Dark Realms #3: The Grubhor
3063This Episode brought to you by puzzleprompts
Tona sighed and put a sack of carrots on one of the crates in the clearing outside the village. “Why is it that we always get stuck doing the supply runs?”
“We drew the short straws.” Dallys put the sack of potatoes on the crate. “Borne volunteered. He always volunteers. Borne?”
Tona looked over at Borne. “What the…?”
Borne stared off into space. It was as if he were mesmerized by something.
“Borne, are you alright?” Dallys knocked on his chest. “Borne?”
Tona came over and looked at the android. “I think he’s getting a transmission or something. Borne?”
“Does that mean they know where he is?” Dallys looked concerned. “If they know where he is, then we are going to be found. The Metalis Alliance is a ruthless bunch of thugs.”
“You don’t have to tell me. I have had more than one close call with that particular ruthless bunch of thugs.” Tona waved her hand in front of Borne’s face. “Borne, we can’t stay here. Wincet will be sending the portal any moment.”
Borne blinked and wobbled slightly. “There was a transmission to all members. There is a call to converge on Toalnar. They are planning an attack on the planet to capture the ruler of the planet. They called him the Grubhor.
Tona looked at Dallys. “We need to get back and talk to Wincet. This isn’t good.”
Just then the portal opened and they picked up the sacks and Borne picked up the crates. They stepped through.
“Did you get everything?” Wincet asked as he looked over the sacks and crates they brought through.
“We couldn’t find the bang bang fruit.” Dallys piled the sacks into the cart by the entrance of the portal. “What was that for anyway?”
“It makes a good wine when it’s fermented.” Wincet looked into one of the sacks. “This will hold us for a while. Was there any trouble on Kavel?”
“Borne received a transmission from the Metalis Alliance.” Dallys looked at the android. “Tell him what you heard.”
“Borne, what did you hear?” Wincet was suddenly serious. “Do they know where you are? I disabled your homing beacon but I’m not sure if that would keep you completely safe.”
“They have not located me yet. They do not seem to be searching for me. They believe I was destroyed by the portal.” Borne accessed the transmission and paraphrased it for Wincet. “There was a general call to converge on the planet Toalnar. That means all ships, not otherwise engaged, are to come to the planet at best speed. The transmission also mentioned that the Grubhor is a wanted criminal and he is to be captured, if found. They stressed the fact that he must be captured alive. That means they want to interrogate him for information.”
“We need to get to the house and get Jace and Nellis up to speed.” Wincet waved his hand over the cart and it disappeared.
“Are we going after the Grubhor ourselves?” Tona asked as she followed Wincet to the end of the traveler’s bridge.
“If we do nothing, he will die.” Borne told her. “His death will be drawn out and very painful. The interrogators of the Metalis Alliance are known for their ability to inflict great pain.”
Dallys stayed silent as she followed the others to the house.
Wincet burst through the door of the main room. “We have a mission. We must make a plan.”
Jace stood up. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t like the look on Wincet’s face that’s what’s going on.” Nellis quipped. “What do you want me to steal?”
“The Grubhor.” Wincet said with explanation.
Nellis shook his head. “No! Not him. Is he kidding? He almost hung me for pick pocketing. I was pick pocketing but I think hanging is a bit over board.”
“Suck it up Nellis. Borne heard a transmission saying the Metalis Alliance was going to capture the Grubhor.” Tona sat down on the sofa. “We need to get to him before they do.”
“He can’t go.” Jace pointed at Borne. “They think he was destroyed. If they see him, they will destroy him.”
Wincet nodded. “That will leave this mission to the four of you.”
“Three.” Dallys said suddenly. “I can’t go either. They think fae are a delicacy. They will eat me as soon as I become a point of light. They are huge walking toad-ish things. They eat insects and faes when they fly. They like us because we’re crunchy. They like crunchy.”
“Then it’s the three of us.” Jace nodded then frowned. “Wait! Did she say toad?”
“You didn’t think every creature in the universe looks like you, did you?” Nellis laughed. “Hello! Small creature covered in fur standing beside you.”
Jace rolled his eyes at Nellis. “Of course not. But toads? Really? They’re all slimy.”
“Yeah but they pay mercenaries really well.” Tona grinned. “I worked for them once. It was the best paying job that I have ever had.”
“We aren’t getting paid this time.” Jace rubbed his chin. “Okay. Say we get this Grubhor, what are we going to do with him once we have him? He can’t stay here.”
Wincet looked at Nellis. “Does Caspire still have wetlands on the northern continent?”
“Yeah.” Nellis nodded. “You want to take him there? What if he won’t go?”
“He’ll go if he doesn’t want to be captured and tortured to death.” Tona sighed. “We need to focus on how to get him before we start to come up with a plan to hide him.”
“Won’t they find him on Caspire?” Jace asked.
“No it is on the other side of the universe. The Metalis Alliance does not even know of it.” Borne answered him.
“Tona, you’ve been in the capital city. What would be the best way to get to the Grubhor?” Wincet asked.
