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Leaning against his spear quiet and barely awake Lucian yawned widely, the city militia had doubled up its efforts recently and now he was stuck watching the gate at four in the morning. The recent rumors of devastating attacks on the outlying villages were concerning but four in the morning? Who the hell was going to attack at four in the morning? Surely even barbarians needed sleep especially if they were as useless as he was after missing it.
Turning back to the open fields that led away from the city he paused, the muscular stomach that was now in front of him was a sudden contrast to the usual view and before his sleep addled brain could calculate what it meant a sudden ringing noise filled his helmet and the world went black.
As reality seemed to close in around him again Lucian coughed against the smell of smoke and dirt, his wrists and ankles felt heavy and as his vision seemed to seep back in he saw a collection of bare feet in front of him. Swallowing back he looked up slowly the muscle and battle marked skin seeming to go on forever until he reached something that made him pause, those weren't supposed to be there. Glancing to the top of the figure as he wrestled his attention away he tried to get to his feet only to be reminded of the heavy manacles holding him in place. Women, every barbarian he could see was a woman and beyond that they made the strongest men in the guard look like children. Struggling with the concept he suddenly felt a hard pull around his neck jerking him forward and pulling him back to the floor his helmet falling away and causing his long black hair to spill around him.
Leaning on the railing in silence Cole stared out over the draining pipes and red dirt that filled the passes and yards ahead of him in frustration, stuck on a dead end planet with nothing but scum in every direction. After a series of incidents this job was pretty much the only one available to him and he detested it within his first two weeks. The prison complex stretched for miles in every direction around him and the prisoners milled about beneath him either working for their rations or continuing with their lives as they'd been before coming here. The worst kind of scum littered the facility and the crimes they committed outside were often nothing compared to what they did in here and the guards simply didn't care. Turning away and making his way down the rusted steps Cole shook his head, most of the other guards were as bad as the prisoners and for someone who used to prevent crime seeing it thrown around without concern or interest here was just frustrating. Still practically none of them were ever going to leave and he got the feeling like them he and the other guards were imprisoned here with no hope of leaving.
Three years, alot can happen in three years. Looking up from the bloodied straw and soiled dirt of his cell Lucian sighed deeply his feeling of depression not lifting no matter what he thought. Three years ago he'd left this small rural community for the war intent on keeping it safe and ensuring nothing tainted such an innocent place. Two days ago he'd returned, he could remember being worried that things would never feel the same after fighting even in such a pure and beautiful place. His concerns of how he'd changed seemed laughable now he knew how his home had been changed. Closing his eyes he recounted the events in silence.
The dirt road felt no different, it was strange what you remembered even after so long. The familiarity didn't last long, once the log wall around the village came into sight nothing was the same. Where once had been green verges there was now just dirt and sharpened posts many with blood still fresh on them. Speeding to a jog and then a sprint Lucian hit his shoulder against the gate forcing it to slowly creak open. He was scared for everyone, but most for her. The innocent and beautiful girl he'd left behind when he went to war. He remembered the empty promise he'd made to her that he'd return in a month or two and then he'd propose to her. He doubted either of them believed it but it kept him going and now something terrible had happened and he already felt guilt cutting through him.
The gate creaked open loudly and his hand shot to his sword hilt instinctively. The once happy village was nothing of the sort anymore, ragged flags marked with a vulgar symbol flew everywhere and rough structures had been dotted on open plots and the burnt remains of houses. Skeletons and stale blood were left on display and any familiarity had been smeared in filth long ago. As the shock set in a blow to the back of his hand sent his sword skidding through the dirt and a second strike forced him to his knees. Dragged through the mud and trash that now littered his fond memories Lucian was thrown down on a slab of wood and left to look up at something that shattered his reality like a hammer on glass. There she was, rough armor barely covering her and blood and aging scars covering her once flawless skin. The stern look on her face showed that not a speck of innocence or purity remained in her and that was the last he saw before a final strike blacked him out.
Snow, Rosker hated snow. The empty white slowly falling all around him and the splashes of red he left behind him almost feeling like a welcome change after having put up with it for so long. Clutching a hand to the leaking wound in his side he sighed to himself trudging over the steep slopes that led him further over the mountain. Nothing about this situation felt like it was getting any better, the southern lands his kind lived on were being invaded by the cold ones and every ally they could muster would be needed even the oldest of old enemies, he guessed he should count himself lucky the skulking lizards couldn't stand to pursue him any further into these freezing mountains. Glancing back down the slope he grit his teeth, he doubted he'd find allies up here even if he reached the holds and mines that dotted the mountainsides. Ogres and dwarves had been in an uneasy agreement for years but neither tolerated the other well and he was expecting all manner of grudges to be waiting for him. Still if he didn't get support then his homeland would be overran by reptiles by the time his corpse had been buried in the snow.
Shaking his shoulders to keep the snow off he began to pick up his pace his body numb and his vision blurring in and out. He could see one of the towering stone holds in the distance but in his present condition it may as well be on the far side of the ocean. Feeling the strength finally fade from his legs the ogre collapsed forward into the thick white sheet beneath him staring up through the wind towards the poorly defined form of the citadel and whatever it was that was approaching him through the blizzard.
Slowly light began to filter into his eyes again, not the kind of light that pierced through the snow on a mountainside but the warm glow of a nearby fire. The numbness in his body was still present but better than it'd been for hours. Jerking up as he thought on his mission he felt his body ache in protest though eased by the apparent lack of his armor. Looking down at the bandages and unpleasant smelling salve worked into his wound he slowly lay back again a feeling of weakness coming over him until his head struck uncomfortably on the stone end of the bed. Slowly becoming aware that his legs were dangling over the far end just as uncomfortably he sat up again, the bed was built for someone half his size and the thick fur sheets and stonework around it gave him an uncomfortable if relieving feeling. It was undoubtedly dwarven, he was exactly where he needed to be though he couldn't think of anywhere he'd sooner avoid. He should probably be grateful they hadn't left him to die in the snow or put an axe to him as soon as they found him, if they'd bothered to fix him up then hopefully it meant they at least wanted to hear what he had to say. As the large fireplace in the opposite wall heated him Rosker slowly became aware of a pleasant smell even over the medicinal stink coming from his wound. Fresh meat stewing, for all their differences dwarves and ogres had similar tastes in their food and after the three day journey it made his mouth water. Grunting in discomfort when he tried to stand and his frozen legs opposed him he propped himself against the nearest wall for support keen to see just who here had thought an ogre worth saving.
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