Gathering - Part 1Mature

Zane slammed his fist into the man's gut, watching as blood was spat on the ground in reaction. He hated resorting to this sort of filth, but he would pound any information he could out of these bastards. 

Around them lie the remains of the man's allies - bandits, they claimed to be - and Thorn against a tree. She was still recovering from her wounds, plus the man he was questioning was skilled in Mind, so she decided to 'sit this one out.' Damn woman was a nuisance. If she hadn't proved useful...

"You wouldn't dare to leave a girl as pretty as me, love!" Thorn called over.

"Choke on a sandreaver, you filth!" Zane retorted, then focused back on the man. So far, other than the usual curses and refusals to talk, the bastard had said nothing. Zane slammed his fist into the so-called bandit's filthy face. He knew it wouldn't work, of course. What no one ever told the younger generation when they recounted stories with torture was that it almost never worked. 

But it sure felt damn good. 

And, sadly, it would wear out the idiot and let the other idiot read through his memories. Scarred Father! As usual, something else stood in the way of getting his stupid brother back and go home. Why couldn't the world ever be simple?

"Want to try to read him now, woman?"

Thorn groaned and got up to walk over, taking her time to dust off her tight leathers and fix her short black hair.  Taking her own damn time was becoming a habit. Was she milking her injuries for all they were worth?

"I'm definitely not, love," Thorn said, answering Zane's thoughts, "But I would love to be pampered by you, my handsome lordling."

"I hate you," Zane answered, walking away as Thorn approached and stared at the man. "Just do your thing."

"Later, love. We have company for now." She gave him a wink - the bitch - and focused on the man. "Seems we need to go to Mar."

Zane watched the man's expression change from anger and fear to shock. "That wasn't hard."

Thorn smiled just before planting a knife into the bandit's head. "Oh, please, I'm simply the best. You know you love that about me." She gave Zane a wink and blew a kiss, before cleaning and sheathing her knife.

"Unscarred Creator," Zane said to the sky, "If you let me never see her again after this damn journey is over, I will never say another curse."

A laugh escaped Thorn. "Such a shy boy. You know you're starting to love me."

"I only love those brief moments between your words that contain silence." Zane started walking with Thorn by his side, towards the Plains of Mar. It would take a few days to reach the city, though. "So, he knew Zero was in Mar?"

Thorn shook her head. "No, but I've gathered enough information to know they are heading there at the very least." She glanced back at the hill containing the bodies of the 'bandits.' "They are part of a group based in Mar that has been collecting powerful Mystic users for some reason. So far, none knew why, but they were devout. Poor, poor babies."

Zane growled. "Filthy bastards. Kidnapping children is beyond cowardly."

"Aww, how noble!" Thorn giggled. "It's like your actually a lordling!"

"You know I am, stupid woman."

"I know, but even I still doubt it. Your more like a lost puppy trying to find its home."

Zane wanted to punch her, which was a common feeling, but let it go. He was feeling relieved from actually having a destination. Mar, the City on High. It rested on a massive plateau and was originally built to be a large fortress to buffer Great Lizard attacks. Since the war against the damnable beasts ended, it was made as the capital of the Plainlands. 

But why would this organization - if it could be called that - base itself in Mar? The Scarred Sanction wouldn't have even done that, and those damn zealots were almost everywhere else. It made no sense, but Zane didn't care anyway. He would save Zero, maybe whoever else he could, and then leave for Faerein. 

-

Daedelus wrote his signature for what seemed like the fiftieth time that afternoon. Scarred Father, why was he forced to do this desk work? He was a warrior, not an accountant. But, he had to follow orders from those above him. 

Plus, they had a new batch of children from the isle of Murdos coming in the next week. If they were anything like the haul from that damnable desert, things would start moving faster. 

The door to his small office burst open, Jadef entering in a rush. "Sir-"

"I swear to the Unscarred Creator," Daedelus said, cutting off his underling, "If this isn't either news on me getting free ale for life or a beautiful wanting to talk to me, I will gut you with a spoon!"

Jadef hesitated, but shook his head and rushed up to the desk. "Sir, they've escaped! They got out!"

"Dammit all!" Daedelus slammed his pen on the desk and jumped up. "When did this happen? Where in Cain's Sin were you?" 

"Just under half an hour ago, sir," Jadef said, running to keep up with Daedelus as he walked out into the hallway. "I ran to find you as soon as I found out.

Daedelus growled, cursing his luck. He passed the cells containing their unwilling recruits and wondered if the escapees would come for them. It would be bad, though not a massive incident, should all of the current recruits be freed, as most of them were still children too afraid to fight. Wait...

"Who escaped?"

"The Air Sovereign and that boy we put him with," Jadef replied. "The one we got from Faerein."

"How?" They had the Air Sovereign in a room with literally no exits and an Alcheic user on standby in case he somehow made one, too. Was it that boy? He was talented, apparently, but only used Air. What had they used to escape?

"They mad Fren open the door for them, sir... It was Mind."

"What? We checked! His Mind was barely able to detect lies. There's no way he could have controlled a soldier."

Jadef grimaced. "Sir, it was just for a brief moment. Fren opened the door, then tried to shut it back immediately, but that kid ran out and knocked him out before he could. I assume the Sovereign knows something of Mind and taught him just enough to do that."

Daedelus cursed. It made sense, given Fren was not the brightest of his staff. "Nonetheless, find them. That old bastard might be the Sovereign, but his body is weak with age. And that boy... Be careful handling him."

"Sir?"

"Just a hunch, but I think that desert runt is going to be trouble." Desert dwellers were always trouble.

The End

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