Chapter 8 – The Action of the Tiger

“Captain? May I ask a question?”

Tobias glanced at Armin, sitting across the fire from him.  “As long as you make it quick. We should get some rest. We still have several days journey to New Abstan and I want to get moving again as early as possible.”

The fall of night had forced the two of them to make camp alongside the road to New Abstan in order to get some food and sleep.

The young leopard nodded. “I was just curious, sir.” He said. “Assuming we find and rescue Herrick, what are we going to do with him? We can’t just take him in…”

The old wolf smiled. “And why not?”

“Because there are rules and regulations, sir, you know that.” Armin explained. “Before we bring him in, he needs to be prepared, he needs to accept Brotherhood membership and everything that entails…”

“These are far from normal circumstances, Armin.” Tobias shrugged. “I’m sure we could get special dispensation from Central.”

Armin raised an eyebrow. “Then you mean to contact them?”

“Once we have Royce, yes.” Tobias replied.

“I do have another concern, captain.” Armin said. “As loathe as I am to admit it, Herrick does remind me of the way I used to be. The arrogance, the recklessness, the repressed anger…”

“I had noticed the similarity.” Tobias commented. “I even mentioned it a few times.”

“The thing is, sir,” Armin said, “I believe that I can understand Herrick better that you can. And after all Nomack has done to him, I think we may have trouble convincing him to join us. He may very well be more concerned with hunting down Nomack to extract his revenge.”

Tobias sighed. “That is a possibility I have considered.”

“It’s more than a possibility.” Armin shook his head. “In my opinion, sir, it is a near certainty.”

“Then that’s something we’ll just have to deal with when the time comes.” Tobias shrugged. “After all, I managed to get through to you when the time came. Eventually.”

Armin grimaced. “Please don’t remind me. I always shudder when I remember how stubborn I used to be.”

The old wolf laughed at his discomfort. “You have to learn to accept your past and who you used to be, Armin. Because like it or not, it is part of who you are today.”

“How did you become so wise?” Armin sighed, accepting his captain’s words.

“I learned from the best.” Tobias said.

“Acheron?” Armin guessed.

Tobias nodded. “Of everyone I have ever met, he was by far the wisest.”

“I wish I could have met him.” Armin admitted.

“So do I.” Said Tobias. “But he was very much before your time. And now is the time for us to get some rest.”

“Of course, sir.” Said Armin, lying down to sleep.

Tobias did likewise, but while his leopard companion was soon fast asleep, the old wolf lay awake, worried.

He knew Armin was right about what Royce would want to do when rescued. But despite the similarity with the leopard, Tobias knew Royce was very different. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to dissuade him from wanting revenge…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Revenge, Royce?” Said Acheron. “Is that really what you want?”

“Yes!” Royce snarled at the white tiger. “Do you know what he did to me? The destruction of my life, the humiliation and degredation…”

“As a matter of fact, I do know.” Acheron said. “I’m very sorry I couldn’t be there personally to help you. But take it from someone older and wiser than you. Revenge is not the answer.”

The two tiger’s were sat in the courtyard of their old home, where Acheron had invested so much time and effort in freeing Royce.

“So what would you suggest?” Royce asked. “That I just let him get away with it? That I just walk away?”

“I’m not suggesting anything.” Acheron replied. “What you choose to do is down to you. It always has been. But my advice would not to go after Nomack in search of revenge. That is never a good path to go down. And you have enough trouble to deal with.”

“You mean, what with having to rebuild the life Nomack took from me?” Royce sighed.

“In addition to other things…” The huge white tiger muttered.

Royce frowned. “What other things?”

Acheron looked about to reply, but stopped himself. “That’s a conversation I don’t think we’re ready for yet, my friend. But soon.”

The tiger beside him simply shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. This is just a dream, after all.”

Acheron laughed. “You believe that, if it’ll help.”

“And since this is just a dream,” Royce continued, “then it doesn’t matter what advice you try to give me. I’m going after Nomack.”

“That is your choice of course.” Acheron said, sadly. “But you will have to deal with the consequences…”

“I don’t care!” Royce spat. “After what he’s done, I’m going to rip his throat out with my bare hands!”

“I hope you reconsider.” Acheron said. “Farewell for now, my friend. I believe it’s time to wake up…

…Royce was suddenly awake.

