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 Captured by Trolls

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Keivah



Number of posts : 31
Registration date : 2007-11-10

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PostSubject: Captured by Trolls   Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:52 am

(Just a bit of character maintenance)


Keivah was angry. He was scared as well, of course, it would be mad not to be. But as he paced the cell as far as the chain shackled to his ankle would allow, his over-whelming emotion was anger. Not at his captors, although he was certainly not pleased with them. Especially after they continued to hit him when he was already helpless. But the large bulk of his anger was directed at himself. It was stupid. Stupid and careless. He absolutely deserved to be where he was.

It had been late in the evening, and he was tired, cold and unusually hungry. Revantusk village was so close and he was eager to arrive. He was concentrating more on what was ahead than what was around him, and that was embarrassingly stupid.

Rubbing the back of his head, Keivah was relieved to find that the bleeding had stopped. Although he should be dead. He deserved to be dead. He ran his fingers through his hair and cursed. Being in a hurry, not paying attention, being careless…

At least Xai got away. That was a huge positive, and very important. The moment they were attacked, Keivah knew something was wrong. He and Xai had fought groups before, but these trolls acted differently. Only a few drew weapons, as though they were actually afraid to hurt him. And they had surrounded him, blocking out Xai. Keivah sensed that they meant to capture him before he even saw the nets. He began shouting mentally for Xai to run, and at first the large cat refused stubbornly. Then, as Keivah was dragged to the ground with the nets over him, he shouted audibly at Xai. Finally, confused, Xai ran. He paused at the top of a hill as Keivah was being uncovered and his wrists were tied. Keivah watched his beloved friend turn and disappear over the other side of the hill just as the first blows began falling down upon him.

Tired of pacing, Keivah sat upon the floor. Xai would have run to Revantusk, and they would recognise him. Keivah, Xai and Neko had lived there for a couple of months, and he knew that Xai would be taken care of. Unfortunately, Xai would not be able to tell them what had happened. Nobody would come to look for him – not that he wanted anybody looking for him. The only thing that would make the situation worse, would be endangering somebody else over his stupidity. But Xai would be taken care of until Keivah was able to get away. Or … Keivah shook his head. He was not prepared to start thinking about ‘or’ yet.

Keivah reached to the inside pouch of his boot and removed a long, thin tin box. The trolls had taken nearly everything, but at least he still had his bloodthistle. Keivah removed a leaf and began chewing it. He supposed it would have been a good idea to hide a dagger instead of bloodthistle. But without bloodthistle, he would be too weak to use a dagger, anyway. Perhaps hiding his hearthstone would have been wise. He kept planning to break himself of the bloodthistle addiction, but hadn’t quite gotten to it yet. Had he done, perhaps he would have his hearthstone in his boot and would be flying back to Revantusk to collect Xai and have a laugh over their narrow escape, rather than where he was. Keivah finished chewing and then swallowed, the flavour more bitter than usual. But he was already angry with himself for being too careless in the first place. And had he not been so completely and totally stupid, he would not have to worry about what was or was not in the hidden pouch of his boot. He had bloodthistle rather than a dagger or his hearthstone. He would simply have to accept it and try to find a way to escape.

Closing the tin, he glanced about the cell. Against the wall behind him sat a rickety metal bed with a thin mattress. Keivah slid closer and then stretched onto his back, easing half-under the bed. He placed the tin between the frame and mattress. He began to slide back out, but paused and removed three more leaves. Something to hold him for a while.

Later, sitting cross-legged on the cot, Keivah felt the fear begin to build. He had been there quite a long time and the only thing he had to keep himself occupied, was thoughts of what would happen. Clearly, they would not kill him immediately. If that was all they wanted, capturing him would have been a tremendous bother. Not that he had made it difficult, he thought, realising that the anger was still very much there. They would be enormously disappointed if they planned to ransom him. He was entirely unimportant, and probably worth about the cost of the shackle around his ankle. They would be equally disappointed if they thought they could get any sort of useful information from him. They likely knew more about important matters than he did. Unless they were desperate to know about the best way to harvest Un’goro soil, or how deep to cast if one wants to catch eels, or how to pick Dreaming Glory without allowing it to dry up. Capturing him was such a pointless waste of time that he nearly could have felt sorry for them. Had they not so rudely captured him.

