A Slave's Ransom (Belugnir)

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

A Slave's Ransom (Belugnir)

Postby Shiress on October 12th, 2018, 11:45 pm

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10th Day
Fall 518

It says something for a slave when she has a guard that she can trust, as in, he hates her slave master near as much as she does. Upon learning that Kylar was, in fact, a mole for the Nitrozian family, Shiress had worked quickly to gain her furtively observant guard's trust by gaining access to family only delivery areas, quiet meetings, and ledgers. Kylar would then give back to Shiress any knowledge that he judged Jessica Lazarin might deem interesting. Not only did this alliance insure more freedom for Shiress, but it also insured that Rook, Shiress's bondmate, most always had something to give back to his master, Jessica. It was perfect. For the time being.

It was most appreciated on days like this one, when Kylar would have his quiet, secret meetings with whomever he gave his juicy information to and would allow Shiress to accompany him to the city proper, then leaving her to her own devices for a few bells. Shiress nearly felt free on days like these. Nearly.

As was his wont, Kylar had given Shiress his cloak to cover up the slave garb, which consisted of a simple, light brown cotton shift. This way the slave could avoid the wary eyes that followed a unsupervised slave wandering around aimlessly. Unfortunately, the Lark guard was not a small man. Shiress, however, was a petite woman and she felt confident that, if she ever had the need to camp, the heavy black cloak could double as her tent perfectly.

Shiress sat on a stone bench tucked into a quiet corner of The People's Market, her thrice large cloak wrapped tightly around her slender form. Syna had dipped deep into the west, casting the city of chaos into deep shadow, and urged its denizens homeward, or in search of extended, nightly entertainment. Lamplighters roamed the narrow docks, lighting torches, as the sounds of slamming windows and clicking doors announced merchants closing down their shops for the day.

Only a handful of souls roamed the area where Shiress awaited the Lark guard's return, and by the time the last of them disappeared into shadow, Kylar stepped around the corner. Shiress let out an impatient sigh and stood. "Where were you? I was beginning to think you had forgotten me." The slave's tone was playful, but she hoped there was enough of an edge to get her point across, nonetheless. She opened her mouth to speak again, but snapped it shut when Kylar's form brushed torch light and she caught sight of his face -Kylar's visage was a rictus of alarm

"What's wrong?" she said, hurrying her steps.

"I think I'm being follo..."

Kylar's voice cut off with a grunt of pain when a form appeared from the shadows and slammed into the guards back. Kylar turned to engage his attacker. Shocked, the slave could only stare dumbly at the two flailing forms, until her guard was able to growl out a command for her.

"Run!"

Shiress ran.

Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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A Slave's Ransom (Belugnir)

Postby Belugnir on October 13th, 2018, 12:06 pm

An easy errand, huh Trevor? A quick grab of coin. ‘Don’t dwell on it too much, Einar, it’ll do you no good.’ Cheva’s ass, I hope you drown in this shyke-murk lake…

Being in need of work and coin was a dull, looming reality that either drove men like Ein to either wither in squalor or resort to doing things that only the scum of the earth would willingly do… Being in need of coin led to arrangements with shady folk, which led to accepting a horribly convenient job which should never have been accepted in retrospect… which led to a few pints to many in order to drown out what little decency the fellow believed himself to have before he’d set out to kidnap a woman for ransom…

The only information he had to go off of was a loosely described route that the slave’s bodyguard was expected to take throughout the city, along with voiced descriptions of both of them… Who in the cockin’ blazes affords to have their slave a bodyguard? …So Ein had settled in the tavern where this Kylar was meant to meet up with some odd fellow around evening. The two men did not chatter for long, though at the point where the two began to go their separate ways, Einar had already soaked himself silly with ale… and that was likely what gave him away, sooner than his inexperience with guile. One would think a brat of Sunberth would be a tad better at tailing folk through the streets… But this was not his home town and he was far removed from the sharp-eyed and agile lad that would patiently stalk fat-bellied merchants for a perfect opportunity to cut their purse and line up a swift exit…

Having undertaken this affair without most of his usual equipment didn’t go to Ein’s comfort either. What he had to him was his holster throwing knives, his rough dagger, and a length of rope strapped to his belt, hidden under an overcoat and absent all of his armor save for a gauntlet on his left hand… at the very least he thought ahead enough to pull up a hood and have a cloth under it that would cover his lower face.

Mind numb to hesitation, Ein dashed to shove into the fellow he’d sloppily followed through the darkening streets as soon as he’d heard the bugger exchanging words with a feminine voice…

Having not a poleaxe, Ein rushed as quick as he could, drawing his one proper dagger in an upward arc, looking to bash its round pommel over Kylar’s nape while the man’s back was still turned… Though his target seemed easily alerted by his approach, the bodyguard only did so much as turn before Einar’s hit connected, and though it did not align itself as the attacker intended, Kylar was soon stumbling backward, reaching a hand for his ringing skull within a moment… which nicely opened him up for a reflexive shove to the side and then an elbow clean into the chin… and like that, Shiress’ bodyguard found himself tumbling over the edge of the dock and into the canal beneath.

Ein was drunk enough to have a minor hazard in his step, the occasional hiccup and the absence of self-rebuke for what he was doing, though he was still sane enough to properly mess a bugger up after getting a drop on them… And sane enough not to linger after shoving this fellow off into the canal and bolt after the silhouette of the cloaked lass that began to flee the scene. Not that he gave much consideration to the man he’d just shoved into the lake, but the woman’s bodyguard would, eventually, have been able to wrest his way from the water, clutching in a desperate daze at the edge of a docked ravosala... albeit it would have taken a lengthy time for the fellow to regain his breath and find himself standing on the walkway above the dock… and by that point Einar intended to be far off.

With what head start she gained during his struggle with Kylar, Ein, driven by his own burst of hysteria and panic, barely remembered to sheathe his weapon and still just barely caught up to the woman as she’d ducked hind the first corner of the walkway… Though, clumsily enough, he’d only managed to grab hold and pull at the cloth that flapped behind her. Then his momentum would come to completely cease for an instant as he’d fought against his poor footing that nearly saw him delivered tumbling to the ground.

Whether by merit of pulling her out of her flight should the cloak she wore have been buckled properly, or by a renewed pursuit, Ein would eventually grab hold of the girl, by the wrist, ankle or shoulder, anything could provide him leverage to reel her in… or should she had proven wittier and more evasive by keeping at a straight line through the alleyways of Ravok and thus putting an ounce of distance between them, he would eventually settle for leaping forth to tackle the girl and slam both himself and her into the ground.

