what appeared to be a severed hand. Realising that Twado wasn't a threat,
he advanced on the old man.
"I will enjoy sucking the marrow from your bones, meatling," he snarled in
an offhand way.
Lobsang removed his pipe, and delivered a flying kick to the gladiator's
stomach, with such force, that Lobsang's foot emerged, among a spray of
intestine and shattered spine. Lobsang leaped from the corpse. "I think it
is high time we left this place," he muttered as he hauled Twado to his
feet. "This way," and he trotted down the passageway.
Twado, dazed from loss of blood, ran after him, but had not gone two paces
when one the flagstones moved with a distinct click! Through the haze, one
thought came to his mind, "Trap!"
He thought wrong.
The sound was the click of his left leg breaking from the mace.
"Mace!" he looked behind him and saw an Orskan bearing down on him.
Lobsang grabbed his neck, hurled the mace at the Orskan's feet, and ran
down the passageway. To freedom, Twado thought.
Later, riding Lobsang's shrebberidder, Twado was nearly recovered. "Why
were you consuming my nostril hairs?" he demanded.
"You inhaled the Favros fumes. The poison was contained within them."
"And why, pray, were you eating them?"
"I find Favros most tastious…" was the reply.
Twado, deciding that he was fine, leaped off the shrebberidder and promptly
fell and broke his right leg.
Between bursts of pain, he looked down and realised that he had no 'meat'
left on his thigh. Moaning with pain, he tried to get up. Twado was then
bowled over when a hellbeast appeared and bit at his neck.
Lobsang began to laugh.
The blood flowed, mixing with the excrement oozing from the behinds of the
hellbeasts as they tore at his neck. Lobsang's laughter drowned out Twado's
screams when it was joined with chuckling and giggling from the nearby
Out stepped three strange looking people...
The one who was obviously the leader stepped
forward from his companions, chuckling and wiping the foam from his lips.
He was tall and sinister, with a wide brimmed hat leaving most of his face
"Ah, we meet again," he spoke in a flat harsh voice, like the clang of
steel. He addressed Lobsang, ignoring the bleats of pain coming from Twado
as he struggled with the gang of hellbeasts. Taking his hat off, he spat a
goblet of spit in to the air. It hung for a moment before spattering on to
his face. He licked at it greedily as he gestured at his female companions.
The first was tall, with slim features and was wearing a blindfold. With a
malicious grin, she unslung an arrow in to the eye of the nearest
hellbeast. The other woman, an albino dressed in crimson, drew a
double-handed black-bladed sword and started to cleft skulls left, right
"So," said Lobsang as he hopped off the shrebberidder and backhanded a
"Well, can't complain," the man replied as he nonchalantly skewered a
slavering hellbeast that was chewing on the heel of his boot. "Just
returned from the Abraxus campaign - I made a killing."
Lobsang looked up in surprise, "Abraxus you say? I heard tell that a
hundred thousand troops died in one evening!"
"Yes, yes, so I heard," the man muttered too quickly. "Let me introduce my
"The one in red, drinking the gore of that hellthing is my second in
command, and the one collecting her arrows from the fallen is me
lieutenant. They are called Svana and Luna.
You may not have noticed on account of the blindfold, but Luna has one blue
and one white eye. This means that she is a descendant of the Sweelanders
"No?!" exclaimed Twado, through teeth gritted against the excruciating
pain. " I thought the merciless Sweelanders had been wiped out in the last
Svana sprang forward and dealt him a crippling blow on the twitching
remains of his leg. "Do not address the great one unless spoken too!" she
hissed, brandishing her vicious weapon.
Twado lay motionless, trying to summon what little strength he had left to
fuel his rejuvenation source. It had not gone unnoticed to him that Svana
had found her mark well, and seemed to see as well as if she wore no
blindfold. Horror of all horrors! This must mean she was a Sweeh, he
thought, a creature created by ancient witches to fight in the cleansings.
One look from her eyes would transport you straight to the gates of hell.
But if this was so, why were these three destroying the hellbeasts. Twado's
mind was too numb with pain to think, and so, he fell in to a dead
He came to in a boiling hot bath. For a moment, he thought he was back in
that white-hot cell and he fought for breath.
A soft voice interrupted him, "Do not move, or the healing will cease."
As he listened, he could feel, through the immense heat, an incredible
itching in his injured leg, and it was all he could do to lay still.
"Good," said a steely voice. "He is almost ready for the final test."
"Where am I, and who are you?" groaned Twado.