We had given up hope of ever finding our quarry and set our goals so low as to be satisfied with merely making it out of the wilderness alive, no small feat considering the local goblinoids and other fell creatures we found ourselves having to constantly evade. When we thought our cause was lost, though, on a rainy day we encountered a wide trail comprised of several dozen pairs of feet, walking together with little organization and hauling heavy carts behind them, the mud ready to sweep them away within hours. (Although I could see the prints and wagon marks blazing the trail across the rain-drenched ground, I had to take Twollas’ word at the details, as his methods for divining the trail’s mysteries were beyond my understanding.) Coming from the lake shore and plunging westward, deeper into the goblin-held regions of the Warder Hills, it seemed there could be little else in this forsaken region that would likely be laden so heavily and also be coming from roughly where Twollas estimated our prey would have landed, given the information we had of their travels. And so it was that, instead of heading back towards civilization, we followed the tracks before the rain hungrily ate them.
When the rain stopped hours after the sun fell, we stopped to make camp. Twollas busied himself with provisioning us with more game so we would have the strength to continue our pursuit come the morn, but I must admit I was too exhausted and wet to care about food at the time. As soon as my bedroll was unwound upon the relatively dry ground amongst the tangle of a dead tree’s giant roots, my world went black with slumber. I cannot be sure of what happened after that, as everything was a muddle of flashes in the moonlight and tumbling about in darkness. I recall being grabbed roughly, dragged across the ground, and spinning about with the small hands upon me constantly changing place. Child-like voices hissed and chirped in a strange, frightening tongue all about me. Before I could overcome my confusion and terror, I believe my head struck a rock or the like as I was being dragged, because the darkness returned and I remember nothing else before awakening.
When my eyes painfully opened again, it was to view the poorly lit cavern within which I had somehow been dragged. My hands were tied by thick rope through a hole in a nearby stalagmite, although they were thankfully not also bound together. I lay there in near complete darkness for I know not how long, although I can certainly say it was long enough for the seconds, minutes, and hours to seem indiscernible. I even learned to ignore the ceaseless howling of my stomach, relegating it to nothing more than a constant reminder that I still lived. Both my horrifying tedium and hunger were finally broken when one of my jailers finally entered the rocky chamber through its sole access point: a rough portal several feet above the ground opposite me (what lay in the darkness beyond it’s yawning vulgarity I could not say.) Struggling to pull a bucket that was nearly as tall as itself, in came a diminutive, reptilian creature I recognized as a kobold from drawings I had seen during my studies.
The creature seemed like some nightmarish, wingless cross between a dragon and human child. It wore a simple sackcloth shift tied about it with a rope belt, through which was thrust a rusted dagger worn like a sword upon its small frame. I first noticed its presence by the seeming glow of it eyes as it entered, as what little light was to be found in the cavern due to sparse patches of fluorescent fungi was caught and reflected in its malice-filled eyes. It pulled the bucket up before me, just out of reach and then stepped around behind it so that it could push the bucket the rest of the way. When the bucket was near enough for my fingers to grab hold and pull it near, my nose was assaulted by the most disgusting scent I have ever been subjected to thanks to its contents being disturbed by its sloshing about–worse even than the stink of Monvas’ putrid streets! To my continuing horror, the vile creature began to motion repeatedly to its mouth, at which point it dawned on me this foul brew was meant to be my meal!
For days I refused to eat the swill, which was dutifully brought every day by the same wretched creature. Inevitably, my hunger betrayed me and I was forced to eat. Starving though I was, I wretched up the mix of I-know-not-what several times before I could keep it down. Thus have my days gone for — weeks? I know not for certain and can only guess while contained in a world without the sun. I cannot even say why these beasts continue to keep me alive and feed me. There must be some as yet unspoken purpose to it. They have even denied me my journal, but I have kept myself from going mad by scrawling my notes on strips of worn sackcloth I have found in the chamber, using a piece of charcoal dropped by my jailer to write with and what little light there is to see by. I can only hope to one day be afforded the opportunity to properly transcribe these rough memories into my journal.
Truly, I do not know how long I can go on like this.
© 2012, The SpirosBlaak Chronicles. Misfit Studios. All rights reserved.