Tona thought for a moment. “We should use the tunnels under the city. They come up in one of the private rooms for the Grubhor. It is his best means of escape when the capital is overrun by the enemy. They are well maintained. I was smuggled in and out of the city that way when I was working for them. It was something about the others in the council not knowing he had hired a mercenary to do the spy work for him.”
“That means that he knows you, right?” Jace asked her.
“Yes. He said he liked my leather.” Tona smiled. “He should remember me. I was the one that brought the intel that turned the tide of war with the Fracs of Fromme.”
“I’m going to regret this but what do they look like?” Jace asked.
“They are giant frogs.” Tona laughed. “Don’t you have other races than human on Terra?”
“Yes. We call them politicians.” Jace shook his head. “I had no idea when I came through that portal what I was getting myself into. Giant frogs and toad men.”
“I can get us in but he may need some convincing to leave his people.” Tona looked at Borne. “Maybe you should come. You could play him the transmission. That would convince him.”
Borne looked at Wincet then walked out of the room.
“He sure is emotional for an android.” Nellis plopped back down on the sofa.
“Shut up Nellis.” Jace left to go find Borne.
“Do you think he will help us?” Tona looked over at Wincet.
“He has a good heart. He will help.” Wincet sighed. “You better get ready to go. Dallys, I will need your help with a potion.”
“What kind of potion?” Dallys couldn’t think of a single reason they needed a potion.
“We need to make the Grubhor easier to handle so that he doesn’t get himself killed. It’s just a precaution but I would feel better if we had it ready.” Wincet waved Dallys along to the workroom.
Jace found Borne outside sitting on the rocks near the waterfall. He sat down beside him. “Borne, what’s up with you? You are acting practically human.”
Borne gave Jace his best impression of a glare.
“Oh come on. You know what I mean. You’re acting like someone just stole your last biscuit.” Jace poked him on the arm. “Tell me what’s up.”
“The transmission. I have been on those missions before. Far too many times. I have been one of the ones to capture creatures knowing that they would be tortured and killed.” Borne looked out over water. “Jace, I know I cannot change what I have done but I do not know how to erase it from my hard drive safely.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t. Like you said, you can’t change what you did but you can try to make amends by keeping others from the same fate.” Jace looked out where Borne was looking.
“Like the Grubhor?” Borne looked at his friend.
“Yeah like him.” Jace patted Borne on the back. “Come on, let’s go save the toady bloke.”
Borne nodded then they got up and went back to the group.
Tona looked up when they walked in. “We’re leaving in a few minutes. Borne, are you in?”
“Yes.” Borne nodded.
“You two better get your weapons ready.” Tona pulled a dagger out of the sheath in her boot and looked at it. She shoved it back in.
“You wouldn’t happen to have another one of those, would you?” Jace grinned.
“Sure.” Tona pulled a dagger with its sheath out of her corset. It was almost as big as the one in her boot. She flipped it over and handed it hilt first to Jace.
“Thanks.” Jace took the blade and looked at it. “Exactly how many of blades do you have on your person?”
“Three now.” Tona shrugged. “I like blades.”
“Obviously.” Jace looked at the blade again and put it in his belt.
Wincet came in with the potion and handed it to Tona. “Don’t use this unless it is absolutely necessary. It will enchant him for about twenty four hours. Nellis is already on the bridge.”
Tona tucked the dose in her pocket and nodded. “Got it.”
Tona, Jace and Borne followed the old wizard to the Traveler’s Bridge where Nellis was waiting.
“Let’s get this over with.” Nellis was shifting on his feet in anticipation.
Wincet called the portal and they stepped through to Toalnor. When they were all through, the portal disappeared.
“Borne, are you picking up anything?” Jace asked.
“They are not here yet. From the strength of the signals, I can tell the ships are still at least an hour and a half away.” Borne looked around. “Where are the tunnels?”
Tona started walking. “This way.”
Tona was right. The tunnels were well maintained. Soon, they were at the door to the Grubhor’s private rooms. Tona pulled her dagger from her boot and opened the door slowly. She motioned for the others to stay put.
They were hit with the sound of laughter and music. Tona walked around the screen that hid the door and took in the view.
The Grubhor was sitting on a pile of cushions on the floor watching several women were dancing in bikinis and waving veils as they moved. Tona must have moved because he spotted her standing there.
“Tona! Is that you? Come join me, my dear.” The Grubhor waved her over. “What brings you here to Toalnar?
Tona sat on one of the cushions. “I came to rescue you before the Metalis Alliance comes to get you. They are only an hour away. They plan to capture you and interrogate you.”
“Are you working for those bruts now?” The Grubhor sat up.
“No. I have a friend who escaped from them. I brought him with me. Listen to what he has to say but do it quickly they are on the way.” Tona looked at the dancing girls. “Maybe we should do this in private.”
The Grubhor clapped his hands and the room cleared quickly. “I will listen to him.”
Tona went to the door and waved Borne in.
“What is this? You brought one of them to me?” The Grubhor stood up.
“This is Borne. He isn’t with the Metalis Alliance any more. He escaped and he wants to help you.” Tona looked at Borne. “Play him the transmission.”