Several hours had to have passed. A while ago, he had started to feel the sickness, which meant he needed more bloodthistle. He carefully and quickly – or as carefully and quickly as possible when feeling the effects of his addiction – removed ten more leaves and then returned to the bed. Fortunately, he had just re-filled the tin, anticipating the journey to Revantusk, so he had enough for a week at least. That thought gave him a different sort of illness. Already, he was feeling claustrophobic and trapped. Places with thick walls and no windows were not his friend. He needed fresh air and loads of room and to not be shackled in a cell. Even if nothing else happened to him, sitting in a room for a week would make him go mad.

A while later, Keivah began to feel tired. It was slightly surprising to him, given his situation, but perhaps not entirely. He had been feeling restless lately – hence the reason for the trip in the first place – so he decided to walk most of the way to Revantusk rather than fly. He had already been tired, and then there had been the brief but frantic struggle during the attack. Added to that was his continuing stress about his situation, which was also wearing him down. It felt a bit silly, but he had started to yawn, finally stretching out on the bed and falling asleep.



Some time later, the sharp grinding of tired metal echoed into the cell. Jolting awake, Keivah sat up and instinctively reached to his belt for a weapon that was not there. He could hear at least two sets of footsteps coming closer. Quickly, he grabbed a bloodthistle leaf from beneath the thin sheet on the bed and began chewing it rapidly. If they were coming for him, and he had a chance to fight, he wanted to be at his strongest. The footsteps seemed to go on forever, and then the two making the sound appeared on the other side of the bars. Keivah blinked in surprise. Well, that’s something I haven’t seen before he thought.

They were trolls, although barely recognisable. They wore masks made of some sort of hard, clear substance over their mouths, and thin flexible metal tubes trailed down into round canisters. They stared at Keivah through thick green-tinted goggles. Keivah stared back, uncertain if the odd costumes made him more frightened, or slightly amused. Then one of them did something, which was not at all amusing. He removed a small square box from his belt, pulled a tab on it, and tossed it toward the ceiling of the cell. It hit the ceiling with a hollow clank, and then stuck there. Keivah very briefly wondered about its technology, until it started to tick rapidly. Immediately fearing a bomb of some sort, Keivah leapt from the bed and moved as far as his shackle would allow away from it. He and the two trolls watched the device until it gave a sharp whistle and then clicked. Keivah flinched and ducked, but rather than exploding, thick grey smoke began pouring from it. First, Keivah thought perhaps it had misfired, but then he realised what it was. He glanced about frantically, but already knew there were no windows. So he took a deep breath and sat upon the floor with his eyes closed.

Keivah had an ability to hold his breath for long periods of time. Growing up on an island, he had often collected clams or had to dive in the water to untangle fishing nets from the rocks. Also, Brukost had tried to drown him a few times when they were together. So he lasted quite a while on the floor of the cell, as the smoke billowed around him. But finally when his aching lungs could not take another moment, he convulsively took a breath. At first, he thought perhaps one breath would not hurt him, and he could try holding it again to wait out the smoke. But it was still thick in the air and breathing it in made his throat burn. He started to cough, and that forced more smoke into him. Finally, light-headed and weak, he collapsed to his side … extremely put-out that he hadn’t at least been given a chance to fight.
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Keivah



Number of posts : 31
Registration date : 2007-11-10

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PostSubject: Re: Captured by Trolls   Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:54 am

Somebody was touching his face. It was not a pleasant sensation, though. The fingers felt claw-like and rough, and Keivah pulled his head away. A sudden coughing fit over-took him, and he had an acrid taste in his mouth. That was when he remembered what had happened, and he opened his eyes.

