"Elf, I will free you," Derue said, "but you must make me a promise first."
The cell was dark and damp, the walls bled a slow, clear liquid that stained them white and formed a crusty layer like tears dried on the face of a crying child. Against this was chained the body of an elf, fair but thin, filthy like all else within the cell. His body was a mass of scars, bruises that went from deep black to brown yellow at their ends, long cuts, some thick and white old scars, others fresh, sealed with clogs of drying blood. The elf's hair, once long, was cut short in ragged clumps, the ends of his ears had been sliced away.
"Who are you..." came a gravelly voice, his once light tones changed by strangling chains and ropes that had wrapped his neck.
"I am the brother of one you must swear to protect," said Derue. "But should I bother? Do you have the strength to lift a sword?"
"Free me. I will swear... I have the strength," the elf told him. He strained against his chains and with maniacal strength made them creak and dust fall from the bolts set deep into the wall.
"I am Derue. My brother is Edouard, he lies gravely wounded in the next cell," said Derue. "I free you. Swear to me that you will die before bringing my brother harm or leaving his side."
"I am Ghibelline, I swear by Corellon Larethian, father of my kind. I will not harm your brother or leave his side until my debt to you is paid," growled the elf.
Derue noticed the codicil that the elf attached to the oath and laughed. "Good, you show that your spirit and your mind are still intact and strong. I accept your pledge." Derue unlocked the chains and stood back as the elf fell from them to his knees. He turned and left him on the floor. "Be standing by my brother's side when I return. I will find you a weapon."
* * *
Outside the cells the orcs were milling about. The one who spoke for the others, the Boss, as the orc called Meatstealer referred to him, was waiting for Derue.
"What we do now?" the orc asked.
"Those stairs over there," Derue pointed to the west. "They lead up to the kitchens. There I have companions, and from there we can make our way out of the steading."
"Some o'the boys, they not want to leave," said the Boss.
"Then they can stay. Here give me two swords," Derue said to an orc standing idly near the door to the cells. It looked at him and seemed not to understand. "Stahl, swel stahl, getzt!" he ordered in a rough orcish tongue. It jumped and offered Derue its own blade, then grabbed another from the hands of a nearby orc and handed that to Derue as well.
"You speak orc?" the boss asked surprised.
"I know enough. Now, I am leaving these swords with those in the cells, no one is to bother them. I will kill anyone who does; and I will kill them slowly," Derue drew his sword once again and waved it back and forth before the Boss' eyes. "I command this fire. It will burn the bones of any who disobey my command, they will burn slow, I promise."
The orc gulped and nodded his head. Derue went back into the cells. He handed the swords to Jalal and to the elf Ghibelline, who stood strong, if worn, like a stag, bloodied but not brought down by the pursuing pack. Only Jalal spoke.
"Bring help soon," he said.
Derue nodded, but said no more, he just walked away and left them standing in the half-lit cell.