By Amarad Nightsbane

((read the whole thing, or at least the end *snicker*))

He took a large bite out of the bread. Hmmm, decent. Baked with onions, just how he liked it, and still warm. Finishing off his mutton stew he noticed how tangy it was, smothered in spice.

He hated that.

"Why am I here wasting time?", he thought. His father was here, in this town... somewhere. He had to be, everything pointed here, and it was only common sense that he was either living the miserable life of a slave, cleaning the grime from the lazy town rat's home, or hauling the things they find "too heavy", or already dead. Though a harsh truth that was, he couldn't go on not knowing what happened to his father. He couldn't live any longer unsure of what happened to he who gave him the very blood that flowed in his veins. His mother had already died, a victim of the same townie attack that forced him and his brother into a harsh exile. "FINE", he thought, "only made me stronger ya jerks."

"This place reeks a' Altene", he mumbled to himself as he looked around. Roughly eight out of ten of the bastards in here had some kind of staff resting nearby as they ate. This wasn't the right place to make his move, he'd have to be discreet for once in his life. Throwing open the heavy oak door forcefully, he took to the streets.

"Ya ever seen or 'eard of a man... oh YAY tall", he would stretch his arms to guage the height, though it was hard to tell how tall they were in relation now, but his father towered over him when he was five, so he could only guess. "Big, broad, 'uge...."

"Aye, 'es got this scar on 'is 'ead... it's five lil' red scars, thar on 'is 'ead, on tha top, if ya look at em 'ead on they look just like a star.."

His father would always pride himself on that scar, he drew the shape in the dirt....

"Hmmm, and what did he do? Was he a patrician?", they eyed him up....

He grunted, "Nah... 'e was a slave..."

They always hurried away soon after that.

The aggrivation was taking it's tole. He found himself snapping at people when they didn't co-operate, or grumbling a bit louder as soldiers or guards passed by. Then he made the mistake. Though it seemed like only a small mishap, it would lead to a defining moment in his life....

He'd been beaten horribly before, so pain didn't bother him as much as others. His patience was wavering, and the silent, yet taunting, insults from every group of guards that passed him tore at his nerves like a rabit badger. "'ey ya stoopid townie with yer big stick, why don't ya take a shot at me with yer staff n' not yer mouth, eh? Me n' you, one on one." He sneered at a guard.

"C'mon street scum.", was the reply.

He rushed at the cocky guard, though he knew very well thier skill could outweigh his own. He saw the sweep coming, and easily jumped above it. He ducked down and threw his shoulder into the stavesman's gut, pushing him back and forcing the stave from his hand. Snarling, his jabbed forward at the guard, burying the point of his gladius deep into the man's right shoulder. The alanti blade had pierced through the man's pterygyes and dug deep, producing a bleeding wound. He took a step back and cried out for the match to stop.
Then the barbarian made the mistake. Had he withdrawn then, he most likely wouldn't have been harmed, seeing as how the guard agreed to the match....

He stepped inwards, raising his gladius high above his head, then plunged it downward in a perfect verticle arch. It ran along the guard's neck, which began to spit forth blood like a spring. The man collapsed into a heap, but he still clung to his life, clamping down on the wound and breathing slowly to controll the bleeding. The swordsman had let his guard down. The second stave crashed into his unprotected head, sending him sprawling...

He awoke, chained to a metal peg in the center of a cell with a pair of mantacles. His head lay in a puddle of encrusted and soiled blood that had come from the crack in his head. He grunted as he raised himself to his knees. He wished he could see the wound, probly black with infection by now. They had left his leggings on him, all else was gone.

Life was a steady hell there. A servent would throw some food scraps into the small stone cell every now and then. If he couldn't reach it with his mouth, his hands mantacled to the peg, the rats would have a free meal... until they got to close, then they became the meal.

If he made too much noise, which he always did, the guards would come in and beat him like a sullied pig, taunting and spitting. As long as he didn't die, he loved every second of it.