The troll was smiling down at him, but it was a highly unsavoury smile even for a troll. Keivah’s hands jerked to push him away, but predictably, he could not move them. He squirmed to be certain he could not move anything else, and when he discovered that he could not, he became still in the reclined chair. A bad situation had gotten worse, and the last thing he needed was to struggle about and further emphasis his vulnerability.

‘Next time we use a little less smoke, I tink, yah?’ The troll said. ‘It knock you out too long. Don’ wanna sleep da day away.’

Clearly, Keivah had no control over how much or how little smoke they used, so he said nothing. He desperately wanted to ask the troll all sorts of things, but ‘Who are you and what do you want?’ sorts of questions were foolish. They removed all control from the one who didn’t know, and gave it to the one who did. So he waited for the troll to say more. But that never happened.



Keivah couldn’t quite sort out what the fascination was with his feet. It was days and days of seemingly nothing but the troll poking, stabbing, prodding, cutting, whipping, burning and rubbing salt into his feet. He supposed it could be worse. He often went barefoot, so his feet were a bit tougher than they would be if he wore boots all the time. In fact, Keivah had taken the pain almost smugly at first. He’d had much worse, and at the start, he felt that the troll lacked any form of creativity with his torture. Brukost could do better spontaneously than the troll was in days of being able to think about it. But it was the same spots over and over and over again … what at first seemed lacking in creativity became genius. Keivah wasn’t certain if the troll meant it to be, but it was. Even the brief breaks during which the troll concentrated elsewhere were little relief. All that did was give his feet enough time for the numbness to go away, before the troll started in again. As high as his pain tolerance was, it even got to Keivah after a few days of it.



Then one day, he awoke to a different troll. The first one never said a word after that first sentence, but this one, obviously a witch doctor by Keivah’s ability to sense magic, was quite talkative.

‘’Ow ya doin’, mon?’ The witch doctor asked.

Keivah briefly considered sarcasm, but didn’t respond other than a final cough from the most recent smoke bomb.

‘Maybe I cut out you tongue if ya don’ wanna talk,’ the witch doctor said.

It seemed a real enough possibility. ‘I’m fine, thank you,’ Keivah replied. His voice was hoarse from days of breathing in that horrible smoke.

‘Dat’s better,’ the witch doctor said. ‘You don’ wanna be rude, now, do ya?’

There were plenty of responses to that, but Keivah once again chose silence.

‘Maybe we get you talkin a little more later, I tink, yah?’

‘I doubt it,’ Keivah said. There was a difference between the power of silence and appearing too terrified to talk.

‘Oh, I make you talk, I make you scream, I make you do whatever I want, I tink,’ the witch doctor said.

Keivah clenched his fists so that the witch doctor couldn’t see his hands start to shake. He felt he was at a sort of tipping point, and while silence was his best weapon, it could also get him unnecessarily hurt. ‘I have nothing to offer you,’ he said evenly.

‘I tink ya do.’

‘I don’t,’ Keivah insisted, carefully remaining steady and calm.

‘I tink you boyfriend tinks ya do.’

Keivah swallowed, trying to appear unaffected. ‘I don’t have a ‘boyfriend’.’

‘What you call dat Brukost, den?’

That put a large crack in the shell of calm that Keivah had tried to achieve. His eyes widened and he looked toward the door before he could stop himself. ‘He’s my ex,’ Keivah replied, and his voice had become noticeably unsteady.

‘Oh, ex, yah,’ the witch doctor said and he seemed pleased by Keivah’s reaction. ‘But he tinks you still have sometin’ dat belong ta ‘im.’

