Traz watched multiple campfires burn in the dark, their flames glowing like the eyes of monsters amidst the ruins of the stone battlements. Some flickered faintly in the distance among the surrounding burnt stands of trees, while others were so close Traz could almost feel their heat wash over him....
<p>Traz watched multiple campfires burn in the dark, their flames glowing like the eyes of monsters amidst the ruins of the stone battlements. Some flickered faintly in the distance among the surrounding burnt stands of trees, while others were so close Traz could almost feel their heat wash over him. There were about five or six men to each fire, all laughing and sharing drinks as their weapons glinted in the firelight.</p>
<p>Traz cursed bitterly. Hadn’t these greedy money-hoarders heard of the dangers – of the death – that whispered to them before coming for their blood in the night? Was the rumor of one miracle treasure really worth throwing away their lives and wealth? Why did they still choose to come?</p>
<p>Traz slumped against a pile of debris that used to be the prison’s outer wall and slid into a sitting position. He laid his knotted wooden crutch beside him and massaged the stump that was all that remained of his left leg. He glowered at the groups of rough-and-tumble men gathered around their comfortable fires. With them here, he didn’t have a chance.</p>
<p>A gust of wind roared through the piles of scorched stone, tearing at Traz’s filthy hair and clothes. He drew his threadbare, moth-eaten cloak more tightly around him and shivered. The gaping void that used to be the prison dungeon lay only a stone’s-throw away, the wind whisking across its opening. The abyss moaned like the stuff of nightmares, waiting to swallow anyone that wandered too close. Traz shoved himself a little closer to his wall-pile, away from the pit. It was going to be a <em>very </em>long night.</p>
<p>“You’re an odd one, aren’t you?”</p>
<p>“Gah!” Traz jumped so violently that he smacked his head against the rock behind him. Somewhat dazed, he tried to get up and run, but forgot he was missing a critical appendage for that. He ended up flat on his face.</p>
<p>Before he could right himself, strong arms grabbed him by the shoulders and sat him back down in front of the wall. Traz’s eyes widened and his skin crawled when he saw the owner of those arms. It was a man – or at least something that <em>looked</em> like a man – with the most horribly disfigured face Traz had ever seen. Burn scars bubbled over most of it, the skin puckered and blotched with angry red marks. One of his eyes was murky and clouded, while the other was completely bloodshot...