My dear Tiana has been taken.
I was away when it occurred. Unknown intruders invaded my home, bypassing my defenses and took her. The intruders had to have been professionals.
And they must have known how dear Tiana was to me.
Tiana was six years old, the spitting image of her mother. Sadly, her mother had died in a terrible accident three years ago. I had loved her mother so very much.
Tianaís hair was the same jet black as her motherís. Such a beautiful color.
Tiana was so very bright. She was very important to me and losing her wrenched at my heart.
Those who took her would pay. And if they had harmed her, they would die.
I interrogated my two servants concerning the matter. They were unduly nervous which peaked my suspicions.
After some more forceful questioning, they admitted to their culpability in this crime. They had drugged Tiana and permitted the intruders entrance into my home.
Each of the servants had received 25 gold tarns for their efforts.
I had them arrested by the local magistrates. That relieved them as they feared I might kill them. I almost had chosen that path. If Tiana had been hurt, I would return to kill them.
Those who took Tiana had already left the city. I would need to travel to Brundisium to recover my dear Tiana from the foul grasp of Harbiss, a bounty hunter.
I knew Harbiss by reputation only. He was alleged to be a thief, murderer and a rapist of free women. Yet none of these charges had ever been proven. Witnesses were either reluctant to testify or simply vanished.
He was also said to be an excellent swordsman.
I would get Tiana back and avenge myself on that vile man.
How could I live without my dear Tiana? I cried as I packed for the journey to the port city of Brundisium.
I remembered how proud I was when Tiana was born. She was special to me from the start.
Once I got her back, I would never leave her home again while I traveled. I would take her with me. It might be a minor inconvenience at times, but I would not risk it again.
This was devastating enough. Harbiss better not have hurt her in any manner.
Harbiss would die for this crime. He would die very slowly if she had been harmed.
I made the journey to Brundisium by tharlarion. Once in the city, it did not take long to locate the residence of Harbiss. He was quite well known.
I walked around the fortified building, closely scrutinizing its defenses. When nightfall came, I returned to the building. I would somehow gain entrance and find my Tiana.
It took patience and ingenuity, balance and strength. And I had to kill three guards. But I did gain entrance.
One of the guards, before he died, told me that she was being held in a lower level. I descended into the bowels of the cylinder until I reached a row of small cells.
I checked inside each dank, foul room. Halfway down the corridor, I encountered a locked door, the first I had found. Through a small barred opening at eye level, I looked into the cell.
Tiana was there!
She was chained to a wall on a very short chain. The room reeked of urine and feces. It did not appear that she had been beaten but the living conditions were horrendous.
Her eyes lit up in recognition as she noticed me there. I called out to her softly and tried to soothe her.
I began to bash down the door and it eventually gave way beneath my efforts. I rished into the room and fell to my knees to embrace Tiana.
She was so very happy to see me again. I held her for a few Ehn and then began to try to break her chain. It was a strong chain and I was not sure I could sever it.
And that is when several guards arrived outside the cell. Harbiss was standing behind them.
I rose to my feet taking a combat stance, my gladius at ready for the first man to enter the small chamber. I had busted the door so they could not close it and lock me within.
I called out to Harbiss, challenging him to face me, calling him a thief and coward. I said that he would pay for all of the torment Tiana had endured.
In truth, Harbiss was not a coward. He stepped into the chamber to face me, to battle for Tiana.
To the victor went it all.
The cramped quarters made our duel more difficult, less room to maneuver. Our blades clashed, each of us fighting aggressively. We soon learned that our skill level was nearly equal.
At his next thrust, I dodged to the side and kicked out at his knee. My heavy sandal slammed into that joint and he fell to the ground.
He landed next to Tiana.
And Tiana killed him.
I spun around to face the guards and warned them not to enter. And they remained outside.
I demanded the key to the chains that held Tiana. They tossed it to me and I freed her.
Once freed, Tiana and I walked out of the room, the guards making a path for us to leave.
We quickly ascended the levels and then fled into the street. We hid in a nearby, dark alleyway.
Tiana licked some of the blood off her face.
We would leave the city in the morning. We could hide here for the rest of the night.
We would return home.
I stroked the fur of my beloved Tiana, a wondrous sleen.