Marcus’s eyes gently flickered. His side ached, and his ankle throbbed in pain. Opening one eye, he gazed up at the dark ceiling above him. Too weak to focus on his surroundings, his body still locked in slumber, he blinked at a scene where everything appeared to be blurred. Closing his eyes once more, Marcus moved his hands around, trying to gauge where he was. It felt as though he were lying on wood. No wonder he felt so sore.
When he breathed in through his nose, he became instantly alarmed. Sekrin! He could smell sekrin. Both eyes shot open, but he remained lying down.
His eyes functioning alertly now, Marcus scanned the room to discover that he was not in the woods, nor in a guesthouse, but in a fearsome cavern. Long, sharp stalactites jutted out on every side, the light from two sconces casting eerie shadows which danced around the jagged, icicle-shaped formations.
Treanthor! Immediately, the wafting aroma of sekrin made Marcus realize where he was – the citadel below Mount Zorbin. But he was alone in the cavern, his only company the huge spider which had spun its web from one huge stalactite down to the floor. His head started to pound as the frowns on his forehead burrowed deep, and he wondered why he was lying on a table, elevated high above the floor.
Just as he raised his head to look for an exit, a heavy hand came from behind and pushed him harshly down.
Marcus winced. “Ow, who did-”
“I did,” a voice rasped.
Treanthor had been watching him. He stepped around to tower high above his prisoner, his cape blocking the candlelight and forming a menacing shadow beside Marcus.
Marcus was overcome with despair. He had managed to escape the clutches of a makhtamn only to land straight into the lair of the evil Emperor. He didn’t want to be there.