**Araatris:** Chuckling to himself, Rhese rests his head back against the cold, foul wall of the cavern and grips his side tightly as the felguard wander away.
**Rhoelyn:** “They must not want me to die yet.” The druid mumbles to himself. “At least she’s not here. She must be worried out of her wits by now…”
**Araatris:** When the only answer to his voice is a screech from deeper underground and a spider staring at him, he sighs and kicks at it to shoo it away.
**Rhoelyn:** “Let’s see what I can do.” Still clutching his side, he shifts to his knees and examines the lock on his cage. “If I could shift, I could…”
**Araatris:** The druid coughs wetly and brushes his tangled hair out of his eyes, grimacing. “… probably just get… hurt yet again. Rotting wards.”
**Rhoelyn:** “You know you’re talking to yourself, don’t you?” A nearby voice speaks as Rhese settles back down. “Perhaps I should call the Inquisitor back.”
**Araatris:** The druid groans, clenching his ribs tighter until he can find a more comfortable position. “No, please don’t. He’s a terrible conversationalist.”
**Rhoelyn:** The voice chuckles. “He really is… Do you know why he’s keeping you alive? Most of the others around here have been used to power machines.”
**Araatris:** That reminder saddens the young elf’s eyes. “He wants information I won’t give him,” he says, clenching his fist. “And he secretly likes my jokes.”
**Rhoelyn:** A figure moves in the shadows of the cell across from Rhese, laughing hoarsely. “It’s so good to talk to someone…” He moves into the dim light.
**Araatris:** Watching the shadows fade away from the other elf gives the captured druid a little sense of relief. “You are real. I was worried about myself.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I know the feeling. You look like you’re hurting. Are the wards keeping you from healing yourself?” The man sits before the bars, cross-legged.
**Araatris:** Rhese starts to laugh, but it dissolves into a cough and a pained grimace. “Yes. A heal would be nice.” He sobers. “Did… they do that to your eyes?”
**Rhoelyn:** The man shakes his head, running a hand along a long ear thoughtfully. “No, that happened many years ago. Don’t worry. I can see well enough.”
**Araatris:** After considering him for a moment, the druid blinks and blurts out, “Demon hunter.” The other man nods, one side of his lips lifting in a smirk.
**Rhoelyn:** “I see that you’re at least aware of the concept. Does it concern you?” He regards Rhese evenly as if preparing himself for a certain reaction.
**Araatris:** Rhese regards the other prisoner calmly before shrugging… and wincing at the action. “Are you more likely than the demons to snack on my soul?”
**Rhoelyn:** The man laughs. “I’d prefer a dinner of steak and potatoes than souls. So, who do you have that will be worried about you if you don’t return?”
**Araatris:** The young man’s amber gaze slips away to a dark corner of the chamber, distant and dreamy. “My mate. My family. I have a sister and a son, too.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Then you can’t stay here, can you? Just hold on. The right opening will come to see them again.” The demon hunter scratches the base of a horn.
**Araatris:** Rhese nods and rests his temple against the bars. “I intend to.” After a sigh, he looks over. “How did you end up on the wrong side of a cage?”
**Rhoelyn:** He grins, unremorseful, “I tried taking on a few too many demons at once. They decided to show me the error of my ways while my back was turned.”
**Araatris:** The druid wrinkles his nose. “That doesn’t sound like a fun education. Is anyone coming for you? Can I hitch a ride, if so? I’m tired of the decor.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Yes, but she’s running late. I’d say that we shouldn’t rely on it, but neither of us have had any luck.” He sighs. “What’s your name, kid?”
**Araatris:** Closing his eyes, the younger man rubs at his face before he answers. “Rhese. What’s yours?” The demon hunter says, “You can call me Lash.”
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese opens one eye. “Lash?” The other man nods and then questions, “What are you trying to hide from them, Rhese? Maybe we can use it.”
**Araatris:** The druid frowns, and a new wariness enters his gaze. “You know. It occurs to me that force isn’t the only way to get information.” His eyes narrow.
**Rhoelyn:** Lash sighs and lays his head back. “Sorry I asked. Just leave it then. I hope my partner will be here soon, and we can both get out of this mess.”
