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In the previous episode, Gremlaw overcame a Lost Ancestor and took the keys to the gate. The area behind the gate was divided into a few sections and he began searching for whoever was in here. The first two room-like sections were empty but Gremlaw’s heart nearly stopped in his chest when he looked into the third cell and saw Huleta and Neevis.
Two rumpled forms lay entwined on the floor of the cold dank cell. Both people had tried to get as far into the corner as possible and as far away from the slop bucket. Gremlaw made his silent way across to the pair who, he could just make out in the faint light, trembled at his presence. Swallowing hard and with one hand on the hilt of his dagger the half crouched, shadowy figure whispered in Trathlainian,
Two eyes snapped open to regard him suspiciously as Gremlaw fell forward to his knees, grasping at both his wife and daughter. He stared into the eyes he had known for most of his life as their outlines blurred. A flurry of conflicting emotions crashed through Gremlaw like waves breaking on a beach. Overwhelming relief at finding them was shadowed by a twinge of doubt at how he would get them to safety. Pity at their awful, depraved conditions was tempered by a near-mindless fury against the scum who had done this to them.
“Grem?” Huleta’s voice sounded as if she were sorely in need of a drink, “You came for us.” One of the huddled figures slowly crawled into his waiting arms.
“Father?” Neevis’ voice sounded like the song of angels to his ears after such a long separation. The young woman simply knelt with her head bowed rather than hug Gremlaw and his heart nearly broke,
“What’s wrong, my love?”
In the darkness, Gremlaw saw his daughter’s eyes flash up to meet his own,
“I…I failed you.” She replied in a miserable tone, “We were taken and I didn’t stop them from hitting mother and…” Gremlaw’s arm shot towards his daughter, begging her to come to him,
“No, my sweet baby girl, you did everything you could,” Gremlaw decided not to mention he would not have stood looking down on a fallen opponent on the off-chance there might be someone else behind him. “There was no way you could have known about the other one who hit you from behind.” His daughter looked deep into his eyes,
“How did you know I was hit from behind, father?” She asked warily, “Is this some kind of insane training exercise for the Academy?” Gremlaw was shocked at his daughter’s assumption,
“No, love.” He told her, “I’d never do anything like this to either of you.” Her eyes remained fixed to his and he explained, “Marshi showed me what happened through the memories of a homeless man who saw it happen.” Neevis lowered her eyes once more,
“I..I’m sorry father,” She said in a small voice, “I should never have thought this was something to do with you.” Gremlaw offered his arm again and she nearly leaped into it, weeping as she did so, “I’m sorry…I’m so sorry…Sorry.”
Gremlaw pressed his lips against her filthy hair and whispered there was nothing to be sorry for as he cuddled both his wife and daughter. All three stayed like that for a long time.
Eventually Huleta pulled back a little and turned her tear streaked face towards his,
“I knew you’d come for us. I knew it!” Gremlaw kissed his wife gently and tried to wipe some of her tears away, only managing to smear cleaner patches in the grime covering her face.
“What have they done to you?” He asked in a thick voice. Huleta’s breath hitched in her chest as she explained,
“At first they kept us tied down in our cart,” One of her thin shoulders rose in a shrug, “For ages, it seems like. Then we were in some sort of town that looked as if it was all made of tents. When we got there, they let us get up and took us inside one of the tents.” Huleta began to cry again and Gremlaw pulled her in close, “I was so scared,” She admitted, “It was full of tattooed men and a few women, all talking in Lavashian, I suppose. I couldn’t understand them any way. Then the biggest one – I think he must have been the leader – started yelling and shouting, working himself and some of the others into a mad rage. I…” Huleta’s voice choked off and Gremlaw laid his head atop hers stroking her back.
“We got here eventually,” Neevis continued from his other side, “They threw us in this cell and have just kept us here since.” She explained succinctly. Gremlaw took a deep and shuddering breath,
“Right,” He began, “I know this is a wonderful moment for us all but we need to think about getting you both out of here.” He looked to his daughter, “Any idea how many people are in this castle?” Neevis shook her head,
“No, there were the original three who took us from Trathlain and another who traveled here with us from the tent-city. I saw three more when we arrived but they brought us straight down here and it’s really hard to hear or see anything.” She spoke in an emotionless voice as if merely having a chat, “Oh, wait,” She added, “That big one who brought us food wasn’t one of the three who I saw when we first got here. Sorry.” She said again.
“No, that’s good,” Gremlaw told her, “It gives us an idea of how many people might be here and I need to know that.”
“Why, father?” Neevis wondered in a puzzled tone, “Can’t we just get out the way you came in?” Gremlaw recalled scaling the walls and realized these two women were in no condition to be doing that. He shook his head,
“Don’t think so, love,” He said, “Plus I still need to know how many there are.”
“Why, Grem?” The question came from his wife this time. Gremlaw’s eyes changed to a flat, cold stare,
“Because once you two are safe, I’m going to come back and kill every last one of them.” His voice had changed from the warm, caring tone Huleta had come to know and love, to an almost evil sound that made her cold inside. “Can you walk?” he asked.
Both women nodded, wondering what had happened to the man they loved. Neither understood it was their abduction and subsequent ill treatment along with his separation from them, which had concocted such a boiling hatred within him.
“Then let’s go,” Gremlaw said quietly. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.