The Dominion Saga Book 3
DOMINION OF THE SHATTERED
Denneval Rovilet shoved aside the spear the Yag had used to prod him awake. The filthy savages weren’t going to kill him yet, or they would’ve done it already. Through his one functional eye he had a view of black dirt overtopped by a dark green scrim. The jungle landscape got clearer as he blinked and pushed himself to a sitting position.
Even when the Yags yanked on the rope around his neck, Denneval took his time getting to his feet. With his wrists bound, brushing the dirt off his hands didn’t work. That bothered him until he realized he could absorb every trace of bloodstone from it. Boreian earth left a lush aftertaste on his palms that he had never forgotten. No matter how he enriched Dominion, he hadn’t been able to produce soil like this. Maybe in another hundred years or a thousand, Dominion would be this productive. It’d be nice if he could load up all the dirt from Boreia and take it home. Hells, it’d be nice if he could take himself back home, with or without the stuff.
Another poke in the ribs made him whirl around and strike with his elbow.
Rey Hardrow hopped backward, dodging the blow. “Hold it, Scrapper.” Rey offered Denneval a chunk of root that still had soil clinging to it. “Better eat while we can.”
Rey kept another piece for himself. Neither of them cleaned the dirt off before they ate. The root was bland with a hint of lime and a big dollop of bloodstone. Chewing the grit couldn’t be good for their teeth, but Denneval would take all the bloodstone he could get.
When the Yags yanked the rope again and headed deeper into the jungle, Denneval followed them closely enough that the rope around his neck was slack, unlike the one cutting into his wrists. He kept his eyes on the ground so he wouldn’t trip on roots and vines. Being dragged again was something he’d prefer to avoid.
He licked his lips, savoring the last of the bloodstone that lingered there. Every bit of soil in the whole jungle was full of it. That was the only good thing about this jacked up planet. And instead of making him jittery like too much bloodstone dust did when he was home, the soil and the liquid version the Yag witch fed them―harasha they called it―made him feel like he could fly. Fly right out of here. Or run. He’d escaped this place once before. He could do it again if he wanted to. And he could take more bloodstones with him.
He glanced back at Rey, at the end of another rope, like a beast on a lead. Being led to slaughter, both of them.
That had to be the Yags’ ultimate plan. A thickening, invisible fog of hate and joy radiated from somewhere ahead, and it had the Yag witch’s flavor.
Why did she bring them here? Why feed them harasha? Why keep them alive? He didn’t know, but it wouldn’t be for any good purpose.
They walked all day without food and when they stopped for the night, he and Rey ate more of the dirt-covered roots while the Yags cooked a pig-like creature and sprinkled it with harasha.
The aroma billowed across the darkening camp and carried him off into the blackness. He inhaled a long, hungry breath. Images came like broken holos―being shot down outside the Domaine, being caught by the Yags, a lift ship. He was a prisoner again.
The next morning, brightness woke him. Overhead, the green canopy rocked like a cradle. Or he was rocking. He smelled living water, full of plants and fish, and heard it splashing about him. Between him and the water was some kind of wood. With no force fields on Boreia, all his senses―and some he didn’t know he had―were clearer than ever.
Even before he looked around, Denneval was aware of Rey, lying beside him in the bottom of a hollowed log that served as a canoe. He knew the Yags were there, too. One stood at his feet, using a pole to steer. At their heads, another Yag pointed the way. Denneval concentrated as best he could, but he didn’t hear, see, or taste any sign of other humans, nor any other Yags, for that matter.,
The boat’s motion rolled him up against Rey. In a sudden shift, he went from seeing an extreme close-up of the weather-worn karster to seeing a scarred face topped by blond hair. Himself. He hated when that happened. Scooting as far from Rey as he could, he broke the connection. His vision went back to normal. After a while, the boat rocked him to sleep.
A heavy bump roused him. The two Yags dragged the boat ashore.
When one of them grabbed him, the urge to follow the bastards intensified. Resisting their damned mental urges was a lot harder when they were in physical contact. He shook free. As he did, he got too close to the bone-like beads that dangled from the fellow’s loincloth. A spark jumped the gap, burning like a coal and leaving a raw spot on Denneval’s thigh.
The Yags yanked the ropes again. Denneval and Rey trotted along behind them.