She felt like she was waking up with a hangover after losing a knock-down bar brawl. That probably meant that the town watch had thrown her in jail again, too. She forced her eyes open.
She still couldn’t see much of anything. The only light came from a tiny barred opening in the door.
Not the town jail. A dungeon. That’s where they put people who did serious crimes, like trying to steal the Baroness’ tiara.
Lirya cursed herself for taking that damned job. How could she have expected to sneak into the heart of the stronghold, steal valuables right out of Rylaris’ private rooms, and then sneak out again? She’d gotten in over her head, she’d gotten herself caught, and now she was going to die... or, worse, rot in this place until she would be better off dead.
She fought down panic. There’s got to be some way out. I just have to keep looking.
Focusing on that thought, she crept around the cell. Her eyes had adapted to the dimness, but she still needed to feel her way around in places. Except for the door and the straw pallet she had been lying on, the cell was a featureless stone box, about eight feet square. The only object she found was a short, wide bucket that smelled like an outhouse.
She looked out the window. Beyond it was a corridor, walled in stone just like the cell.
There was a miniature door next to the main one, about a foot high and wide. Presumably it was meant to slide food and water in and the piss bucket out. Lirya felt a knot in her stomach as she realized that she could spend the rest of her life never seeing another human being except an occasional glimpse of a guard’s face at the window.
She gritted her teeth. No! Stop thinking like that!
She studied the edges of the door, looking for the lock. Peering into the tiny space between the door and the frame, and probing with bits of straw, she figured that it was hinged on the outside and held shut with a heavy bar. Simple, practical, and not at all vulnerable to her lockpicking skills.
Without much hope of success, but unable to think of anything better to do at the moment, she pressed her shoulder into the door. She then retreated to the far corner of the cell and slammed into it at a full run. Her chemise did nothing to cushion the impact, and she wished that she still had her leather jacket.
Again and again she rammed it, but it was as immobile as a mountain. Tired and sore from the painful blows to her shoulders, she slumped down to the floor.
She heard a faint laugh. “Don’t bother, little girl. The last prisoner in that cell couldn’t make a dent in that door, and he was the biggest, meanest half-orc I’ve ever seen.”
“That explains the stench in here... unless it’s coming in through the window!” she snapped back. The man outside only snorted in response, and then his footsteps faded down the corridor.
Actually, Lirya felt grateful to her unseen jailer. The exchange of comments had interrupted her depressing train of thought and reawakened her spirit of defiance just as she felt herself close to breaking down and sobbing.
She lay down on the straw bed to think. Her mind remained as blank as the ceiling above her. At last, without really meaning to, she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.