**Araatris:** Coughing once more, Rhese closes his eyes and mutters, “Your partner… is she like you?” The demon hunter dryly responds. “No. She’s much cuter.”
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese doesn’t answer and Lash’s eyes flare for a moment. He mumbles to himself, “Wore you out, did they? I suppose it’s not a terrible idea…”
**Araatris:** The demon hunter shifts his legs around beneath his kilt, settling himself back against the bars as his spectral sight watches the druid sleep.
**Rhoelyn:** Hours later a wyrmtongue hurries in and shoves platters in the slot at the bottom of their cells. Lash calls out once it leaves, “Rhese?”
**Araatris:** The young man across from him stirs and blinks his eyes open. He pushes himself upright with a groan, coughing, “What is it? Trouble?”
**Rhoelyn:** “No, but you need to eat.” Lash reaches down for his own bowl. “The good news is that they wouldn’t feed us if they were going to kill us.”
**Araatris:** “You’re sure they aren’t fattening us up so our souls taste better?” The druid asks it lightly, reaching for his bowl, but there’s fear behind it.
**Rhoelyn:** The demon hunter frowns. “No, it doesn’t work that way. We’re here because they need us alive. Which means we have hope of escaping.”
**Araatris:** Rhese nods. “There’s always hope.” After a few bites of the nasty sustenance, he looks over. “What is it that they want from you, Lash?”
**Rhoelyn:** Lash grimaces, “They want me to do something for them. I keep refusing, but it’s only a matter of time until they attempt to brainwash me.”
**Araatris:** The druid brushes silver hair out of his eyes, shifting with a wince. “Personally, I use this really annoying song dalah’alei loved as a child.”
**Rhoelyn:** The demon hunter raises an eyebrow above his ruined eyes. “I take it you weren’t nearly as fond of it, but… it keeps you strong. That’s good.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Do you need something to wrap those ribs of yours? I might be able to find something over here, but it won’t be clean…,” Lash offers.
**Araatris:** “Yes. That would help.” He eyes his bowl with trepidation, but forces himself to take another bite. “What do they want you to do?”
**Rhoelyn:** Lash nods and disappears into the darkness of his cell again, rummaging. “They want me to kidnap some creature that’s disguised itself as a kid.”
**Araatris:** Rhese’s eyes widen, and he grits his teeth. “… yes, we both need to get out of here,” he mutters without much explanation, brows furrowed.
**Rhoelyn:** Grinning, Lash returns with a shirt, already torn into strips and bundled in another cloth. He pushes it through the bars and tosses it to Rhese.
**Rhoelyn:** “Don’t worry. I’m not planning on doing it. I’m not in the business of kidnapping kids no matter their origin. I have no wish to cross that line.”
**Araatris:** Straining forward with a grunt and a wince, the druid smirks. “Well, that explains why your pecs are on display.” As he gathers it in, he chuckles.
**Rhoelyn:** “It’s the new thing for demon hunters; shirtless.” Lash laughs. “Anyway, I think my partner prefers the look.” He sobers. “I do hope it helps.”
**Araatris:** “Thank you.” Rhese tugs his dirtied and torn tunic up, starting the process of binding his broken ribs. “… what’s she like? Your partner?”
**Rhoelyn:** Sitting and resting against the wall, Lash ponders, “How to describe her… She’s strong. She’s been by my side since before we became demon hunters.”
**Araatris:** The druid pauses to regard him thoughtfully. “How long?” Lash grins and meets his eyes. “Longer than you, kid. By quite a lot, I’m guessing.”
**Rhoelyn:** The demon hunter snorts, “You’re awfully young for both a mate and a son, but who am I to judge. So, your turn. Tell me about your family.”
**Araatris:** Rhese takes a break from the painful process, resting his head back again with a cough. He smiles. “Nysse surprised me. I couldn’t let her go.”
**Rhoelyn:** “You tried then? What drew you back?” Lash leans forward, his horns bumping against the bars dully. “Sorry, but I do love a good story.”
**Araatris:** “She did.” Rhese laughs softly, warmly. “I think Nysse decided she couldn’t let me go, first. She’s a steel core under all those adorable blushes.”
**Rhoelyn:** Lash chuckles, “Adorable blushes, huh? When did you finally know that you couldn’t let her go?” He watches the druid with a smile.
