Slow and jerky progress on the project I’m working on, but progress all the same. For this week I have the prologue to one of my few semi-Scifi works. It isn’t pure Science Fiction to me, because I was planning on allowing alien magic later on. Actually, there are even hints of it in this very rough first section. Hope you enjoy.
Twilight Bow Chronicles
Soran awoke, not to a sound, but to absolute silence. There was no wind in the trees or crickets chirruping their love songs. He froze straining his ears for the slightest sound, things so quiet and constant they rarely were heard; but there was no hum of the generator or sound of power in his battery-powered emergency clock. Soran struggled out of his bed purposefully making as much noise as he could, his brain demanding some sound before the weight of the silence drove him insane. He quickly changed into some jeans and threw on a jacket, slipping on his shoes so he could head outside. Dressing calmed him.
“Something normal and familiar helps in stressful a situation, that’s what the experts say at least.” He whispered as he began searching the house, the sound of his voice nearly thunderous in the silence. Soran had a feeling that whatever was going on, it would be fairly easy to find among his family’s artifacts and simple furniture. His dad just loved old and traditional things. He smiled quietly to himself as he walked past his parent’s room, picturing his dad pacing back and forth on the cruise ship. He would be complaining about all the “new-fangled, lazy inventions” people had and mother would be telling him to just lie down and enjoy the sun because “it’s still the same as it was five hundred years ago.” Soran wished he could have gone with them, but living in the middle of the woods miles from other people meant that someone had to stay and keep an eye on the house.
Soran made his way to the living room, his eyes searching the dark house and the foggy dusk outside the windows. The fog always made it seem like his house was hanging in limbo, but the silence made it seem creepy and dangerous instead of relaxing and comfortable. As he headed toward the kitchen, something flashed in the corner of his eye. Once again he froze, reflexes enforced by his dad’s lessons taking over before his brain could catch up. Soran scanned the foggy morning, waiting to see if it appeared… there. A soft blue light lit up the mist, something was out there and Soran would bet it had something to do with the oppressive silence. He just hoped it also wasn’t something he should be afraid of.
Moving with the stealth his father had taught him Soran glided out into the cold fog. He had to find an explanation for the unnatural silence and the strange light. As he crept closer to the source of the light Soran briefly wondered if he should have grabbed his bow, but he figured he could stay hidden in the mist if it got dangerous. After all, he had a dozen hiding spots close at hand in case of emergencies. Finally, a shape began to loom in the morning mists, the source of the light Soran hoped. It looks like a giant spike Soran thought, as he got closer.
“Where did you come from?” he whispered to himself as he studied the ground. He could almost hear his father lecturing, saying the same thing he said every time he started his lessons, “There are no useless skills for a hunter, but there are three that are most important. Stealth, Tracking, and Accuracy. Without stealth your quarry will run, without the ability to track you will never find your quarry, without accuracy you shall never hit your quarry.”
“Well,” Soran thought aloud as he shook himself from the past, “everything I can see tells me this thing slowly grew out of the ground, or has been here for a few years. Great conclusion except for the fact that it wasn’t here yesterday. You’re definitely a strange one,” Soran said studying the pale spike of metal “I can’t think of a single metal that looks quiet as white as you.” He circled the spike, trying to determine what it was and where the light was coming from. He found the light easily enough. It was coming from a blue panel set into the side of the spike. It was the only feature on the spike, which obviously made it important.
“I’m going to regret this,” Soran said to no one in particular “but I don’t see what else I can do.” Sighing Soran reached out and pushed on the blue square.
He regretted it immediately.
The panel gave way before his hand and Soran stumbled forward, startled by the lack of resistance. He was even more startled by the red light that bathed his hand. Nervous, but not yet frightened, Soran tried to remove his hand from the recess. It didn’t even budge. Freaking out he pulled and jerked on his arm, but it was as if his hand was embedded in concrete. Above his hand, another panel opened to reveal a screen.
“… it is…” Soran heard as the screen popped to life. There were a few seconds of cheering and clapping, deafening in the absolute silence, then that fell silent as well. The screen came into focus, and Soran suddenly wished he could turn it off. Filling the screen was a creature unlike anything on Earth. At first, it looked like a giant snake, but it had a mane of bony spikes and its lower half separated into hundreds of fine tentacles.