"Feed me 'ate.. dat's it... make me wanna 'urt ya more.."

Then he got his chance. One day a person that he'd never seen before came into his cell, followed by two guards. "Is that him? The man asking the questions?", he said, pointing to the prisoner. "Yes sir", one replied. "Give me a moment alone with him, we have something to... discuss...". The guard grinned, "Aye sir."

A slap to the head, "I know who you are you barbarian wretch...". "Then who am I", he replied, recovering from the blow. "Why were you asking for that man", he spat. "'es my father", was the reply, which was matched by another accusation, "Then I know EXACTLY who you are!" Another slap, "Your father.. the man you are looking for.. killed MY father several years ago... you bastard!" He began pounding away at his face and head vehemently. He could care less, as he was thrashed he could only think of what had happened. "'owd it 'appen?", he snarled. "He was subdued during one of our conquests of the savage barbarian tribes, we took him as a slave... he hit my father one dat with a table and snapped his neck... YOU BASTARDS HAVE NO HONOR!"

He growled, "Yer tha ones that sound like savage bastards ta me."

The iron links of the manacles snapped as the tension was finally too much. He leapt forth and siezed the man by the collar or his lorica with one hand. "Town rat", he spat as he drove his fist into the man's face. This guy had to be but in his teens still... but he wore the garb of nobiliy, a sickening array that only the fat of pocket could afford... Good, a nice gladius hanging on his side. While he was still dazed by the punch he grabbed the blade. A very nice bronze, decorated with some nice fancy gems and crap. He grumbled at the gaudy weapon, "It'll do."

"G'night", he spoke as he knocked the man out cold with the pommel of the sword... which was ironicly shaped like the boys own face.... Hmmm, ouch. The knocked on the door, and with a high pitched imitated voice, he spoke, "All right, my business is done, let me out". As the door opened he lept into the hall and took off at a full paced run. There's no way they could catch him with such a nice head start... until he noticed the guard at the other end of the hall. He barreled into him, knocking him flat on his arse, picked him up by the scruff of his jerkin, and kept on running.

"Where do they keep tha slaves dat 'misbehave'", he growled. "Ah... ah.. down below.. in the cages...", he managed just before he was dropped by the running barbarian.

He sprinted down the the stairs as quickly as he could, panting for all the work on his lungs. He wasn't used to this anymore. He was greeted by a horrid charnel smell and the morbid sight of rows and rows of cages imbedded into the wall. Each about the size of a man, lined with straw and complete with arm and leg mantacles. Some of them had the misfortune of still being alive, while some lay rotting in thier stone tombs.... No guards down here, good.

He could hear some commotion above, he had to hurry. He grabbed an old man that looked to be alive and looked at his scalp, no scars.
"What! Why are ya grabbin me? Are ya a guard? Am I free?", he muttered, startled. "No, I'm lookin fer my father.. 'e 'ad these scars on 'is 'ead.. looked like this...", he drew a reasonable sketch in the thick dirt on the floor. "I saw when they dragged em in 'ere though..", he muttered. His eyes brightened, "Where!?"

"Let me out n' I'll show ya", he smiled weakly.

The tore the grated door from it's hinges and threw it upon the floor, others saw and began shouting to be freed. The guards would know JUST where he was now... he cursed.

"SHOW ME NOW! 'FORE WE GET KILLED!", he shouted above the commotion. He walked to a corridor and pointed to the small doorway at it's end. "There...", he sighed before he took off towards the back of the room. Heavy footsteps echoed above him as he slowly walked to the door and forced it open.

The smell was horrible in here... and all that lay in the cell was a battered skeleton hung from several chains... there was still bits of stubborn flesh the rats had neglected to eat yet. "NO!... this can't be 'im..", he groaned, tears almost running from his eyes. But he knew it was true.

On the top of the skull... were five tell-tale grooves.... that formed roughly the same desing he'd drawn in the dirt just outside.....

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