Episode 15:  Sacrifice

She was the one! She killed his first love. Killed the soldier in the catacombs. Then left Noshee to take the blame.

“You,” Noshee said.

A rather large Harton warrior guarded the opened door. Chusee whispered into his ears.

“Chusee!” Noshee said. A headache struck like a large bell.

The senior researcher peered down at him from the corner of her eye and finished whispering.

Desperation tugged at his heart. Noshee pushed himself up, felt dizzy and nauseous, and fell back to the cold floor.

She squeezed between the guard and the door. Her taloned feet clicked down the dark hallway lit by torches.

“I know you did it!” Noshee pressed against the wall to stand. “Come back. Buzzard!”

A growl emanated from the warrior’s broad chest. Purple silk vest barely clung to the broad torso. “Watch your mouth.”

“Get her.” Noshee struggled against the thick iron chains, shackling his wrist and ankles. “Don’t you see? She was the one in the catacombs. She killed your fellow soldier.” Struggling only caused the barbed wire binding his wings to cinch deeper. Blood trickled down the wings’ membranes.

“Impossible,” the warrior said. Deep voice resonated against the slimy cave walls. “She was with Elden Dena and Warlord Rorkai that day.”

“Yes! But ask them where she was that night.”

That gave the warrior pause. “What makes you think it’s her?”

“She has a sikya spider bite on the back of her left shoulder. She must have gotten it when she was in the catacombs.”

“Sikya spiders live in the caverns of Sajen’s Cliffs, including this one. She could’ve been bitten when she came down to the detention caves.”

“Did she ask for an herbal shot to counteract the sikya's venom?”

The large Harton warrior turned his head toward Chusee's cold steps. “It doesn’t matter. She couldn’t have overpowered our soldier, knocked you out, then killed Haiwee. Why would she do that?”

Before Noshee could answer, the warrior began to haul the door shut.

“Wait!” Noshee wanted to call his name, but he didn’t know it. The door grated closed. There was only one way to gain attention. “Buzzard!”

The grating stopped. Calling any warrior a coward is the same as provoking death. It was not the smartest thing to do.

The door clanged open against the wall. Noshee’s headache worsened. Hinges budged loose. Small rocks bounced off the linen wrap around Noshee’s head. The warrior charged Noshee. His wings trailed.

Noshee had to make it count. He waited. The warrior was almost upon him. He waited.

Wrenching as hard as he could, Noshee clawed the detainer’s face. Apparently, the warrior saw it coming. Because he dodged.

Stars screamed across Noshee’s vision.

. . .

“Stand outside.”

Warlord Rorkai? Sounded like he was under water.

“Can you hear me, Noshee?”

Suddenly, Noshee’s hearing cleared as if he’d risen from the ocean. That was strange. No saliva welled in his mouth. Noshee retched all over his legs. The rotten vinegary smell forced him to retch again.

Rorkai backed away. He waved the stink away and kneeled. “Listen. Listen! You can’t tell Elden Dena I let you go. They’ll unseat me.”

Drool poured from Noshee’s mouth.

“Did you hear me? I'll lose my warlordship.” Rorkai whispered.

Without thinking, Noshee wiped his mouth with the back of his wrist. The iron chain knocked a tooth loose. He cupped his bleeding mouth.

Elden Dena had just entered. The rather large warrior followed. She rushed over to the soiled researcher and wiped his face clean. “Is this how we treat our guest?”

“He swiped at me first, my Elden,” the warrior said.

“By the look of things, he missed. Did he not?” She grasped Noshee’s loose tooth.

The warrior remained quiet.

“Your new tooth will need room to grow,” she said to Noshee. Her wings crowded the small cave. She yanked the loose tooth.

Noshee screamed. More blood gushed.

Noshee looked up. Tears streamed down his cheeks. He didn’t know who looked worse. He or Rorkai.

Choose your poison: Should Noshee betray Warlord Rorkai?

75% of the readers said No.