“’ow ‘n thee name o’ thee Silver Mother did you git in there?” the black-scaled monstrosity asked, its voice a strange, almost robotic, Irish. Soran realized he had to be communicating with a completely new species; he was giving an intelligent race a first impression of humanity. So he said the must intelligent thing that came to his mind.
“You can talk!?”
“An’ so can you it seems” the creature responded dryly “Zapheta run biometrics an’ tell me how, by the Great One’s Fangs, this thing got past the temporal dome.”
“Biometrics running,” another voice, more high society American though still robotic, “and how by the Stargazer’s Bow am I supposed to know. Maybe you should ask it.“ Soran’s hand began to itch; which was really annoying since he didn’t dare use his other hand to scratch it, in case it got stuck as well.
“Alright, how did you git past our shieldin’; no livin’ thin’ should be able to do that.” Soran started getting over his initial shock; this didn’t seem much different than when he had accidentally wandered into a neighbor’s property. A whole lot freakier, but not much different.
“I didn’t notice anything when I left my house, I would guess you accidentally put whatever it is over top of my home.”
“You’re lyin’ the nearest occupied nestin’ grounds is a’ least a full day away. There is no ‘ay you live all thee ‘ay out ‘ere.”
“It was my Dad’s idea; he’s an old school hunter. He liked the idea of living off the beaten trail.” Nothing can go wrong in the middle of the woods my left foot. Soran thought remembering the arguments from when they had left.
“Biometrics complete” Zapheta interjected, “Data hack for history reveals it is a young male of the species Homo Sapien or human. Only advanced species present on the planet. In prime condition, reflexes are high, fairly intelligent, not the strongest or quickest species, but not half-bad.”
“So you’re a hunter,” the snake said its emerald eyes glinting, “an’ you’re not ‘n bad condition, I think we hav’ a’ opportunity here.”
“What kind of opportunity?” Soran asked despite himself.
“You hav’ stumbled on thee biggest and most popular gladiatorial show ‘n the cosmos. ‘ow would you like to compete for thee chance a’ fame an’ glory?”
“Killing for your sport and amusement” Soran responded “I think I’ll pass.”
“There would be no killin’, to be accepted by thee galactic governments we installed a fail-safe. All contestants are safely transported to thee medical win’ before death.”
“I still think I’ll pass,” Soran said surreptitiously putting pressure on his arm to try to remove it. Pointless. “I’m not a warrior. If you would be kind enough to allow me to leave, I will gladly do so.” Soran’s heart was racing behind his calm façade. The cool mists caressed his arms as he waited for the strange creature’s answer.
“Well, there is a problem with that. Two, actually. One is that our audience is very interested ‘n seein’ you fight. Records show that your people have along history o’ war, an’ new blood is always welcome. Thee second is that we can’ot take down thee barrier. I’ would be irresponsible to risk lettin’ a dangerous warrior loose on a’ unprepared planet. I would even allow you to stay ‘n thee arena an’ not participate, except for thee risk that our gladiators will attack you by mistake.” Soran felt resignation settle around him, as if the heavy fog had found a way to settle into his soul.
“Why?” Soran whispered, “Why do I interest you so much? I’m only a child; you could have any human being on the planet fight couldn’t you? I’m barely seventeen, What entertainment could I offer you people?”
“You are young, strong, an’ a wild element ‘n what is normally a statistics game. Why wouldn’ you offer entertainment to us? To be fair we will give you a few minutes to prepare. The arena is centered on the abandoned nesting grounds three miles from your position. Oh, one last thing; Zapheta please give ‘im some tracers so we can transport him ‘n case o’ a’ emergency.”
“As you wish, sir.”
“What happens afterwards?” Soran asked quietly “What happens after I fight for you?”
“Well, that depends ‘ntirely upon you. Your performance will determine if you stay with us, or leave; if we come to gather more human gladiators ‘n the future, or not.” The snake creature finished meaningfully. The screen blinked off with a slight hiss. Before Soran could even appreciate not having to look at that freaky snake again, intense pain shot up his trapped arm. From the interior of the spike, four small spikes had grown and impaled his hand. He could feel them pumping something into his blood. The agony increased as they withdrew and the red light finally released his arm. Gasping and clutching his arm Soran was terrified of what kind of mess it must be in. However, when he looked there was not a single mark upon his skin, like nothing had ever happened.
