Helena woke on a rough bed that seemed to be made of potato sacks. The room was cold and damp; the grey walls glistened with moss and dew. The floor to ceiling floors bars suggested this was a cell, but the open door suggested she wasn’t a prisoner.
Clambering to her feet slowly she thought of her dagger, yet it did not emerge in her hand. She thought of her bow, she thought of her food and drink, she thought of her armour. None of it appeared.
She peered around the outside of the cage and down a long sullen corridor of similar cells – only their doors were closed. Candle light played with the shadows in a synchronised dance.
With precise, soft, agile steps Helena edged down the corridor her back to the wall opposing the cells.
“’elp us out darling’?” Within each room appeared a prisoner. Each prisoner was the same bald headed, tattooed, thug-looking monster and with each passing that same prisoner uttered the same line.
“That’s just plain lazy.” Helena muttered to herself.
At the end of the corridor there was an archway that led outside, it was daytime. Just beyond the exit stood a heavily armed guard, Helena gasped. The man was tall; probably well over 200cm in height. His skin was a dark pallid greyish green and his eyes, a void of black. His head turned to look at her.
“Your time has been served, thief.” His deep guttural voice rallied off the stone arch.
“I can just leave?”
“Your equipment has been seized. Move along.”
“Can I have it back?”
Helena edged past the monster and down a badly made stone path. She looked back and the guard continued to watch her. She had been in some kind of fort. Other monster-like men stood, archers on turrets.
Beyond the fort walls the path forked. An old wooden sign told Helena that if she travelled for three days to the east she would arrive at Empyria Gate, and if she travelled half a day to the west she’d reach Hethersbrooke.
“This is ridiculous.” She sighed. Before the day was out she would need food. She was already feeling weak. Maybe she’d find something easy to steal in Hethersbrooke. “Who knows,” she mumbled, she might even find a random chest at the side of the road containing useful items. It wouldn’t be a first.