"Welcome," he said in a slightly bored voice. "Good morning. My name is Distolku. We are very happy to see those who have fled from the tyranny above, and the C'Donite hypocrisies, and followed the last of the true Cathurias. However, being surrounded by enemies, we must understandably be very careful.
"We will take a careful accounting of each of you, and you will be sent to the Warrens of Welcome. There, you will be evaluated as to how your talents can be best used. At first, your movements will be restricted, and you can earn the privelege to walk freely. But rewards can be great, also. Punishments will be merciless, but rewards can be wonderful. Welcome to Dahnmaya's realm."
He turned to her first. "Your name, lady?"
"Grejakim, near the Stormy Mountains."
"Ah, near the Titans' realms!"
"And the head of the coven that recruited you."
"Dimieus was the head of the coven that I was part of."
"Indeed. Do you have his token?"
She held up the card that Dimieus had given her. "He said this would do, to the sensitive."
He held it a second, and then nodded. "Yes. That will do indeed. Step to the right."
She did, hemmed in by the guards. The guards were a mixed bag. Most were humans. They were a few towering hulks, ogres twenty feet tall. She was used to giants, living so near the borders to the giants' lands, but she had rarely seen ogres...much more mindless, much more savage, than the mighty giants she had known. There were also goblins--taller and thinner than humans, pale, hairless, with giant eyes adjusted towards the dark, and loose, rubbery skin. They tried to turn away from the lights in the Bright City. Two of the humans held leashes with three-headed cerubi at the other end.
Distolku quickly interviewed her compatriots, and then they were all marched to the Warrens.
The barracks were not bad. Certainly Didisus had slept in much worse. Each person shared a room with one other person of the same sex. There were small replicas of Sagin's Tower in each room, with the three demon heads atop it. They were given to understand that Distolku, and the head of the Thronite guards, would be randomly able to monitor each room through the demon heads. Thronite guards stood outside the Warrens, ready to turn on any who would leave uninvited. Nevertheless they seemed friendly, indeed eager to get new recruits, and they were well fed that night (where was the foodstuffs grown, she wondered, since they were so far underground? That was a minor mystery she would want to get the answer for.) and were promised they would go on a "field trip" to one of the bazaars tomorrow, and a guided tour of the College for Witchcraft the next day.
This would be her home for quite a while. She missed her covensisters and brothers, but it was nice to proudly proclaim what she was and not have to hide it, as she would on the surface world. She hoped she would get occasional glimpses of Dahnmaya (a boogeyman name from childhood, and perversely, all the more attractive because of that) or Nightflame or one of the other fabled leaders in the Bright City.
For the previous part of this story go to The Face of Dahnamya.
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