Edrik landed belly down on the stone floor of the Shrike’s Keep guardhouse hard enough to knock the air from his lungs. Probably just as well since, otherwise, he might have yelled when the guard’s boot slammed into his back, gouging hobnails into the shallow sword wound just below his shoulder blade.
A low moan escaped from the new drake as Mudge helped Benit drag him down the aisle to the last cell. Part of Mudge pitied the man. He was most likely guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and having the wrong reaction to being sliced open with an iron blade.
Edrik was grateful Mudge had the sense to untie his feet first. He hadn’t realized just how much of his weight was being supported by the ropes until his first arm came loose and he staggered, twisting, away from the bars. When Mudge freed his other arm, the pain that shot through Edrik’s body as his ribs shifted stole his breath and buckled his knees. He caught himself with his other arm before he crumpled completely to the floor and knelt there, panting, while the stabbing pain drew back on itself and settled in his side. An itching burn seeped into his skin from the iron collar, and he sensed the heaviness of the iron ore all around him, but at least the bars weren’t pressed against his back anymore. He drew a steadying breath.