Saturday, August 2, 2014

I am Nobody

The large man walked across the floor of the dungeon inspecting the new arrival of slaves.  Calling this brute a 'man' is a loose definition of the word.  The closest resemblance to a man would have been a silhouette in a dark alley, but of course no one who met this creature in a dark alley has survived to tell.
He stood close to seven feet, hulking frame, with arms as thick as tree trunks.  this is where his resemblance to a man ends.  His head was almost completely covered in fur, with a thick coarse mane in braids hanging down his back and shoulders.  a pig snout where his nose should me and a large mouth full of wicked fangs.
The prisoners stood in a row in manacles linked to one another with chains.  There was a mix of seventeen men, women, and children.  New acquisitions from purchases, and recent captured and conscripted into the enslavement of Lord Maulderon, the self-proclaimed ruler of the Soviet lands.
Upon inspection the brute can tell the purchased slaves from the ones recently captured.  Most of the humans appeared beaten, the light in their eyes and defeat in their shoulders worn like a uniform of profession.  Then there was the handful that had fight in them, defiance in their face, though deep down they knew, once a slave of Maulderon they only true escape is death.
Making its way down the row, occasionally sniffing the air around one child, with a grunt from its snout, as if ready to pick a meal for dinner, the creature paused at the end of the line in front of a middle-aged man.  The man was an obvious recent purchase from a slaver named Jaundus.  Jaundus was known to break in his stock before putting them up for auction.  Even still Maulderon had his own ideas of breaking in his property.
The brute stood for a few seconds inspecting the cowering figure.  Although the man was used to ‘monsters’ this was his first time in the presence of a literal one.  He kept his gaze to the ground, not daring to look the slave master in the eyes, in fear of something worse than death.  So many rumors fly around about these beasts, these ‘trolls’ are feared to possess powers besides their inhuman strength, that can cause absolute pain with one look, another that they can snatch away the soul and drink it up like fine ale.
The brute arm unexpectedly shot up and grabbed the man by the back of the head forcing him to stare at his large eyes.  A bit of drool dripped down a slivered across the man's cheek, he made no indication of wiping it away.
The man’s eyes were wide open the fear was palpable.  A smile played across the creatures face, so large it was all the man can see.  With a deep guttural sound, the creature spoke.
“Who are you.” it said very low and very deliberate, but can still be heard clearly by the last man at the end of this absurd chain gain.
The little man did not speak up at first, paralyzed by the terror the creature wrought.
When the creature did not get its response in time, he yanked harder on the man’s hair causing him to squeak in pain as a chuck near the base of his neck was torn from the scalp.
Before the creature could yank again the man spoke up.
“H-h-Henry…” the word was out before the man realized the mistake he made.
The creature, with its other hand. slapped the man across the face.  Hard enough to crack some bone, but not enough to kill.
The man now slipping in and out of conscience dangled by the creature's grip on his hair.  He was aware enough to respond to the beast, though.
“I….am...nobody.” he said in an inaudible whisper.
The beast released him causing the man to quickly slipped to the ground, almost taking his neighbor with him.  But the boy stood his ground and did not allow the semi-unconscious man to drag him down.
Now standing in front of the kid, the creature looked into the kid’s eyes.  The child did not look away in fear of being grabbed slapped by the creature.
The beast proceeded to ask the bot the same question.
“Who are you.”
The boy responded without hesitation, “I am nobody.” then looked away.
The creature moved to the next person.  A pretty young woman with auburn hair.  Although very afraid it was apparent that she was a recent capture rather than a broke in slave.  She stood at five feet and two inches, rosy cheeks, and were a powder blue tunic.  She was dressed for travel, but one can tell that during her capture the dress was torn and sullied by being knocked to the ground before clamped in chains.
The creature raised its hand as if to strike her, but instead it caressed the woman’s cheek, causing fresh tears to stream across her face.  He paused seemingly to delight in that, then firmly grasped her face engulfing it with one hand and forced her to make eye contact.  For the subtlest of seconds the creature gave pause when he gazed into the woman’s piercing green eyes.  But quickly overcame the hypnotic hold and asked her the foreboding question.
“Who are you?”
The woman reflexively tried to lower her head from fear, from distaste, but the creature’s grip was too strong, she can only break eye contact by quickly looking away, but being so close to the beasts face her eyes once again locked with his.
