Carmen Galena Morales grunted as she was being led along. She felt lightning in her lower back, and her calves and thighs were burning. But still, her biggest concern wasn't with herself. In front of her, she could see her mother, forced to hobble forth in the same awkward bent over manner. The old woman clearly had difficulties keeping up, stumbling along in her narrow knee-length skirt, and she was breathing heavily.
"Please let-my mother go! She... has nothing to do... with all of this! She was just-visiting!"
"If that's the case we'll find out soon enough. She is going to be interrogated, just like you yourself. For the moment you are both suspects in the largest fentanyl trafficking case this state has ever seen!"
5.43 PM. The interview continues. Present are inspector Amber Oakland, sergeant William Johnson and suspect Percy Dwayne Wellington. Mr. Wellington: please describe the situation and the proceedings on the afternoon we were discussing, again.
My parents were away for four days. I had given the staff a day off, so I had the mansion all to myself.
And where was this mansion situated?
Up in the mountains, near Willow Lake. I already told you that. I have already told you everything, for goodness sake!
Just humor us, Mr. Wellington. Please proceed.
I did what I always do on those occasions: I hired a few prostitutes. Just for fun. I have a large collection of bondage gear. I dress them up, blindfold them, and take them to the patio. Sometimes I think up games I want them to play, but on that evening I just watched them struggle to get free. Like I said: great fun.
Hilarious, I'm sure. The names of the women?
Prince Tallis was seated on his throne. Not on the large golden dragon throne in the court of the city of Carrandolan. Preparations were going on in the capital for his triumphant intrada the following morning, after which he would be inaugurated as the seventh king of his dynasty. For now, he was seated on a far more modest throne, carved out of wood, meant for residence in the field, during battle times.
However, the term 'battle times' really didn't apply in this case. Two weeks ago, almost as soon as the prince had begun his march, leading a huge army of mercenaries from the Benar Ilands, with their duke as his first officer, word had come from the capital. The isle's sorceress' predictions, as well as some bird configurations, and a lucid dream all pointed in the same direction. The city forces would deflect and choose the side of the returning king. A few days later, these premonitions were confirmed by two couriers, sent from Carrandolan.
The tent was wide, with benches and cushions along the sides, and several low tables. It was lit by three large cauldrons and over a hundred candles. For the moment the only persons there were the prince, two servants by the entrance, and a fourth figure, behind the throne to the right.
"Bring her in."
She stood and waited. Those were her only options, even though the restrictions were quite simple. A rope around her neck, tied of overhead and her wrists taped behind her back, knees taped together. That was it. That was all it took. Here she was, a veteran private eye, firearm expert, trained in various martial arts and looking like a fitness competition contender: helpless. All due to a piece of rope and some tape. And, of course, as an added insult, the ball gag.
That ball gag should have been a red flag, in hindsight. She had fully expected them to tape her mouth, just like her wrists. What band of lowlife, small-time burglars would carry around kinky equipment with them?
And it had all started off so wonderful. She had caught them red-handed at the scene. Then had come the most difficult part of the operation: the fight scene. She had had to make it believable that they had actually subdued her. It had been hard, first losing the gun, then deliberately missing with her kicks and punches, at the same time ducking as much of their wild swings as possible. After successfully bringing the fight to the ground she didn't have to pretend anymore: after all, there were three of them, all outweighing her by sixty pounds or more. At that point, she was just overwhelmed. As planned. She had even thrown in some grunts and squeels, as they taped her wrists and knees.