He glanced about the cramped, dilapidated room he’d rented since escaping Nomack five days before. The sun was setting, the room was considerably darker than when he had gone to sleep. He was tired and thought about resting some more, but he wanted to watch Nomack some more before he had to be at the Arena.

As he got up and stretched, his thoughts turned to the strange dream. It had been very vivid, almost as if actually being in the company of his old mentor once again. He knew that if Acheron could see him now, he would be as disappointed in him as he had been in the dream, with the path he had chosen.

But he also knew Acheron well enough to know that he would respect Royce’s decision, his right to make his own choices. And his mind was made up. He was going to make Nomack pay for what he’d done.

His feelings of anger had not abated in the slightest in the five days since he had regained the freedom of his mind. And he remembered every detail of his escape.

The call of Nomack’s voice had cut through his reverie immediately after he had begun thinking about revenge against his tormentor. Royce had crept to the bedroom door and listened against it.

“Thorne! Dammit, where is he?”

Then and there, Royce had nearly been overcome by the urge to throw open the door and attack the wolf merchant, rip out his throat with his bare hands.

But he was smarter than that. He knew Nomack would easily overcome him. He was still woozy and weakened from the drugs and physical abuse. He knew he had to take his time, regain some of his strength, and then strike when the time was right. But he also couldn’t stay there. He had to get out.

Nomack had still been calling for his assistant. When he had thought about it then, Royce probably had Thorne to thank for his freedom. What the puma had said had caused that memory of Acheron to re-emerge, which must have allowed him to break free of the effects of the drugs. At least, that was the only explanation he could come up with for his sudden freedom.

But he didn’t have time to spend thinking about it. Royce had glanced about the room for an exit before realising he was still completely naked. Well, except for the collar.

He had to keep the iron collar until he found a way to remove it. But he could hardly go running around naked and attract attention. A quick rummage through Nomack’s clothes had turned up some trousers and a shirt that he could wear. They wouldn’t exactly fit him well, but they’d have to do. He’d finished off his outfit with one of the wolf merchant’s travelling cloaks for warmth. It would also be able to hide the collar until he found a way to remove the damn thing.

Royce’s search had also turned up a small pouch of coins among Nomack’s possessions. It wasn’t a great amount of money, probably just some loose change of the merchant’s, but it was better than nothing.

Before he finally left, he had crept to the door and listened against it. He could hear Nomack a few rooms away…

“I am very sorry, Mr. Livingston,” he was saying. “But my assistant had the contracts, but he seems to have disappeared…”

Nomack had been distracted. That was the perfect time to go.

Royce had chosen the window as his escape route and had thrown it open. The cool night air struck him immediately once he did, biting at him through the thin clothing he’d chosen. Living the past few years in Pyre, he wasn’t used to the cold too much, but he endured it. He badly wanted to be out of there.

It was lucky that the apartment Nomack had rented was only on the first floor of the building. Royce had climbed out onto the window ledge and jumped.

He had landed roughly on the cobbled street below, sending shudders of pain through him. But he endured it and wasted no time in scrambling to his feet and getting moving.

Once he had gone a few metres, he had looked back at the apartment building. He had made a vow to himself then that when the time was right, he’d be back. When he was ready, Nomack wouldn’t know what hit him.

It still wasn’t the time yet. But his strength was coming back to him quickly. Soon, he’d make his move against Nomack.

But for now, he had things to do. He dressed quickly and shrugged on the old coat he’d picked up along with some other clothes at a local flea market. He didn’t want to attract attention by running around in the expensive clothes he’d stolen from his former master during his escape. He was, after all, while staying in a run-down area of New Abstan.

Before he stepped out the door, he reached under his bed and pulled out the iron collar that had adorned his neck until recently. It had taken hours to get the damn thing off after his escape. He wasn’t entirely sure why he’d kept it. Perhaps to serve as a physical reminder of what had been done to him. Whenever he started to question the course he’d chosen, all he had to do was take it out for a minute and his resolve was strengthened once more.

After a moment spent turning the metal ring over in his hands, he slipped it back under the bed and out of sight. He left his room and made his way out to the street. It was a dirty, litter-strewn street, but he didn’t care. Once he was done with Nomack, he’d be gone from here…

Just thinking that name caused a surge of anger to well up within him. He gritted his teeth and held it back. He’d need that anger for his fight later.

He gradually made his way across town. He’d become used to the route by now. This journey to check his tormentor was still in town had become part of his daily routine.