**Araatris:** The younger man rests his temple against the bars. “I think it must’ve been when I thought I lost her.” Lash frowns when he closes his eyes.
**Rhoelyn:** “Then you’d better make sure that you live up to your half of the bargain. They’re waiting for you. Keep working on that bandage,” Lash orders.
**Araatris:** Rhese makes a face, but he forces his eyes open and straightens. As he sets back to work, he complains, “It’s getting worse. I’m too tired.”
**Rhoelyn:** The demon hunter scowls. “Then get to moving when you’re done with that, kid. I don’t want to be the one to tell your mate about your death.”
**Araatris:** “Are you kidding?” Tucking the last of the bandage in, he tugs it tight, fixing Lash with an incredulous look. “I can’t die. She’ll kill me!”
**Rhoelyn:** At the demon hunter’s stare, Rhese gets the distinct feeling that he’s blinking at him. Then Lash suddenly bursts out laughing, “Good for her.”
**Araatris:** Brushing his silver hair back once more, Rhese grins. “I don’t cross Nysse. She’s as likely to bite as her wolf. That’s how I got a son, you know.”
**Rhoelyn:** The other man’s eyebrow raises. “You got a son because she bit you? I’m fairly certain that other things are usually involved in the process.”
**Araatris:** His companion laughs so hard that he grips his ribs, coughing between peals of laughter. When he finally calms, wiping at his eyes, he gasps, “No…”
**Rhoelyn:** Lash leans against the bar, chuckling as well. “Is there a story to be told here besides the usual one, kid? I do know how babies are made.”
**Araatris:** “Maybe mine was hatched.” At the other man’s surprised look, he waves a hand. “Let’s just say that my mate insisted. And I’m glad for it.”
**Rhoelyn:** The demon hunter lets the comment slide and smiles again. “I’m happy for you. How old is the boy? He can’t be too old considering your age.”
**Araatris:** Rhese thinks about his voidling boy fondly. “He’s as old as he wants to be, I suppose.” The demon hunter snorts. “Are you going delirious on me?”
**Rhoelyn:** The druid chuckles. “No, he’s… special. He adores Nysse. I’m fairly certain that she’s his favorite. He’s such a sweet, kind child.”
**Araatris:** Lash grins, quietly thoughtful, and Rhese asks, “What about you? You’ve clearly been around the bend a few times. Did you ever… have children?”
**Rhoelyn:** The demon hunter looks upwards with his blindfolded gaze. “Yes, but the life of demon hunter doesn’t allow for children. I never met them.”
**Araatris:** The druid can’t keep a bit of sympathetic pity from his eyes as he regards the other man. “I… have trouble imagining a greater sacrifice.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Well, I can’t help but think that they’ve probably done well for themselves. Their mother and I have always wished them the best.” Lash smiles.
**Araatris:** “Did y-” Rhese cuts off suddenly when a pair of lumbering felguards march into the chamber, their weapons in hand. “Ah. Look, Lash. Guests.”
**Rhoelyn:** Lash snorts. “Too bad they’re uninvited. Which one of us are you here for today?” The guards silently open Lash’s cage and drag him out by an arm.
**Araatris:** Watching him go, the druid’s tone belies the concern in his eyes as he says, “Enjoy your walk, my friend. Grab me a mead while you’re out?”
**Rhoelyn:** “I’ll see what they have, kid.” Then they turn a corner out of sight. Rhese sighs and leans back again. “Might as well rest while I can…”
**Araatris:** By the time the demon hunter, drooping in the grips of a pair of felguard, is tossed back in his cell, the space across from him is empty.
**Rhoelyn:** Elsewhere in the compound, the Inquisitor hisses. “Tell usss where he iss.” Rhese grunts in pain and grimaces, then begins humming to himself.
**Araatris:** “Ssstop that,” the robed demon growls, pressing his taloned fingers to the bound druid’s temples. “Aagh!” The elf strains, only humming louder.
**Rhoelyn:** “This would stop if you would tell us. You know that he’s not actually a child. He doesn’t belong with you.” The female eredar crosses her arms.
**Araatris:** Rhese growls, the sound of a threatened beast, and grits out, “I will never… let you take my son…!” The Inquisitor gestures, and he chokes.
