Thrak Yak held tightly to his sack, for it contained his snacks. No one had ever seemed to think it had contained anything of significant value, but Thrak knew better.
With a nice crunch between his sharp teeth, Thrak returned in his thoughts (if one could call the pressure exerted on his head organ to gain information “thinking”) and to what he had to do. The prince had considered giving him directions in a pictorial sort of manner, but changed his mind in case the great lizard was caught by the entity known as the Host. Somewhere, on board his unnamed ship, Genoran must still have the step by step picture instructions to the sabotage of Ferroun’s Station. Thrak so wished he could remember the pictures!
But after much debate, there was simply no way he could be trusted with it, much to his chagrin. As Q had put it, “If Thrak can understand it at all, there’s no code we can keep from the enemy.”
In the end, the basic instruction was simple. Follow the little people. And that was what Thrak was doing. Through the choking smoke, the streets crowded with stone walls fallen over and broken into bits, just follow. Past the docks and eventually, into the first of what they hoped would be each and every ship. Plant the glowing orbs in a secret place. These he was never told about, deliberately of course. But he had heard enough to let him think they would keep the ships from moving, without harming them. That was the one bit of information Thrak Yak knew well. The ships were their way of escape. Not just he and his little pals. But hundreds, perhaps thousands of slaves. A fighting force. An army. An army that was needed urgently.
Now loaded with the black robed enemy, these same ships, if their plan worked, would soon be loaded with the freed men and women of Cellinor.
But they had a lot of work to do first.
Thrak remembered not to creep from ship to ship. Instead, he followed the little saboteurs as they planted the orbs simply by walking behind them. It made his scales tingle to think about the enemy brushing by him, defenseless should they want to attack!
He couldn’t believe how well it was going. Although the enemy was everywhere, dotting the docks and moving hither and thither in their mindless transitions, none seemed to care what Thrak and his sabateurs were doing. It was the first time in his life, Thrak could truly say he went unnoticed.
They had nearly completed the final ship when unfortunately that changed dramatically. As they had nearly a dozen times (for that was the number of ships the Lord Genoran had thought they would need for the escaping forces) they planted the small glowing orb. This time, Thrak himself put it in a barrel of wares he found on a midling deck. Quickly, he used his talons to pop open the lid and stuck the orb in.
But when he drew his hand away, something caught his eye. Something shiny. And shiny wasn’t something that anyone could train Thrak for. And this wasn’t any ordinary shiny. Inside the barrel went Thrak’s snout, following the glimmer. He’d just take a quick peek! This deck was empty of the Host and besides he had to make sure the orb was in it’s proper place when it activated. His eyes followed and they fell upon an item he never would have expected to find there.
Thrak simply could not resist picking the item up and staring at it. In his great claws he now held the head dress of a great Lizardfolk chieftain. Something he had only dreamed of acquiring. It was the most magnificent thing he had ever laid his lizard eyes on, and before he knew what he was doing, the headdress, with it’s feathery sails sat atop his tiny peak.
And that’s when Thrak Yak, holding his sack, had for the first time ever, his first, clear, thought.
It was nothing more than a memory. A moment in time. Iricah standing before him, helping him with his clothing disquise, one he would need to wear for their urban adventures as the Cheillini’s. “Thrak,” said the bard, “Thrak, hold still. For once, just hold still, would ya?”
“I am trying,” he hissed.
“No not try, Thrak, just think. Think about why you need to do something. Then, you do it.”
Think, thought Thrak. Think first. Then, act. Think first, then act! It was such a beautiful thought. Such an extraordinarily wonderful idea. He had simply never considered it before. And as the pure joy of comprehension flooded his half human brain, something else arose in the base of his neck. Pain.
A shock rose up his spinal cord, sending waves of jolting pain throughout his limbs and into his head, right to it’s very core. Thrak, called out! He cried out. Unable to stop. But then, more crystal clear thoughts came to him. Not a good idea ol’ boy, said a new voice inside his head.
Is that me?
Yes, it is you.
Who are we?
We are your consciousness, Thrak. We can think together, you and I.
Yes, it is, isn’t it?
Now here ol’boy, they will come for you now. They heard your scream. It’s time to escape. You mustn’t be found. The others need to be freed. You are on your own on this one, remember?
Right? I am. Leave the others, they will find their way back to the griffons. It’s time to go and search for the slaves.
In mid thought, Thrak turned a corner, his new headpiece covered over by the dark robes he wore. Another robed figure stood before him, and in the blackness within the folds, two red eyes began to glow. A sinister voice spoke, “What brings you here tonight, hero?”
Thrak’s mind flooded with ideas. What would have been a snail’s crawl was now a race towards endless choices. We are discovered ol’boy. It’s time to make quick work of this one and leave. We’ll need a new disguise. We can do this.
“Oh you know us heroes,” said Thrak pulling on the handle of his magical axe he had stowed away in it’s holster beside him, “We’re always looking for a good time!” Thrak pulled the axe out swiftly and glared at the figure, waiting to see the familiar path of his axe through the air. But it never came. Instead, an excruciating pain erupted in his foot and looking down he saw the axe blade embedded in his bare clawed foot.
Thrak, stunned by this sudden inability to do what he always could without thinking, pulled for his second axe and for a brief moment he felt it whizzing through the air at his target. But something in his grip didn’t feel right. The axe felt, heavy.
The figure before him, expressionless, grabbed the axe and tore it from his grip. Thrak tried to wrestle it free, and found, for the first time in his life, he had a plan, but not the strength to act on it.