The real Captain Zarth came striding through the hole in the wall, mace resting on his shoulder, hide shield raised. “Escaping from prison is a felony,” he said calmly. “So is stealing from the Gnasher’s armory.”
He pointed his mace at the gathered Pilgrims. “The penalty for these crimes combined is death,” Captain Zarth explained. “Obviously.”
Minbarg the Quill-Keeper was not the ideal Gnasher.
He had no passion for upholding the law with berserker fury and bone-cracking crunches from his mace. His beast pelt always sat uncomfortably on his shoulders; the fur tickled and chaffed at his neck. And he always felt awkward spilling oxen blood in secret rites dedicated to their Hidden God.
Still, Captain Zarth refused to expel Minbar from the Order of the Gnashers, even when his advisors counseled him otherwise. “Nobody,” he told Minbarg, “can command the Chimeras like you.”
As it turned out, the gas from Lady Ira’s spell-tablet had tarnished the guard’s keys along with their bronze weapons. Still, the corrosive gas had weakened the cell door hinges too; just enough for Dragon-Face to burst them open with a blow from his shoulder.
“Mmmm?” Uuco muttering, squirming against the many bonds tying him, glancing left and right despite the thick blindfold covering his eyes. “Mmm! Mmm!”
After hours of scraping and kneading clay and Mana droplets into a ball, Lady Ira fashioned a crude but effective spell tablet, covered with sigils carved by Ira’s fingernails. She gingerly placed it in a ray of sunlight leaking through the window of her cell. With a clink of her chains, she learned against the wall, waiting.
Dragon Face, Pilgrim and champion of the Southern Arenas, raced to reunite with his friends, carrying the bloodstained head of his bitter rival in his right hand.
He slid to a stop outside the gates of Baruck, holding aloft his gristly war prize. “Hail, guardians of the wall!” He proclaimed in a booming baritone. “Unseal your gates and admit this champion, returning in triumph!”
Strangely enough, the guards refused to let him in.
The Infinite Temple, the ever-growing masterpiece of Baruck, contained many things, including prison cells.
Each Pilgrims was specially restrained, before the Gnashers bolted their cell doors shut with their snake-curving keys and walked away.
“Your story sounds quite implausible, Lady Ira,” Captain Zarth remarked dryly, tapping his flail against his bare arm.
“It does sound implausible,” Lady Ira agreed. “It is also true.”
Captain Zarth sighed, tucking his flail through his belt. “I believe you,” he said. “Gnashers!” He barked to his men, drawing his own bronze mace and gesturing. “Arrest them!”