A part of him did wonder why Nomack was still here. Royce had been fully prepared to have to pursue the wolf merchant across country as he continued on with his business dealings. But he had remained, still living in the same apartment he himself had escaped from.

The best he’d been able to figure was that it had something to do with the disappearance of Thorne. The first day he’d returned to check on Nomack, he’d seen some officers of the local guards leaving during his reconnaissance. From his hiding place in a nearby alleyway, he’d even overheard a snatch of their conversation. The guards had been telling the merchant that they would do everything they could to find Thorne. Maybe they’d also advised Nomack not to leave the city while they were conducting their investigation. Maybe not. He didn’t care.

He found his way to what had become his usual spot, sitting in the shadows of a mouth of an alleyway across the street from the building where Nomack was staying. He took up his position and waited for a glimpse of the wolf.

At this time of day, he could usually see Nomack moving about in his apartment and today was no exception. As he watched the first floor windows, he could see Nomack in there, acting as if everything were normal, as if his assistant and slave hadn’t vanished.

What must Nomack have thought of his disappearance? Royce thought. It must have come as a terrible shock to open that bedroom door to find the room empty. Did perhaps Nomack suspect that Royce was plotting revenge against him?

Royce took a perverse pleasure in the knowledge that Nomack had no clue that his former slave was watching him, planning his death. As he sat there watching, he wished he had enough money to get hold of a crossbow. A careful aim and a single crossbow bolt would then all that would be needed to end this.

But no… that wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted to confront Nomack. The wolf merchant had to know it was he who was killing him, that he was dying for the terrible things he’d done to him.

Involuntarily, Royce’s hands clenched into fists as he tried to imagine what the moment would be like when it came. Would Nomack beg for his life to be spared? Would he grovel, just as Royce himself had grovelled before Nomack as his slave? He hoped the wolf would…

Royce scarcely noticed the passage of time as he sat there, staring obsessively at Nomack’s windows. It was an effort to eventually tear himself away. But he needed to get to the Arena. He sprinted off through the back streets of the city.

He’d know right after escaping from Nomack that he’d require a source of money in order to survive. So Royce had turned to the one thing he was certain he was good at. Pit-fighting.

Of course, he could hardly go to the legitimate pit-fighting Arenas in the city for a job. The name of Royce Herrick was a famous one even here, and even though everyone thought he was dead, there was a good chance a tiger pit-fighting coming out of nowhere with his skills would raise plenty of eyebrows, and someone might realise who he really was.

So that meant the underground circuit, where the fights were brutal, savage and unlicensed. But as illegal as they were, the organisers asked no questions about the fighters, and that suited Royce just fine.

As a matter of fact, Royce had started his career on the underground circuit back in Pyre, before Boswell had found him…

Royce suppressed a small surge of anger as he thought of Boswell. That betrayal still stung. Once he was done with Nomack, perhaps he’d make his way back to Pyre and… well, he wasn’t sure what he’d do there. There was Killian to take care of at least. He just knew for certain he had unfinished business in Pyre.

The Arena where he’d found work looked nothing like an Arena from the outside. It looked like a simple old warehouse. But that was the whole idea.

He knocked on the rear door of the building, the fighters entrance. It was opened by a short and scrawny hare. His name, for some bizarre reason Royce had never found out, was Brutus.

“You’re late.” Brutus grumbled. “Argus had to rearrange the fight schedule because of you. He’s going to have your hide.”

“Argus will just be glad I turned up at all.” Royce snarled back at him as he stepped inside. “And if he feels like complaining, Argus will feel my fists in his face.”

Argus was the owner of the place, an overweight and thoroughly unpleasant raccoon. If Royce could have avoided it, he would have had nothing to do with him. But he paid well, and the money was the only reason Royce was doing this.

He left Brutus to close the door behind him and stormed off through the back passages of the building to dark and grimy changing room. It was a far cry from his private dressing room back in Pyre.

There were a few other fighters getting changed, but they gave him a wide berth. They knew he wanted to be left alone. The severe beating he’d given one of them who had tried to give him a hard time on his first night had seen to that.

Within minutes, he had changed into a simple loincloth and stowed his clothes away in his locker. He headed for the Arena, his mind focused solely on the job ahead of him. He wanted to get his fights done and get back to plotting against Nomack…

The first few fights were pretty standard stuff. Fighters on the underground circuit came in three varieties. There were the brutish ones, simple-minded and muscle-bound, whose only skill lay in brute force. There were the amateurs, too unskilled to be able to fight in the big legitimate arenas. And there were the fighters who had the skill and strength, but were either unwilling to go to the legitimate arenas or had yet to be ‘discovered’ by them. The third variety were the rarest, and as such, most fights went the same way. A few punches, a few kicks, some shattered bones, some bloodshed, and they were over.

