“Lord Necromancer,” asked Hugon. “Should I inform Lord Mandrean of the prisoners’ arrival? They are his captives after all.”
“No need to bother him,” Necromancer replied. “I will tell him when the time his right. For now they are my prisoners and you would do well to remember that.”
“As you command,” assured Hugon. “What level do you want me to take our guests down to for lock-up?”
Necromancer walked over to Linvin and observed his condition. “Take them up to the second floor.”
“But My Lord...” began Hugon.
Necromancer slowly turned his head toward the goblin and he stopped talking. “Let me say this one last time. The prisoners are to be well treated and cared for. I want them fed as I have instructed and their wounds treated by our physicians. My patience in this matter has been exhausted. Now all of you help them to their feet and follow me.”
Gently the goblins assisted the frail elves to their feet, save for Linvin who required four soldiers to carry his frame. The goblins formed a line behind Necromancer and ascended the stairs. Everyone but Hugon came. He remained on the floor and quivered as he took stock of his injuries.
On the second level were cells in good condition with straw on their floors. Though the stairs continued up they were staying where they were. The bewildered elves were carried past several cages and halted by one at the end of the hall. A large cell door was opened and the party was gently laid on the straw. Necromancer supervised the action. He ordered the shackles removed from all but Anvar. Then the door was closed and locked.
He stepped over to the bars and looked closely. “Yes,” he said, “You shall do rather nicely I should think. Guard. Bring the food I had prepared for them. Also bring the Imperial Physicians. Their strength must return.” The guard paused as if to ask a question and then saw Necromancer’s eyes begin to glow with greater ferocity.
“Right away Sir,” he said as he hurried down the stairs.
Linvin rolled over and looked at the strange man at the other side of the gate. There was something very cold
and wrong about Necromancer and yet he saved their lives. Linvin collected himself and spoke. “Are you our friend?” he asked.
“No,” Necromancer answered without hesitation. “As insignificant as you are, you are a means to an end for me. Besides, I have no friends. To be someone’s friend you must see them as being equal to yourself...and no one in this world comes even close”
Linvin was confused by his host’s actions but tried not to give much away. “What do you want with my house-key?”
Necromancer laughed. “Come now, Grithinshield. You and I both know it is not your house-key. Even if it was, I doubt locking your door would have kept them out.”
“Kept who out?” asked Linvin.
“Do not play coy with me, Little Flea. You know about whom I speak and you know why I need this key.” Then he paused and thought as he looked at Linvin’s inquisitive expression. “Perhaps you don’t know why the key is important? Do you know what it opens?”
Linvin looked at Anvar. His uncle looked as lost as Linvin.
Necromancer placed his arms on his knees and asked chidingly, “Would you like me to tell you the answer?”
“Yes,” replied Linvin.
“I am sure you would,” Necromancer laughed. “Perhaps I overestimated you. No matter. With any luck I will not need you. All the same, get some rest. You may be in need of your strength before all is finished. We want to be prepared.” Necromancer turned to leave.
“Why are you doing this?” pleaded Linvin.
Necromancer did not break stride and continued to head for the stairs. “I grow tired of filling in the gaps in your knowledge. Try putting the pieces together. Maybe you will surprise me when I see you next. I doubt it but you might. After all, I never thought you would get this far.” He descended the stairs and left the elves alone.