The Fourth RecruitMature

The door opened.

Why did the door open?

It wasn't meal time, and Xander knew there was no one who would consider visiting him. That meant one of two of things, either he was free, or he was dead. Seeing the soldiers come around the corner made it clear which it would be. Free men didn't need guards.

"You the engineer?" one of them asked.

"Well, it really depends on your definition of-"

A hand shot through the bars to grab Xander's shirt. "I didn't ask for an autobiography. Are you the engineer?"

The spindly man nodded, and was promptly released by the gloved hand. The door to the cell was unlocked and the prisoner was ushered out. His escort marched him back through the dark jail, up a flight of stairs, and down the hall. At the end, the group turned right, and Xander frowned. 

He had been in this place before his imprisonment, and the inventor always made it a point to commit a blueprint to memory for the duration of the job. He only remembered bits and pieces of the schematic now, but back when he had studied the drawings he had come across this hallway, and made a rhyme for it. 

"Left, bereft, right to the light"

"Keep your mouth shut" the guard in charge commanded. 

Xander decided against sticking out his tongue at the man, and picked up where he left off before the rude interruption.

Left bereft, right to the light

Turning left led an unfortunate prisoner straight to the gallows where they would inexorably be hanged until dead, and subsequently bereft of life. Taking a right though... there was no reason a prisoner would be led right unless he was being freed, freedom being the light at the end of any prisoner's tunnel.

Another surprise turn was taken, confusing Xander all the more. He didn't know where this one led, only where it didn't. He wasn't being let go, because the exit was the opposite direction. 

The scenery gradually grew more ornate, until a final turn revealed a pair of tall gilded doors. The throne room. He had been taken to the throne room.

Why the throne room?

"You are dismissed."

Xander blinked. Dismissed? He had only just gotten here. The large doors boomed shut, startling the tinker, and he noticed that his guards were no longer flanking him. He also spotted the man responsible for their disappearance, sitting on the large chair watching him. The Tyrant Lord.

"Xander. A tinker by trade, is that correct?"

Beaming, the man replied, "Why yes! I'm surprised sir, most people say inventor, but of course that's-"

"Enough."

Xander frowned, this place was filled with ill-mannered folk. Their parents must not have-

"-like to be free?"

The inventor blinked. "Excuse me?"

Mistaking the inventor's inattentiveness for disbelief, the Tyrant Lord smiled, "That's right. Would you like to be free?"

Free? Why? After all, "It's not so bad in he-" Xander cut himself off. What was he saying? Of course he wanted to be free! "I mean. Yes sir. Free."

"Good. Then you are free," and the tall man promptly turned to go. No sense in dragging things-

"-After you help me with something."

Xander should have known there would be a catch. There always was. But still, he wasn't going to turn down freedom. The man probably just need work down on his pipes. 

"Anything sir. What can I do for you?"

"Oh not just for me, but for you. For this land. The entire kingdom."

The entire kingdom needed new pipes?

"You are going to kill some demons."

"I've never killed a demon before..." Xander said slowly, and it was true. He had never ever seen a demon before. One time he had exorcised a bottle full of spirits, or so said the man at the counter. All Xander had found was foul smelling liquid. 

"Well that's not a problem. You tinkers are the hands on type right?"

The man nodded, "Oh yes, very hands on, can't really make anything worthwhile with any other body parts."

"Good. Then you're used to learning on the job," another nod. "Well there will be plenty of that, so don't worry. I'm sure you will figure it out. You will set out with others like yourself tomorrow morning. I'll see that you are provided with some tools and scraps."

Xander's eyes glowed. Tools... and scraps. It had been a long time since he had been able to see a tool. Or build with one. He couldn't wait to get started.

The man on the chair said something else, but the inventor was too busy day-dreaming of returning to his hobby. He barely noticed the men guiding him out the door and back to his cell.

The End

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