If Brukost was behind this, then Keivah knew exactly what the witch doctor meant. Brukost, love of Keivah's life, had essentially tried to steal Keivah's body for his own. He had only succeeded in transferring part of his dark soul into Keivah and removing part of Keivah's soul, though, because Keivah had been able to escape before the process was complete. Keivah had always fully expected that Brukost would want to finish what he had started, or at least reclaim the parts of his soul, which were infused with Keivah's. So at mention of Brukost's name, before the witch doctor said another word about it, Keivah knew precisely to what he referred. The witch doctor would probably know that Keivah now understood why he had been captured, or he would not be making such comments. But did the witch doctor know? ‘I don’t believe so,’ Keivah replied.

‘I tink you take a little soul wid ya, yah?’

So he did know. Keivah continued to stare at the door, expecting Brukost to enter any moment. The worse situation had become just plain grim. It was what Keivah had been dreading and fearing since the initial escape; that Brukost would eventually find him again. Keivah wished he could go back to yesterday, having a sharp metal point jabbed into his feet.

‘You don’ say much, do ya?’

Keivah felt absolutely defeated. Nothing he did would matter anymore. Brukost was there, or coming for him, and it was only a matter of time before everything was over. ‘No,’ he said. ‘I don’t.’

‘Ya tink a body wid half dark soul an half light soul have more ta say.’

‘I don’t have half and half,’ Keivah replied.

‘Oh, we fix dat.’

Keivah glanced at the witch doctor. ‘What?’

‘We make tings a little more even, yah?’

‘You’re going to even out my soul?’

‘Yah, I tink we see what happen.’

So he still had a more immediate concern, as well. ‘You can’t do that,’ Keivah said.

‘I tink I can.’

‘If you do that, you’ll kill me. Then Brukost won’t get what he wants.’

‘If I do dat, I kill you, an I get what I want.’

‘Which is?’

The troll leaned forward until his hot breath brushed Keivah’s face. ‘Pow-ah,’ he said.

Keivah turned his head away until the troll moved back again. ‘That is what Brukost will want, though. The power of his that I have in me, and my power.’

‘Dat troll, dat like you feet. ‘E supposed ta take you to dat Brukost. ‘E dead now.’

It was mildly satisfying for Keivah to know that the troll was dead, and even better to know that Brukost wasn’t about to arrive any moment. It was also very briefly disappointing that he wasn’t about to see Brukost again. But all it took was a reminder of what would happen if he did see Brukost again, and that feeling faded quite rapidly.

Keivah was so relieved, in fact, that he did the thing one should never do in his situation. ‘You don’t want to betray Brukost. Trust me. Even missing part of his soul, he’s stronger than you.’ Provoking one’s captors was simply a bad idea. Not only would it encourage them to treat one worse, but it was sinking to their level. However, the grim situation had just gotten better.

‘But I get dos pow-ahs in you an I be strong-ah. Strong-ah dan everybody.’

That was actually true, Keivah realised with a start. Just because he couldn’t use his own power, didn’t mean it was gone. It was still very much there, and somebody who knew how could use it. And if that same somebody knew how to urge the darkness in him to eat enough of the light to balance it, but not consume it … they could have that power as well. Keivah heard himself curse softly. He looked at the witch doctor, who nodded with satisfaction.

‘We start dis ting goin now, yah?’

‘Wait,’ Keivah said. He had to think. There had to be something he could do. ‘If you do it wrong, you will destroy me and get nothing.’

‘Dat’s a chance I take, yah?’ the witch doctor shrugged.

Keivah began to struggle. ‘It could kill you, as well,’ he said desperately although truthfully. ‘That much power all at once could kill you. Especially mixed power.’

‘Dat why I do it slow,’ the witch doctor replied as though speaking to a child.

The witch doctor then turned and began working with something on a table against the wall. Keivah looked over, but could not see what he was doing. He began thrashing in the chair, attempting to think at the same time. ‘I’ll give you some of my power,’ he finally said. ‘If I give it to you, it will be safer. I have a lot, I am very powerful.’

‘I know dat. But I tink I want it all.’