Ultimately, it would come down to the girl being slammed either into the pavement, the wall of the nearest building, or a stack of crates, with a bastard of heaving breath, heavy with alcohol pinning on top of her, wide eyed like an animal. Ein would end up looking to press his right hand over her nose and mouth, aiming to rob the girl of air long enough for consciousness to leave her… There was no mind to be spared for folk who may have passed by the alleyways in which their struggle took place, and barely a thought was there in regard to the prick that he’d pushed into the canal…

He’d delivered himself into a vast pit, filled chest-deep with shyke, and there was no ramp nor rope to help him out, so he would walk his way on through it… swim if need be.


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A Slave's Ransom (Belugnir)

Postby Shiress on October 13th, 2018, 9:58 pm

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Some might think that a slave's life would be, outside of whippings and lashings, monotonous, ordinary, and never exciting. Shiress found herself wishing this were true. Since arriving in Ravok, her life has been anything but boring. Thwarting an Ebonstryfe assassination, saving several lives, bonding with a Kelvic, and even a bit of espionage had been achieved in the first few seasons upon arriving in the city.

City of chaos, indeed.

It had been too quiet this last season. Too 'monotonous' and had the slave put her mind to it, she would have seen this coming. Shiress seemed to have gotten the attention of Rhysol himself, if such things happened, at least, that's what the curses muttered from her lips spat, as she fled through the city.

Shiress tried to think of why this man had attacked her guard and wondered if it had something to do with what ever Kylar was doing in the tavern. Whatever it was, She had already decided that she didn't care as long as it didn't have anything to do with her.

Rounding a corner, Shiress stumbled to a stop, glancing back the way she had come. Not seeing a pursuer, she began to move toward a wall to where she could catch her breath, but the figure that had just rounded the far corner made her pause. At first, the slave thought her guard had fought free of his attacker already, but when the man took off at a dead run toward her, she realized she had been wrong.

Darting off again in the opposite direction, another round of curses flew from Shiress's mouth as she realized she had let the man get far too close before realizing her mistake. The stranger was on her in an instant.

Momentum was stole from her as the cloak she wore suddenly was grabbed from behind. Shiress twisted and pulled until the garment came free of her shoulders, letting out a hiss of pain as a fistful of her chestnut hair went with it. The stranger didn't slow in the least, however, for she felt the petcher's fingernails rake down her forearm as he grabbed for her. She twisted out of the man's grip and darted off again, hearing heavy boot-steps too close behind.

Shiress hadn't gone five paces before the heavy body of her pursuer slammed into her back, driving her to the ground. The slave hit the wooden planks with a windless grunt. Shiress tried to lift herself and scramble away but the man was clawing up her body. Twisting around to her back, the slave let loose with a barrage of kicks aimed at her assaulter's face, but whether or not any landed she couldn't tell.

The weight of the stranger was enough to drive the girl back down, but the man was just too strong and Shiress was pinned far too easily. Wild eyes stared down at her from a covered face shrouded in a dark hood. Her heart lurched and began to pound as an array of disturbing images flicked through her thoughts of her attacker's intentions. Then, a large, callused hand lifted to her face, covering her mouth and nose. Emerald eyes flew wide as her already desperate lungs were completely shut off to air.

Vigorously renewing her efforts of escape, Shiress bucked, lifting her uninjured hand to scrape and scratch and pull at the iron grip suffocating her, but even as she did so darkness crept into the corner of her eyes, her movements slowing, until she was suddenly unable to move at all. Emerald eyes slowly rolled away and Shiress knew no more.

Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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A Slave's Ransom (Belugnir)

Postby Belugnir on October 14th, 2018, 6:54 am

The amount of times she’d nearly eluded him and the frightful, desperate struggle she gave as he’d drove her to the ground only served to stoke senseless anger in the man.

He hadn’t allowed her to turn over completely, pinning the woman’s left arm beneath her own body, and as he’d proceeded to scramble over to put his own weight on her, he received a rather fiercely delivered knee to the bottom of his belly, which saw the back of his hand introduced to the woman’s cheek in retaliation before grabbing hold of her lower face to rob her of what little air she had.

And then she clawed three bloody rakes in the back of his hand as she fought for breath… which ended with Einar just barely refraining from clutching a proper fist crowned with iron rivets and instead only shoving the exposed palm of his left hand into the side of her waist, before grabbing hold of her free wrist and forcing it aside, slamming her forearm into the planks behind her… only to realize his other, bloodied hand had settled lower, clasping mercilessly about the girl’s neck and pulling her head upwards, rearing to dash her nape against the dock upon which she laid…

Had he not stopped himself there he’d likely either have cracked open the back of her skull or snapped her neck… yet instead of either, he quickly pressed his one free palm against her mouth and nose yet again, and then watched, breathless himself, almost paralyzed, as teary emerald eyes slowly rolled up and fluttered shut… Then he let go.

He lingered a moment, hunched over her, before flailing himself to his feet, and taking a shallow, raspy breath. Sobered, he looked down at the girl’s body. Right arm resting awkwardly as if sewn on to the body it belonged to, her face still and unmoving, pale skin growing fierce pink where he’d struck her and where his fingertips dug into as he’d held her, neck and cheeks smeared with blood that dripped from the back of his hand. Dumbfounded he looked… and felt his gut tie into a knot.

Fuck! A stack of crates came toppled over as Ein’s foot crashed into it. He had come sober, yet his vision was blurry, and so he pulled off the cloths which hid his face and threw back his hood. Boiling sweat came dripping down the side of his face, strands of damp hair hugging his cheeks. He took a breath again… and dropped into a seat against the wooden wall behind him.

If there’s any right in this world I ought to end up with a shiv in me side before this week’s through…

Moving over to where she laid, he pressed an ear to her chest, and his bloodied hand came trembling in front of her nostrils. Her heart pounded yet, and after moments that felt like a bloody chime each he caught a cold wisp of breath upon his bloodied palm… She was alive still.

Giving himself a fierce slap on the cheek, Ein got to his feet again.

