Belkar tested the ring in the wall and the chain that bound him. His limbs were free, but he knew that his shackles had a break DC beyond his his ability. The links of the chains were as thick as his tongue, and fastened to a band of steel about his waist, a band as broad as his hand and half an inch thick. The sheer weight of them was making him exhausted, and it was only a matter of time before he collapsed. Even the locks that held the band were massive affairs a sledgehammer could barely so much as dint. Haley could probably open them by looking at them, but Belkar didn't know where to start. And the ring the chain was fastened to went through the wall and was fastened to the other side.
Someone really didn't like him.
He tried to remember what had happened, but all he could remember was the meeting with the slavers, and then the long march east. They had made camp, and then… this.
Belkar cursed, and panic surged through him as he glared into the darkness that pressed against the half circle of light. His imagination peopled the murk with grisly shapes. Then his reason joined in. Whoever his captors were, he doubted they had reason to spare him. They wanted something from him, and most likely they would kill him for it.
He might have been down there for an hour, an eternity or just a few scant seconds, when the door swung open and remained open. The grille was withdrawn and a huge figure was framed in the glow of the torches outside.The figure glided in, pulling the grille partly to behind it, leaving the bolt poised As it moved into the light of the torch above, Belkar saw it was a gigantic Thri-Keen, stark naked, bearing in one hand a ring of keys. His other hands were constantly in motion, even folded as they were now.
His mandibles clicked as he spoke. "Nice to meet you." he said, the sharp teeth splitting into a grin that sent shivers down his spine. "I have dared much for this meeting. Look! The keys to your chains! What will you give me for them?" He asked, dangling them in front of the halflings eyes.
Belkar made a grab, but he fell short by a good few feet.
"Give me the keys and I won't cut of your balls." Belkar growled, new hope surging fiercely in his breast. He grabbed at them again, but got no closer then he had on his last attempt.
The tri-keen shrugged all four of his shoulders. "If you're not going to make it worth my time…"
"Ten thousand gold pieces," Belkar offered.
"Not enough!" cried the insectoid figure, a ferocious exultation shining through his dark carapace. "Not nearly enough for the risks I take. If they find out what I've done, they'll hang me up by my… well, what will you give me?"
'Twenty thousand, and all the slaves you want." Belkar tried again. The Thri-keen yelled and stamped in in a frenzy of barbaric gratification. "More… Offer me more!"
"You bastard! If I was free I'd see how you like a dagger up your arsehole! Are you just here to mock me?"
"Oh no." The beetleman replied, craning his head so his compound eyes stared into Belkars brown ones. "I know of you, since I was a chief among our hive, and my brother returned and took my place. You killed him. You desecrated his body. You killed Kz-Lou-Tzak. My chief, and my brother. I demand the blood price!" He said, his voice now thick with a mix of emotion.
"Free me and I'll pay you your weight in gold!" Growled Belkar.
The red eyes glittered, the mandibles clicked. "You softskins are all the same, you all think golds all that is important, but we Thri-keen know gold can never pay for blood. Only one thing can. All that can… is more blood." The last words were a maniacal shriek that sent echoes shivering around the dungeon.
A strange buzzing filled the air. "You hear that, Belkar? That's a bloodfly swarm. They eat softskin's blood, and lay their eggs in their corpse. I think I find vengeance to my liking after all. Perhaps I shall watch. They're not interested in my blood, after all."
Belkar opened his mouth to say something, only for it to be drowned out by the terrible drone of dark mass, blacker then black, made up of thousands of glittering bugs, each bloated on stolen fluid, the size of his big toe. He flailed anxiously, his exhaustion forgotten, but it had no effect, bushing a few aside. Then one latched on to his arm, and bit through his skin. He pulled it off and crushed it, but then they were all over him, covering him, tearing through his skin. He tried to scream, but when he opened his mount a few pushed their way in and began eating him from the inside.
His last thought through the haze of pain, was the irony. Killed in revenge for his only selfless deed.