Prologue: Belly Of The Tormented Beast
Half-While Post A Bad Decision:
(Edit: To Be Posted Provided Everyone's Alright With The Latter Work First.)
Tune's-Worth Prior Lunch-Break:
As the fluttering of a bird's wings did upon breaking from the nest, or that of a prey-animal lunging forth with all the muscular confidence of a great Shrieker giving chase -- would he GLADLY give up any of his newfound 'comrades' for a chance to B R E A T H; The rapid acceleration of his heart clawing its way out of his chest at every other foot-beat cast a constant threat of exhaustion, but he couldn't afford to stop now -- NOT...NOW! Tearing out of the narrow alley, the Kobold only barely managed to latch onto the corner-stones with his finger-tips, arcing his path around the acute bend with a furious scattering of dirt and dust from atop the paved street. His momentum seemed unwavered by his strategy, however, and continued onwards despite all efforts on the contrary, bludgeoning the wall with Sul's shoulder...to the delighted hiss and crude, layman's prayers to all that was unholy. Something felt heavy in his near-limp left, and --quite to the midget's surprise-- he looked down to find his long-knife *still clutched tightly within the unresponsive ball of his four-fingered hand*. It seemed an almost uncanny coincidence that he'd only just *now* remembered it was there...but come to think of it, where even was he? A quick glance around confirmed the injured auxiliary's suspicions that he was, indeed, quite lost...for both breath AND sense, at that. But hush, but wait...the snorting, sniffing, growling sounds accompanying the shadows of the alley didn't have to do much to gain their audience's attention; With creeping, heavy, measured steps, the beast's snarls drew ever louder, ever closer, paralyzing the Kobold in a trembling fit. If he hadn't gotten the chance to drink earlier...well...he didn't know a soul in this world that wouldn't have forgiven him for what came next...
...obviously it had nothing to do with hygiene, that'd just be ridiculous.
Raising his arm to his mouth, Sul muffled a harrowing, guttural peep with his forearm, suckling the saltine sweat in nervous anticipation of what would seem to be the dawning hour of his misfortune. That whore, Lady Luck -- and where was SHE, now that he most needed her?!? Off caressing some other ungrateful sod, no doubt...although now that he thought about it, Father Time wasn't exactly doing him any favors either. How in their absence did they torment him so!
But now, the trembling in his staggered and bleeding left seemed dissatisfied with its host's winging, and in complete defiance of the little master's desperate attempts to avoid drawing the attention of their pursuer, it *dropped* the long-knife to the cobblestones below...with all the clamor of a factory at full volume.
The period of time following this tremendously unfortunate incident flew by faster than...well...the moments leading up to it. Still, before he knew what was happening, the rat found himself flattened onto his ass by the *wall itself*...or rather, the bricks maintaining the structure of the wall; All the same, the fanged terror lurched out from behind the debris it'd just sent flying, grabbing hold of its prey with two, beefy mittens of fur and claws. It raaaaiiised the winded rag-doll up to standing position, and peering close enough to trigger several dazed flinches from the Kobold, opened its gaping, jagged-toothed mouth to scream: "WHERE IS IT, WHERE IS IT!?! GIVE IT BACK, YOU SNIVELING VERMIN -- YOU WRETCH, YOU PUSILLANIMOUS, RED-HANDED BASTARD OF THE BROKEN-FLAG!" A solid "WHUMP" of frail lamellar and flesh and bone momentarily roused the rat, if only long enough to allow his eyes to wander down to the obsidian edge lying stiff on the stones adjacent them. How they pleaded with the inanimate object for some measure of salvation, some impossible relief of miracles...and how silent was the response they were given. Cold, apathetic, isolated silence. Another solid crash of his bruised back against the ruined hearth-stones sufficed to divert the sock-puppet's attention back towards his loosely allied aggressor. Eyes WIDE with greed and fury stared back at him with merciless conviction...the tang of blood lingered on Sul's tongue as he lowered his jaw in reply...
...He gulped, swallowing the tangy iron down his aching throat; the first attempt to speak had gone far below measure, and so too did the second...and the third, leaving the battered grey corpse only to mouth empty pleas. Suffice to say, this answer wasn't taken well by the furry, troll-kin brute. With another slamming of that limp, weary form against the giving stones, he attempted to beat the response out of the small-one; Again and again, he screamed and raved in hoarse frustration, constantly pummeling his victim into the wall in an unyielding rage: "THE ANSWER, THE ANSWER -- GIVE ME THE ANSWER!!!"
Were it not for this raw exercise in futility, that oppressor might've considered the force of his raw strength in the matter, as well as the fact that this particular ruin happened to be two stories tall...and already unstable of footing.