Renegade, part three

6 0 0

Gring woke. She sat up and stretched her sore muscles. They were in a cell, more of a pen than a proper prison. The wooden bars were not thick enough to hold her, but the thought of abandoning her companions held her more firmly than any wall could have done.

She would make sure Kharg paid for his dishonor when they encountered civilized beings again. They were still surrounded by oath breakers, and the only human apart from her made his very best to behave like a halfman himself. That shamed her, that and the fact he'd displayed his dishonor in the presence of halfmen.

She rose and started walking to bring warmth to her legs. Carefully. She didn't want to wake Arthur and the girl. They were weak, as all halfmen were, but at least Arthur had shown a resolve that was promising. He couldn't help being caught in an inferior body, and as long as his mind was strong she had no right to despise him. To do so would be to diminish the honor he'd earned for himself.

The halfmen intrigued her, had always done. They were weak and fickle. Never to be fully trusted, and yet, sometimes they shone brightly with an inner light as strong as any human. If she hadn't known better, and darkness knew she'd been given a proper upbringing, she could have thought some of them were almost worthy of being called humans. Not always, of course, but still. That suspicion nagged at her, shamed her at times and made her wonder if she was indeed behaving in an honorable way. Who was she, after all, to question the wisdom of her elders?

It was curiosity and the need to learn more that had driven her to follow the halfman taleweaver when by all rights she should have started trekking back to Gaz to receive new orders before spring arrived. Well, she were headed in the right direction. She wouldn't be many eightdays late if she left the caravan at the Brakish border. If she left the caravan, she corrected herself. They were prisoners now, and darkness only knew when she could go back home again.

She managed another six full circles before her misgivings finally gave way, and then she sat down to meditate. They would be called for when it suited their captors.

That time came sooner than she believed. Arthur and Chaijrild were still asleep, and Gring had to force them awake. They complained weakly before following her on stiff legs when they were let out.

A temporary village, what the halfmen called a camp. Tents were erected to create a pattern of streets rather than for easy protection. Stupid, but that was only to be expected from the skinless ones.

In a distance she saw a pyre. Apparently they burned their dead. They had some decency after all. She sniffed. The air was filled with the smell of burning flesh. The pyre must have been burning for close to half a day.

Gring saw halfmen around her, some of them women. They gave her looks filled with hatred mingled with fear. That was good. They should fear her. She may not be a warrior, but they must still have known she could kill many of them long before she was brought down.

She growled at a man who came too close, and it was with some satisfaction she caught the odor of barely controlled fear as he frantically tried to move out of her way. Gring willed her glands to pour out more of the predator's scent and locked eyes with those facing her. They scattered.

"Why the show? They are hardly worth it."

Gring growled. The smell of Kharg was becoming all too familiar by now.

"Have you forgotten that we used to hunt them?"

"No, and nor that we were all but wiped out as a result," he replied.

"Bah! Numbers, nothing else!"

"You're not a warrior. Any weapon will do in war. A womans womb is as good as any other weapon. They may be inferior in combat, but darkness, they do know how to breed."

The TaleweaverRead this story for FREE!