“Great, just great.” Soran muttered as he headed back to his house rubbing his arm. “You just had to touch it, didn’t you? You never touch the strange glowing object. Now you’re stuck fighting intergalactic gladiators, who of course had to choose our backyard as their battlefield. Why the hell…” Soran stopped as he realized what he had just said. “I’m such an idiot,” he laughed his confidence returning. “Only one person knows these woods better than me, and I’m the only one who goes to the ruins. This is my turf and that means I have all the advantages I should need. These arrogant aliens will never even know what hit them.”
Quickly Soran gathered his hunting supplies, thanking his luck that he had been planning to go out today anyways to restock. He checked his compound longbow and quiver, grabbed his blue-fletched arrows and two hunting knives. Then he put on his heavy hunting gear and leather armguard, and finally his boots. He gazed fondly at his boots as he put them on; specially made by his Uncle to be silent, sturdy, and have enough traction to run across ice, if you knew what you were doing. Finally, Soran went and got the family heirloom, an arrowhead made of petrified wood and strung on an ancient leather string. He always carried it with him when he was going to do something dangerous, as if the uncountable hunters and warriors before him might protect him. His dad had promised to tell him the story behind it when he returned from the honeymoon, supposedly it was a tale worth hearing. All Soran knew was that it had been in the family for as long as anyone could remember and had come into their possession under strange circumstances.
“You’d better remember to tell me that story when you get back” Soran muttered as he stalked off into the misty trees.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Soran froze as the bird-creature thundered overhead once more. His green and brown clothing helping him blend with the trees and bushes around him. He could have tried to shoot it down, but it was only barely within his range and moving fast. No point in revealing myself until I have to, Soran thought as he ghosted through the trees as he had almost every day of his life. The training and techniques learned over generations of hunters guided him over the familiar terrain. He had always felt welcome in the woods, though the sounds he listened to now were the crashes and explosions of pitched battle rather than the normal birdsong. His father had told him that this land was one of his families ancestral hunting grounds, though Soran didn’t know how they could have more than one. Soran was pondering this when another beam of light lit up the mists. He didn’t know what they were, but they had been coming less often as the morning wore on. Most of them had been coming from the direction of the ruins, so that was where Soran was headed. His theory was that the light was the teleporter, transmitting gladiators from the field. If so than not only had thirteen enemies fallen, whoever was left couldn’t be in peak condition. That made it the safest place to be.
“Thirteen.” Soran whispered “I wonder if that-“his musings were cut short by a high, keening cry. Without thought, Soran fell to one knee, nocked his bow, and twisted toward the sound. The trained motion had taken less than a second, but nothing was there. Soran reviewed the terrain as is eyes searched for whatever had made that noise. The clearing is in that direction he thought That would be a fairly good place to ambush something, so that is probably where it is. Soran slowly crept forward, keeping his bow ready in case he was mistaken. The smell of molding leaves and old wood filled his nose as he fell into an almost trancelike state of preparedness. Years of practice allowed him to extend his senses to the land around him. He felt the cool mist eddying around him and heard the minute creaks of the trees straining against their own weight. When he reached the edge of the clearing, he slowly lowered his bow and peered out from the bushes. Cowering in the middle of the clearing was a young girl. She was wearing a short, green dress that complimented her brown skin and dark red hair. Soran felt himself relaxing in spite of the warning bells going off in his head. Whatever made that noise must be farther off. He thought unnocking his arrow.
I wonder how she- Soran froze as a massive beast passed in front of him. His first thought was that it was a mountain lion; he dismissed that conclusion though when he saw the cybernetics bursting from the hairless skin. The creature moved in complete silence, not even the buzz of electricity to betray it. The cyborg cat was circling the girl, hunting her. Soran felt instinct take over as he readied his bow, the need to protect the strange girl overpowering any arguments against revealing himself. The beast stopped its circling directly across from him, the girl between them. Its face was dominated by steel fangs and a large, scarlet lens glistening with dew. Soran knew he would have to shoot carefully or he would hit the girl, he couldn’t hit the girl. Besides, I wouldn’t be much of the hero if I killed the damsel in distress he thought jokingly as he waited. Finally, the twisted creature let out a roar and raced forward, closing upon the frail girl in seconds.
Soran was faster.
