Vanished Excerpt

Copyright 2011 Mj Grothoff  All Rights Reserved

“Ssslave, get up,” said the master Lizard snapping his whip to grab her attention.

Datta’s eyes opened from her restless sleep pulling the wool blanket off and feeling the cold damp air hit her body. She, in every rising moment, looked to Grimlak’s cage and held back the tears often welling in her eyes for her friend. The tragic end to the small hobbit was now a mere memory in her distant thoughts, for the seasons had turned at least once since and her training prowess became well known in Khrakin. The Masu¨ra crawled through the opening and stood before the Lizard with a questioned look since training had already been held.

“You are no longer trainer,” slithered the Lizard. “You move to big city of Rathhh.”

“I don’t understand?” Datta asked.

“King Dragthhh saysss time for you to go to coursssesss,” said the Lizard.

“Courses, what are the courses?” she asked now becoming concerned.

“No more questionsss. You go now,” said the Master pointing with its lanky green nails at the main gate to the training cages.

There stood two Lizard guards waiting for Datta as their thin tongues slithered in and out tasting the air. The drool hung from their lips as they batted the clubs in their palms waiting for the slave. Datta stood unable to get her legs to move forward and away from her home. Her home: a place that enslaved her, allowing no contact with others and trapping her inside a small cage. She looked back to the training forest, feeling sadness with losing her comfort and the last place she saw her friend. Tears began to form as she moved through the opened gates and into the shackles. Datta released a deep sigh looking back one last time as the long walk through the Lizard-folk city began.

The two guards said little to her as she stepped in line with the shorter Lizard in front and the taller behind. They curved their way through the huts and mud rooms passing the many slaves carrying on their master’s work. She smiled with every passing hobbit wanting to talk to them, hoping to hear Grimlak’s voice one last time. Datta felt the cool mud floor with each talon step, staring at the city’s mud dome knowing this would be her last glance at the interesting sight. She began to get angry, filling with a hate inside at the scene around her. Anger not at the move she was about to make, but at the ones who used the whip against her. They made her feel sad about leaving a place of torture and enslavement. Had they broke who she was? Did she resign in being a slave?

“This is a good thing, for I may get a chance to escape,” she mumbled.

The reality finally set in, an opportunity was going to arise for her to chance an escape. Her last prison never gave this chance, for she never left the cages and the gates were never left open. This moment now became real with her focus back into light as they reached the last Khrakin hut and began the high climb up the mud stairs and outside the domed city. She peered back across one last time with a smile knowing Grimlak was not the only one free from the horror.

Datta stepped outside for the first time in a cycled season, feeling the sun’s rays hitting her face and forcing her to close her eyes from its brightness. The lead guard pulled the chain connected to her wrist, forcing her to continue as they moved to the left and following a path hugging the hill. They were surrounded by the forest but there was nothing for her to do except follow. The shackles around her body trapped her wings and arms. Her legs had the freedom to move which gave her little advantage over two Lizards who would care little on her death.

Their walk continued for the day and into the darkness stopping not once for a meal or drink. The thirst began to rise in her mind taking over every thought as the trick once again began to replay in her mind. Thoughts on her small cage back in Khrakin and the quenchable fresh water always about, began to torture her. She fought the undesirable thoughts as her inner self continued to struggle to the top. She knew her captors would tire soon and would need the same rest and water. The forest trees seemed to cower over their path, drowning out the moonlight and giving the area a doomed walk. She felt the sadness the trees held knowing they watched many a slave walk this road and never return.

“It will arrive,” she muttered.

The march finally came to a stop as they reached the forest edge overlooking a vast open field. They sat on a ridge giving her a beautiful view of the grassy plain rolling outward like a calm sea with the double moons’ light bouncing, following the ripple. A breeze blew bringing the freshness to her nose, allowing her to exhale and forget her hunger and thirst. Her serenity was snapped back as a yank on the chain brought her to the ground hard. The Lizard guard pinned the chain to the ground with a steel stake, anchoring his slave from running off.

The two worked in unison, performing this walk and camp many times prior as they each took their role with gathering wood, starting a fire and preparing a meal. She watched in horror as the evil, vile creatures, pulled from a sack several small fairies chained together. They were still alive as they struggled to get free from their chains but their agony had just begun. The Lizard held one by its leg dangling the other two as they were connected by the small chain. Its drool began to form and fall from its gaping teeth as it seemed to have a smile creep into its cheeks. It spoke in a language Datta still did not understand and it dropped the three beautiful beings into the boiling pot hovering over the burning fire.