Put yourself together, ye daft cunt…

Dragged by the garments she had on, the girl would soon end up seated back in the darkest alley corner Ein could spot… and rather than spend an ounce of time tying her up and gagging her in case she wakes up, he’d simply hurled the cloak he tore off of the girl over her and tucked her into it a couple times over, before tossing her over his shoulder as if she were a sack, and starting to hurriedly make his way away from the sight of ruckus that he’d caused… Not knowing that the man he’d hurled into the canals would take nearly another five chimes to find himself on the spot. Frankly, at least in Ein’s eyes, it was a cockin’ miracle that a guard or passenger hadn’t outright tripped over them as he’d had his hissy fit over what he’d done.

Sticking to the alleyways and always checking behind every incoming corner three times over before ever moving through and halting for however long it’d take for stray passers he’d spot to move on through and clear the area, Ein made his way through the docks, coming to a warehouse on the edge eastern edge of the merchants’ ring after some twenty chimes… albeit it felt as if half the night had gone by.

Hopefully the girl would not have come to along the way… and in case she did wake up and forget the means with which Ein had first robbed her of consciousness, she’d receive a reminder, and a gag.

The warehouse was but a plain, expansive space walled off with wood and crowned off by plank and straw that ever so often found its way to fall down onto the floor, forming thickets. Plentiful stacks of supply crates and wooden containers filled up the space... along with a single, sizable cage that Ein’s associate and some of the rotten bastard’s coworkers kept there for their own purposes…

‘’Bel, that you?’’, a voice of anticipation came from the dark corner in the distance as Ein creaked the warehouse door closed behind him.

‘’Nay, it’s bloody Ivak come to set ye arse ablaze, ‘course it’s cockin’ me.’’, the mercenary hissed back.

While Ein went to set the girl down into the cage that he’d only imagined was originally meant to constrain a right and proper bear, a figure approached, naught of it visible but the hooded overcoat it wore, and the lantern in its hand, albeit its voice undoubtedly belonged to a man.

‘’What the petch are you doing with your hood off you dimwit?’’, the man railed at the sight of his newly employed kidnapper.

‘’She hasn’t seen shyke, now quit gawkin’ at me and tell me if I’ve got the right bloody woman.’’, Einar retorted, pulling his own hood and the mask of cloth that went with it on, while the figure shone a light and began eyeing the girl.

‘’By Cheva, man, you were supposed to snatch her, not beat her to half dead and nearly tear off her bloody arm… look it, her shoulder’s dislocated…’’, the man scolded and snorted. ‘’How am I to—‘’

‘’Shut your gob and fix her up.’’, never fond of explaining himself or taking an earful, Ein cut the man off. Especially seeing as the prick had the cheek to nag him while he’s been sitting on his ass in this warehouse, waiting for the mercenary to do all the dirty work.

‘’Me?’’, the man almost mocked.

‘’Aye you, you daft cunt, you’s the one worked under a would be healer, and you’s the one having done cockin’ squat tonight so you fix her up… And if ye keep mouthin’ me off like some smart arse I’ll fix you up like I did her.’’

‘’Well you’re in a sour mood.’’, the other fellow mused peacefully, albeit not before a tense moment of quiet in which the two stared each other off had passed by…

My, Trevor, I wonder what bloody gave it away. Einar snorted dismissively, putting an effort to keep his shaken temper in check.


As it was likely that the pain of having stretched muscles and disjointed bones snapped back into place would have been enough to jerk the woman back into the waking world, the two men made sure to first tie her ankles together with rope and tuck a sizable clump of cloth into her mouth before securing it in place with a strap of leather tied together at the back of her head… then Trevor would set her arm straight with two… considerably imperfect motions.

‘’You’s not exactly a cockin’ gentle saint, either, huh?’’, Ein imitated the bugger’s previous tone.

‘’I suppose not.’’, Trevor dismissed... and with an oddly satisfactory note.

Whether she woke up at the time or later, Shiress would be greeted by a sight not too different from the one that saw her to sleep. Namely, Einar being by her side binding her hands together to the iron bars upon which she was rested, his face still cloaked and hidden, albeit now absent the bestial panic from what little was visible of his eyes.


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Last edited by Belugnir on October 20th, 2018, 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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A Slave's Ransom (Belugnir)

Postby Shiress on October 14th, 2018, 5:45 pm

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Something pricked at the edges of Shiress's consciousness, nudging a part of her awareness from complete and utter stillness to that of a dream like state. As if floating, the slave's thoughts teetered toward the surface, bobbing back and forth. Or was that her body? It was too much effort and she fell back to stillness.

Again, the prick to her awareness, but this time it was more of a jab. No, it was pain. The pain had removed her from the blissful peace and it was floating closer. Rather, Shiress was floating closer to the pain, toward the surface. The closer she drew to the agony her ears began to roar as if she were standing on the shores of Zeltiva in the great winds of a mighty storm. The pain grew in intensity until she felt as if her awareness was diving for the surface, chasing after the sensation, all while the roaring grew to a crescendo.

Shiress burst through to consciousness with a long intake of air, but it wasn't nearly enough. Her lungs needed better than that. Why couldn't she breathe through her mouth? She was suffocating again! He was suffocating her again! Green eyes flew open with panicked breaths. Shiress rolled her head trying to open her mouth, but there was something in it. It all came flooding back into her memory. The chase, the man, the hand.

With great effort, Shiress calmed her breathing, which is saying a lot to calm a panic attack while gagged, and blinked once, twice, until her eyes, at last, focused blearily on a figure by her side. It was him, of course. The cloaked and masked oppressor. She glared at him for long ticks, before glancing around her environment.

Was she in a cage?

Surrounded in a barred, steel box surely gave one the impression. Slanting her aching head slightly she found her arms hanging before her face. She followed them up to where her wrists were tied to a loop of iron dangling from the surface of the cage. A cold, unwanted memory slid to the forefront of her mind. The slave had been here before. Dread drew her eyes closed with the realization of what was happening sank like a stone in her gut. Yet again, she was being stolen from her Master and would see the plans of her freedom thwarted.

No

Not again

Rage began to kindle near her middle and boiled up through her chest, the fight that Elias Caldera had born in her rejuvenating anew. But no, she was in no shape to fight just yet, it would only see her beaten again, or worse. Shiress drew in a long breath through her nostrils and again looked around her surroundings, her hands twisting and pulling near undetectable at the confines that held them fast. Drawing her eyes closed, she would rest and gather her senses for a time.

Muffled voices alerted her awareness, but she didn't move or make a sound. They sounded far off but getting closer. Was she near a window? She renewed the efforts of freeing her hands. The binding there was tight, but she thought a good yank would pull at least one of her hands free. She need only wait for the right time.