Keivah clenched his teeth, trying to will himself up out of the chair. The witch doctor turned back, plugged Keivah’s nose and without another word, shoved a long glass tube half-way down Keivah’s throat, pouring in some sort of liquid. Keivah tried not to swallow, and once he was released, he tried to cough it back out. But within moments, he could feel it start to work through him. It was clearly some form of extremely powerful magic enhancer.

‘Let’s get dos magic tings in you nice an open,’ the witch doctor said. ‘We do da fun tings tomorrow.’

The witch doctor left, and a few moments later four trolls entered the room and unlocked Keivah from the chair. As they had all the past times, they made Keivah walk back to the cell on his aching feet, two holding his arms and two urging him along with long spears. He was shackled in his cell, and then he settled onto the bed as the guards left the room.

The magic enhancer was in full effect by then. It was about the equivalent of eating an entire field of bloodthistle, Keivah thought. He felt blissful warmth wrap around him as his body became convinced that it was casting. His portals began to pulse, flowing delicious energy through him, and not even noticing that it was not going anywhere. Were it not for the fact that he already knew from experience the burning agony of having his soul devoured by the darkness, he might have felt too good to care at all. But he did care, not only knowing what he would soon face, but also fearing what a troll witch doctor with all that power would do. He supposed that he could hope the witch doctor made a mistake and destroyed himself in the attempt. One would have to know exactly what they are doing to try such a thing, so there was a chance of it. But a mistake could also potentially be the most dangerous outcome of all.



Keivah began to consider just casting, and continuing to cast until the darkness had destroyed him; before the witch doctor had a chance to do it. But he would likely not be able to stay conscious long enough, as just casting once had previously knocked him to the ground. Also, he had no way of knowing what would happen once the darkness began to take over. There was a large chance, almost a certainty, really, that he couldn’t control it. Then what would happen?

With a sigh, Keivah rubbed his face with both hands. Then he chuckled softly. It was the first time he had ever had such a strong magic enhancer, and he wasn't even enjoying it. He was quite surprised that the darkness hadn’t already started to feed, but then, it could have been something the witch doctor made specifically for this occasion. Something to get his portals open, and get energy moving through him, but not feed the darkness or encourage it to start feeding. That was fairly likely, in fact, if the witch doctor did even remotely know what he was doing.

Keivah settled back on the bed, the warmth covering him and wrapping about him like a thick, soft cocoon. The energy was happily shooting through his body, making his skin tingle. The darkness surged and rolled lazily, settled deep within his soul and not really seeming to be concerned with moving from its spot. Keivah’s eyes began to glaze over as the energy sparked faster. His body was happy, his souls were happy … and he drifted off to sleep, with the words ‘at least you’ll die as a caster’ floating through his mind.
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Keivah



Number of posts : 31
Registration date : 2007-11-10

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PostSubject: Re: Captured by Trolls   Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:15 am

NOW.


Keivah’s eyes flew open. He was confused and didn’t know why the word had exploded through his mind like that. But then his eyes started to burn, and a haze of smoke was all around him. His lungs felt as though they were ready to explode, and a troll hovered over him. Without thinking, Keivah’s hand darted out and tore the mask from the troll’s face. He pressed it to his mouth, and took a deep breath. Clean, fresh air flowed into his burning lungs, but he didn’t have time to enjoy it. The now-unmasked troll had grabbed Keivah's neck with one hand and was attempting to wrench the mask back with his other. The second troll didn’t know what was happening at first, and was slow to react. Keivah braced the first troll back with a hand and knee, relieved that there hadn't been time for him to hold his breath. It was mere moments before the smoke took effect and the troll's grip on Keivah released. Shoving the limp body to the side, Keivah moved with it as it fell to prevent the mask from being pulled from his face. Keivah swiftly reached to release the air canister, but then the second troll was upon him.

