Skittering footsteps ran across the walls above his head. Roman squinted his eyes into the dark streets, but failed to locate the source. He tried to follow the sound and sometimes saw tiny pieces of debris fall to the cobblestones, or dust kicked up in a cloud. The street was scary, and he didn't want to be there any longer. So he turned and hammered his fists on the large wooden doors of the clocktower. A small, rectangular slat opened up, revealing a man with eyebrows so heavy they almost rendered him blind.
"What d'you want?" grunted the bruiser.
"There's something out here," said Roman, unable to lower his frightened vocal chords, "some invisible thing. Let me in!"
"Where's the gold?"
"It's still in the woods. Please I-" he was cut short by the slat snapping shut. He banged a little more, but It was no use. Trempklin was the fiendish sort who would lather you in all the green earth's pleasures until the gold ran out, when all you got was a boot in the arse. A terrible sort indeed.
His disappointment over being refused entry made him forget, momentarily, that something was circling him. He only remembered when a metallic, rattling squeak bounced over the cobblestones. Then he froze, but not for long. Because when something that felt like a ragged nail scratched his shoulder, he shrieked like a baby panpadook, brushing it off and flailing down the street.
An old man with incredible aim opened his window and cursed Roman for waking up half of Arfandol, before shutting up his moving target with a fist-sized rock from two stories up.
Roman let go of a thick, tea-stained parchment. He couldn't read it. The words kept jumbling themselves up and lines scribbled across the page by themselves. He had attempted to read the first sentence at least five times. And each time it was different. He had had enough and now it was on the floor. He was just inspecting what appeared to be a horseless cart made entirely of metal that was half sunken into the square, jagged ocean shoreline, when that image dissolved slowly into another one. He blinked and resisted the change, because the new image was dark and his head started pulsing rhythmic throbs of pain. He tried to lift his arms and run to the strange, waterlogged cart, but found that his arms were constricted. Then panic set in, for he realised that he had been dreaming and that his waking reality was another awkward, potentially quite dangerous scenario.
His surroundings suggested that he was in his worst situation yet. On dank walls either side of him hung flaming torches that scarcely illuminated the orange reflective drips of water that ran down the stone walls to the shadows of rats effortlessly creaping along. The room was tiny. Its domed roof above him had a grate in its centre that suggested he was subterranean. Through the grate he could see a gradient of white in the night sky that suggested the moon was nearby.
Constricting the movement of his arms were rough leather straps that were, thankfully, not tight enough to block blood flow. Similar buckled bits held his legs, but his neck and head were relatively free. Sadly, the latter were unable to untie the rest of the buckles. He lay at a 90 degree angle facing a wooden door with rusted metal poles barring a small square hole at head height. Presumably whatever jailer had him jailed could communicate through that without risking his escape.
Once the novelty of his danger had worn off and shock became a kind of alert boredom, he noticed that he was only wearing his white underpants and thus, was very cold. The insulation in this tiny, damp, stone room was awful. And they'd only gone left the window open. He would have to complain to whoever (or whatever, he dared think) was in charge.
His teeth began to chatter wildly and whilst he did amuse himself slightly by creating a vibrato melody using the body's ingenious, subconscious warming mechanism, he also began to struggle a little more to free himself. This was not the lonely, cold and damp bondage his past self dreamed of at his desk, so enviously bored and warm in front of his book. Far from it.
He felt the skin beneath the straps redden, the more he struggled against them. His pelvic thrusts were doing no more to free him than they did his sexual partners. Until one especially big one that involved a great grrraagh! from his mush. It sent some cogs whirring in whatever he was strapped to, which he realised in a split second was more of a contraption than a mere re-purposed wooden door angled off its hinges. His vision clunked from ninety-degrees to zero in a head-smacking thunk. Now the light of the full moon framed his pale face in a barred square. Metal scraped into the lock of the door. It clinked in a twist and creaked open.