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The Black Storm


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A black storm threatened the horizon but even it paled in comparison to Khargis Dotharl’s mood. Granted the massive Auri’s temperament was rarely anything but dark but it had grown progressively worse in the last eight moons. Even the stoutest of his warriors had taken to avoiding him. Today, however, they had no choice and all watched, tensed and wary, as their leader’s tail slashed in irritation. None would back down, of course. To do so would show weakness and that was an instant and honor less death blow.


Only one among them dared voice what the rest were thinking. “Slaves are easy to come by, Khargis. Forget about this one.” Orghoolgui remained motionless, eyes staying fixed on his brother as the other spun and advanced with clinched fists and a snarl that bared sharpened teeth.


The two stood a mere breath from each other, Orghoolgui’s calm assessment in stark contract to the murderous growl that rumbled in his direction. “Ordinary slaves are easy. But you know as well as I do she’s no ordinary slave.”


“So she was the best horse trainer we’ve ever had. We’ll find another.”


Khargis snorted and shoved his way past his friend. “You think that’s the only thing of value about her? You know so little.”


A low chuckle came from several others. “Bed warmers are just as easy to find.” That elicited another snort though Khargis ignored those comments. He was well aware most of the tribe thought his slave was nothing more than a bed slave, servant, and horse trainer. True, she excelled at any task she was given but only he and a select few knew her true worth. Orghoolgui was one of them though even he didn’t know the extent of the lengths Khargis, his father, and his father’s father had gone to breed for such a one.


Slaves didn’t last long and most were worked to death and left for the scavengers. Only a select few were given enough to survive longer and that was because they possessed skills beyond simple labor. Primary among those were the ability to use aether and to heal. They were denied true training and they burnt out long before they might have otherwise. Neither Khargis nor his ‘advisers’ expected any from the Tokar line to exhibit the kind of power and potential Jaydhe had shown. And none with any skill had ever displayed it upon exiting the birth canal. It was this, more than anything else, which had led the advisers to Khargis’ side.


Curiously, one of the three was Garlean or appeared to be at any rate. His knowledge kept him alive though Khargis threatened him almost daily with an ignoble death. The Auri had no love for the Empire and even less so now that all his most valued slaves and many of his brothers had been taken or killed by them. It was this man, face obscured as always, that stepped forward now.


Flanked by the other two advisers, he stopped and assessed the stewing Xaela for a silent moment. “She still lives.” Though quiet, his voice thrummed with power and even Khargis showed some level of respect for that. It did nothing, however, to assuage his anger.


“I am well aware of that fact. What I fail to hear from you is where she is and your life grows forfeit each day you keep this information from me!” The Garlean chuckled and gestured toward the blue hooded figure to his left.

The man stepped forward, his own face obscured just as the other two. “We have picked up a trail.” He raised a gloved hand to halt the question Khargis readied to fling at him. “It is faint here and was…hmm… difficult to find. It would seem the girl has found her way to Eorzea.”


Khoronmuu, Khargis third, barked a laugh. “That timid thing? There was no escaping us much less the Empire so how do you propose she ended up there?” All around grunted agreement and the blue hooded man waited patiently for the discord to cease.


“Obviously she did not do this on her own.” Disdain bled from him and Khargis snapped out an arm to halt Khoronmuu's attack. The blue hooded man hissed a laugh. “How she got there is irrelevant. That we now have a place to begin looking is. We leave for Eorzea on the morrow.”


“Not alone you’re not.” Khargis stared at the three of them then lifted a hand to silence the objections the others of the tribe began voicing. “Orghoolgui speaks for me while I’m gone. Khoronmuu will be his second.” The Auri turned and held the eyes of all gathered there. “Do any care to challenge this?” While several looked less than pleased, none argued the matter.


The Garlean, however, exuded displeasure and shook his head. “You will only slow us down. We will go alone.”


It was, decidedly, the wrong thing to say and Khargis stalked toward him and even the approaching storm thundered and lightening burst as if to accent the Dotharl’s rage. For the first time since their arrival, the three advisers backed away and lifted their hands. Khargis bent down and thrust his face into the opening of the Garlean’s hood. “Need I remind you who leads here? Or who has the ability to control her once we find her?” Shoving hard, he slammed a hand into the Garlean’s chest and sent him flying backward into the arms of his companions. “Do you think I am so stupid as to know you wish her for yourselves? Khatuu will accompany me and you would be wise not to test either one of us.”


The named warrior stepped forward, his size rivaling Khargis’ own, and crossed his arms over an enormous chest as he stared his own silent challenge toward the three robed men. The Garlean sighed and waved a hand dismissively. “Then be ready at dawn. We leave when the sun rises.” The three turned and stalked back to their tent.


Khargis watched them go then glanced at Orghoolgui. “Set guards around that tent and spies within. The snakes will try to leave without us and I won’t allow that to happen. Once that is done, join me, Khatuu, and Khoronmuu.” His warriors nodded and Khargis ran his tongue over his teeth in anticipation. Retrieval was in sight.

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