Borne nodded. “I have the transmission in my data bank.” Borne played the full transmission. He waited to see if the Grubhor wanted it played again.
The Grubhor rushed over to one of the walls and tapped the panel three times. A hidden compartment opened. He took a sack full of gold and gems out of the recess. “Get me out of here, Tona.”
“This way.” Tona waved him to the hidden door.
The Grubhor stopped short when he saw Nellis and Jace. “Who are they? Wait don’t I know you, furball?”
Nelis shook his head. “Nope. Not me.”
“He, and the other one, is with me.” Tona grabbed the Grubhor by the arm and pulled him along. “We have to hurry.”
They rushed through the tunnel to where let out into the woods where the portal was to appear.
“What is he waiting on?” Tona looked around. “Borne, are they here yet?”
“No but they are closer.” Borne looked up at the sky. “They will be in orbit sooner than I thought. They must have been on transmission silence.”
The portal suddenly appeared.
“What is that?” The Grubhor eyed the swirling pool suspiciously.
“It’s our way off this planet. You need to step through that and then you will be safe.” Tona pulled him closer.
“Are you sure it’s safe?” The Grubhor didn’t move.
“Yes.” Nellis grabbed the Grubhor’s other arm. “Let’s go.”
Tona and Nellis got the Grubhor through the portal. Jace pulled on Borne’s arm and they followed the others.
They all cleared the portal and stood on the Traveler’s Bridge.
“Where am I? What planet is this? The Grubhor shrugged off Tona and Nellis.
“You are on a planet called Centra. I am Wincet, your host. We will take you to your final destination in an hour. I need time to recharge before I call another portal.”
“Where will you be taking me?” The Grubhor frowned. “There is no place that is safe from the Metalis Alliance.”
“We are taking you to the wet lands of my planet.” Nellis spoke up. “Its name is Caspire.”
“Never heard of it.” The Grubhor shook his head.
“Neither has the Metalis Alliance.” Borne assured him. “You will be safe there.”
“Come. We will try to find you something to eat.” Wincet waved him toward the common area.
Nellis went with them while the others stayed where they were.
The Grubhor walked into the room and took one look at Dallys. “I see my supper already. How kind of you to provide such a delicious delicacy.”
“Oh no! I’m out of here.” Dallys left as quickly as possible.
“There is some sea grass and fish in the kitchen area.” Wincet held out a chair. “Please sit down. Nellis will get you something to eat.”
“I would rather have the crunchy little bug girl.” The Grubhor sighed. “But that will have to do.”
“I’ll go get it.” Nellis grinned as he went into the kitchen. He laughed when he saw Dallys sitting on a chair holding a serving fork. “I thought you were kidding.”
Dallys put the fork down and glared at Nellis. “I wouldn’t kid around about being eaten.”
Nellis put some sea grass on a plate. “I’ll come back for the fish in a minute. Could you cook one?”
“Here.” Dallys put a fish on a plate and handed it to Nellis. She picked up the fork again. “He probably likes it raw.”
“Okay then.” Nellis walked back into the common area. “Here you go.”
“That looks lovely.” The Grubhor rubbed his hands together and dug in.
“As soon as you finish your meal, we will get you to Caspire.” Wincet poured some water in a goblet. He sat down and placed the goblet in front of his guest. “Do you know what the Metalis Alliance wants with you?”
“I executed, if you could call it that, one of their commanders.” The Grubhor laughed. “He was snooping around where he shouldn’t have. My general found him lurking in the Capital city so I had him melted down. From his markings, I think he was a high ranking officer.”
Wincet took a deep breath. “I see. That would make them want to torture you.”
Nellis looked at Wincet and shook his head.
When the Grubhor was finished with his meal Wincet and Nellis took him to the Traveler’s Bridge.
“Do I have to go through one of those things again?” The Grubhor hesitated to walk down to the end of the bridge. He shifted the large sack he was carrying to the other side.
“Yes but it is the last time. You realize that you can never go back.” Wincet told him.
“Yes. Thought as much.” The Grubhor sighed.
Wincet called the portal. “I’ll leave it open for a few minutes so you can come back, Nellis.”
Nellis nodded. “This way.” He guided the Grubhor through the portal and held on to him as the Grubhor steadied himself on the other side.
“It’s beautiful. I didn’t expect it to be so lush and green.” The Grubhor looked around at the marshy land and the large volcano in the distance. There was a settlement and a large body of water just past it.
“I lived over there in the settlement near the sea.” Nellis pointed to the settlement. “Just don’t stray too far from civilization. That volcano is still active.”
“I’ve never seen a volcano before. What do they do?” The Grubhor looked at the large crater with curiosity.
“They rumble then spit fire and smoke. Don’t get too close or you might get cooked.” Nellis patted him on the back. “Just go to the settlement. They will help you get everything you’ll need. You have the resources in the sack to last you for a while.”
“Thank you for your help. Tell the rest of your friends, I appreciate what they have done.” The Grubhor nodded. “Goodbye.”
“Goodbye and good luck.” Nellis stepped back through the portal and it disappeared.
The Grubhor took a deep breath and started walking for the settlement.