After some time in the quiet blackness Hormud swam back to a consciousness broken by torchlight in a swaying night. He could hear the thunk and crash of marching, armoured feet and felt his body sway with the rhythm, yet he was not marching. His wrists and ankles had been bound together and between them had been thrust a lance so that he hung limply like a stuck pig. He lifted his dangling head and saw a litter carried on the shoulders of red haired men, the only thing paying him any heed was the grinning face of Ostromo, above their heads as he was, being carried in state like an emperor. Life still pounded strongly though his veins so that he wrenched savagely at his bonds, causing the men carrying him to stagger and slow their stride. One turned a pleading face, pale in the red glare of torches, and from the darkness strode another, striking him in the teeth with the hilt of his dagger. He spat blood and put his gaze on the man, framed by a leopard helmet as if eating his head.
“I’ll remember you when I form my legions. You will serve me as my concubine and dance for the soldiers when I get tired of your fumbling embrace.”
This time he struck across his cheek, he felt the crack of bone. The man muttered and turned back into the darkness to leave Hormud, and alone he allowed his head to sag, and his hair to drag through the mud in matted tails. The familiar clank and thud of a marching army beat into his ears, he sucked in the sweet smells of sweat and campfires, fighting unconsciousness as he travelled. Most often he would wake with his head sagged backward so that his inverted gaze rested unwaveringly on the silks that hung from Ostromo. Ho Hormud, where are your legions of gold?