Choking, the smith flopped over onto his stomach and gagged a wad of blood and phlegm out of his throat. A thick film of drying mucous and blood coated the roof of his mouth and tongue, and his stomach heaved. He spat up a thick, half-congealed clot of blood nearly half the size of his fist. More, smaller clots followed. The smith nearly vomited again just from the feeling of forcing out the thick, stringy globs. Something crackled in his chest with every breath as air forced its way past something else in his passages. More blood, he felt certain.
Lying on the ground, ancient straw crackling and squelching under his shifting body weight, face-down in his own bloody vomit and lying in a puddle of cooling blood... he didn't care. He could breathe. He was still alive.
Even the wound didn't hurt as much as he felt it should have. He had been stabbed clean through a lung, and now it hurt less than the time, during his apprenticeship, he'd stepped on an old nail that had been discarded carelessly. The nail hadn't gone right through his foot, but it had bit in deeply, and one of his toes was still numb to this day from some damage it had left behind. The bout of lockjaw he'd developed afterward, and barely survived, had been worse yet. In all, it had set his apprenticeship back by the best part of a year.
After a few minutes, he tried to move. His muscles protested, and the angry pain in his chest flared bright. He flopped flat against the floor, gasping. His desperate need for air made the only noise in the entire room.
The door creaked open, unutterably loud in the dark, silent chamber. Light from the hall stabbed in and at his eyes. He flinched away. His body screamed in pain at even that tiny movement, but he ignored it. All he could do was huddle on the ground in fear of what came now to do away with him.
The smith froze. That voice– it wasn't the knight or the Blood God. He'd never heard it before. He tried to uncurl, to look up at whoever had found him, but his limbs refused to respond.