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Hello you wonderful Mist Villagers!  This is the Super Secret Index for Book 7!
Please enjoy it and stay wonderful, but first, a small thank you! 

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And now on to the Epilogue!


Epilogue

Grim’ault, the bugbear commander, backhanded one of his torturers.  “You let three of the four kindir die,” he growled, “and you are still no closer to an answer!”

Fir’ot cringed back.  The torturer was covered in the blood of his victims, but he was still cowed by Grim’ault’s fury.  The commander was not known for his patience.  The officer was known for ripping out the throats of his subordinates when displeased.  It did not help that the commander was being pressured by his own superiors for answers. 

For some time, the leaders of the allied armies had thought there might be a hostile settlement within the mist.  Despite that, it had mostly been ignored.  Whatever was within the mists seemed to leave the alliance alone.  There were also more than enough known enemies that had to be defeated.  When the alliance leadership factored in that an entire company of bugbears tasked to the region had disappeared, including the drow sorceress Modara, it was decided that valuable resources could not be devoted to a distant section of the forest.  The Forest of Nadria covered over six hundred thousand square miles.  A patch of mist at the northern tip simply did not merit intense scrutiny or attention.

The sprites of the Hearth Tree had proved to be especially bothersome and the defenses of their settlement were too strong for the current forces of the Basilisk Alliance to overcome.  They were not even the only enemies the forest had to offer.  Wood elves, high elves, gnomes, and various beastkin tribes had been battling the alliance forces for months.  With all of that to worry about, searching the mists had always been a low priority, especially when nearly every scout that entered them had never returned. 

That was why it rankled Grim’ault so much that he had been tasked to monitor the mists.  Monitor.  Not advance on, not conquer, not even reconnoiter.  Just simply… monitor!  The shame and anger of such a posting had been twisting in the commander’s heart into something truly ugly.  The dead bodies of his subordinates could attest to that.  He simply hated being regulated to such an unimportant and forgotten part of the war!

His feelings had changed ten days ago.  That was when Adventurers in the bugbear army had received a notification that a new Dungeon had been born.  Immediately afterward, a brilliant beam of scarlet energy had shot into the air.  To Grim’ault’s delight, it had come from the heart of the mists. 

The emergence of a Dungeon changed everything.  The eyes of the entire Basilisk Alliance had turned hungrily north, and troops had been rerouted to this section of the forest.  What had originally been a shit posting for the commander now offered him the chance to rise within the coalition’s ranks!

That was why Grim’ault was so furious.  It was only luck that had let his patrol see the kindir exiting the mists.  As small as the creatures were, they had still managed to wipe out an entire five-bugbear strike squad before they had been captured.  And now, his incompetent torturers had killed three quarters of his prisoners without learning their secrets!   If he didn’t get answer soon, some other commander might take control of his posting and Grim’ault would once again lose his chance for blood and glory.  Fir’ot was right to be afraid, for the smaller bugbear was about to die.   

Before the commander could unleash his anger though, they both heard something that changed everything.  It was a very distinctive shriek coming out of the torture tent behind them.  Any man or woman would scream in pain when their toes were bitten off one at a time, especially if you gnawed on the bone for a bit before tearing the digit free.  That was the sound of agony.  To Fir’ot, screams of pleading, rage or fear were as distinct as different styles of music.  The torturer had often considered himself a musician of sorts, creating songs of pain. 

What Fir’ot heard now was different.  It was the unique wail of a prisoner’s will being broken.  The howling screams always had a confused component to them.  It was because the victims did not know if they were more afraid of their captor or more disgusted with themselves.  For torturers, there was no sweeter sound.  After decades of presiding over torture tents, the bugbear commander had come to recognize the sound as well. 

Grim’ault held up a hand, and Fir’ot breathed a sigh of relief.  A moment later, both bugbears walked into the tent.   The commander gestured.  One of the other bugbear torturers removed the glowing hot blade he had pressed to a kindir woman’s chest.  The skin stretched between the burning metal and her breasts like taffy.  The half-melted flesh grew thinner until it snapped and two strands of ruined skin were left hanging.  A nipple fell to the ground.  The entire tent smelled of blood, sweat and bodily waste.  The bugbear leader drew in a satisfied breath before pulling a water skin from his bag.  

The commander lifted the kindir’s small head almost gently before letting some water fall into her mouth.  The small woman coughed and sputtered, the liquid feeling like acid on her throat.  Her vocal cords were raw and red after a full day of screaming.  Then Grim’ault growled a simple question in Common, the ubiquitous language of The Land.  He enjoyed the involuntary shiver his deep voice triggered in the pale, bloodied woman.  “What do you want to tell me?” 

The kindir’s only remaining eye made contact with the commander’s before her head fell in shame and pain.  She began to weep, tears somehow flowing even from her empty right eye socket, but her words were still clear.  “It is a potion.”

 


lAST FINAL PLEA LOL

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AND NOW, THE INDEX FOR PREDATORS


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