I woke as I was thrown to the floor of a heavy built hut with no windows. There were people every where. I was mixed in with therans and slaves. I could see Fafnir in the corner calling to me quietly. Dremin and Hanna were with him. Sulin and vridich were making there way to Fafnir’s corner. Urgral came from behind me and helped me over to the corner. Looking at my friends they appeared to me in good shape. Urgral was hurt, but it looked like I took the worst beating.
I was told that we had lost Luck. As I could understand what Urgarl told me, he had dove in to some smoking black magical gate, after the Nethermancer that was on the barge. I hope Flourannus keeps him safe. I will miss you my friend.
The fear was thick in the room. It smelled like sweat, urine, and feces. Most of the slaves were strangely calm. Therans were shaking and talking to themselves, others were praying. One guy was carving symbols of protection in to his leg with his fingernail.
Fafnir started talking in low tones. He was telling us that he thought we had been captured by more civilized trolls. If they were the general savage skyraider trolls we would already be dead. Fafnir’s best advice was to tell the truth. The voice of the human skyraider rang in my memory “tell the truth”.
Just as if I had conjured him up, that human opened the door to the hut with two large trolls behind him. Stilicho was his name. He stepped in pointed to a theran one troll went after him. The theran tried to scramble over to the pile to get to the back of the room. The troll grabbed him by the foot and dragged him out the door. Then Stilicho pointed at me and said to bring the T’skrang I got to my feet. I would not be dragged from the hut. Fafnir said “remember the truth.” The troll slapped him acrost the face. I nodded to my friends and walked out the door.
I felt like the weight of the world was on top of me. I had led my friends to this. Some leader I turned out to be. “Flourannus If you can get us out of this alive, I will do my best not to make this mistake again.” I thought to myself.
Stilicho started to talk to me. He said “you fought well today. Tell the truth and you will be alright.”
It seemed like we walked forever, as we crossed the second bridge I could see a large gathering of trolls, humans, dwarfs, and even some elves. They were gathered in front of a large bulding but all were forming a semicircle around a large round platform of stone. A very old Troll named Tago Steelskull stepped forward and cast a spell on the stone. blure runes of fire leaped to life. I was placed on the stone. I could feel a hum coming from the stone.
Stilicho came forward and asked me “What is your name?”
“Ardor Zomay Skram” I stated. Targo interrupted saying something in troll. I could not understand. Stilicho asked me my name again. I again said “Ardor Zomay Skram”.
Targo then spoke in Throlic “Are you related to Han Kray Zomay?” “Yes”, I said “ He is the one that started my Niall, He would be my grand father.” Tago nodded and said “Continue”.
Stilicho aksed “Are you marked by a horror?” I said no.
“Do you serve a mad passion?” was his next question. “No. I am a follower of Flourannus.” I replied.
Stilicho’s face became very serious. He leaned in closer and made sure to speak very clearly” Will you serve the Steelskull clan honorably or do you prefer death?” I asked “For how long?” This seemed to throw him off. Stilicho replied till you are made a full member of the clan. I looked past Stilicho to Tago, “My friends have sworn a blood oath to be some where with in a year. We are to deliver the book you took from us to the kindom of the dwarves.” Tago looked at me and said “That will be considered. Now answer the question.” I said “I do not wish to be a slave again, but I do not want to die either. I will serve the clan.” Stilicho’s voice was so load when he announced that I was the newest member of the clan that I jumped a little. The crowd roared with joy. I have to admit that I was a bit confused at this. My bonds were cut and I was told that I was to work for a fisherman named Arngrim Brightspear.
As I was being helped past Tago he reached out and placed his hand on my shoulder and said “I knew your grandfather, he was the bravest T’skrang I have ever met.” I was stunned. That had to make Taro truly ancient. I realized at that moment I had heard of this troll. “My house tells stories about you.” I said with a bit of amassment in my eyes. Targo looked a little stunned, “I would like to hear them sometime.” “Maybe we could exchange stories. I would love to hear your stories about Zomay.” I was led to a seat and given water to drink.
The Theran was put on the stage next. The same questions were put to him. At one point he must have lied, taro shook his head and a troll standing next to the stage cut him down with a troll sword.
As the day went on my friends were brought out and put to the question. Dremnin was like a stone solid and strong with each question. Hanna was shaky but looked to Dremnin for strength and did fine. Fafnir passed with out any problems. Vridich kept staring at the troll Vargas, who kept calling for his death. I was sure we were going to lose Vridich but Targo claimed him and that seemed to shut Vargas up. Urgral stunned the crowd and most of us when he declared that his job was a “stalker of horrors”. I think Vargas wanted Urgral dead too.
Suulin was last. She looked totally panicked. I was afraid that she would make a mistake and try to tell them what they wanted to hear. I used the sign language of the slaves to tell her that it was all going to be okay, to tell the truth, and to accept the serving the steekskull clan. She seemed to calm down. When they asked her how she got here she started out a little hostile but a change came over her as she started to tell out story. She became the story. Her voice was like music that made you see what she was saying. You could have taken the village taken over the village with an army of ten year olds as long as she kept talking.
When she was done and had accepted. There was a huge feast. Trolls, humans, dwarves, and elves alike ate drank and in general had a good time. The unchained sat together and ate. We were not as excited as every one else.
Stilicho came over and told me that Tago wanted to talk to me. I went over and sat at his table. We talked for a bit of Zomay and Niall Zomay. I asked about our things and the book. He told me that it was there custom that our things claimed in battle are given to the fighters of the battle. Our things on the other hand he had claimed and we would get them back when the time was right.
I was then escorted to the house of Brightspear. Bright would not describe his home. It was a dark weathered wood shack. It was one large room with nets and rope hanging on the walls with a floor was rough wood. There were 3 piles of furs on one side of the shack. One was troll size the other two were smaller. He pointed to me and then one pile of furs. I took that as that was my bed. I was so tired and sore I just laid down on them in my blood stained clothing and fell asleep.