Behind those eyes the creature can see the defiance, it can tell the girl was not used to being treated this way, that may be at one point no one would dare to talk down to her let alone handle her in such a manner.  He took delight in this, and took delight in the knowledge that he will be breaking her in personally that evening in private, to satisfied that animalistic need.
The young woman seemed to have sensed this as she let loose her bladder, further exciting this monster from the smell of fresh urine.  His grip tightened, threatened to mar the beauty this face beheld.
“I am nobody.” she quickly whispered, following the queue of the other two slaves already accosted by the same query.
The beast, satisfied, leaned in to get a closer scent of this woman, so pure and fresh, and just when it seemed that he was going to further humiliate by licking her face, he released her face where she collapsed to her knees sobbing.
The man at the very end watched as the woman cried, feeling helpless.  He watched as the creature moved to one prisoner after another, repeating the same question.  The air of fear grew thicker, slowly becoming terror as the beast moved closer.  
Finally standing within proximity of this terrifying beast, listened as the creature asked the man beside him that same question, his mind raced about what he needed to do.  All seemed to be lost, across the hall he can see his weapons,  a sword, to fighting hatches, and a belt of throwing knives haphazardly piled with the belongings of the other captures.  Looking down at his manacles, tightly screwed in place, it would take a blacksmiths wrench to remove these.  On top of that his movement was limited being so closely chained to the man to his right.
He was quickly broken out of his trance as the beast towered over him, the heat of its breath almost stung the man’s cheek.  He did not dare to look up.  The creature move down a bit to ask his question.
“Who are you?”
After a slight pause the creature moved to grab at the man’s head but paused when the man mumbled something, too low to hear.
The creature moved in closer.  The man before him was a little over six feet, well built, with a head of thick black hair.  The creature was going to enjoy breaking this one in as well.
He asked one more time.
“Who are you?”
The man slowly looked up, his eyes caught a yellow jewel the size of a baby's fist dangling from a string around the creature's neck. The man then locked eyes with the creature and responded
“My name is Varlain Ellox, but my friends call me ‘Vox’” he said with a defiant smile.
Outrage immediately spread across the creature's face, but before it can respond, the man quickly leapt up and slammed his head into the creature's left eye full force.
Caught off guard the creature arched back howling in pain.  The sound so great it filled the chamber with a roar that rattled chains and doors.  
The man did not get that lick in without consequence, his head throbbed and consciences threaten to allude him.  But for his life and the woman with the auburn hair, he held on.
During the scuffle unbeknownst to the creature, Vox had grabbed the jewel from the brute's neck.  As shock quickly wore off the surrounding guards, Vox dropped to his knees and called out to the woman.
“Pixie catch.” he said as he gambled and slid the jewel down the line of chained slaves.
While the jewel slid across the towers floor, the guards, now composed, moved in, and the beast recovering from the unexpected blow crouched to leap at Vox.
Pixie watched in horror, still on her knees she almost missed the gem flying at her.  at the last possible second she slammed down on the frayed end of the string it was tied to causing the jewel to stop suddenly.  She then yanked it toward her and grasped it in her hands.
Vox looking from Pixie to the approaching men almost lost it when the gem just about past his companion by.  As she grasped it at the last second, them guards converged on him and the creature took flight.
Pixie bowed her head to her hands, still clasping the jewel, said a quick prayer.
Just then the manacles dropped away from the prisoners.
Without out missing a beat, and before his first magical hit the ground, Vox rolled to his left, leaving the guards to attack empty space, followed by an angry troll plowing into the well armed men.
The creature quickly regained his composure as he spun around in time to see Vox dive into the prisoner's belongings.  Although he was clear across the room the creature made it with is in two simple strides.
Vox was already at his feet sword in his right hand, a hatchet in the left.
The creature leaped the remaining six feet as Vox rolled away with ease, but not before he buried the hatchet into the troll’s left shoulder.
Now behind the troll, Vox stood with his back to the guards regaining their own wits, facing the creature as it turned ignoring the small axe dangling from its flesh.
It stood there breathing heavy and crouched to leap at Vox a third time.
Meanwhile two of the guards managed to get within striking distance from Vox, as they raised their weapons, Vox spun around so swiftly that all they observe was a blur of a man.  Shocked they turned to look at each other, swords still raise, guts painting the floor beneath them.  
Vox was already facing the creature in flight, oblivious to the men behind him falling to the ground.  As the creature flew close, Vox waited until the stink of its breath filled his nostrils, and sidestepped.
