Canto Fifty-Six – The Prison Pit Again
“Guard! Guard!” called out Starbright. “I am very ill and I think the other two prisoners have died. Please help me!”
“What?” the slow-witted lizard man awakened at the urgent call. “Don’t get sick, please. You will taint the meat!”
“Ooh! I feel like regurgitating everything I ever ate! Did you poison us? Or did the Senator do this to try to cut down on the number of mouths to feed?”
“Why would he do that? Spoiled meat isn’t good to eat.”
“Maybe he wanted you to eat us and die from the poison. How far do you really trust him?”
“Um, maybe you’re right. But what can I do?”
“You can get me away from the diseased bodies so I don’t get sick. Then you could safely eat me.”
“Yes. Eating you sounds good.”
The stupid lizard-man stupidly opened the stupid pit. He looked in, and immediately was seized by a lizard-man hand, a small one.
“Yaargh!” The guard fell with a thud to the floor of the pit. “You have tricked me!”
“Yesss, young lizard… you know who I am, and you know I can kill you now and escape.” Farbick wasn’t sure what Stabharh had in mind as he told the guard this. If he intended to kill the guard, why was he telling him anything?
“Yes, Stabharh… I… I know who you are. You were once the most feared general in all the corporate armies.”
“That’s right. And I should probably just kill you. But I wanted to offer you a chance at survival… not just saving you from me right now, but saving you when Senator Tedhkruhz wants to kill you later.”
“That is very generous of you.”
“Of course it is. This prisoner, Farbick, has taught me that warriors can help each other and do what is best for the group rather than the individual. Did you see me betray Bahbahr, my lord and master?”
“Yes. I thought surely the Senator would execute you for that.”
“He didn’t because he knows he has to be careful that his crew doesn’t realize that serving him is not in their own best interest. You know that he will kill and eat you when the time comes that he must do that to survive.”
“Yes. Of course.”
“And it was exactly the same with me and Bahbahr. Your Senator must make me die a horrible death so none of you lot will think of betraying him as I betrayed Bahbahr, even though it might save your lives to do so.”
“So, let me understand this… you are not going to kill me and escape?”
“You are going to let me live so I can talk to the rest of the crew?”
“Very well. Help me out of the hole.”
Stabharh took hold of the guard’s foot and hoisted him out of the pit.
“Thank you,” said the guard. And then he slammed the pit door shut again with a resounding clang.
“Maybe…” said Farbick carefully, “just maybe… we should’ve climbed out of the hole before we tried to reason with him?”
“I have not yet quite mastered your tricky Telleron ways,” answered Stabharh.
“Yes,” said Starbright with a sigh in the pitch darkness. “You still have some lessons to learn.”