The troll grabbed Keivah’s hair, wrenching his head back and attempting to pry the mask away from his face. He did manage to lift it enough to allow a small bit of smoke in, but Keivah held his breath, dropped the mask, and then thrust back into the troll, pushing him off-balance. Keivah scrambled forward to grab the mask again, but the troll recovered faster than he had hoped. A hard boot to his ribs knocked Keivah to his back, and he looked up in time to see the troll draw a long, thin knife. Keivah’s hand clutched for the mask, but the troll swooped down beside him. Before Keivah even saw it coming through the thick lingering smoke, he felt the sharp pain as the knife sank between his ribs. Keivah let out a small groan, but refused to breathe in. If he did that, a lot worse than a stab wound would happen. He swung his fist hard at the troll, connecting solidly. The troll fell to his side and Keivah rolled over, grabbing the mask. As he took a deep, grateful breath, he picked up the fallen knife and moved to his knees.

The troll had started to come forward, but stopped when he saw the knife in Keivah's hand. Neither moved for a moment, but then the troll let out a cackling laugh, muffled by his own mask. He slowly and deliberately removed another knife from his belt and held it up for Keivah to see. Keivah could barely see it, through the smoke and his burning eyes, but he did see it. The troll appeared to be pausing, savouring his moment of triumph, and Keivah admitted that he seemed to have a right to. His eyes were on fire, and he could not even stand unless he let go of the mask again. And even if he could stand, the shackle around his ankle restricted his movements to a smaller area.

Then the troll was finished with his gloating. He lunged forward, bringing the knife down in a vicious stab. Keivah leaned back, letting the mask slip from his fingers. As the troll’s knife sank just below Keivah’s shoulder, Keivah grabbed the tube connected to the troll’s mask. The troll pushed the knife in harder, and Keivah reached up with his own knife, slashing the tube open. The troll had been too busy stabbing Keivah to even notice what Keivah had done, and he straightened to admire his work. Keivah lunged for the loose mask and placed it over his mouth, rolling to his back. When the troll realised he was breathing smoke he jumped at Keivah, but dropped to the ground just as his hand brushed the working mask.

Keivah closed his aching eyes and took a moment to recover, breathing heavily through the mask. But knew he had to hurry. He removed one of the trolls’ goggles, pulling them on. Then he detached the air canister through which he was breathing and retrieved a set of keys from one of the trolls’ belts. After he unlocked the shackle, he stood and took two steps toward the cell door before turning back. Keivah picked up the tin of bloodthistle from the bed, lifted the mask just long enough to pop a leaf into his mouth, then turned, chewing as he made his way out of the cell.

Outside the holding area, Keivah discarded the breathing apparatus and goggles back through the door. Then he made his way slowly and cautiously down the corridor. It was apparently very early morning; through the windows he passed, he saw only a very faint glow of light on the horizon. That was probably a good thing because later in the day, the corridors could be absolutely swarming with trolls. But it was odd … he had never really heard evidence of a huge number there. When he was first brought in, he had been blindfolded, yes. And leaving the cell, he was unconscious, and returning, he didn’t much pay attention to how many other trolls they passed. But the entire place just felt so … abandoned. And empty.

He was apparently on the third level, and made it all the way down the stairs to the second level without seeing anybody. By that time, he was so close, that he did not want to take a chance. Lowering himself out a window, he dropped to the ground. He crouched there a moment, giving his body a chance to recover, and looking about. He had absolutely no idea where he was, but he certainly couldn’t stay around there. Walking around the side of the building, he was at least grateful that his injured feet were off the hard concrete and on cool, soft grass. But he feared for his ability to walk very far. He was bleeding badly, and his eyes still hurt. His feet felt better, but they still burned with each step. Then, rounding the next corner, he stopped.