But as repetitive as the fights were, at least they were good for re-honing his fighting skills in preparation for the time when he eventually confronted Nomack. And Royce was a little ashamed to find that he enjoyed the roar of the audience cheering him on. He’d missed it.

The night was looking to be just like the others since he’d been working there, until his final opponent of the evening entered the pit. It was someone new, someone he’d never seen around before.

He was a grey wolf. Someone who was, by some strange coincidence, the exact size and build as Nomack was. Then and there, Royce knew this was going to get interesting.

They met in the centre of the pit, waiting for the match to begin. They looked each other over, sizing each other up.

“Hi there.” Said the wolf, cautiously. “I’m…”

“Nomack.” Royce interrupted.

The wolf frowned. “What?”

The tiger put on a fake grin. “Think of it as a nickname.”

The wolf shrugged. “Strange nickname. But the others warned me you were strange.”

“Whatever.” Said Royce. “Let’s just do this.”

The fight began. Royce lunged at his opponent with lightning speed, tackling the wolf and sending them both crashing to the ground.

The crowd was roaring, but Royce didn’t hear it. He was focused on dealing with ‘Nomack’. He was savagely beating him across the head in a flurry of blows.

The poor wolf tried to put up a defence against Royce’s relentless attack, but he was a simple amateur, he didn’t stand a chance.

Royce broke away for a second, stumbling to his feet and backing up a few steps. He didn’t want this to be over too quickly. He wanted to relish it. Deep down, he could feel his anger rising. Perhaps it was time to let it out…

His opponent pulled himself up to a kneeling position. The wolf’s left eye was swollen, a gash on the side of his face was bleeding. Royce recognised the look of defeat in his eyes and knew what he was going to say.

“I…” The wolf coughed for a second before trying again. “I yie…”

Royce cut him off with a swift kick to his stomach, knocking the breath out of him. “No you don’t.” The tiger snarled. “Not yet.”

The wolf looked up at him in fear, just in time to catch a foot to the head. He went down, sprawling on the ground and unleashing a cry of pain.

Royce took a deep breath and let out a primal growl. He threw himself at ‘Nomack’, letting his anger take over, conscious thought faded as instinct took over.

Barely five minutes later, he pulled himself under control again and climbed to his feet. It took a few moments to consciously register what had just happened. He had blood on his hands. He looked at his opponent to see he was unconscious, his face a bloody mess, one leg twisted at an odd angle, obviously broken. Scratches, bites and cuts covered his body.

The tiger felt a wave of shame wash over him. He shouldn’t have done that, he had lost control, directed his anger at someone who didn’t deserve it.

Then it struck him. There was only one in this city who did deserve it, and it was time he stopped waiting. He was strong enough now. He was ready. His resolve hardened.

It was time to take care of Nomack…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Nomack stepped out into the cool evening air and took a deep breath before continuing on his way, apparently completely unaware that he was being watched.

Across the street, Royce watched him go. His heart was pounding in anticipation. The moment of his revenge was near.

He knew exactly where Nomack was going. Royce had wanted to get the wolf to an isolated part of the city in order to take out his revenge, and so had sent him an anonymous ‘ransom’ note from someone claiming to have his slave captive, someone who wanted to meet with him.

The tiger sprinted off through the alleyways and back streets of the city. He would get there first and be waiting for Nomack.

At his waist hung the sword he’d purchased earlier that day. It had taken most of the money he’d earned over the previous few days, but it was worth it. He’d need something to remove Nomack’s head from his shoulders.

He arrived in the alley he’d chosen as the place where he’d end things with Nomack once and for all and stopped to catch his breath before settling down to wait.

Thankfully, it wasn’t a long wait. Soon, Nomack appeared at the end of the alley.

“Hello?” The wolf merchant called. “Anyone here?”

Royce drew his sword and stepped out from the shadows. “I’m here.” He sneered.

Upon seeing him, Nomack did something unexpected. He smiled. Royce had expected fear maybe, certainly surprise. But not good humour.

“Well, look who it is.” Nomack chuckled. “My slave.”

“Not anymore.” Said Royce.

