Welcome to my weekly serial. This is a rough draft that I am working on, for your reading pleasure.
It is a fairly grim tale, so be warned.
The brutes dragged the struggling Retaak out of the Hall of Screams and out toward the nearest stairs. He relaxed, hoping to lull them into a false sense of security. After a few twists and turns through rough hewn warren and smooth ancient Dwarf-construction, he felt their grips relax fractionally.
With a rumbling growl, Retaak planted his feet on a rough wall pushing his captors off balance. The motion must have surprised them because one of them feel to the ground with a clatter and Retaak found himself free. He wasted no time in running toward the nearest side passage, confident that he could lose the brutes in the warrens.
He made it two paces, feeling the rock beneath his feet and freedom in his heart before a rock hit him in the shoulder, hard enough to send him tumbling. Retaak cursed his weakness as he fell hard, scraping his skin against the rough stone as he came to a halt.
One of the brutes chortled.
“Can’t outrun me rocks,” came the dull voice.
Retaak heaved himself up, but before he could gain his feet the brutes were upon him. He hit the first in the knee, staggering him, but the second caught his hand and smashed a cudgel against his head. Darkness came swiftly.
The sound of a female’s laughter, mingled with a male’s, both familiar, both loved. Is it a memory, or a fantasy? Retaak does not know.
Though his head felt like it was being stepped on by a giant, Retaak immediately noticed the sweet, cool air of his new surroundings. The glory of it filled his lungs. Retaak was so used to the dank fetid air of the lower warrens was he that he almost coughed. As his eyes fought to focus, he reasoned that he must be somewhere important.
He was laying on something soft, a rich red carpet, definitely plundered. The room was filled with similar trophies with racks of weapons lining the walls, and works of art taken from the the enemies of the Dread Lord displayed in a disciplined fashion. A chill went down Retaak’s spine.
“Tsk, tsk,” that sound confirmed Retaak’s Fears. He was in the chambers of the Dread Lord’s seneschal and spymaster, Ushochhushi. “The Paingivers were a bit rough with you, Ogre. Or did you give them trouble?”
“Both,” said Retaak warily. Ushochhushi served the Dread Lord and was no fool. he was one of the most powerful Fellpsawn in the Warren, charged with feeding the Dread Lord information and rooting out traitors. Though he was half goblin/half-hob and Retaak could break him with a single punch, he would never land his attack. Like all of the Dread Lord’s most trusted servants, Ushochhushi had a touch of the compelling; with but a thought he could cause pain worse than the Hobs and their tools of torture, or even kill Retaak. He’d seen many die that way in his time and he knew than the time to struggle was over, for now.
Ushochhushi chuckled, his sharp eyes raking Retaak.
“You are rebellious, Ogre,” he said, though he stated it as a fact rather than an accusation, and seemed more amused than angry. “But you have served others well in the past, and so you are allowed to live.”
“I mere living enough for you, I wonder? Do you not aspire to greater heights? I know that you think differently than your kind. You question, you can make your own judgements. It is a both a flaw and a gift. You could rise high in the service of the Dread Lord if you put your will to it.”
Retaak knew better than to say what was in his heart. He cared only for freedom. Closer service to the Dread Lord was simply another kind of thralldom, in his mind.
When Ushochhushi realized that Retaak was not going to name his desire, he continued, choosing to overlook the slight. Many of the Dread Lord’s other servants would have compelled him, ripping the words from his throat. Retaak gained a glimmer of respect for Ushochhushi for not playing the game.
“I have a task for you Retaak…”