Sylvar stooped to pick up a rock and sent it skipping across the open ground towards the edge of the plateau. It bounced three times, sending up little clouds of red dust before flying off the side and toppling into the pit.
He stood near the edge of a circular shelf of dusty red stone a couple of hundred feet wide. Ahead the shelf dropped away into the darkness of what was known colloquially as the shit pit. It was called the shit pit for reasons which became obvious when you took in the complete lack of any hygiene facilities and the large number of people scattered across the plateau. The shit pit wrapped around the rock like some evil-smelling moat just a few feet beyond which were a plethora of bored-looking sentries in a strange open-faced tower.
The walls of the tower were tall, but the inside was open like some ancient ruin so that everyone on the rock could watch as the sentries gambled their wages away at cards, drank themselves into a stupor of more irritatingly, pulled faces and waved their cocks at the people on the inside. It meant those on the inside knew they were being watched at all times but also gave the impression that one could simply step from the desolation of the rock to the safety of the tower in one easy hop. Unfortunately, in Blastrock Maximum Security Prison things were rarely that simple.
“What’s the matter Sylvar? You’ve had a face like a slapped arse all morning” asked Ludo, the huge half-orc his voice like rumbling like a barrel of rocks rolling down a hill.
Sylvar let out a sigh and waved a theatrical arm to take in their surroundings. Broken people dressed in nothing but rags and dirt lay still, waiting to die or scrabbled about like insects scavenging for scraps of food from sleeping bodies. At least he hoped they were sleeping bodies.
“You mean the prison?” asked Ludo, scratching his head with a thick black nail.
“No, I don’t mean the prison,” sighed an exasperated Sylvar. “I mean those clowns.” He jabbed a finger towards a group of sentries who were tossing coins into an upturned helm.
“Yes, the guards! It’s offensive how little interest they take in us. Don’t they know who I am? I’m Sylvar Theren III, master lover, inimitable thief and menace to the rich and boring. There hasn’t been a prison made that can hold me.”
“This one isn’t doing a bad job so far.”
As the talked a wild-haired man, who looked more skeletal than some of the bodies in the pit dashed towards the edge his tattered robe flailing behind him like a banner. As he reached the edge, he leapt into the air, easily clearing the gap only to crash into an invisible barrier, rebound back and topple end over end down into the pit where his scream cut off abruptly. It was such a common occurrence that neither of the pair even blinked. Instead, Sylvar shot his big friend a scowl before continuing.
“Well, it’s not like I’ve been here very long, is it? Besides can’t they even pretend to be vigilant. It is their job, after all. The real ones stealing in this city are them, not us. Stealing a living from the crown they are. Look at them, drinking, playing cards and not giving me the slightest bit of attention. I have a good mind to escape.”
“Do we have to? We only have one more week in here.”
“Yes, because fuck them and their snooty disdain for my ability. I might even kill one of them on the way out to teach them a lesson.”
“Well, can’t you just…” Ludo waved a thick paw in what he considered a vaguely mystical manner.
“What do you mean?”
“Like, you know magic.”
“I don’t think they will like that. Besides no matter how incompetent they are I’m pretty sure they will notice someone casting a spell powerful enough to dispel that barrier. Unless…”
“I don’t like it when you do that Sylvar,” said Ludo as Sylvar stared into space with a smile on his face. “That look usually ends up with me getting hurt, or robbed, or sent to a maximum security prison…”
“Do you trust me?” said Sylvar.
“Not even a little.”
“Great.” Sylvar picked up a large, rather pointy looking rock and hurled it with all his strength at a Goliath lounging nearby. The rock cracked off the side of his head, leaving a line of red, bright against his grey skin. The goliath spun its face twisted in rage, and Sylvar put his hand in Ludo’s back and pushed. “Good luck.”
Ludo staggered forward-looking over his shoulder to where Sylvar was beating a hasty retreat, and a roar echoed around the prison that shook the walls. Ludo turned just in time to see a giant, gnarled fist rushing towards his face and then he was fighting for his life.
Around the rock, the prisoners started to gather around the fighters. Ones and twos at first and then, when it was clear the smaller man wasn’t going to be hammered into the ground like a nail into a board, at least not immediately, the rest flooded in forming a loose ring. The fight even piqued the interest of the usually indolent guards who gathered in small groups, watching from the safety of the tower.
Ludo slipped a wild swing and hammered a fist into the goliath’s ribs. His knuckles cracked on the creatures iron-like hide, blood flowing, but he heard a satisfying huff of pain that brought a grin to his face.
Sylvar better have a bloody good reason for this, thought Ludo as the beast leapt for him again. He tucked and rolled through its legs, feeling claws rake down his back as he narrowly avoided being crushed like an overripe melon. Chest heaving like a newlyweds bossom he backed away and scanned the crowd for his friend, but he was nowhere to be seen. Ludo circled right, keeping an eye on the frothing goliath as he scanned the crowd. Where the hell is he? Thought Ludo. Then he saw him and stopped his mouth hanging open. Sylvar was off by the edge of the rock squatting down taking a shit. If he did this just so he could have some privacy to pinch one off I’ll…
Ludo’s vision narrowed to a thing tunnel and stars danced before his eyes, and the last thing he saw before the goliath pounced on his was Sylvar giving him the thumbs up.
Sylvar grimaced and retracted his thumb as the goliath fell on Ludo like a tsunami. With his other hand, he gingerly held the wand that he had recently retrieved from his brown pocket. It was one of the less fun things he’d had in there, but it would be worth the discomfort, assuming it still worked. Holding it between forefinger and thumb, he shook it clean and then pointed it the barrier. “Here goes nothing.”
On his back with a goliath’s hands wrapped around his throat choking the life out of him, Ludo thought about his poor life choices. The one top of mind being getting together with an idiot elf with a bad habit of taking things that didn’t belong to him. The goliath smiled, and ropes of drool slapped on Ludo’sf ace, but he barely felt them. As he slowly died, he saw a bright flash in the sky and wondered if that was a sign from the gods. It turned out it was a sign, just not a divine one.
Get up you idiot the barrier is down. Ludo felt the voice rather than heard it.
The barrier is down, stop pissing about and let’s get out of here before anyone notices.
Is now really the time to talk about this while some big lump chokes you to death!? I used the butt wand okay? The butt wand! Now stop getting killed and get over here.
Ludo lifted his legs, looked up into the wild orange eyes of the goliath and slammed his legs down, arching his back. The goliath shot upwards losing its grip for a second and Ludo grabbed it’s arm twisted and pressed into its elbow with all his strength. There was a crack and a tearing sound, and then the weight was off him, and the goliath was on the floor rolling int the dirt one arm hanging uselessly by its side.
“Sorry about that but I’ve gotta run,” said Ludo before charging through the crowd and pelting it over to where Sylvar stood in the tower waving to him. The crowd turned as one and seeing a prisoner beyond the barrier they went mad. Prisoners threw themselves across the pit as guards scrambled to draw their weapons and all around were screams as men fought to the death. While on the far side of the rock Sylvar and Ludo slipped quietly down the stairs and out into the warm night air.