The almost incessant hammering on the wooden planks, which formed the door, roused Fitlock Haguana from his drunken stupor. He cast his blurred vision around the remains of the office he had started to destroy in a fit of rage which had been directed at the world. Why had that boy felt the need to come and ruin everything he had built? Once the reports had started coming in telling of the total annihilation which had been wrought upon Strathnave, Haguana knew his business was finished. He was never to get his family back and the Lavashians who had wrested control of the Durana Trading Company in order to peddle their filthy drugs would eventually arrive to kill him too.
It would appear as if the latter was about to happen now, Haguana thought, as the hammering on his door continued. Haguana was about to answer the door when the thought struck him, why should he? Let the foreigners smash the wood in if they were so desperate to spill his blood.
“Come and get me then, you wide-eyed, Lavashian scum!” He shouted at the door before downing another huge gulp of spirit. Haguana looked at the quarter of a bottle which remained, a plan forming in his mind and he threw it across the room to smash against the door. A single lantern, burned low now, sat on the desk Haguana’s feet were propped against and he leaned wearily forward to grab the hot metal, cursing as he launched it at the vaporizing liquid. After a loud ‘whump’, flames licked up the wood of the door, eating at the tinder dry wood and paper strewn around the floor and taking hold of the building’s structure with sickening speed.
The screams from outside barely even registered as Haguana watched the fire eating through his smashed office. Odd, he thought, how his drunken mind could convince him these were the voices of his wife and daughters. Male voices added to the cacophony without and Haguana caught the hiss of water as buckets were filled and emptied on the conflagration.
Even though his intention had been to slip into death, fear of the flames and his drunken state conspired against him and he jumped up, making a desperate leap for the one window which was not currently engulfed in orange flame. He barreled through the glass, suffering numerous cuts to his face and hands before slamming into the cobbled street outside.
“Fitlock!” Jocinta Haguana screamed as she saw the drunken form of her husband explode from the building, surrounded by shimmering shards of broken glass.
“Jocinta?” Haguana twisted around to try to see if his wife had actually returned to him. Hope and happiness bloomed in his chest as he caught sight of the woman he had known since they were children, “Jocinta, is it really you?” Many of the effects of the alcohol had been burned away by his adrenaline fueled jump through the window yet his eyes remained blurred. Someone collided with him as he tried to rise, knocking them both back to the floor and Haguana felt panic rising for a second until he realized this was his wife, returned to him through some miracle.
“How?” Fitlock managed to through the floods of grateful tears. Jocinta drew back and looked deeply into the eyes of the man she loved,
“Have you ever met a young man called Gremlaw?” She asked as Della and Matra nearly dove upon both their parents in the street. Haguana grabbed for them, trying to hold on to all three so they could never be taken from him again, “He helped us escape.” Jocinta added as she was happily crushed against her husband’s chest.
Emperor Haz-Tchin-Kavash almost smiled at Gremlaw’s audacious request,
“You have an unusual sense of humor for someone who is about to be reduced to a mindless wreck.” Gremlaw allowed his shackled wrists to fall back down as the Emperor’s words hit him. “I have access to a woman who has become an expert in the art of drawing secrets from the minds of my enemies.” Kavash told him, “I am reliably assured it is a violating process, terrifically painful and ultimately damaging to the mind of the victim.” Gremlaw tried to swallow his fear as the Emperor stated this in an almost conversational tone of voice. The Emperor of Lavash clicked his fingers once which summoned two fully armed guards, one to either side of Gremlaw. “I will not pretend I have regrets in taking this decision,” he added, “You forfeited your life as soon as you entered my Empire and I will know all your secrets,” Kavash looked deeply into Gremlaw’s eyes, “If you have any.” He made a dismissive gesture with one hand and the two guards dragged Gremlaw away.
Fifteen minutes later, Gremlaw had been securely chained to a thick wooden table in a dimly lit room. His arms and legs were immobile and he could see nothing save for the unadorned walls and ceiling of the cell. He had been left here to await whatever fate this woman was about to inflict on him and a bitterness spread through his psyche. What would happen to his mother now he had failed in the task set by DeLarouge? Surely she would be looked after considering the lengths he had actually gone to?
Footsteps, light and quick, disturbed Gremlaw’s thoughts and he had to fight the urge to call out to whoever approached. A hooded figure appeared in the semi darkness and stood at his side, reaching a long-fingered hand towards his forehead. What happens next to Gremlaw? Please return to the top of the page to vote on what happens next!