Johan awoke to a distant thudding.
"Where am I?" he thought.
His head was throbbing immensely. With each heartbeat, a drum sounded in his ear. Then his memory came flooding back. He was struck and knocked out by some unknown attacker. He now lay on the dirt floor of a dark room. It smelled of dirt and mold, probably some underground chamber. It was too dark for him to see any details though. The thudding he had heard came from the roof above him, probably someone pacing from the sound of it. His hands were bound to his legs behind his back and he realized that his bindings were cutting into in flesh. All of this pain was made worse by the disease.
Then the thudding stopped. Someone else walked into the room. The screeching of chairs alerted Johan that his captors were above him, ready to stay there for a while.
The dark priest was meeting with the general of the particular band of serpent warriors. Most of the time he didn't allow women to become part of his personal army, but Sheila was the single exception. She could take down ten men in half the time it took the other soldiers. But of course, that was when she was up against her own kind. Against a single albino, she would only last a few seconds longer than most. This wasn't uncommon; the Horde was no match for the Forest Guard and their deluded magic. But he had his own magic, didn't he? He certainly did.
A runner had reported to his servant boy, who once again disturbed him during his séance. He was going to have to teach that runt some discipline later; maybe some new tricks would scare the puke into obeying.
Back to the task at hand. He could hear Sheila pacing as he approached the door to the Thrall's study. Not his private study, just where meetings could be held. As he opened the door, she stopped and turned towards him. Her battle scars could be seen on her arms and legs. The fact that she was so exposed made the priest writhe in disgust. She was dressed in the Horde's customary battle armor, worn by the soldiers. She wasn't the ugliest of the Horde, but the priest never really did like the filth passed off as women. Sheila was tall for a girl of eighteen. She had blonde, shoulder length hair and light grey eyes. Well, every member of the Horde had grey eyes so they didn't really define her.
The priest had sent Sheila to fight with the army at the Eastern Forest for reasons unknown to her. She followed his orders and successfully completed the task he had in mind. Now she was here, awaiting her next task and possibly some insight to the seemingly pointless mission.
"Get changed," he said, pointing to the wooden truck in the corner of the room.
He couldn't stand to look at her in the manner she was in. She donned a black, hooded cloak, similar to his. She doesn't bother to raise the hood to obscure her face in the dim candle-light, which bothers him slightly.
"I assume you're wondering why you were sent into battle?" The direct question had caught Sheila off guard and it took her a moment to reply.
"If you wish to tell me, I wouldn't mind."
"You followed my instructions, correct?"
"Yes. We sent one of those puny runners to circle around and make sure the albino was still following us. He would meet up with us later in the day and report. If you don't mind me asking, what's so special about this one? Why did we bring him here?"
The wench was stepping out of line by asking the question. This irritated him greatly but the only sign of his distaste with her was the scowl permanently plastered on his face.
His master had revealed to him the importance of the man currently being held in the make-shift dungeon. He himself didn't understand the significance of the man but wouldn't question Teeleh. He was simply a priest, born into the welcoming darkness of the serpent.
He ponders what should be revealed to Sheila, and then dismisses the thought. She won't believe the explanation but he tells her anyway.
"Well, my dear, I am simply a pawn in The Dark Lord's game. I simply follow the path he leads me to."
Sheila stares back blankly; unimpressed with the answer she's been given.
She was born in one of the dreaded forests. She used to be an albino girl named Clare. She was taken from her parents by his serpent warriors when she was a mere four years old and brought to him. On such an occasion, he would normally have sacrificed her to his Dark Lord in a tortuous way. He has been spending years trying to find a remedy that would burn the albino flesh in a similar way that the lakes' water burned Horde's. But she was different from the other tributes. Most girls her age would tremble at the sight of him; but not Sheila. She stared back at him with a fire burning in her eyes. Not fear, but hate illuminated her clear blue eyes. For this sole reason, he kept her alive…barely. She was turned Horde and tortured for several months, wiping away any memory of her past. She now remembers nothing but growing up in the Thrall. He was going to teach her the black magic given to him by the Dark Lord, but she possessed no talent for it. Now she refuses to serve anyone or anything but him; and he enjoys her allegiance.
"So what are we going to do with it?"
"Well then, we'll just have to go find out won't we," he says with sly grin creeping at the corners of his mouth. They shall have some fun with this.
Johan could almost clearly make out the conversation occurring ten feet above him. He heard every word. The way they tricked him into coming here. The way they talked about him as if he was nothing more than dirt. The way they were throwing around ideas about how to kill him on their way out of the room. All of these things enraged Johan to the point where he found himself ripping at the cords that bound him. Blood collected in a small pool behind his back where his wrists were sliced and by his ankles. He wasn't expecting what happened when the door swung open. As the woman he'd been stalking all week entered with a torch, he saw the illuminated silhouette of the torture devises strewn around the room. Blades, whips, machines with straps to secure bodies to, and other objects with purposes he couldn't place. It made him sick to think about what has gone on in this room in the past; what is going to happen to him.
Behind the girl an elderly man stepped in, hood obscuring his face. Johan could tell he was old by the way he walked. He was excellent at reading people. Could detect a limp half a mile away. But none of this, any of the things he'd observed since they walked in, concerned him. Right now, he was focused on the vial of purple liquid the man was pulling from his robe.