Friday 6 February 2015

Nameless: The Magic Number

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

The sewers were much bigger than Ash thought they would be, so tall in fact that Indas could actually stand upright in most places. She was just glad that the huge, muscular woman could actually fit through the garbage pit near the arena's kitchens. It had been a few hours of walking blindly through the smelly, maze like tunnels since then but what was around the next turn would make all of them stop in their tracks.

Small campfires, makeshift tents from refuse and filthy, disheveled people going about their business - until one by one, they too suddenly saw their new visitors and stopped to stare. It occurred to Ash that having four women wearing close to nothing might cause some problems so she instinctively readied for combat with her companions following suit. It never came though as all the strangers just continued to stare silently with more than one leering pair of eyes scrutinizing every inch of their flesh. After a long, awkward silence an old man with a long bushy beard and plagued skin hobbled forward on his table-leg cane.

"Hello, fine ladies!" he coughed out with spittle spraying out of his mouth. It was hard to imagine how he managed to smell worse than the sewers they had already been traveling through. "It is rare that we get any visitors to our little community down here. I assume you are ... or were gladiators of the arena, yes?"

"We're just... passing through," answered Nerith from somewhere behind Ash. "Do you mind pointing us to the way out?"

"I'm sorry my dear," shrugged the old man. "You have just traded one prison for another. You see, there are only three ways out of here and all of them are heavily guarded, the first of which being where you came from."

"That doesn't make sense," interjected Nessa. "I thought the sewers ran through the entire city?"

"Not these ones," grinned the old man as he leant heavily on his cane. "These were special built. Weren't you curious as to why the guards didn't pursue you down here? It's because there is no need. They simply keep us in here for Dagolar."

"Dagolar?" asked Ash.

"He is a sorcerer working for King Tectuk, as you might expect since the Wizard King made it a point to execute all the sorcerers that refused to work for him. Dagolar is also our host, if you can call him that. He ensures we get food down here. Scraps really, but there's only so much one can forage here. In exchange a few of his guards take some of us every so often. Those that are taken are never seen or heard from again. That also happens to be the second way out."

"What's the last way out?" asked Nessa quickly. It was clear she didn't like the old man's odor.

"The tunnel to your left eventually leads to the farm land just outside the city, but as I said that too has no shortage of soldiers guarding it. Too many even for us," the old man gestured to the camp behind him.

"We still have to try," muttered Nessa as she began heading for the left tunnel.

"Ness wait," ordered Ash. "We can't just leave these people here!"

"Why not?" Nessa hissed back. "They've clearly already given up."

"Would you want to be stuck here forever?" countered Ash. Nessa let out a sigh of defeat.

"So tell me old man, how many guards does Dagolar send here at a time?"

The old man feebly raised four fingers and grinned.

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