With reflexes born of endless repetition, he released his arrow as the beast charged. As soon as it left his hand he knew he had missed his target, the single eye implanted in its skull. As the shaft hit the beast, throwing it off course, Soran nocked his second arrow. The mechanical tiger didn’t give the arrow in its shoulder a second glance; instead, it turned and gazed into the trees around Soran. A spray of red light blazed from the scarlet eye, washing over the foliage to Soran’s left and setting the mists ablaze. Knowing he didn’t want that light to encompass him, especially after what happened at the spike, Soran let his second arrow fly. The slight tha of the string caused the creature to look in Soran’s direction. The arrow shattered the eye and lodged deep into what Soran hoped was the creature’s mechanical brain. The beast unleashed a keening wail, then vanished in a brilliant explosion of light.
“Guess that means I was right about the teleporter” Soran chuckled as he approached the girl. Closer up Soran began noticing things he had missed before. Like her ears being elfin and that her “dress” was made entirely of leaves. Still he couldn’t help but trust her. “Are you hurt?” Soran asked placing his hand on her shoulder, to his surprise it felt more like sanded wood than flesh. She giggled her face still hidden in her hair.
“Why is it,” she asked, “that all it takes to fool you Males is a few pheromones and a simple helpless act”
“Wha-aah” Soran choked as a thin vine of ivy burst from the ground and wrapped itself around his throat.
“I do thank you for taking care of that rotted machine for me.” She continued rising gracefully to her feet and regarding him with emerald eyes. “Rusty abomination had me cornered until you came along and took care of it. Probably had its scent receptors removed or something” Soran clawed at the vine as he drew one of his heavy hunting knives. The stainless steel blade sliced straight through the tough plant. Before she could react, Soran grabbed the plant girl with one arm and placed his blade at her throat.
“Nice way… to thank someone… who saved you.” He gasped. She responded by placing her hands on the back of his neck and drawing him closer. Her body was warm against him and she smelled just like a summer evening.
“I guess you had something more pleasant in mind,” the alien said playfully “I assume you’ve forgotten, we’re supposed to kill each other.” She snuggled closer against him. Part of his mind was screaming warnings… but she felt so nice. “Males are so easy to fool.” She said stiffening. Thorns sprouted from her body impaling Soran in dozens of places. His heavy jacket saved him from the worst, but he could feel blood flowing down his arms. Laughing she spun away from the addled boy, tearing his thick coat to shreds.
“I guess that’s enough fun for now.” She said stepping next to a tree as Soran scrambled for his bow. “It was nice to play with you.” The girl placed her hand on the tree’s trunk and then walked straight into it. Thunk! Soran’s arrow quivered in the tree, a single red hair dangling from the tip. Mocking laughter came from inside the old oak as it swayed and creaked. Suddenly it bent and one of the limbs swept Soran off his feet. He struggled to breathe as the animated wood crushed him into the ground, like an insect pinned by a spiteful child.
“What is the matter little one, finding it hard to breathe.” The tree girl mocked. Looking up Soran smiled and relaxed to reduce the pressure of the wood. “What are you smiling at?” she asked leaning closer. Soran pointed to the sky above her. CRACK! One of the topmost branches fell away as the flying creature Soran had been avoiding attacked.
“Go away you stupid nester!” the girl shouted forgetting about Soran as she focused on the new threat. The enormous bird banked, heading in for a new attack. The oak convulsed, shooting a spray of branches and splinters at the diving bird. It dove straight through the cloud of wood, screaming defiance as it crashed into the possessed tree. Another blinding flash lit the forest as a fallen gladiator was whisked to the medics. Soran readied an arrow, not sure which of the aliens would emerge from the debris. Slowly the remains of the tree shifted, and the girl clambered out of the mess. She was bleeding thick, sappy green blood from multiple wounds. She gazed at Soran her emerald eyes acknowledging his victory, but not backing down.
“Very well Male.” She called out “I’m beaten, now finish the job so I can go to bed” Soran hesitated. “Come on you rottin-“she fell back with Soran’s arrow in her stomach.
“Sorry.” He called sheepishly as she screamed curses on him and all his future children. “I was aiming for your heart. I don’t know what happened”
“That was my heart you slack-jawed, rotting excuse for carrion.” She screeched as the light gathered around her, “Next time hit my forehead, WHERE THERE AREN’T ANY ROTTING PAIN RECEPTORS!” she finished popping out of existence.
“Sorry,” he repeated to the empty air, “Maybe you should have been more specific.” Praying fervently that he would never have to deal with the crazy girl again, Soran continued towards the ruins.
