My hands bound, my mouth gagged, I was led down the tunnel and out through the stable. They’d captured the horses and mules and were trying to take the bird/horse. It snapped it’s sharp beak and a man lost his hand. His companion made to dispatch the bird/horse with his sword but took a hoof to the stomach. The bird/horse broke free and reaching the outside, launched into the air out or reach. Good.
They took me through the streets to the northeast. The buildings here weren’t as tall and showed a different architectural style. We climbed a hill and came to a camp, just as cleverly hidden as the Loyalists’. I wondered how long each had inhabited the city, not knowing of the other.
A male sentinel, medium height with short pepper and salt colored hair, greeted the group.
“Where is Iagut?”
The man who held my tether said, “This one burned him. He follows.”
“Burned?” a familiar voice said. I looked around to see Sentinel Vytar step out of a concealed tent. He looked the same, tall, short red hair, stern expression. He looked me up and down and dismissed me with a snort. “He doesn’t look like a Nord.”
“He tore the roof off the building,” another man said.
“He blocked our bolts. Turned them back on us,” someone added.
“And talked to that monster, like it was his friend,” the man to my right said.
Vytar exchanged glances with the other sentinel, who rolled his eyes.
“A monster?”
“You know, Captain, the swamp monster you wanted us to capture.”
Vytar smirked and the man wilted. “The crockagatorcine, which you let go?”
“It escaped.”
Vytar turned to the man to my left. “Tell me more.”
The man related the series of events that lead to my capture. My actions sounded impressive from his perspective, but I knew they weren’t. They’d been wrong. I’d been correct in my first move to surrender; less people would have been injured or died. I felt a small sense of relief that the short man, Iagut, hadn’t been killed by Zat. Zat – I hope it went with the reptile to the river. There’d be things to burn there.
“He had this, sir,” the man finished his tale and handed my canvas bag to Vytar, who tucked it in his belt with out looking in it.
“So we sent out one hundred and twenty five of you to bring in fifty rebels, and you bring us one Nord,” the other sentinel said.
“And you didn’t capture The Owl,” Vytar said with a growl.
“We’ll go back,” the man vowed.
Vytar shook his head. “The Owl’s gone. You’ll go back and get the crockagatorcine. It needs to be returned to Trommel.”
The men stifled their groans.
“Put him with the others,” the other sentinel said.

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