The raptors in the pen lifted their heads and looked over to where he stood. They sniffed the air, and Keivah knew they could smell his blood. But they were clearly riding raptors, as one even still wore its armoured tack. They would be trained not to attack the first bleeding thing they saw, lest somebody’s fighting partner become devoured. Keivah approached the pen cautiously. Of course, perhaps they were not trained against attacking bleeding non-trolls. But the raptors simply watched him, stomping their feet seemingly more from his approach than any obvious desire to attack.

Keivah took a deep breath, paused, and then slid between the bars of the pen. He had never ridden a raptor before, so he approached the large one with the tack. He began speaking very softly, hoping to calm it. When he was close, he reached out to pat its head, and it leaned in, sniffing at his shoulder. Keivah tensed and waited, but it just lifted its head again and looked at him. Continuing to reach forward, Keivah stroked its nose. It was a powerful beast, and a turquoise colour that seemed to glow in the waning moonlight and approaching dawn. Its colouring actually reminded Keivah a bit of Xai and he felt a twinge. Poor Xai would be so worried by now.

‘If you help me,’ Keivah whispered to the raptor. ‘I will feed you ham and quails until you can’t move.’

He was uncertain if the raptor understood or not. He did know that he could speak to some animals, even if they could not respond directly. Without Xai or Neko there to translate, though, he had no idea if the raptor knew what he was saying. But standing there, close to freedom but not there quite yet, and knowing that he would be expected to arrive with the two guards any moment, fear and anxiety decided for him. He walked about the side of the raptor, trailing his fingers gently down its shoulder, so that it would know he was still there. Then he pulled himself up onto the saddle. The raptor tossed its head and took a few steps to the side, and Keivah grabbed tightly to the saddle, thankful for choosing the one with something to hold onto. He sat still for a moment, until the raptor settled down again, and then he lifted the reins.

‘I don’t suppose you know where Revantusk is, do you?’ Keivah whispered softly.

The raptor didn’t move, and Keivah hadn’t really expected it. He slowly and gently nudged the beast’s sides with his heels and it stepped forward. It walked to the gate, and Keivah leaned over, lifting the bar and swinging it open. Suddenly the raptor shuddered with excitement, realising that it was about to be free to run. It trotted rapidly through the gate, and across the front lawn of the building before Keivah had gotten control over it. Gently guiding it to the path leading up to the building, Keivah leaned forward.

‘All right, now you can go,’ he whispered.

Again, Keivah was thankful for his choice of raptors. It took off like a flash, and for about five minutes, all Keivah could do was hold on and try not to fall. The path led down the side of a mountain, at times seeming like a sheer cliff. Keivah’s heart was in his throat for a good portion of the way down, but he did notice how sure-footed the creature was and began to look about for landmarks.

Once down from mountain, the raptor bolted through the trees, letting out small grunts and tossing its head. Keivah had finally started to be able to balance the pain in his body, the very bouncy ride, and looking for anything at all he recognised. Then finally, something went past them in a flash. Keivah pulled back gently but firmly on the reins and turned the raptor. Stepping back toward the side-road they had passed, Keivah squinted down it. Something was very, very familiar about it. He nudged the raptor ahead. They dashed along the road for several minutes; Keivah feeling increasingly relieved when more and more things became familiar. They were on their way to Revantusk.

When he arrived, Keivah was cautious. He didn’t exactly have a lot of trust for trolls at the moment. But he began recognising faces, and the faces began showing surprise and concern. Just as he was eased from the saddle, he felt himself starting to lose consciousness. Loss of blood, or perhaps just relief, he supposed. As blackness over-took him, he managed to get out ‘as much as the raptor can eat, on me.’



Keivah awoke a day later with Xai laying half-across him. He reached out, careful of his sore arm, and stroked the cat’s large head. Xai stirred and looked at him.

‘I don’t like that,’ the cat thought.

Keivah frowned. ‘What? Me petting you?’

‘No, you going away.’

Chuckling softly, Keivah scratched Xai behind his ear. 'I didn't like it either.'

