In defeat, there was pain and suffering. Hordes of screaming Marghmen celebrated your fall. You were stripped, ridiculed, defiled, tortured, and beaten. The screaming mob tore and kicked at you as you were dragged into darkness. Finally, a woman’s voice commanded, “enough!”
Hours or days drifted by. Horrible things were forced down your throats to feed you and keep you alive. At every opportunity, the Marghmen slipped in a blow to the head, or a kick to the balls. They spat on you, and laughed at your suffering. There was hatred in their eyes – but also fear. Only the woman’s voice protected your lives. Gau was forced a hot drink, marvelous at first; it came on with a rush. But past the rush was shattered consciousness, waking dreams and sleeplessness, an incessant, exhausting cacophony of leering faces and tormenting voices.
Then came the spider thing.
Leering and enjoying its revenge, Krrrrkkkkt’t assaulted your minds and raped your thoughts. It arrived with other men, not Marghmen but others unfamiliar to you. Coarse and hardened men, some with beards, one in red and black lacquered armor – they forged manacles with tight chains onto your ankles and wrists.
Consciousness came and went during the rough cart ride down, down toward Vandemarghul. Great monstrous insect beasts, like the one you killed in the courtyard, now drew your carts.
Outside the mud brick walls, at the gates of Vandemarghul, there were throngs of “the disowned.” Piles of the dead and nearly dead, mobs of the legless, armless, and diseased, starving orphans, and the decrepit – and amongst them, carefully picking their way, were half a dozen men in iron masks. They wore the darkest gray robes, and wielded heavy spiked clubs. They were looking for something, the least maimed, it appeared, of the detritus of this stinking city.
Through the great gate, past the monstrous guardian statues, their ancient forms now crudely painted black, you were greeted by a teeming angry horde of Marghmen and their shrieking howling women – again they wailed and tore at your hair and flesh. They cried for your blood and for revenge, revenge against the Raiders of Erramun! They cast the foulest curses upon you. They threw stones and worse upon you. But again, the woman’s voice commanded them to stop.
Finally, you made it through a lesser gate into a broad plaza – each of you was visited by an agent of the slave market who plied his art cruelly against your necks. You each were branded with the mark of a slave. Taken from your carts, wastrel children and old women, servants of the market, cleaned and washed waste and filth from you. Krrrrrrkkt’t made an appearance astride the back of his lumbering beast – commanding that you all are cleaned well and fed before your sale.
In the darkness of the compound, one older boy with a bristle-worn brush, scrubs with more vigor than the others – almost in a frenzy. “Careful boy, you’ll scrub them bloody!” chides a crone. As the others move on with their chores, out of their sight he produces a thick tarry ball from his pocket and says, “help a friend help you!” He goes to feed a foul smelling medicine ball to each in turn. Do you take it? Do you eat?