“I see.” Said Nomack, never once losing his smile. “And I guess you’re looking for revenge?”

Royce brandished his sword threateningly. “Good guess.”

“Well, let’s make this easy for you.” Nomack dropped to his knees, bowing his head slightly. “Go ahead.” He grinned. “ Strike me down. Kill me.”

Royce paused. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t the way he’d imagined this going at all. But then, this was too good an opportunity too miss. Whatever reason Nomack had for simply kneeling and accepting his fate, he didn’t care. It was time to end this. He raised his sword, preparing to strike down the wolf and finish this once and for all. But he stopped.

“Come on then.” Nomack demanded. “Do it!”

Royce was trying as best his could. But it was as if his arms weren’t responding. He couldn’t swing his weapon at Nomack.

“What’s wrong?” Nomack smiled malevolently. “Can’t do the deed?”

The wolf climbed to his feet, watching as Royce struggled to get his arms moving and kill him. Royce was completely unable to make a move against him as Nomack stepped forward and slammed a savage punch into his stomach.

Royce doubled over in pain, the sword slipping from his grasp and clattering to the ground. He stumbled back a few paces, but Nomack didn’t let him get far. The wolf threw another punch, striking the tiger across the face and sending him reeling backwards, crashing to the ground.

“Honestly, how stupid do you think I am?” Nomack growled, as he picked up the sword Royce had dropped. “Do you think I wasn’t prepared for this?”

Royce tried to get up, but Nomack kicked him hard in the stomach, knocking him down again.

“I knew it’d just be a matter of time until the drugs stopped being effective.” The wolf merchant explained. “And that when that happened, you’d want revenge on me. The little incident with you sinking your teeth into my ankle on the way to Sand Haven proved that much. I had always planned from the beginning to have you ‘fixed’ and when you were under the influence of my hired apothecary in Sand Haven I made sure that you were.”

Nomack paused and stamped down on Royce’s left arm. There was a snap of bone. The fallen tiger cried out in agony.

“While you were in a deep trance from her mixtures.” Nomack continued. “I had her place a mental block deep in your sub-conscious. It renders you unable to make any move to harm me in any way. You would not believe how costly and complicated a procedure that was. But worth it, it seems.”

Royce rolled over onto one side, cradling his broken arm. Nomack took the opportunity to deliver a few kicks to the tiger’s back and another to the back of his head, drawing fresh cries of pain from him.

“I knew you were out there watching me, planning and plotting.” Nomack was saying. “I knew it would be just a matter of time until you made your attempt to kill me. You’re just so predictable. In fact, I got so fed up waiting for you to make your move, that I took steps to motivate you. Did you really think it was a coincidence that you fought a grey wolf the same size and build as me? He was working for me. I found him and paid him to go to that Arena you’ve been fighting in to take you on.”

Nomack was strolling leisurely around Royce’s prone body, kicking him and stamping on him every now and again.

“And yes, I knew you were pit-fighting for the money. I have my resources after all. I knew exactly where you were, where you were staying. You see, you’ve been playing my game the whole time.” Nomack laughed. “My plan didn’t end with your re-enslavement, it included your breaking free of the drugs and attempting to kill me. You’ve just been playing out my plan. I was always in control. As I am now.”

A kick to the chest sent Royce rolling onto his back. Nomack raised the sword and brought it down. The blade plunged straight through Royce’s right shoulder and into the ground underneath, pinning the tiger in place. Ripples of fresh agony washed through him. His scream echoed about the alley.

It wasn’t supposed to have been like this. Nomack should have been dead by now…

Nomack crouched over the bloodied tiger. “I’m not going to kill you.” He said. “But when I leave you here, a battered mess, one of two things can happen. One, you will die of your injuries before anyone finds you. It’ll be no great loss, and a part of me will be glad that you’re no longer something to be concerned about.”

“Or two. You will survive and heal. In that eventuality, I will leave you be for a time. And when you least expect it, I will take you again, just as easily as I did before and re-enslave you again. You see, what you have gone through is just a taste of how the rest of your life will play out. A constant cycle of re-enslavement and escape. That has been my goal all along. Even when free of me, you will live in fear of the inevitable time when I come again and make you mine. You’ll be playing my game for as long as you live. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Well, for me anyway.”

The wolf stood, grinning down at the tiger. “Farewell for now. Should you survive your current state, we will meet again.” And Nomack wandered away, chuckling to himself.

