Boroden and his fellow brownies are imprisoned by an evil kraken
|‘Why did I ever try to reclaim a home for our clan in Velmoran?’ Boroden whispered brokenly, hugging his arms about himself against the cold. The thick chill penetrated through his coat. The water drops falling like a constant barrage of arrows from the cave roof did not help.
‘Don’t blame yourself, lad. Nothing could be done. It’s too late now to wish things different,’ Carnelian tried to reassure him, ever kind despite his own grief. Boroden had been overjoyed to discover that he and his travelling companions did not share their prison with a monster but with his beloved old tutor Carnelian. Boroden had thought him dead when he disappeared some months ago, taken by the servants of the kraken Krysila. Now Krysila had them too locked away in the dungeons of the evil Unseelie Court.
‘Too late, aye,’ Torden, one of the brownie chieftains, echoed. ‘Aira’s dead.’
Boroden choked at Torden’s hollow sounding words. Aira’s bloodcurdling shrieks coming from somewhere above them had eclipsed his happiness at finding Carnelian alive. He loved her. The golden haired brownie girl had been part of his life for so long, befriending him during his childhood spent confined in one of the towers in the palace of Velmoran when others had feared to approach him. After that when he had felt just as isolated with most of the other brownies simply seeing him as a king, someone to be in awe of or to lead them, Aira had never treated him any different. She remained so dauntless and true, facing the kraken and coming to his aid when the others dare not even though she was the smallest of them. To Aira he had pinned his hopes. Hopes that he might live happily with her at his side once the brownies had a safe homeland again in Velmoran, that beautiful brownie citadel where rainbows danced on the roofs of the cavernous quays that were the centre of trade in the coastal brownie kingdom. Now she was gone.
Something latched onto Boroden’s shoulder. Looking round, he growled as he beheld one of the armoured worms that lived on the prison floor. He tossed it off. It writhed hideously towards him despite his cousin, Hëkitarka, kicking at it.
‘They can climb. Nowhere is safe from them,’ Harfan, Hëkitarka’s elder brother, exclaimed.
There came a knocking, hollow and muffled behind the rock.
‘Surely that’s not one of them beasties,’ Carnelian shuddered, referring to the worms.
Harfan pressed his ear to the stone but as he did so their friend Quentillian could be heard calling from the other side of the rock faintly as though under water. ‘It that you, Boroden? They’ve put me down here with Gefi, although swinging down on them ropes almost knocked Gefi senseless.’
Gefi protested his consciousness half-heartedly.
‘Where’s Klaufi?’ Hëkitarka puzzled.
Boroden made no answer, bowing his head as he imagined that the clumsy brownie sorcerer must be dead. Despite their dire situation, Boroden felt glad that at least some other brownies of their clan had survived. His relief sank as a gang of hobyahs peered into their prison, their bulbous eyes gleaming with malevolent glee.
‘Look lively. You’ve got a visitor,’ ordered one of the hobyahs who scavenged in the dungeons of the Unseelie Court. He and his companion guffawed as they tossed the remains of their supper of decomposing offal over the prisoners. Boroden did not want to consider what the remains might be from. The grotesquely vicious monsters even resorted to cannibalism. The hobyahs soon quietened respectfully as Serena approached. They knew better than to get on the wrong side of the chief handmaiden to Krysila’s daughter, Leanan Sídhe.
‘Come to gloat, have you?’ Boroden challenged her venomously.
Serena kept her cool, although none of her sharpness had left her. ‘I have a message from My Lady. She says she’s waiting to receive the young prince.’
Harfan tightened his grip on Hëkitarka. Though terror and revulsion bubbled up inside him, Hëkitarka told the others, ‘I’ll go. It’s our only chance. I might be able to reason with her.’
Boroden looked aghast. ‘What? Are you mad? Leanan Sídhe means only to kill you. Such is the hatred she and her mother hold for our clan.’
‘Please.’ Harfan hushed his cousin as Hëkitarka lowered his head in anguish.
‘There’s no reason for him to go up there. Aira’s dead and we shall all die down here together. It’s impossible that we could escape the dungeons of the Unseelie Court,’ Boroden said.