Seventeen Years Ago:
“This is a waste of time,” Draygan growled. The dim fire glinted dully off his subtly patterned, scale-like skin as his black hair splayed over his bare arms. “One name, Tharib. One word.” He limped about the fire and glowered at the prisoner held in the iron grip of two of his Maligents.
The man glared back, panting through clenched teeth, sweat and blood streaking his face in the stark moonlight.
Draygan hefted his barbed flail from one hand to the other as he leaned close. “Where. Are. Lysander. And. His. Family. Lodging.”
|Tharib; picture from Pinterest|
The Auloran didn’t reply.
Draygan whipped his flail over his head, sending the weighted ends slashing across the man’s chest. Tharib gasped as he buckled forward, only keeping his feet because of the tight grasp of his captors.
The firelight sparked off the red flecks in Draygan’s eyes as he crossed his arms, waiting.
“You can’t win.” The man raised his head, his lips tight but his eyes defiant. “You’ll never win. The Prince has already defeated you.”
“Then why are you here?” The red flashed in Draygan’s eyes and he snarled out the words as he struck at the prisoner again. And a third time. “Why hasn’t He saved you from me?”
“He already has,” Tharib gritted his teeth. “The worst you can do is kill me.”
“Indeed?” Dragyan sneered. “Saved you from what? That will be the question soon. Doubt will replace the faith in your land. And if the people don’t call to Him for aid, then what aid will He be able to send, I wonder?”
The prisoner’s jaw clenched. “You have no power over the faith of the Prince’s people.”
“And you, Tharib, have very little understanding. Surely you’ve heard of the new interpretations on your sacred Declarations.” Draygan leaned close, hissing out the words. “Surely you know the implications of what they say. Your precious accounts of that ancient history will vanish. And without them the Prince will be nothing more than a legend to your children. Which brings be back to our purpose here.” He straightened, twisting the flail in his hands. “Children…or rather, your son. You seem to think you can bear any pain we inflict…doubtful, really, but I haven’t the time tonight to test the theory. The real question is, could your son bear as much as you?”
Tharib clenched his jaw.
A footstep whispered from the shadows beyond the small hollow and another Maligent appeared. Draygan glanced toward him, and the Maligent nodded.
“Shall we fetch him?” Draygan questioned, turning back to his prisoner. “Your Havrain is what…ten? Eleven? He’s sleeping not far from here, I believe, but it would be a pity to wake him for no reason.”
The man gritted his teeth. “You don’t know where he is.”
“No?” Draygan beckoned to his scout and the Maligent tossed him a pendant. “How about the lad in a small dwelling a league away?” Draygan dangled the medallion from the chain before Tharib’s face. “The place we found this? Think carefully, because I assure you, if we are forced to take the trouble of bringing him here, your Havrain will face the lash whether you speak or no.”
Even in the darkness, the man’s face paled and he grunted, jerking against his captors.
Draygan bent closer, his eyes burning. “Where is the Captain camping this evening?”
Tharib closed his eyes and bowed his head, breathing heavily through clenched teeth.
“The Captain!” Draygan demanded, catching the prisoner’s hair and jerking his head back up. “Or shall we fetch your son?”
“No…” The man’s voice broke and he let out a low groan.
Draygan tightened his hold. “Lie to me, and we’ll kill your son before your eyes.”
“By the Gihon.” Tharib’s voice was barely a whisper. “Where the Blackwood and the river meet.”
Draygan’s eyes glittered as he stepped back and sheathed his flail. “Thank you, Tharib.” He considered the man thoughtfully then nodded to himself. “Bind him and leave him for the beasts,” he ordered, turning away. “Then meet me with the others. I have an oath to fulfill.”