A scream rang out but faded almost as quick with Datta looking away from the scene, wanting not to have the gruesome picture in her mind. From the time of her entrapment, the Lizards continued to defile any decency she had for their kind. They cared nothing for other creatures or the nature that sat at their front door, taking anything and everything for themselves. She continued her stare into darkness working to drown out the nasty noise of the Lizards eating their fresh cooked meal.

The Lizards, noticing her disgust, threw the bones at her yelling out, “Eat slave.”

They chuckled to each other tearing into their meal.

Rest finally arrived with the Lizards taking turns watching their prisoner as the crackling fire filled the night air. Datta continued to look out across the rolling field until her eyes finally shut allowing her mind to float away.

The next morning came quick as a kick to her legs startled her silence. She peered up to find both guards standing over her with clubs in place. The Masu¨ra had little time to brush the dirt from her worn clothing when the Lizards began their march across the field. She had hoped this would be their way, desiring to feel the plain tall grass across her hands. Its softness and lapping ends brushed her body allowing her to feel one with nature once again. The guards continued the push, defeating her desires for such bliss as they now intentionally made the journey hard.

The pace continued, allowing the clouds to gather above, drowning out the sun and bringing the rain. The open field gave little protection from the constant falling water and its random lightening that called out from the sky. Each hit made the three wanderers jump, making their steps faster and working to find any possible shelter. The late day finally arrived when they crested a large hill bringing in a mound, a mound that outweighed Khrakin. Datta could not believe the size as she watched the Lizards coming and going from the front gate.

Rathhh was unlike Khrakin. No guards were posted at the front and the Lizard-folk moved about with their slaves like dogs on a walk. They followed the crooked path down the hill which was now nothing but thick mud sticking to her talons. The guards also had the same problem slowing their walk as they struggled to kick off the excess.

Datta studied the mound and its opening, knowing this would be her only way out from this place. They walked through the large gate standing level to a bustling Lizard city moving about on their filthy tasks. The buildings, made with mud and thatch, were erected two or three stories high creating a rising and falling shamble. The walkways between the buildings were little more than paths worn away with just enough room for these creatures to pass each other.

The three moved ahead onto a path that wound like a snake through the shanty mud town, towering and leaning overhead. The tongues slithering could be heard as they passed the many windows with a random snap of the echoing whip. There were many different slave creatures from what Datta could see with not one creature being favored over the other. The domed roof loomed over all bringing the gloomy light outside within. The torches lined the paths helping with direction which confused Datta since these creatures needed little light for vision. The walk continued passing the same buildings as they reached deeper inside the city. The air became fouler with the smell of rotting fish, reminding her of the cave and Grimlak.

Darkness began to fill showing the day’s end was near when they finally reached the last mud huts. They came to a large drop-off encircled by a large, long mud stairs overlooking the pit. Inside she could see large Bellows scattered about showing the open ground in between with boulders jetting out in sections and a large waterfall in the center. The lead guard stepped down the long dropped stairs pulling Datta along, descending deeper as it grabbed a torch from the side wall. The damp, cool surroundings replaced the stifling stench from above as they followed the never-ending stairs. Reaching the bottom, they approached a Lizard standing at a large gate with a whip in hand.

“We have new runner,” slithered the lead guard.

The Lizard, staring at Datta, turned and unlocked the gate, holding its whip in the left claw. The lead guard yanked the chain to raise her hands and unlocked her wrists then the body shackle. The guard from behind pushed her forward, snapping its leather weapon and catching her across the legs. She could not hold back the scream as the sting ravished her pale, muscular calf almost sending her into a fall. The Lizard raised the whip another time forcing Datta to jump away as she moved into her new home.

She stumbled into a dark alley when the metal gate snapped into place from behind, leaving the Lizards on the other side. She stood staring back at them not knowing where to go or what to do until the one at the gate spoke.

“Move down the way runner,” it snarled.

“How far?” asked Datta, struggling to see in the dark.

Copyright 2011 Mj Grothoff  All Rights Reserved

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