Several chimes later, or a few bells, she didn't rightly know, another set of voices came to her from a distance. As they grew closer, Shiress drew in another steadying breath. As soon as she thought they were nearer to where she was, she yanked hard at the ropes. A searing pain burned through her shoulder, eliciting a muffled moan from the slave -one that was sure to gain the attention of her cloaked and masked friend. Not knowing if the man was on the move toward her, Shiress pulled hard with the opposite arm. With great pain and a bit of lost skin, one wrist slid through the binding and fell to her mouth, clawing at the gag. As soon as the cloth fell partly from her lips, the slave bellowed out a plea born on the air of a scream.

"Help me!!"

Sadly, it only came out as a hoarse croak, but, as her hand fell to the cage floor beside her, Shiress felt something long and hard beneath her fingers. A stick? A piece of metal? No matter, whatever it was she would swing it as hard as she could at that masked head.
Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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A Slave's Ransom (Belugnir)

Postby Belugnir on October 20th, 2018, 5:41 pm

If only she'd known the irony that would come of her barely uttered cry for help..

The yelps and the woman's struggles against the rope which bound her did indeed attract a cloaked figure, its face hidden behind hood and cloth mask. Hurriedly did he open the cage and barge in to shut the cheeky bitch up... and was utterly unsuspecting of the bar of iron that was flung to strike him, and so he fell stumbling backwards, hands clawing for the spot atop his forehead where his skin tore from the blow... and he would remain so a while, coiling and wailing on the ground.

As they'd waited for their other accomplices to arrive, Einar had eventually seated himself by a stack of crates, coming down from his ounce of a drunken haze fully while contemplating whether or not he ought to start detesting himself after tonight... and then sounds of struggle reached his ears, a dull hit and the thud of a body hitting the ground. So it was he snapped out of his daze and bolted from around the corner, completely forgetting to pull his own mask on.

Trevor you absolute pushover twat...

Ein was in the cage's doorway sooner than the woman could have properly reached to untie the knots that held her ankles together, and even if she were to attempt and hide the fact that she'd untied herself, if partially, the blundering mess of a man rolling about in his own incompetence by her side would have spoken otherwise. Whatever flailing attempt at defense the girl may have presented him with, there would only be so much she could do with three bound limbs, an iron bar and absent all element of surprise before a whoreson who made his bread by beating if not outright killing folk would have apprehended her again. A calloused hand would come clutching about her one free wrist, pulling her arm aside, thumb pressing into the root of her palm 'till her fingers would have loosened to let the iron bar go, meanwhile his other hand would have pressed her, backing into the cage's side...

''Mind yourself.'', left his mouth before he'd realized his mask wasn't on... and not a moment afterward the man seemed to freeze still, letting go of the girl so that she would fall back into a seat. It was not the realization that she'd have seen his face now... it was that he'd recognized hers, at the very least now, in lantern light and clear of mind. It was her a fortnight ago. Of cockin' course. It HAD to be you. For a time he was dumbfounded, staring at her wide-eyed, not as he did a bell ago, but as he did when she went out of her way to save his sorry arse after he'd gotten damn near slaughtered by some daft bastards in the middle of the street.

Before the mercenary could get his shyke together proper again, Trevor had gotten to his feet, and Ein turned to the sight of his accomplice, bloodied and growling like a mad hound, brandishing a knife in retaliation of the hit he'd received from the girl. He lunged for her, coin of ransom being the last thing on his mind. He wished for blood.

''Wait!'', was all Ein could utter before having to grab hold of Trevor in an attempt to pull him away, yet the bastard in his fit of pain and anger slashed at him, coming just short of disemboweling him and slicing his shirt open instead. The two began a struggle, though Trevor happened to be a shyke fighter, and before impulse and instinct could have been reined in again, Ein had grabbed hold and twisted the mad whoreson's wrist, and as he shoved him away, he'd dug the blade of Trevor's own dagger into his throat.

His accomplice fell over yet again, gurgling on his own blood, his entire body fidgeting in manners men were not supposed to.

Einar stood dumbfounded yet again, before bursting out with ''I told you to wait, you daft whoreson!'', as the words left him, he'd delivered a tantrum-induced kick to the side of the cage, a long breath of calming panic afterward, he'd brought a hand to his forehead, beginning to stride across the cage, eyes falling on the girl again. He would stare her down for a long moment, before pulling out a knife of his own. Only his one motion with the blade was delivered to the rope from which the woman's one hand would have dangled still, slicing it free... and before he could utter a word to her a new voice echoed through the dusty warehouse.

''Southern rat!'', the hissing exclaim was followed by the sound of swords leaving their sheaths. Ein turned yet again to an unsavory sight. Of course NOW they show up.

The voices passing by that gave Shiress cause to cry for help once she'd heard them, in fact belonged to two of Trevor's other acquaintances... and now here they stood, finding the one fresh-blood accomplice whom they'd already had little reason to trust, standing over the bleeding corpse of their would-be boss, and with a knife to their ransom's binds.

''This evening is just one steaming pile of shyke after another.'', Ein muttered through grit teeth, coming under an urge to laugh at the plain nonsensical idiocy that led him to where he was now.

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A Slave's Ransom (Belugnir)

Postby Rook on October 21st, 2018, 11:34 pm

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Rook sat in his master’s office, curled up in an armchair and with a stack of papers in his hands which he leisurely parsed through, eyes intent for a bit of eye-catching information which he could give to the Larks. This information, of course, had been supplied by his dear master, Jessica Lazarin. These documents were filled with information that Jessica thought would be of interest to the Larks, but would do her no real harm. It was just a matter of memorizing the documents well enough to recite them by heart. Taking the documents and then returning them later would look far too suspicious to make it past Radcliffe’s screening, and Rook had no intention of taking any risks. Funny wasn't it, how much Rook’s reading skills had increased in the last season? It seemed as if his nose was always buried in some book or another.

The kelvic boy took a leisurely moment to rise from his chair and stretch his aching neck. A satisfying pop resounded through the room, followed by an echoing sigh of relief. There was no rush. Today could be a leisurely one. Jessica was out at the moment; some Ebonstryfe duty or another. Rook’s master was swiftly finding that Rook was best utilized apart from her, a matter that Rook found very agreeable. He might be bonded now, but the wolf boy’s heart still yearned to wander restlessly, and being tied down to wherever his master happened to be at the moment just didn't mesh well with his style. Fortunately, Jessica was beginning to realize this, and Rook was finding himself with a longer leash. Although the collar, unfortunately, still bound him. Well, a wolf would draw more attention than a human, he supposed.

