2.1 Preludes - Viscaria

The bearded face peered through her prison bars. "Are ye alive, monster?"

"Please stop calling me that, father." At the sound of her voice, the guard-dwarves on either side of him took an involuntary step back, and clutched at their hammers all the tighter, but Orbhammer Founderson merely flinched.

"Yer awake then. That's fer the good, to be sure. The clanfather seems to have found an use for you after all, abomination. It seems his favorite vineyard was a hidey-hole for wizards like the one who turned my daughter into you, only they weren't hiding so good. Seems the hidey hole got space for a wizard or five more now, and the clanfather wants to be sure his wine is delivered on time. Whaddya say?"

"Oh, really? So he wants me to make sure no one forgot his order in all the confusion?"

"Aye, that, and...mayhap it'd be best if you stayed for a while and watched over the vineyards. Made sure nothing happened to 'em." Orbhammer flushed. He wasn't supposed to say that last part, but he was....feeling things, distinctly unfamiliar emotions. He blamed it on the monstrosity in the cage, and that made it even harder for him to keep his wits about him. He had loved her once, but now....he could feel the magics which had twisted her very spirit into something foreign and unnatural.

Ah, so he'd like me to protect the fields as well? And, I suppose, he might just know where to get a few supplies this covenant will need once I'm living there? To barter for his favorite wine?"

The dwarf colored some more and displayed an ancient worn book . "Aye...mayhap it's so. And...and if you do leave, I mean, if you do accept the terms of your release, we'll....we'll even throw in this book that were't yer mother's. After all, that were what you came for, nay? Is a fair deal we're offering."

"Oh, it's a deal, to be sure. But fair? How could I possibly leave you now, father? After all the years I've been searching for you, and the warm welcome you gave to me. Introducing me to my brothers and cousins here in this cell. And now you want me to leave, after only two years inside this lovely room? Well, if it must be a deal, father, then I can only ask..."

A stone hand rose out of the tunnel wall, grabbed the three dwarves as one and crushed them against the bars. They merely grunted as the stone fist squeezed, but all three began to babble with incoherent fear as they saw the prisoner step forward and bend her head towards them.

"Who can I take with me?" asked Viscaria Lynchis.