Sixteen Gladiators down.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Soran glided out of the woods and into the ancient town, Soran and his father called the Ruins. Once again, Soran wished he had remembered to do some research on this place. He wanted to know who had built a town out in the middle of nowhere; more importantly, he wanted to know why they had left. Just like the other times Soran had come here, he removed two bricks from the cobbled street and placed them among the trees. His arms twinged underneath the gauze as he lifted the heavy stone. He had wrapped them, but that only helped the bleeding, not the pain.
Still he moved the bricks; people had abandoned this place, there was no reason not to help nature reclaim it. The squat stone houses had long since been covered in ivy and plant growth, testament to the ephemeral works of man.
Soran’s train of thought was disrupted as an agonized scream tore through the ghost town. Remembering that he still had to find his way out of this mess, Soran pushed aside his curiosity and fell back into the mindset of a hunter as crept farther into town. Dark glass was scattered through the streets, and Soran noticed some of the buildings had been crushed in the fighting. As he traveled across the nameless streets, Soran was surprised to find he wasn’t scared. If anything, he was excited. The danger, the challenge; it was greater than anything he had felt before, rushing through his veins like a drug. The old and familiar had become strange and exciting. He wasn’t even afraid of losing, if that girl had done anything she had shown him there wasn’t anything to fear. Filled with anticipation Soran glided to the old town square. There was a wet crack, followed by another piercing scream and Soran felt some of his newborn confidence slip away like the thinning mists. The heaviest fighting must have taken place in the square, smoking buildings and a large crater only giving hints to the devastation. He let his eyes roam over the rubble, searching for the source of the screams. It laughter that gave it away though; it bubbled up from the crater, sounding like glass being ground to powder.
Silently Soran made his way over and peered down into the pit. It was a biblical nightmare come to life. A towering… demon was the only word that described it, made entirely of obsidian glass loomed over a winged man. The man was covered in blood, his arms and wings bent at unnatural angles. As Soran looked on the dark creature reached down and grabbed the man’s leg.
“I’m getting bored,” The glass being screeched “Maybe we should speed this up.” With a quick twist, it dislocated the winged man’s leg, and then began breaking it again and again. The tortured man let out a pitiful moan, already in too much pain to feel anymore. Sickened Soran drew back an arrow and let it fly, then quickly unleashed a second and a third. The first ended the winged man’s suffering, sending him to the medical bay, and the other two crashed into the glass demon’s broad back. The creature slowly turned as the teleporter light dissipated.
“You stole my plaything,” it hissed lashing its tail against the side of the crater. “I guess that means you get to be his replacement.”
“Not likely you sick piece of museum art.” Soran whispered nocking another arrow. The creature roared, giving voice to its cheated pleasure, and charged up the edge of the crater. The teenager stood firm as the beast charged, letting arrow after arrow fly at the black demon with flaming eyes. Each of the blue-fletched arrows cracked into the sadistic beast, burying deep and sending chunks of its body flying. It wasn’t enough. The creature stopped before Soran, towering as Goliath had over David. It grinned, its fangs scarlet with a previous gladiator’s blood.
“This is amusing,” the creature said, “Do you honestly believe these splinters mean anything to me?” Soran’s answer was to release yet another arrow straight into its glass chest. Before he could draw a second the creature’s tail lashed out like a wall of shadow. Soran felt himself flying through the air, the pieces of his bow clutched in his mangled hand. He didn’t feel himself land, nor did he realize the demon had picked him up. He came to with molten pain blazing up his leg.
“Now you can’t run away,” the creature screeched, obviously taking pleasure from Soran’s screams. With furious strength, Soran pulled out his first hunting knife and drove it again and again into the creature’s arm. Sparks and chips of glass flew through the air as the creature laughed at him. It grabbed his leg and slowly began twisting it. Soran gritted his teeth against the pain and continued his defiant assault. Then a small pop came from his leg; he wondered briefly at the lack of pain, then it slammed into him like a mudslide. He couldn’t breathe, thinking was impossible, he wasn’t even sure if he was screaming. He felt the sleep of oblivion coming, offering an escape from the pain, from this nightmarish morning. Then he heard the grinding laugh of his tormentor. It was laughing at him, at his inability to hurt it, at his pain. It thought he was beat, that he was helpless. Rage blossomed in Soran’s chest, burning brighter and hotter than the pain, consuming it and using it to grow. Soran drove his knife deep into the creature’s wounded arm.
