“Where the hell are we?” The hobgoblin guards exchanged glances, as if to say ‘Oh man. This is gonna be a long night,’ but remained silent. “I said, ‘Where the hell are we?’”
“They’re not going to respond, Roy,” said Haley. “Honestly, you’d be better off asking the wall, for all you’re gonna get out of them. Besides, the only person I can think of who would want to kidnap us and have hobbos as guards is Xykon, and more specifically that one cleric. He wears a red cloak. I’m sure he has a name.”
“Indeed I do, but it’s really none of your business,” said a dry voice from the stairs. Coming down, followed by a short procession of lackeys and lunkeys, was the Goblin cleric, missing an eye. The assorted minions went about setting up a table, a crystal ball, and other less-identifiable, more sinister-looking items.
“What..?” said Roy. “What are you going to do?”
“Glad you asked,” said Redcloak, smiling and revealing a mouth full of very sharp, very yellow teeth. “We know you have information regarding not only your own plans, but the plans of the Azurites. Judging by our failure with the last paladin we held, the easiest way to get you good guys to spill your guts is to torture other people. So Tsukiko here,” A late-teenaged girl waved idly from behind the table “and I are going to torture you, one at a time, until we’re satisfied. Which will take a while, so if you don’t want to watch your friends suffer, I’d start talking.”
No one moved. “I didn’t think so,” he sighed. “Typical, really. Well, no point in wasting time. We’ll start the woman, I think.” Haley shrank back, and Roy stepped in front of her, reaching for a sword that was no longer there. It was no use.
“Where do you think everyone is?” Elan asked.
“I do not know,” said Vaarsuvius, staring strait ahead.
“Who do you think took them?”
“I do not know.”
“Well, how can we find them?”
“Truthfully, Elan, I do not know. I don’t know what I can tell you to ease your fears. I am sorry.” V stopped and turned to face him. He was nearing tears again.
“That’s what I was afraid of,” he said softly.
“Vaarsuvius, you’re the smartest person ever! You know so much. If you don’t know something… Well, then that means no one knows it.”
“Oh Elan… You flatter me, but there is much I do not know. Please do not lose hope, Elan. Someone knows where they are, and why they were taken, and I promise you we will find them, if it takes us a hundred years, so be it, I refuse to abandon allies again.”
He frowned. “V, but what if we can’t find them? Neither of us is a good fighter, because that’s Roy’s job! I can’t heal you, ‘cuz that’s what Durkon does. I can’t even stab people good, because Belkar is the stabbing person. And I can’t protect you, ‘cuz that’s… that’s… it’s Haley’s job.” He looked away, trying in vain to hide his tears.
“Elan. Look at me,” V said, gently, lifting his face to look him in the eye. “We will find them. I promise you I will do all I can to find them, if you promise me you won’t abandon hope. That’s what you do, Elan. You keep me hopeful. You keep us all hopeful. And I can’t do anything for Haley, Roy, Durkon, and Belkar if I’m hopeless. Can you promise me that?”
He smiled a little. “I promise,” he said softly. They looked into the other’s eyes, and for a moment, they wondered if the other was going to kiss them.
A bird taking flight in the bushes startled them, ruining the moment.
“…We can’t stay here very long,” Elan nodded, taken aback. Neither of them spoke for a long time.