Dragonheart - Page 3

The best that could be hoped for at this point was that the bandits would make their kills quick, if not necessarily clean, so I wouldn't be tempted to do something stupid. I hadn't isolated myself in this cave because I enjoyed watching the moisture drip down the walls, after all.

I heard a masculine scream and a chorus of laughter, guttural and coarse, soon followed by the reek of burning human flesh.

No! I snapped at myself. This is not your problem. This is not your problem! No matter what the bandits do to them, you could end up doing worse if you go out there. You know this!

My head did know this, but my heart was pounding as if it were trying leap out of my chest to intervene even if the rest of me refused. To make matters worse, something deep in my guts was starting to twist into wakefulness . . . hungry wakefulness.

No! Gods, show some mercy to your once faithful and true servant! I pleaded into the ether.

There was, of course, no answer, except perhaps in the pitch and timbre of the feminine scream that tore through what remained of my soul. There was pain in it, which was no surprise, but there was more than just pain . . . much more. It was filled with an agony so intense that I put my hands over my ears in a futile attempt to block it out; an agony the like I had never known before, and until that moment I had thought that no being in the Universe knew more about agony than I. It wasn't a physical agony, which perplexed me, for if anything the smell of charring flesh was stronger than before, but she hadn't been the recipient of the flame. I could hear the man moaning such that I knew he was still conscious enough to scream again if he had been the target, and surely, I told myself, if there were any others, I would have heard them . . .

Then the silent wail of a newborn child experiencing its first true pain since birth finally found its voice and shattered the night.

I found myself moving passed the concealment of the cave entrance even before I realized what I was doing.

Page 3

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