“I’m…… not… helpless” Soran slurred drawing his second knife and staring deep into the flaming pits above him. With a roar of rage and adrenaline, he plunged the second blade behind the first and dragged them together. The glass demon’s arm shattered. Its fiery eyes widened in disbelief as the damage spread, cracks connecting to each of the arrows deeply embedded in its body. As Soran fell among the obsidian shards his father’s voice sounded in his head. Always carry two knives Soran. You never know when a spare can save your life. Soran smiled as his opponent vanished in a flash of light.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Are you able to stand and fight young warrior?” a voice called from the darkness. He had gotten used to the metallic voices by now, but all he wanted to do was sleep. The voice wouldn’t stop though; it kept going on about “honor”, “mercy”, and “Chique of Vion”. Soran opened his eyes to tell the guy to let him sleep.
“I guess guy isn’t the proper term,” Soran mumbled. The giant insect standing above him tilted its head to the side in confusion.
“Chique of Vion challenges you in combat,” the insect intoned drawing its sword “Do you wish to accept?”
“All I want,” Soran mumbled, “is to sleep.”
“Very well. In that case, I shall send you to the healers. First, though, may I know your name young warrior? To defeat Check of Mastick was an impressive feat and I wish to know the warrior who can live to tell of it.”
“Sure. I have a question first though.” Soran said his eyes turning to the brightening sky. “How come all of you have been speaking English?”
“There are translators located in the tracers. They are what allow us to understand each other.”
“Ah.” Soran said as the mist dissipated in the morning light. “My name is Soran Tempest Bowman.”
“That is a strange name.” the warrior said readying his blade.
“You should hear my father’s name” Soran chuckled “It’s Leroy Sunny Bowman” Soran smiled at the past as the blade enveloped him in light.
It was over.
* * ** * * * * ** * * * * * * * ** * * * * *
Soran couldn’t remember being sorer in his entire life. Even lying completely still in bed was painful. He knew he was on the gladiators’ ship, but nothing could get him to move from that bed.
“Mr. Bowman,” Zapheta’s voice called from beside him, “I’m here to finalize your contract.
“What!” Soran exclaimed sitting up as quickly as he could, which felt like an inch every few seconds, an inch of flames and agony. Zapheta looked like a blue elf, tall and graceful, his pale blue skin unmarred by time. His hair was snowy white and held back by a band of leather, but his eyes were what captivated Soran. They were pitch-black, and seemed to contain limitless patience and knowledge.
“Your contract with Master Potrasip to fight in his gladiator tournaments.” Zapheta replied with a hint of sadness
“But he we had a deal.” Soran seethed “If I did well you would-“
“Not quite, “Zapheta interjected “What Master Potrasip said was that your performance would determine you fate. The crowd loved you and you did very well for someone with no training as a warrior. Master Potrasip therefore determined you would stay and fight more.” Soran felt the words sinking in, clogging his mind like glue in clockwork. He wanted to scream that they had lied to him, but Zapheta was right. He had heard what he wanted to hear, he had gambled his life and lost.
“How long?” Soran asked burying his face in his hands, “How long do I have to do this?”
“Only as long as you want to.” Zapheta replied stoically “Unlike most of our competitors you, technically, volunteered. You may be dropped off at any time you wish. It will be, however, many years before we reach your planet once again.”
“I was an idiot. I never even left a note telling my parents I might not come back. I was confident I would return once it was over. Now I’ll never see them again and they’ll never know why.” Soran reached into his shirt and pulled out the wooden arrowhead, the symbol of his family’s ancestry and traditions. The old wood rested in his hand, smooth after countless years of handling. “I’ll never have children; there aren’t any humans out in space as far as I know. My parents probably won’t have another child, and even if they do, I have the arrowhead. Thousands of years of tradition destroyed by my stupidity and vanity”
“Not so stupid” Zapheta said quietly “Not compared to hundreds of others tricked into this ship under far less compelling conditions. Or those like myself who were exiled and sold to these gladiatorial games. Besides,” Soran looked up; a new tone had entered the proud slave’s voice. Zapheta’s eyes were locked on the simple, wooden arrowhead, whose history was lost in the depths of time. Zapheta seemed almost on the edge of laughing or crying as he continued. “You have not lost all of your traditions. In fact it seems you are in a position to learn much more about your family.”
“What do you mean?” Soran asked human curiosity pushing aside despair and anger.
“That is my arrowhead.”