All considered, everything was good, or as good as could be under the circumstances. Rook felt along his bond, and could feel Shiress’ contentment floating along their bond like cheerful butterflies. Rook added his own contentment to it, and hoped that Shiress’ would feel it. Before he could obtain a response, a lightning bolt of panic surged up the bond and a gasp escaped the wolf boy’s mouth. Panic. What? Why?!

Rook barely had the thought to push the documents back onto the table before he had bolted out the door, down the massive staircase of the Lazarin estate, and into the city. The pup had nothing, save the clothes on his back, a small pouch of gold, and the crow dagger that he no longer went anywhere without, hidden beneath his clothes at his waist. Rook felt along his bond the entire time he ran, paying no mind to the startled and annoyed faces of the citizens of Ravok as he bumbled his way through the crowd. He could sense Shiress’ panic, and his own flew up to mesh with hers. Though Rook could not know what was happening to his bondmate in detail, the wolf boy could at least sense a chase; a predator seeking prey. It was a feeling far too instinctually driven in Rook for him to not sensr the matter at hand. Frantically, Rook hailed a Ravosala and had only just stepped on it when he felt Shiress’ consciousness leave her. Rook froze in abject terror for a long moment. But no...his bondmate was not dead. The kelvic could still feel her; she was just unconscious. This only brought slight relief, but it was better than nothing. If Shiress was not being murdered, then what? Kidnapped? Who would want to kidnap a slave? And where was Kylar?

“Hey! Slave! You just here to waste my time?” Rook blinked out of his reverie and turned towards the ravosalaman, who was staring at Rook with a look of disgust that wondered what he’d done to have a moron enter his boat.

Rook flicked the man his fare with a quick, deft movement. “The People’s Market,” Rook said simply, seating himself on the edge of the boat. The ravosalaman grumbled, but set his stick into the water and steered the boat down the channel. As they traveled, Rook felt along his bond closely, struggling to swallow his terror and clear his head. As the kelvic had expected, Shiress was moving. But where she had been taken...that was certainly the place to start. Rook couldn't imagine Kylar having let Shiress be taken willingly, and he hoped dearly that when he got there he wouldn't find a platoon of the Guard warding citizens away from Kylar’s mangled corpse. Shiress liked him, after all.

It didn't take Rook long to find the alleyway where his bondmate had been taken. Overturned boxes belied a struggle, and small flecks of blood, almost too light to notice, decorated the walls. Rook leaned over the specks and sniffed at them. It wasn’t Shiress...Rook knew her smell like he knew his own heartbeat. And yet there was something familiar about this scent. Rook pondered a moment, almost seizing it, before it slipped away. If only he had his wolf form. Irritably, Rook pawed at his collar, glowering it as best as he could from his current angle.

“Rook?”

Rook turned towards the familiar voice with a rush of relief. Kylar was thoroughly soaked from head to toe, and breathing heavily. Shadows emanated from every corner of the guard, from his grim unsmiling face to his tense shoulders and on to his fist tightened over his sword. If anger had a face, this was it.

“I felt her get taken,” Rook told Kylar in a rush of word soup. “I ran here a fast as I could, but there wasn't any time. She’s not here, but I can still find her! That's how a bond works, I always know where she is, we just need to go and-”

“She’s still alive?” Kylar asked.

Rook nodded.

The guard grabbed Rook’s shoulder, turned him around, and gave him a light shove towards the alley exit. “Then let’s go get her.”

Shiress continued to stay quiet as Rook followed along their bond. Rook had no sense for what his bondmate was going through, only the direction she was in and the sensation of movement and space between them. The void of emotion and feeling was unsettling. When she slept, Rook could at least feel traces of her reaction to dreams flitting through her subconscious. Now he felt nothing. Still, Rook reminded himself, as long as she was breathing, that was enough. Following closely at Rook’s back was Kylar, completely silent and focused. Rook knew better than to speak to him, even had his worry allowed for it.

When the pair finally found the warehouse, Rook almost walked straight at a group of guards standing warily at the entrance of the place, such was his focus. It was only thanks to Kylar that he didn’t blunder straight into them. The man grabbed Rook’s shoulder and yanked him backwards, all but throwing him behind a building. Rook cleared his head and peered cautiously around the corner. The two guards had keen eyes and were armed with swords, but at a casual glance they did not strike Rook as being as powerful as Kylar was. Still, Rook glanced at the guard for direction. The man’s jaw was working and his eyes were cloudy with thought.

“There could be more inside,” Kylar said.

Rook peered back around the corner. “No windows,” the wolf boy noted.

“We have to play this carefully. If we rush them, they might just kill her. We need to figure out exactly where she is.” The Guard gave Rook a slow, appraising look. “Do you think you can do that, little spy?” The words might have been condescending from anyone else, but there was a slight note of affection in the Guard’s words that was different than the mocking tone that Jessica took so often with Rook. The kelvic felt himself emboldened by it.

Rook gave the warehouse another look. “The walls seem kind of thin,” the wolf boy noted. The warehouse didn't exactly appear to be of the highest quality. In fact, Rook could see materials that had been used for recent repairs, boards, nails, half-hazard stacked wood. “If we get closer maybe I could hear something.”

Kylar nodded. “Worth a try,” he said. “Don’t get caught. If everything goes to shyke, give me a signal. Something loud. Got it? I’ll keep an eye on these guys and make sure they don't go anywhere.”

Rook nodded, and swallowed his nerves. Kylar crouched back behind the wall, and gave Rook a reassuring nod. With a breath, Rook turned from Kylar and followed the shadow of the buildings to circle closer to the warehouse.

The area surrounding the warehouse was oddly quiet. Rook didn't see anyone else in the area aside from the two guards, and they were far too focused on the entrance of the warehouse to pay much attention to a kelvic sneaking around the back. Rook skirted around some scattered debris, before finally making his way to the back of the warehouse. He glanced around quickly, assured himself he was alone, then pressed his ear against the side of the wall.

Rook could hear voices, but they were far too muffled to make out. Was that two voices, or three? Rook frowned with frustration and looked back at the warehouse, this time upwards. Rook could see that the building’s roof had been undergoing repairs; a few half hazard boards had been nailed up there, patching a ruined part. A ladder leaned against the wall. It was risky but...well, what if? Rook studied the roof for a long moment until he was sure that the guards wouldn't be able to see him from there. Then, with a deep breath, the pup grabbed the ladder and scaled up to the top.