As he did so he nudged the large creature enough to slightly change its trajectory, into the remaining three guards, causing the guards and creature alike to careen into the wall scattering the slaves that were standing in front of it.
During the scuffle a guard at the end of the hall witnessed Vox in action, instead of risking getting skewed by the man, he turned toward a large wooden door that he was ‘guarding’.
The door consisted of a thick oak wood reinforced with iron.  Not unlike the door that protected the out gates of a castle, but this one kept in something even worse than the troll slave master.  
As the men and beast tried to contain the loosed prisoner, the guard yanked on a lever that caused a series of weights and pulley to raise the large oak and iron door.  Once he set that in motion he darted down the hall in the opposite direction of the battle at hand, not wanting to witness what came next.
Vox spun in time to see the troll once again regain his momentum and crouched to strike again.  Each blow was taking a lot out of him, and this creature was not stupid, he will get a strike in sooner than later, and its attack would be fatal.
Suddenly a howl from the end of the tower; shall cause not only Vox to pause, but the troll as well.  Vox watched as fear moved across the troll’s face when recognition filled its eyes at the source of the piercing howl.
Vox knew that anything that would scare that troll would be something not to be trifled with.  Before he can wonder what it was a quite large four-legged beast came barreling around the corner at the end of the hall.
Vox immediately recognized it, not from personally witnessing it, but from stories of the great Lornok hunt.  hundreds of men would go out into the wilderness to hunt this mythical creature, only a handful would return, so the story goes.
There it stood, best can be described as resembling a rhino, of sorts.  It was four times larger though, instead of two horns, it had several across its head.  Along with its impenetrable hide it contained razor sharp spikes across its back and sides.  
The creature was completely untrainable, it did not respond to anyone and attacks indiscriminately.  It was long rumored that Lord Maurdoon had captured one to let loose in the instance of losing his castle to an opposing army, but against this creature there were no winners.
Then it charged.  Slowly at first, but quickly picked up speed, it will overtake them in milliseconds, the remaining guards and troll were already running.  
“Pixie NOW!!!!” Vox called out.
Pixie, still on her knees, trembling said another prayer.
The creature barreled down on them and just before it could crush the first slave, all seventeen of the prisoners lifted off the ground, hovering harmlessly above the beast as it barreled by crushing anyone that got in its way, and eviscerating those that managed to stand aside with its side spikes.
Vox shot upwards turning from the scene below to witness the stone ceiling rush at him.  However before he was crushed by the hard place, he stopped suddenly.  When he opened his eyes he saw that his nose was a half of an inch from getting crushed.
An echo of shouts caught his attention.  They were not out of the woods yet, from where the Lornock beast came from a good two dozen men armed with swords and arrows moved in.
Vox looked to Pixie, but her eyes were closed, lips quickly moving.  
Pixie said a prayer to tether the floating prisoners to the lornock, before she can open her eyes to see if it worked, all seventeen of them were violently yanked into the direction the four-legged beast was heading.
It must have been quite a spectacle, for the newcomers below stopped suddenly to witness this comical scene of seventeen men women and children flying away.
Vox, floating helplessly above the Lornock, did the only thing he can do; enjoy the ride.  Grinning like a boy riding his first horse, he watched as the beast trampled through guards and laughed at the troll running for his life just before the lornock overtook it, leaving nothing but a trail of red goo in its wake.
The smile quickly disappeared as he spotted the castle’s outer wall as the beast headed straight for it free of hesitation.  It was well known that once enraged, a lornock would run itself to exhaustion, even over a cliff to its death.  The beast was strong, but even it was no match for a twelve foot thick stone wall.  Which meant that if it crashed head first into it, they will be carried into the structure by share momentum quickly ending this great escape by painting the stones red.
It was all Vox can do but watch in horror as the rock met the hard place and the lornock was knocked out by the force of impact.  Despite the thickness of the wall though, it did not come out of it unscathed, for what Vox thought was the last thing he would witness was the humongous dent the beast left in the great wall.
However before the gang of flying prisoners met the same fate, instead of flying straight into the wall the angled upwards and floated harmlessly over.
Vox smiled envisioning a praying Pixie as the prisoners drifted into the safety of the surrounding forest.


Vox and Pixie retrieved the rest of their belongings where they managed to stow them before getting outnumbered by the slavers.  Together they continued on their original journey south, now in the company of the fifteen men, women, and children recently freed from slavery.

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