed to recover.
Eventually, they return from wherever they brought the eggs.
"My princess, the eggs were stored in wooden containers. I'm not satisfied with the temperature, but they started to ignite fires in their vicinity. This might suffice to keep your brood alive for the time being." (K)
I realize that I'll have to leave them behind for my escape.
But as soon as I'm free again it should be possible to negotiate for them to be returned.
This just has to work.
"Princess Erys. As you can see we've finished. I need to say, your nurse's assistance was very valuable. I hope you were content with the facilities here all by yourself." (G)
"I'm used to better. It's cold in here." (E)
I don't see a reason why I should show any politeness to this man.
He said himself that harming me would be detrimental to his plan.
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear this. I'll arrange for blankets to be brought to you. Maybe this will make you less inclined to leave us so soon." (G)
What is he going on about?
"Excuse me? I don't understand what you're saying." (E)
"Do you take me for a moron? It was more than obvious how your nurse was trying to sneak around the complex, the whole time searching to make out weak points. It's very sad. I thought we found a suitable arrangement for both sides." (G)
Damn, I should've considered that a Formicean nurse isn't skilled at doing a secret mission.
"And? It's not like I have to be cooperative just because I have no choice but to stay here. Doesn't sound like you're very worried about the things she saw." (E)
"This might be, but too much depends on this endeavor for me to be willing to accept such defiance. However, you're right, I can't harm you as this might provoke unwanted reactions from your kind. But that doesn't apply to her. Seize that creature!" (G)
Promptly, four men go to grab Kyska.
And this while she could barely defend against one.
"What are you planning?!" (E)
"I'll show you that actions have consequences. Fortunately, I prepared everything in advance."(G)
"Prepared what?" (E)
My voice sounds meek.
I'm starting to get scared.
"A measure that will prevent your escape. Horatio, clip that thing's wings." (G)
I can't believe what I'm hearing.
The man Lord Gioras just spoke to enters the room and has a tool in his hands that looks as if it should be used for garden work.
"You can't be serious!" (E)
"Oh, I'm dead set. Men, prevent the princess from interfering, but as you know, don't harm her." (G)
Two more soldiers close in on me.
But by now I'm through with this.
I move in Kyska's direction.
When the first man grabs my arm I use all my strength to break free and send him to the ground.
The second one annoyingly clings to my other arm but isn't able to effectively hold me.
Yet before I reach Kyska, Lord Gioras draws a knife.
"You may choose. Wings or throat?" (G)
<Scriek!/My princess, please. Don't put yourself at risk for me. I can live without wings, but if you would even receive a single scratch because of me the grief would kill me.> (K)
What can I do?!
The man sets the giant shears to the base of Kyska's left wing.
And presses them together.
<SCREEAAK!/Princess, don't reveal your weapons!!!> (K)
As soon as the deed is done Lord Gioras waves and the men let go of Kyska.
She immediately slumps down.
"The risk that you two try to escape by making use of your wings was too great yet now this won't be possible anymore. I've already figured you out. You care deeply about your subjects. And you won't run on your own, no matter how much they beg you to do so. You simply can't abandon them." (G)
"You dirty pig!!!" (E)
"Please, no obscenities. That's not helping. But I hope I won't have to repeat something like this." (G)
I feel only hatred for this man.
If I dash now I might get him down with my blades.
I just realized that I'm stronger than the average soldier here.
But what then?
I wouldn't even know how to engage all the soldiers here and have no idea about the way out.
They would eventually overwhelm me, one way or another.
I can't do anything.
"Good night now, dear princess. I'll send you some blankets." (G)
With this, he leaves along with his man.
One of them, at least, has the decency to take the cut-off wings with them.
All I can do is help Kyska into the bed.
She's in pain, but it isn't bleeding too strongly.
However, I can't even help her suffering.
I'm so useless.
- Horatio -
I certainly never thought I would have to torture an insect.
I guess it matters if the stuff you harm has a certain size since it definitely felt different from just squashing a bug.
Almost human. Almost.
Yet it's not like I'm not used to this.
Such a task wouldn't be the first of its kind my lord gave to me.
Well, in general, as I certainly never before had to cut wings.
Speaking of him, he now seems to be lost in thought.
"Horatio, what do you think about what happened?" (G)
About torturing insects?
No, he meant the reactions.
Well, just good I developed a keen eye for such things.
"The princess held back. I'm certain that she had more in store to throw at us. The question remains, if she only did so for her subject, or because she's more cunning than it seems. But I will find it out if you ask me to." (H)
I'm not his torture master for nothing, after all.
"No. The princess can't be harmed. While it's important that we show her how futile it is to go against us a hostage in dire condition doesn't allow for much bargain potential." (G)
"But if it's like this, was it wise to upset her?" (H)
I know my lord wants to prevent the worst.
If the princess tells their insect friends how she was treated, they might not be inclined to be lenient with us.
"You saw her strength. Two grown men couldn't contain her. In addition, Lady Lorata's report said something about her having weapons. She was a bit vague about this point, and I wasn't able to inquire more on this matter without raising suspicion, but there's too much at stake to incur such risk factors. Aside from this, the report also mentioned that those insects don't value their lower caste very much. As long as we don't harm their precious spawner, they won't care all that much. Our dear princess might be a different case, but I presume if the time comes she'll mostly take out her anger on me and not the populace." (G)
Well, and probably the man who did the deed.
Sigh, but we all know where our lord's path would lead us.
This is for the sake of all the people in this country.
"Then what are your orders, milord?" (H)
"You're in charge of the princess' custody. Make her reveal her assets. If she does, we can learn what we are up against. I'd rather know what we're dealing with on our terms, with sufficient guards around, than at a later point in time. If this happens we know what kind of measures we should prepare to counter further escape attempts." (G)
"Milord, I'm not sure if I can do such a thing." (H)
I am still not allowed to touch her.
It's hard enough to get someone to talk without such restrictions.
"Oh please. Just instruct your men to provoke her. I'm sure your work left you with keen senses to find someone's triggers. So please, do just that so she reveals what else she has in store. Understood?" (G)
"Yes, milord." (H)
"Then do as you were told. May this serve our purpose." (G)
Seems like I have another mission.