Klane Kalonia and the Creature in the Crater (09) by DMFW ()
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"I have explained to our 'master' why this experiment is so foolish", Lucalle told Klane. "Amongst humans it is females who choose and males who compete to impress, NOT the other way around."
"What did the creature say to that?"
"It said 'maybe'", Lucalle admitted. "Then it said that it would soon find out and that was one purpose of the experiment."
She crossed her arms and glowered at her fellow prisoner.
It was the evening of the first day of Klane's captivity. During the hours of daylight he had been confined within his glass cage and allowed only a tiny portion of mashed grain and a cup of water. Lucalle and Ketha were freed to perform their duties; a nerve collar round their necks ensuring obedience. Try as he might, Klane could think of no way out. At length the bright winter sunshine was followed by a brief twilight and the creature released him and ordered Klane and Lucalle to the 'assessment' chamber. Here there was a simple bed, a basin with fountains of hot and cold water and a screened toilet area. It was still a prison but compared with the open air specimen jars it was the height of luxury.
"You look too young to be a hero but that's what we need", Lucalle said lightly.
Seeing his consternation she smiled sadly and sympathetically. "How did you come to fall into the creature's clutches?"
Then Klane and Lucalle discussed their respective histories and the young man revealed more of his past and his ambitions than he had shared with anyone since leaving Kalonia. In turn, he learned that Lucalle was the daughter of a local Rider chieftain and a princess. Ketha was her handmaiden. The creature had attacked the settlement on the moors in the middle of her wedding when everyone was dressed in their ceremonial finery and bore no weapons. It had killed most of the men including the groom and laid waste to the village before capturing them. A third young woman named Noureth who would have been Lucalle's future sister in law had also been taken prisoner. She had been the unfortunate subject of the creature's cruel anatomy experiments. At this point in her story Lucalle clearly had to fight not to cry and Klane felt a righteous anger rising inside him. Her voice grew stronger and her confidence returned as she told him about their daily routine. In the morning one of them would be sent to activate the alegoyle sonic scare screen. This device made the strange sounds Klane had first heard faintly when he was crossing the Glass Lands. Then they would be set to work pumping water from the well, labouring in a domed greenhouse or accompanying their master on field trips to fetch and carry as he collected plants and animals. Sometimes he would order them to work in his laboratory, stoking the furnace or climbing the endless steps of a power treadmill.
"We will all escape this crater alive. I don't know how but I'll find a way", Klane declared at last.
"Well I have discussed the situation with Ketha and we are agreed. We shall certainly NOT be competing to impress you! You will sleep on the floor and you won't make any move to even touch me whatever the creature thinks!"
Klane bit his tongue, half in admiration of the feisty princess and half with an obscure feeling of regret for Lucalle was very lovely and restraint was engaged in a confusing war with desire within him. Shy, awkward and inexperienced, Klane nevertheless knew that some show of chivalrous solidarity was called for.
"You need have no fears on that score", he insisted with heat and pride. "I have no intention of complying with the bidding of this creature. I wouldn't even contemplate it for a moment!"
The silence that followed was charged with an indefinable tension.
"There was no need to be quite so emphatic!"
Lucalle gave a sulky pout and suddenly burst into a cascade of soft tears.
Poor Klane! Whatever he said it was going to be wrong. But then, he wasn't the one with the imminent threat of the creature's fatal interest ahead of him...
Image Comments (5)
alessimarco () 8:39AM | Fri, 11 June 2010
Another excellent chapter...well written! The image is a fine illustration of the setting.