The ceiling most certainly must have creaked under Rook’s weight, but as Shiress awoke and began to struggle, the men inside were likely distracted by the commotion. Panic once more surged down the pair’s bond like a wildfire, and adrenaline filled Rook’s veins near to bursting. His concentration distracted, Rook did not pay attention to the position of his feet, and the creak below him became a groan. Before Rook could react, the ceiling under his feet collapsed, and Rook plunged into the warehouse below.

The kelvic boy would fall neatly between Einar and the men ready to kill him as a traitor. With a groan, Rook would force himself to his hands and knees, and his eyes would find Einar’s, and he would stare in dumb belief.

“Belugnir?!” Rook didn't have time to evaluate the situation beyond the appraisal of the blood on his ally’s knife and the still writhing and dying man bleeding out on the floor. In the tick that it took Rook to process, Kylar came charging in the door, sword in hand and death in his eyes. Rook took another tick to find Shiress’ eyes and reassure himself that she was in no imminent danger. Then, instinct overtook the kelvic boy, his need to protect his bondmate filling him with bravado. In the instant of surprise as the pair turned to face the charging Kylar, Rook unleashed a deral growl and charged at the nearest one’s back, sinking his canine sharp teeth into the back of the man’s shoulder. His fingers found his crow dagger, and with an unpracticed hand he sunk it into the man’s thigh.
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A Slave's Ransom (Belugnir)

Postby Shiress on October 22nd, 2018, 5:42 pm

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So, there's two of them.

The clear realization dawned on the befuddled girl just a tick too late. The arm that was poised to strike out at the approaching form was quickly subdued and freed of its weapon, and Shiress was pushed back against the far side of her cage. Drawing in a sharp breath, the Slave readied herself to let loose a barrage of curses and motherly insults at her attacker, but the look on the man's newly unmasked face gave her pause. Clapping her mouth shut, she returned the hard stare with a note of curiosity, but recognition hadn't settled in yet, but the hardened visage was vaguely familiar. Had her brain not just recently been bereft of oxygen, the girl probably would have known him at once.

The man whipped out a blade, whirled, and began attacking his companion. The Slave was thoroughly confused now. It was over near as fast as it had started and the man turned away from the now still and bloodied heap, barreling down on Shiress, bloodstained dagger held aloft. But before Shiress could react, he began sawing at the rope holding her still bound wrist. Was he freeing her? The Slave's face twisted up in a frown of profound confusion, but the sound of new voices stole both her and her captor's attention before she was freed entirely.

As soon as the man turned to confront the two newcomers, recognition struck like a war hammer. Boldly, the girl snatched the end of the collar at the man's neck and jerked. A smooth, red line marked his skin where he had taken a knife wound not 20 days earlier. The very same one that she had stitched closed. Shiress snarled, rivaling that of her Bondmate's.

"You hedge-born son of a petching whore! I saved your cursed life!!" Shiress's words were growled out through tightly clenched teeth, her face turning crimson with rage, but the man had turned his attention to the new arrivals.

Turning her anger toward something more productive, she began pawing at the frayed rope still binding her injured arm. With a gasp of pain, her liberated limb fell useless to her side. Muttering curses, Shiress began fumbling with the ropes at her ankles, eyes flicking up to the three men who now seemed deep into a heated exchange of words. Yes...keep talking she thought, desperately pulling and twisting at the rope.

Something fell from the roof, bringing down splinters of wood and dust in its wake. From the center of the debris-littered floor, a figured staggered upright. A familiar figure.

"Rook!"

The young man hadn't heard her call, because his attention was now entirely on the man who had brought her to this unfortunate predicament. Did he know him? Her musing was cut short with the arrival of yet another familiar face, Kylar, and with him, chaos followed on his heels.

The warehouse erupted in violence, but Shiress had only eyes for her Bondmate. She had caught Rook's gaze, but before the Slave could react, he had released an untamed growl and stormed the closest thug. Shiress said something not ladylike and jerked furiously at her bonds, kicked free her ankles, and lept from the cage, taking off at a run for Rook.

All the Slave could do was watch in mounting horror as Rook pounced on the thug's back, his wolf-like teeth sinking into the flesh of his shoulder even as his dagger sunk into the bastard's thigh. The would-be shock that her Bondmate was armed bypassed Shiress as she watched the man pull Rook over his shoulder and slam his lean body hard to the floor. The looming figure over Rook then aimed a kick at the boy's stomach before slamming a boot against the side of his head. Reaching around, the man jerked the dagger from his thigh, arching it high over Rook's prone form.

Shiress's scream of terror filled rage, and pure helplessness sounded inhuman as it left her lips.

The blade plunged toward her Bondmate's body, but whether or not the blade hit its mark, she didn't know. The Slave slammed into Rook's attacker, sending him staggering backward into the midst of the fighting. Shiress pulled herself to her hands and knees and crawled to her Bondmate, haphazardly grabbing the boys shoulder, and dragging him farther away from the fray.

"Rook, please, please," Shiress begged as frantic fingers brushed back a tangle of auburn hair from the boys face, "gods, please be ok."

Circling the Kelvic on her knees, the girl's shaking hands fumbled at her Bondmate's shirt, desperately hoping not to see a stab wound. Too horrified to look, but too concerned not to, the shirt began to pull away, but a blow to the side of the head sent the Slave reeling sideways away from Rook. A massive fist wound itself into her hair, hauling the girl back to her feet.

Shiress struggled and kicked like a mad cat caught by its scruff until cold steel pressed sharply against her throat, drawing a small bead of blood.

Shiress froze.

A loud, shrill whistle screamed past her ear, bringing the remainder of the battle to a standstill. "Enough!" a male voice bellowed from behind her, "Move so much as another finger and you will be asking yourself what you are fighting for."

The man's emerald gaze shifted to the body laying close to the cage, then slid to Belugnir, and the other two thugs in turn, before settling back on Bel. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Hollister Von Carstein and you my friends have just made a grave mistake."





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A Slave's Ransom (Belugnir)

Postby Belugnir on October 27th, 2018, 6:49 pm

Einar hadn't had a chance to so much as utter a word to the guards who'd abandoned their posts and stormed in at the ruckus Trevor kicked up in his dying moments... when the roof came crashing down. And a kelvic lad came down with it, yet he too stood in the company of the fellow whom Ein recalled shoving off into the lake and who now stormed in through the door.

