More Miska 1/28/2016

One more week’s worth of words for you! This picks up immediately from where it left off.

***

The beautiful drawing room filled steadily with smoke.  Yelling and shouting still echoed through the building, but Mistress Mariselle must have left standing orders for no one else to come into the drawing room.  Its pale upholstery and light woods had a cold glow to them in the moonlight that came in through the windows, but the glow slowly faded as the air grew thicker and hotter.  Miska gave up on calling for help after the first minute.  She needed to save her breath.

Feeling lightheaded, she bent forward as far as she could to look at how her legs had been tied.  There were strips of something holding her ankles to the feet of the chair, silk at a guess from the feel of it.  More strips, of a different fabric, fastened her arms to the arms of the chair.  The guard had even tied a sash around her chest to hold her against the chair back.

She squirmed, trying to force the bindings.  Her breathing slowly got thicker and thicker, the air feeling hot and making her dizzy.  She leaned forward, sagging against the straps holding her in place.  Breathing seemed a little easier with her head down lower.  Not much easier, but better than sitting up straight.  She sucked air into her lungs, trying to force herself to think.  She needed to get her head lower, closer to the floor.

Her head ached with the effort of thinking, feeling like she had been swimming underwater too long but not even breathing was helping.  She threw herself back into the chair, hating the feel of the straps, just wanting to lean forward out of them and take a decent breath.  The chair’s front legs lifted for a moment, then settled down again.  An idea kindled in her mind.

She tilted herself forward again, as far as she could manage, then threw herself back.  She pushed off with her feet as best as she could, feeling the silk strips cinch around her ankles.  She teetered backwards for a moment, hanging in the air, leaning as far back as she could and now pulling her legs up towards her chest.  The chair toppled over backwards with a crash.

It was too solid to break, but now her head was nearly on the floor.  Miska pulled in long gasps of air, feeling better already.  The cloth around her chest cut into her painfully as she tried to breathe in fully.  She coughed.  There was lots of phlegm in her mouth.

Miska tugged against her bonds again, testing them this time.  They were fastened tight.  The ones around her ankles were stronger than the ones on her arms and around her chest, made of silk instead of torn from hangings.  But they all seemed to be tied securely.  The chair was well made too.  She stretched again, this time pulling the bonds with her instead of straining against them.  She could barely hear the chair creak, under the noise from the rest of the house.  It was a start.

Miska pulled her arms around, laying them inside the arms of the chair, wedged up against her sides.  She took a deep breath in, as deep as she could through the binding, then exhaled, pushing out against the chair’s arms.  The smoke-covered ceiling overhead began to swim in her vision, tears blurring in her eyes.  She gasped for more air, squeezing outwards, using her own torso to push and twist against the chair arms, to give her more leverage.  There was a creaking noise, then a series of cracks.  Then there was a sudden pop and the left arm snapped away from the back of the chair.  Miska deflated, relaxing into the chair back.  She felt like she’d turned into a puddle on the floor.  The air was getting stuffier again, even down where she lay.  She knew she didn’t have much time.

She reached over with her left hand, trailing the broken chair arm, and fumbled against the strap that held her right arm.  It refused to budge.  Angry, she grabbed the chair arm with both hands and wrenched it, twisting and forcing it.  There was another loud crack, and the right arm broke away.

Reaching up with both hands, she felt for where the cloth of the tapestry holding her to the chair back hadn’t torn evenly.  There, her hands found a divot where the weave hadn’t separated in perfect line.  She gripped either side of the divot between thumb and forefinger and pulled.  There was a satisfying ripping sound, and the strap tore across its width.  She lay back for a moment, happy just to breathe without something cinching her chest in tight.

She took another deep breath, then pulled herself upright, chest up to her knees.  Arms still dangling the broken bits of chair, she pushed herself up and over the lip of the chair, falling flat on her belly on the far side of the chair.  Her ankles hurt: the silk ties were now twisted and cutting into her legs.  Keeping close to the floor, she squirmed around until her fingers could pull the lengths of silk down off the bottoms of the chair legs, bludgeoning out the inter-leg supports in the process.  If anything, the air in the room had gotten even worse.

Her eyes stung and she couldn’t stop coughing as she looked around the room, trying to see where she was.  There was hardly any light from the windows anymore, just a thick miasma of smoke and a frightening reddish glow coming from the open door to the hall.  She didn’t hear as much yelling anymore, just the rising crackle of flames.  There was no way out in that direction.

Taking another deep breath and holding it against the urge to cough, Miska surged to her feet.  She could feel herself broiling in the heat the moment she stood.  She grabbed the broken chair and hurled it through the closest huge window, seen more as a vaguely paler shape in the smoky room.  As it crashed through, she dropped to the ground again to take another breath, crawling towards the window she’d broken.  She could feel the air moving around her, but it was still hot and thick and left her coughing.

She reached the wall below the window and crouched, fumbling with the chair arms still fastened to her forearms.  She was on the second floor, and had to make her way out through a window still full of broken glass.  She gripped the chair arms firmly, so the wood stuck out from her like a mantis’ forelimbs, and then began ramming the chair arms through the glass in the bottom of the window frame, knocking it out away from her.  The room behind her was getting hotter, boiling her even where she was, crouching low by the window.

She made one more anxious sweep of the bottom of the frame, feeling herself get dizzier as the world around her blurred and swooped.  She turned around, stepping backwards up through the frame.  Little shards she hadn’t caught cut into her foot as she stepped out into the night air.  There was nothing beneath her to catch her, but she slowed her fall with one last hook at the window frame from her broken chair arms.  Then their hooked ends splintered apart and she dropped to the ground, rolling backwards across grass and broken glass.  She stopped when she hit the chair she’d thrown.

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