Michael stirred in his fur pile as a female voice woke him from his slumber. He hadn’t heard a female's voice since he had to fake a friendship with Morga back in the dungeon. This female's voice was much softer though. It was almost comforting. She sounded gentle and genuine, almost the direct opposite of Morga. He listened to the conversation from his sectioned off room of the tent.
The large creatures with tan fur were explaining to the woman that their leader was dying. She seemed just as hurt as she was confused. That was a good thing. Michael had suspected his captors might not actually have ill intent. Maybe, if this woman cared so much about them then his suspicion was right. The creature that interacted with him most introduced himself as Frode and explained that he was there to help. Michael wasn’t sure if he could believe him though. He wasn’t really sure what he could believe anymore, but his delirium was slowly going away. It was entirely possible that these large creatures were indeed here to help him.
Michael continued to listen in on the conversation as Frode brought the woman named Lilly outside. He laughed at the irony of it. It was clear that Frode wasn’t bringing Lilly outside so they could speak in private. He was bringing her outside so their leader wouldn’t be tempted to talk to her. Michael could hear their conversation perfectly from where he was and if he could so could the rest of the tan creatures.
Michael thought the leader of the creatures was very interesting. In between Michael’s feverish fits of consciousness, the leader would try to talk to him. Michael couldn’t be positive because of his paranoia, but he got the impression that the leader despised humans. Now though, he seemed like he couldn't get enough of them. Almost like he owed them something and the only thing he could repay them with was his time.
Michael's ears perked up when he heard a new voice say his brother's name. Standing up quickly, Michael moved closer to the edge of the tent. The sudden movement caused him to get light headed, but he needed to find out where his brother was, so he resisted the urge to sit back down. If his brother was actually in this strange place with him, and it wasn’t just a trick, Michael had to find him.
“Shit,” Michael whispered as the voice explained that his brother got pulled into the dungeon. If it was the same dungeon Michael was trapped in, then his brother was in serious trouble. The discussion moved back inside as the new voice pleaded and pitifully apologized.
Michael moved the canvas flap that separated his room from the rest of the tent and stepped forward. He surveyed the room. The leader of the tan creatures was now fully sitting up with his back turned to Michael. If Michael was going to kill the only creature that he was truly afraid of, now would be his chance. Michael ignored his rogue thought. No, he had a feeling that these creatures were friendly, he didn’t need to fight for his survival anymore. He just had to fight for his brother’s survival. Killing the leader would only slow him down; besides, he didn’t have his weapons or armor.
Michael used the time he had before anyone noticed he was awake to study the creatures in the room. Words appeared above their heads just like they did when he was in the dungeon. He winced when he saw their names appear. It meant that he was still in the same world the dungeon was in. A small part of him hoped the dungeon was just a bad dream, and now he was being pranked, but if words still appeared above people’s heads like they did in the dungeon, it meant that this wasn’t a dream. Or it meant that this was just one long dream. Either way, it was bad news.
“Gahh,” Michael whispered to himself. He needed to focus. His brother was in serious danger, and he needed to find him as soon as possible. Michael read the name tags, watching them update as the creatures in front of him talked and called each other by their real names
The name tag above the woman updated from, ‘Pretty Girl’ to, 'Lilly'. The green creature that was talking about his brother updated from 'Goblin' to 'Noma' and the different variations of, ‘Lion Guy’ all updated to what must have been the real names of all the tan creatures.
Michael cleared his throat and walked around Dreng. A silence overcame the tent as everyone watched him confidently take a place in their discussion circle.
Dreng smiled as the human cub under his care entered the conversation. Everything is coming together, he thought. Well, everything except the fact that James went ahead and got tricked into being captured. Still, the new situation didn’t hamper his mood. Dreng sensed a lot of power in James’s brother and was confident he would save James if he could overcome the last vestiges of the delirium that gripped his brain. Dreng wanted to greet the human cub, to tell him that he was happy that he was okay again, but he refrained from doing so. His could tell his new demeanor towards humans was already making everyone uncomfortable, and he didn’t think making it worse would help anything.
Still, Dreng couldn’t help but smile. He had finally accomplished his mission. His life hadn’t been an easy one, but it was one he could be proud of. He had grown tremendously in the past few months and could look back on his life with the wisdom only gained by sitting on a deathbed. His race was finally safe. He had no doubt James and his party would make sure they remained safe long after he was gone. His son, Torunn, was growing up to be everything his race needed in a future leader. His son was much wiser than he was when he was his age, and that was what the Martyr’s needed. Dreng had only just now let go of his anger towards humans. In retrospect, he knew that that anger only made things harder for himself and his clan. He was happy that Torunn never held that anger towards humans. It would allow him to lead his race to forge lasting partnerships with the humans. Something Dreng should have figured out how to do long ago.
Dreng waited for Michael to speak, and when he did, Dreng was reminded of his younger self; direct, and straight to the heart of the matter without much care for pleasantries or excuses. The human cub didn’t say thanks for healing me, or anything of the sort; he simple confirmed the type of dungeon his brother was currently trapped inside.
When Noma said James was inside the same dungeon Michael was trapped inside just weeks ago, Michael turned and headed for the tent’s exit.
“Wait,” Dreng boomed, causing everyone to freeze. “You will need a weapon, Michael.”
Michael turned around and faced the chieftain, who motioned to Freydis. Frey turned and lifted the lid of a nearby chest, pulling out a gigantic Mace with both of her hands. Dreng grabbed the mace with one hand and called Torunn over. “I had meant to give this to you when you were older and strong enough to carry it, but it seems like I won’t get that option, my son.”
Dreng held the mace in the air and whispered something under his breath. The incantation materialized and swirled around the mace. Without warning, the mace shattered, leaving behind two smaller maces and a pile of metal dust. Dreng handed one of the smaller maces to Torunn, who accepted the gift with a forced smile, “Torunn, my son. Take a part of my weapon and accompany Michael to save your brother. When you come back you will be chieftain.” Dreng paused for a long moment to look at his son. He was proud of the Martyr he was becoming and knew he would lead their race to new levels of prosperity. Dreng let those feelings be communicated through his eyes, but refrained from saying them out loud. He was wise enough to know that the way he felt for his son couldn’t be explained with words. There were simply no words to describe the love between a father and a son.
Torunn let Dreng know he had received the message by flashing a genuine smile, and Dreng collapsed back onto the ground, “Give the other mace to Michael. When you want to combine them again talk to Frode. He will teach you the spell.”
With his last command as chieftain, Dreng rushed the others out of the tent and into the dungeon.