The odd, brief paralysis of confusion that came to hug the entire warehouse for an instant was broken by the wolf boy of all people, doing something that reminded Einar of his younger self an awful lot, digging tooth and dagger into another man’s flesh, albeit between the woman pulling by the collar of his shirt and yelling bloody murder in recognition, digging him further into a hole, and Kylar overwhelming a guard and shoving them to the side before baring a sword at him, Ein hardly had much time to dwell on things.

Shoving the woman off, as if in a trance, he had just barely come out of the cage before having to nearly dive to the side, barely containing himself to a hasty sidestep, to avoid being skewered by Kylar. It felt as if the isolation of Sahova came back to press upon him, making the chance involvement with this many people seem… surreal.

Thankfully, as Kylar brought his momentum to a stop, Ein had the wits and the opening to grab the man by his wrists, abandoning Trevor’s bloodied dagger, and pulling to slam the swordsman’s knuckles into the bars of iron behind himself, hoping it would be enough to force the sword out of his hands. At that point he could only spare the edge of his sight to notice the woman bolting out of her cage after the kelvic boy who may as well have had met his death by the time.

In the brief chaos that ensued, Ein found himself wholly occupied with trading blow for blow with Kylar whom he’d just barely managed to disarm after bashing the fellow’s hands against the cage some good four times. Though when he’d attempted to pull the slave’s bodyguard in and dash his head against the iron bars, he found himself on the receiving end of a kick that struck the back of his knee, making him buckle, and introducing the two to a messy exchange of close range elbow and knee jabs… then came Hollister’s introduction. And the lot within the room turned their heads toward him, holding a knife to the woman’s throat.

Shiress’ bondmate would be at the very least saved from receiving a stab wound, if not by fate or the slave girl, then by the bone-scraping bite that he’d delivered to the thug’s shoulder, which would have loosened the man’s grip, and, along with the fact that he’d just pulled a dagger from his own thigh, ruined most of his sensible coordination.

With the other thug getting up, having been briefly put out of commission after being jumped and receiving a pommel strike to the side of the head from Kylar as he’d barged in, the odds certainly took a grim turn for the pair of saviors.

Especially once Einar decided to exploit the tense interruption to deliver his knee to Kylar’s loins and his elbow to the back of the man’s head afterward, before Kylar himself could have decided to do the same. From there he’d shoved the man off to the floor, and soon enough Rook and Kylar would be thoroughly trashed, bound up and hauled to be seated by a stack of crates opposite of where Hollister stood holding a knife to the girl’s throat.

Then the two thugs and the man who employed them would turn their attention to their newest kidnapper. Van Carstein glanced over to where Trevor’s still body laid, before giving Einar a gloomy look, jerking the girl he held back to emphasize just how easily he could do as he pleased with her.

‘’Explain.’’, the plain request came before any of his colleague’s accusations could have been groveled out.

‘’Explain what?’’, Einar snorted. ‘’I brought your bitch like you asked, and the moment I turned my head, that impotent twat was in her cage, getting himself smacked across the head. Then he pulled a knife to gut your ransom, I try to stop him, he does like a rabid petching hound and tries to gut me in return. So he got a knife under his ugly gob.’’

‘’That so?’’, Hollister mused.

‘’Bloody rat was cutting the woman’s bonds when we came in! Bastard was squaring up to fight us too!’’, one of the thugs protested.

‘’I was cutting her bonds to put shackles on her, ye daft twat.’’, Einar retorted with barely a moment’s hesitation. ‘’And I squared up for a fight ‘cause I know you dense nordlings will jump at any excuse to gut me just ‘cause I’ve not crawled out of me ma’s cunt under the same ounce of sky as you did.’’

A moment of silence ensued, before Kylar, furious, jerking at his bonds, growled through grit teeth at the man who apparently stood at trial, trying to prove himself loyal.

‘’Filthy bastard. It wasn’t a month ago we saved your li—‘’, he was interrupted ahead of finishing what he had to say. Receiving a knee to the cheek from Einar.

This drew a peculiar look from Hollister, to which the other thug, the one who’d just finished binding his wounded thigh, went to give his due of words.

‘’Aye, sir, the woman hollered something about saving this bastard’s life too… and the runt over there called him by name.’’

‘’You know these people?’’, Hollister inquired, doubt renewed in him.

At this point Ein’s jaw could be seen clenching, mouth thinning sideways and his eyes narrowing into a frowned, squinting glare toward all of the three men whom he was meant to work with tonight.

‘’And what if I do fuckin’ know them? You’ve still got your bitch and you’ve got one impossibly incompetent bastard less to pay, two if that twat over there gets a fester and dies off.’’

‘’I will bloody gut you, southern whoreson… They followed you here!’’, the wounded thug pointed toward Rook and Kylar after raising a threatening fist toward Einar.

‘’Nobody cockin’ followed me, you numb-skull. I double checked every corner behind me coming here.’’, he stopped to draw in an annoyed breath. ‘’If you cockwits had done your job properly and guarded the bleedin’ entrance, gods forbid, had you picked some place that wasn’t as bloody obvious as the first abandoned warehouse by the dockside, they wouldn’t have figured a way here and we wouldn’t have an extra two bodies on our hands.’’, the glare he’d given Rook and Kylar would be horrifying on the best of days.

‘’You’re awful talkative for a bugger who’s nothing to hide.’’, the first thug pointed out. ‘’Sweatin’ an awful lot too.’’

‘’I’m sweating an awful lot ‘cause I’ve had to do both yours and that twat Trevor’s work for you.’’, Ein mocked. ‘’Only thing you’ve accomplished tonight is being bashed in the head by this twit over here.’’, he gave Kylar a kick to the thigh. ‘’And you’’, he’d turned to the wounded whoreson. ‘’You almost managed to get yesself killed by a bloody child, barely got the better of the little bugger, too. So stop shyking on the end of me prick and sod off. I’ve done my sodding job and most of yours.’’

Silence settled into the room.

‘’The man seems to have a point.’’, Hollister finally spoke, giving a meaningful, rebuking look to the two thugs who were meant to guard the warehouse. ‘’Frankly, I am tempted to start liking him over the two of you.’’

‘’You don’t like men like me. You pay men like me to get your shyke done.’’, Ein retorted, feisty, yet at this point visibly winded from the evening’s trials. ‘’Speaking of.’’, he presented a hand, beckoning for coin.

