Vandor nodded his head, “I told you, Manni, I didn’t think I hit him hard enough to kill him.”
So now Guntharr knew who tried to take his head off with a rock. He’d have to make sure that if the opportunity arose, that he would repay in kind.
“Has he said anything?” The man with the scar directed his question to Arnethia.
Realizing that her proximity to him clearly indicated that she had been engaged in some way with Guntharr, she decided to downplay the situation. “He’s muttered something about chasing down his dinner.”
“Ah, yes, that fine kill that we’re just now getting ready to enjoy. You should smell that succulent meat roasting,” Manni chided.
Guntharr’s eyes had finally started to get use to the new level of light in the cavern and just glared at his captors.
The man with the scar walked over to stand right next to Guntharr and looked up into his face. “Strong, silent type, huh?” He then proceeded to punch Guntharr in the stomach. Guntharr saw the punch coming and tightened his muscles as the blow landed. The man’s fist nearly shattered on the impact and he withdrew his hand with a yelp.
Vandor chuckled at his companions surprise and pain.
“Really, Klaffin?” Manni scolded his associate. “Is that any way to treat our guest? I must apologize for my Klaffin. He sometimes gets a little carried away when he runs into somebody that has the potential to be a valuable asset to our . . .” Manni pondered his next word for a second, “mission.”
“I see,” Guntharr replied. “I hope your hand isn’t too badly damaged.”
Vandor roared out load at the platitude Guntharr made to his companion.
“Very funny,” Klaffin responded still shaking his hand.
Manni walked around and picked up the war hammer expertly and continued on over to Guntharr smacking the head of the hammer into the palm of his free hand. He stood evenly with Guntharr and looked deep into his eyes.
“It would seem you’re pretty tough,” Manni said without blinking. “That’s nice to know, because I won’t feel quite as bad when I do this,” and he drove the head of the warhammer into the spot that Klaffin had hit but with more effect.
Guntharr immediately coughed in response and his upper body suspended by the ropes around his hands slumped forward for a second while he regained his breath.
Arnethia winced in reaction from the sight of the impact.
“See,” Manni looked over at Klaffin, “we now know that he is susceptible to certain arguments.”
Guntharr now tried to determine which hurt worse, his head or his stomach. Deciding that they would both have to fight it out amongst themselves, he took in a deep breath. “What is it you hope to do with me?”
“Oh, so now you’re ready to have a conversation?” Manni turned and heaved the war hammer over to Vandor. He stepped away from Guntharr and over towards Arnethia.
She instinctively slunk away from him but was unable to move farther when he reached out and grabbed her arm. He reached up and began to stroke Arnethia’s unkempt hair in fain tenderness.
Guntharr felt a swell of anger build up in his soul, unexpectedly, which both shocked and concerned him.
Manni turned to face Guntharr and Vandor had taken up position next to Guntharr ready to use the war hammer again at Manni’s signal.
“You see, I like to find out as much about you as I can. Things that I can turn into either money or influence.” Manni flashed a smile. “You see, I’ve found that money can procure influence, and influence produces money. So, they work together to perpetually keep me happy.”
“What makes you think your tactics will yield anything?” Guntharr said.
“Oh trust me, I can already tell by your size, and equipment that you’re a skilled soldier or mercenary. So, I suppose I could let Vandor beat you to the point of death and I wouldn’t so much as get an interesting conversation out of you, let alone anything useful.” He walked over to Guntharr again and studied him up and down.
"I see you skewered the boar with a well placed bow shot," Manni looked over at the dagger and pouch that lay against the cave wall. He walked over to the objects and kicked them about with his foot. "I don't see any bow. What did you do with it?"
"It's in my camp," Guntharr replied not wanting to give away the rest of his companions existence.
Manni picked up the dagger and flipped it about in his hand. He nodded approvingly. "Well balanced." He strode back to Guntharr and flashed the blade near Guntharr's face and throat in a threatening fashion, but Guntharr was unimpressed. "I can see why you would carry the dagger to track down the boar, of course, to field dress the animal, but why the hammer?"
"To put the creature out of its misery should my shot not have proven lethal," Guntharr replied matter of factly.
Manni looked over at Vandor who was studying the hammer and enjoying the feel of it in his hands. "Maybe," he added, "but the dagger should have sufficed for that, would it have not?"
Guntharr studied the man's face. He knew no argument would convince him otherwise, so he simply remained silent.
"You know, it's fortunate that I don't have to rely on typical tactics to get the truth from you," he smiled.
"That's too bad," Guntharr smiled back, "I was starting to look forward to it, because this conversation is much more painful."
Manni's smile turned to a glare. "Vandor, hit his leg."
Vandor wasted no time and swung around with Guntharr's warhammer and slammed it hard into his shin, smashing it against the rock wall. The bone in Guntharr's leg shattered and the pain ravaged his body. Crying out for a moment he struggled to regain control
"I said I didn't have to rely on those tactics, I didn't say I wouldn't use them for my own purposes." He turned and walked over to Arnethia with the dagger extended from his hand.
"What are you going to do to her?" Guntharr spat his words out through clinched teeth. His right leg was now crippled, he did his best to balance his weight on his left and steady himself by using his arms and the ropes overhead.
He turned back amazed that Guntharr was able to control the pain enough to get any words out. "Don't worry, I won't hurt my precious Arnethia. Her skills are too valuable to me."
"I won't," she barked at him and stepped back from the dagger.
"Really?" Manni looked shocked. He saw the compassion in her eyes for Guntharr's plight. "My dear, either you take this dagger or I have Vandor take a crack at his other leg."
Arnethia's face filled with fear. She couldn't bear to see this courageous soldier tortured any more, so she reached out and took the dagger from Manni.