“Move it!” one of the soldiers kicked Dechar to keep him moving forward despite his shock. A large cage had been rolled out in front of the throne, and Dechar was ushered in.
King Gillireth gazed through the bars of the cage with curiosity. “Gordon, were you not in the battalion I sent out to bring me back my brother Zolan? Why then do I see this creature before me? Where did you find it? And where is your superior?” His speech was a bit slurred due to his deformity, but his voice was commanding.
“The general is out looking for the chief, sire,” Gordon replied with a humble bow. “Though I regret to inform you of the passing of your brother. It is his eldest, your niece, we sought to retrieve in his stead. The wolf we found with the girl.”
The king’s eyes widened. “With the girl?” He paused before yelling “Merenia!” to summon his servant of mysticism.
A very elderly woman peered out from one of the doors on the side of the great hall. “Your majesty?”
“Merenia, examine this wolf for me. Tell me if this is the one.”
She slowly made her way up to Dechar’s cage to look him over. She grumbled to herself as she paced all around the cage, stopping on occasion to poke him with the stick she used for a cane. “Sire, you have found him. You may put this curse on yourself to rest.” She handed him a blade from her tired robes.
Taking it in his hand, he rose from his chair and approached Dechar. “Wait!” Dechar interjected. His voice became steady as he explained, “I don’t know what the hell is going on here. At least show a little honor by telling me who you think I am and what you think I did before you kill me.” He looked the king firmly in the eye.
“You do not speak to me!” Gillireth barked. “You have dealt more pain on my house than you can imagine, vermin.”
“There is something else, your majesty,” Merenia said. “He does not know the truth. He sees himself as he is, and has not known anything more. He is weak.”
“Look who's talking,” Dechar sneered. “Your brother-- he was a great man. He raised me when he found me abandoned as a pup. He was a man of valor. And I don't see that in you.”
“My brother was a great FOOL who brought shame to the royal line!” Gillireth spat. He raised his dagger in both hands above Dechar’s head. Then, all of the sudden, it was as if he no longer saw Dechar, but was looking at something beyond, something in his memory. His hands began to shake and he stumbled, becoming weak. “Take him to the dungeon,” he said, still shaking. “I will finish him later.”
“Should I have the men put him in chains like the woman?” Gordon asked.
“No. Treat the beast as he is, a dog. He’s not dangerous. But the other-- we no longer need her. I would like you to see her hanged tomorrow morning as the others were today. I am no longer interested collateral dealings with the tribes.” He looked at Dechar in disgust. “Go on! Take him from my sight.”
Amidst his unmitigated confusion, Dechar was taken back out of the castle, around its edifice, and down a narrow staircase of stone to the dungeon door. It screamed open to reveal a very scarcely lit set of holding cells, all of which were empty, save one at the end.
Dechar was placed in the cell across from the occupied one and locked inside. "Enjoy your stay, however brief, beast," one of the men chuckled. He, Gordon, and the other man left the dungeon with haste. Dechar had sensed their discomfort in the room, and he attributed it to the woman across the way. Once they had gone, he decided to get a better look at her.
Her slender frame had been wrapped again and again in chains that gave off a strange light. Dechar was not one to believe in magic, but he had to wonder if the chains had been somehow enchanted. Her head hung down and her face was covered in a tangled mass of long, silver hair. Her clothing hung in rags upon a voluptuous figure. She stood like a statue in the midst of her cell until, finally, she looked up.
The face behind strands of whitish hair was surprisingly youthful, revealing the woman to be somewhere in her twenties. Her skin was very fair save for a rosiness in her cheeks that had somehow been sustained under the frightful conditions. Most striking of all were her delicately upturned eyes, which seemed almost to glow a dazzling blue.
Concern and dismay plagued her expression. And then, upon seeing Dechar, a glimmer of hope.