Royce lay there, his body wracked by pain, close to tears. The only thought running through his head was that Acheron had been right…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Nomack unlocked the door of his apartment and stepped inside, smiling to himself. He locked the door again behind him. He was feeling very good, his plan was coming together magnificently.

The wolf made his way along the hall and entered the study. He walked toward his desk. The door suddenly slammed shut behind him. He looked over his shoulder. An old wolf and a young leopard were stood there, swords drawn and pointed in his direction.

The merchant just smiled pleasantly at them. It was about time they showed up.

“Greetings, Mr. Nomack.” The old wolf said. “My name is Tobias and my companion here is Armin.”

“I hope you’re aware that breaking and entering is a crime.” Nomack said, turning to face them.

“So is kidnapping.” Tobias growled. “But that didn’t stop you taking Royce. I could easily name any number of other crimes you’ve committed.”

“I expect you can.” Nomack shrugged.

“You are going to answer our questions.” Tobias said, firmly. “There’s a lot I want to know.”

“Very well.” Nomack grinned. “But let me just ask you. What is more important? Interrogating me, or saving Royce Herrick’s life?”

“What are you talking about?” Tobias demanded.

“The reason I led you here.” Nomack smiled. “I left a trail a mile wide for you to follow. All so that you would be here in this city to save Herrick’s life when the time came. I’d rather he didn’t die quite yet. It will be so much more fun if he goes on living.”

“Where is he?” Tobias wanted to know.

Nomack sat down behind his desk and made himself comfortable, ignoring the swords pointed at him. “He’s right where I left him. Bleeding to death in a dark and dingy alley somewhere on the other side of town. You’ll have to search to find his exact location, so I suggest you leave immediately.”

“This could be a trick to get rid of us.” Tobias said, cautiously. “By the time we get back, you’ll be gone, and without a trail this time.”

“That’s true.” Nomack admitted. “Once you leave here, I will be departing. But what you need to ask yourself is are you willing to take the risk that I’m lying? The more time you waste here, the closer Herrick gets to death…”

Tobias put away his sword, and signalled Armin to do likewise. “We will meet again, Nomack.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt it, Captain Clandrell.” Nomack grinned. “After all, the game is far from over.”

The elder wolf and the leopard stared in shock at the merchant. Tobias had only told his first name. How had he known who he was beyond that?

But before either one could ask, Nomack spoke. “Time is running out. Perhaps you should be going?”

Tobias grabbed Armin’s arm and led him out of the room. The two of them were out of the building before the young leopard spoke up.

“Sir! How did he…”

“I don’t know.” Tobias growled. “That’s a mystery for another time. We have to find Royce.” The old wolf was angry and frustrated. Nomack had got them to leave without telling them anything of value, and that realisation was a serious blow to his professional pride.

“Then you think he was telling the truth?” Armin asked.

“I don’t know.” Tobias sighed. “But since Royce’s life is at risk if he was, we can’t take chances…”

The two of them set off at a jog to begin their search for Royce.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Acheron had been right…

Through all the pain and agony that was wracking Royce’s battered body, that single thought reverberated around his mind. He’d given up trying to pull the sword from his shoulder so that he could crawl out of the alley and be found. It was too painful and he didn’t have the strength. And so he lay there, waiting for death to finally claim him.

Acheron had been right. Revenge had not been a good path to go down. He’d seriously underestimated Nomack and it looked like his life was going to end here and now as a result. Unless some miracle came along…

“Captain! He’s here!”

A familiar leopard face was suddenly peering down at him. It was quickly joined by an elderly wolf.

“Damn.” Said Tobias. “He’s a mess.”

Royce could have laughed if he wasn’t in so much pain. This was his miracle? The senile old wolf and his feline lackey?

His grip on consciousness started to slip, the world started to go black…

“We need to get him out of here.” He heard Tobias say. “Some place safe and secure where his injuries can be treated and he can recover.”

“But where, sir?” Armin asked.

“There’s only one place within easy travelling distance I’d feel comfortable taking him.” Tobias replied. “The Haven.”

This seemed to surprise Armin. “But captain, what about the regulations?”

That was all Royce heard, as consciousness failed him at last…

To Be Continued...


Go to Chapter 9...

Raging Tiger/Kuman the Barbarian/Mitchell and Michael/Going Under/Beware the Transformer/That Day/Working Bears/Heart of a Hero

The Art Gallery/The Library/The Comic Store

Return to Main Page