''All in due time.'',Hollister paused, giving a glance over to his two fuming, brooding henchmen, before pulling the girl’s head back an ounce again. ‘’Are we certain he got us the right gal?’’

The thugs exchanged a glance, taking a moment to inspect the woman their boss held at knife’s point.

‘’Aye. That’s Caldera’s bitch.’’, the wounded thug confirmed before giving Kylar a closer look as well. ‘’This prick looks mighty like Trevor described too.’’

''Good.''
Hollister said nothing more, frankly, outright forgetting Einar’s request for payment. A wicked smile flashed across his features, abandoning whatever composure he held onto previously. And then in place of the knife he held to Shiress’ neck came the choking grasp of his hand, lifting her off her feet, letting her linger in the air for but a moment, before slamming her into a stack of crates and letting her fall to her side. Then he would present a ferocious kick to the soft of the girl’s belly, and once she’d come to curl up in response, he would step onto the side of her head, digging the heel of his boot into her cheek, ever so slowly rubbing it into her teeth.

‘’I am not going to kill you.’’, he mused with horrid, repressed wickedness rearing its ugly head. His foot would leave the woman’s cheek to shove at her previously injured shoulder, rolling her over onto her back, before pressing the sole of his boot upon the girl’s lips. ‘’No… what I want is for Caldera’s spawn to taste the dirt off my feet the next time he slides his tongue into your cunt mouth.’’

For a moment he turned to the thug closest to the bound pair and instructed him to unsheathe a knife.

''Want me to off them, boss?'', the man was almost gleeful at a chance to reestablish his own claim to usefulness, if by killing one of the captives.

''Oh, no, no. They'll get to watch.'', Hollister's eyes settled back down on Shiress. ‘’Now you be a good girl, open up, and clean my boots to a shine with your own tongue... Or we’ll slice out one of your friends' for me to use as a handkerchief.’’, toward the end, the man was practically hissing his words out, seething with hatred.

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A Slave's Ransom (Belugnir)

Postby Rook on November 2nd, 2018, 9:00 pm

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Blood seeped into Rook's mouth, across his teeth, and down his throat, turning the rumble of his growl wet. The stab had been more of an afterthought. If he had the dagger than why not use it? The blade found the man's thigh but did not sink into his leg terribly deep. Rook was not experienced enough with his blade to know the sweet spot to sink the weapon into, even if he had been acting on something other than instinct.

The man let out a cry of pain and rage, and before Rook had a chance to react, he was off his feet, and he could feel the momentum of his body carrying him up and over until his back slammed against the floor. Rook gasped out in surprise and pain, and felt the air catch in his chest as the wind was knocked out of him. Sharp cracks of pain ripped through Rook's body at the blow to his stomach and head, and he felt the sudden, desperate rise of terror through his bond, followed swiftly by a scream.

The blade wielded by Rook's foe, however, did not bury itself in the kelvic boy's stomach. Despite the man's murderous intent, the grip on his blade was weak, and he had barely moved half to distance to impale the red haired pup before he had dropped the weapon with a furious curse. Still gasping from his beating, Rook watched as he bondmate slammed into his attacker and dove straight at the kelvic, pulling him away from the brawl. Shiress’ fear and desperation pounded at Rook's temples, and through his breathlessness he managed to gasp out a few words. “I'm...fine,” he told her, sending waves of reassurances in place of the words he had no breath to find.

The reassurances did not have much time to reach Shiress before she was hauled backwards. Rook let out a cry of anger scrambled upwards, freezing as he saw the knife against Shiress’ neck. For a moment there was silence, with only Rook's frenzied breathing cutting a path through it. A glance disassembled the rest of the scene before Rook, where the violence before had been the only thing Rook had been capable of noticing. Belugnir had… fought Kylar? Wait what? Rook was still too lacking of wind to find words, but the look he gave his mercenary friend was one of utter confusion and disbelief. And then, he was seized from behind and bound up, still reeling from injury and and dismay that was slowly working its way towards betrayal.

By the time Rook had been properly trussed and shoved beside Kylar, he had found it. The name of the man holding a knife to the throat of Rook's bondmate meant nothing to him, but he listened intently to the back and forth between the mercenary had considered to be his ally, a man who he had literally braved noxious gases alongside, who he had protected and who had protected him in turn. Of the handful of people Rook had formed connections with since his transferral of ownership to Jessica, and since his life had been so suddenly an abruptly changed, Shiress was the only person that Rook liked and trusted more than the grumpy and sharp tongued mercenary. Kylar had been growing on Rook slowly, but there was something about trudging through a death trap alongside someone that made a friendship more firm; or at least so Rook had thought. As he watched the conversation flare up between Belugnir and then armed men, a spectrum of emotions flashed across Rook's face, hurt and shock being the most prevalent ones.

What was going on here? Rook knew certainly that Belugnir did unsavory works for cash. That was the man's work, and Rook had no reason to begrudge him for it when the legally mandated things that the Ebonstryfe did were far worse than the endeavors of a single man with a polearm. But Rook had thought that whatever friendship the pair had would be enough to change the man's loyalty. He had thought that was what the man was doing when he had seen the blood on his knife from the man whose throat he had slit. But the words that came out of Bel's mouth and the man's actions thus far contradicted it.

Rook swallowed the hurt and betrayal that swam in Rook's head, threatening to burst forth and forced himself to think. There were two possibilities here. The first was that the mercenary had indeed betrayed him. That coin had won out to loyalty. And if that were the case, then he, Shiress and Kylar were in thoroughly deep shyke.

And the second? Well Rook had done it himself at least once, so he couldn't help but acknowledge the possibility. A bluff. A double (or was it a triple?) cross in the works. Rook realized uneasily that either way his actions wouldn't change much. At the moment, he was at these men, or more importantly, Belugnir's mercy. And if it was a bluff, Rook could not let these men know it.

“You're a God's damned traitor!” Rook howled from his position bound on the floor, fueling his anger and hurt into his words. “Did our work in that mine mean nothing to you?!” Rook had no idea how to convey the possibility that there was a chance, however slim, that the mercenary might still be their friend to Shiress. Conveying it to Kylar was even more impossible. Rook could only hope he could explain if it came to that.

When Shiress was struck and degraded, Rook snarled once more in a rage that had no air of deception to it. His tied and prone form sprawled out on the ground, and one of the guards delivered a sharp kick to his back before dragging him back beside Kylar.
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