They lounged about for another while, Keivah reflecting on how incredibly fortunate he had been. Had the trolls waited just another moment to get him that final morning, he would have lost consciousness. He was already most of the way there when something jolted him back out of it and made him act. Had Brukost come for him rather than sent somebody for him, Keivah very likely would be dead or with him and wishing he were dead, rather than laying about Revantusk with all the boiled mushrooms he could eat. Had about a hundred things gone just a bit differently, Keivah very much doubted there would have been such a happy outcome to the situation. Not that there really was an outcome. Whilst it was a failed attempt, it was still an attempt by Brukost to get him. He would have, had that witch doctor not been so greedy and power-hungry. Keivah was certainly grateful that he was, though. He did wonder how they - the trolls or Brukost or both - knew where he would be. He had told only a few of his trip to Revantusk, and he thought he could trust all who knew. Apparently not, though, unless Brukost or the trolls had discovered his location another way.

Keivah finally thought he probably should get up and thank those who had helped him. Standing was more of a process than he had anticipated, but he finally managed to shuffle down the stairs and out the door of the inn. One of the villagers waved him over and Keivah took a few steps toward him. Then suddenly he sensed a large figure behind him, and he was nudged in the back so hard that it nearly knocked him over. Turning, Keivah found that he was staring into the face of a beautiful turquoise raptor. The villager had come over to talk with Keivah, clapping him on the uninjured shoulder.

‘’E’s a good one,’ the villager said.

Keivah nodded, stroking the raptor’s nose. ‘Are you going to keep it?’

‘Me?’

‘Well, somebody. I’m surprised it’s walking around loose.’

The troll laughed and clapped Keivah’s shoulder again. ‘E can leave if e want. E been stayin here, though. I tink e like you.’

Scratching the raptor between its eyes, Keivah chuckled. ‘I like him too. I probably wouldn’t be here, were it not for him.’ Keivah sensed Xai become indignant, and switched to petting him. That caused the raptor to lower its head and nudge Keivah in the stomach. So Keivah patted both. ‘He can leave?’ He finally asked the troll.

‘Yah, e not kept anywhere. E just stay.’

The raptor had basically saved his life. Keivah suddenly had an aching desire to keep it. ‘What would happen if I kept it?’ Keivah asked, turning to the troll.

‘You getta good ride-e.’

‘But I mean … would it be frowned upon? What would other trolls think?’

‘Why you care what dey tink?’

‘I just do not want to upset anybody. If trolls would feel I do not deserve it, or if it’s an insult to them.’

‘You been troo lots. You deserve im and e like you. You keep da raptor and give im a good ome.’ Then the troll grinned. ‘If trolls say dey not like it, you say dey gotta talk to me.’

Keivah smiled, still hesitant. He was not entirely certain trolls would appreciate a blood elf riding one of their mounts. But he could not possibly imagine it going back to its original owners. As badly as they had treated him, Keivah could not imagine that they would be the warm and cuddly sorts with their animals. Perhaps they would be, but even then … he felt a need to take care of it. Had it not helped him, he could have been re-captured or died during his escape. He did have respect for trolls, and fortunately he was not the type to blame an entire race over his own personal experience with a few. But he wanted the raptor, and the raptor did seem to like him. It could have run back, but it didn’t.

‘Xai,’ Keivah thought. ‘Ask him what his name is.’



Several days later, Keivah was ready to leave the village. He had stayed long enough to recover, and then the trolls insisted that he stay another couple of days just to be certain. But finally, he could not take being waited upon and fussed over another moment. He thanked everybody profusely, and then he and Xai walked over to where Taktak waited. Keivah had already saddled him earlier, so with a final wave to those who had seen him off, Keivah pulled himself astride the beautiful turquoise raptor. Xai had already run ahead a bit, looking for signs of another ambush. Keivah scratched Taktak’s shoulder gently, and then nudged his sides with his feet. As morning became afternoon, the three made their way through the forest – careful to avoid any known troll fortresses.
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