**Rhoelyn:** The woman sighs. “Do we have any information on where his mate is? What was her name?” The Inquisitor supplies, “Nysssera Whissspersssong.”
**Araatris:** The druid manages another growl before the Inquisitor gestures the felguards over. One of them unlocks the shackles while the other grabs his arm.
**Rhoelyn:** “Perhaps he’d be more cooperative if we had her. Take him back. We can send out our bait and see if she bites.” The felguard drags him to his feet.
**Araatris:** Rhese lifts his head, snarling, “You stay away from my ma-” The felguard slams a fist across his cheek, and he falls, hitting the floor.
**Rhoelyn:** The druid coughs and raises his head, his eyes foggy. The felguard tosses him over his shoulder and strides toward the cells; the other following.
**Araatris:** Lash leans forward and grips the bars as he watches the demon toss Rhese roughly into his cell and slam the door. The druid groans, coughing.
**Rhoelyn:** “Rhese!” The demon hunter hisses urgently after their guards leave. He punches the cell door, snarling when it burns his hand. “Hey, kid!”
**Araatris:** The other man manages a weak mumble, “…’ja get m’mead?” He moves only slightly, fisting his hand against the floor of the cage. “Rot…”
**Rhoelyn:** “Nah, those pieces of rot wouldn’t know good mead if it bit them. What happened? You look much worse than last time.” Lash clenches his jaw.
**Araatris:** “Mm… they… r-” He chokes on a cough, trying to sit up. “… they really don’t like… my song.” With a sigh, he subsides, laying back down.
**Rhoelyn:** Lash frowns, watching with concern. “Anything I can do, kid? You can talk about your sister, ask me questions, or sing your annoying song.”
**Araatris:** “Tell me a story, old man,” Rhese manages, but he doesn’t lift his head. And before Lash can even start, he mutters, “They’re after Nysse, now.”
**Rhoelyn:** The demon hunter sighs. “I’m sorry, kid. I hope she stays safe.” After a moment of silence, Lash begins, “There once was a demon hunter camp in…”
**Araatris:** Not too far into his tale, Lash pauses and leans forward, frowning. “Rhese?” The druid is silent and still for a long minute until he mumbles, (c)
**Araatris:** “Your shan’do sounds… like he was a bastard. Was it worth it?” The demon hunter breathes a sigh of relief and grins. “We got what we needed.”
**Rhoelyn:** The druid takes a shaky breath, “Good. Do you… think that your partner will be here soon, old man?” Rhese groans again, shifting slightly.
**Araatris:** Lash considers him for a long moment before he says, “She’s taking her sweet time. I’m going to have to talk to her about punctuality.”
**Rhoelyn:** When there’s no response, Lash asks, “Who’s your sister? Does she work with you?” Rhese stirs again. “Rhoelyn, a priestess of Elune.”
**Araatris:** The demon hunter grins, brushing a hand through his black hair. “Your parents matched your names well, didn’t they? Rhese and Rhoelyn.”
**Rhoelyn:** Rhese grimaces, “It’s all we have of them…” Lash sobers and listens to Rhese cough. “Dead or…? Do you resent that they’re not there for you?”
**Araatris:** Again, the druid is silent for a while before he finally speaks. “I think… a big family is nice. But I’ve always had the one they left me.”
**Rhoelyn:** The demon hunter sighs and scratches his cheek. “A big family… What about your sister, Rhoelyn? Do you think that she feels the same as you?”
**Araatris:** Rhese stirs, coughing wetly. “Rhoe… it hurt her more to be without them. But then, she is all heart.” His voice goes quieter. “I protect her. Them.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Yes. You do. I can see that.” Lash seems to stare at him a little harder. “How are you holding up, kid? Do you need more bandages?”
**Araatris:** The young man’s voice is somber, but Lash can’t see his face where he lays. “I’ll be fine… They need me, ‘member? But I’m tired. I’d like to rest.”
**Rhoelyn:** Lash runs a hand back through his hair. “‘Course, kid. Maybe you’ll feel better later.” The demon hunter settles back against the wall quietly.
**Araatris:** It doesn’t take long before the only sounds from the other cage are the silver-haired elf’s slow, uneven breaths and his occasional cough.