4- Scorn of Drunder
The hulking figure brooded silently over a table piled high with arcane maps and cryptic diagrams. An unnatural red fire blazed in the great stone brazier in the center of the circular room. Shadows danced on the walls, and the figure's silhouette seemed to flicker back and forth between the shape of a massive, armored man and that of a brutal, four-legged beast. His thick fingers drummed the handle of a giant flaming axe that hung at his side; his jaw tensed and he ground his teeth.
"Why, Tallon?" he growled.
A smaller figure near the open doorway flinched slightly, rattling the mighty war bow that hung on his back against the wall. "The one I spoke to," Tallon began, steeling his voice with false confidence, "he - well, he blamed the delay on the interference of a group of mortals."
The fingers that drummed the flaming axe stopped. Silence filled the room. The fire ceased to crackle and its warmth retreated, leaving the room suddenly cold. Tallon felt the other's eyes, two pinpricks of blue flame, boring a hole through him.
"I do not understand why we rely on the help of these fools!" Tallon finally blurted out. "The Diaku requires no assistance to complete our goals."
In a flash, his protests were silenced as an invisible force lifted and snatched him from across the chamber. Tallon squirmed before the hulking figure, his throat locked in a grip of iron.
"We use them because I dictate it," replied the figure calmly. White-hot arcs of flame erupted from his fist and seared Tallon's face, leaving blistered trails across his cheeks and lips. "Now," continued the figure, "you will take care of this personally. I will accept no further delays."
Tallon struggled to speak. "I will?father?" he choked out finally. The clenched gauntlet at his throat relaxed and Tallon crumpled to the floor, gasping.
"Get out of my sight."
Tallon struggled toward the doorway. As he crawled out into the adjacent hall he looked back at his father.
He was again studying his maps. With a casual wave of the figure's enormous hand a stone slab slammed into place, sealing the doorway.