The Drylands (Pathfinder)
Of Cats-paws and Caterpillars
The Dromite pulled back the hood of her cloak. The fine embroidered shirt underneath suggested a person who had no business in this part of the undercity, yet she waited with the manner of someone who found the trip routine.
She stepped through the darkness, following the scent that, had her mind been her own, would have sent her fleeing for help. On reaching the meeting location, she had to wait only moments before a snake-shaped mass of tendrils crawled from a fissure in the rock and formed a vaguely Dromite-like shape in from of her.
The Dromite dropped to her knees, “Master. I have brought the items you requested.”
The Dromite pulled a bag from under the cloak and handed it to the figure. The figure formed smaller tentacles the way a Dromite might have hands, and inspected the bag. The figure spoke, but the words were heard in her mind.
“These are acceptable. Come. Observe the fruits of your labor and how you have assisted the People.” The Dromite had learned months ago that the word “Scourge” would bring swift pain as punishment, and the preferred term was “People.”
They walked into another chamber, and inside were dozens of fat, purple slugs.
The Scourge spoke, “These are the Beast-Callers. You may have heard of them. Undetectable as of the People by magic, but now known on sight”
The Scourge pulled a thread from the bag and wrapped it around one of the slugs. The slug’s form shifted and in its place was a 6 inch fuzzy caterpillar, one of the more common pets in a Dromite city. The Scourge lifted the caterpillar onto the Dromite, and it skittered down her back. The Dromite felt tendrils from the animal start working their way through her Chitin, but at the command of her Master was unable to move.
“I now remove my mind from yours. A pleasure I have waited for. You will now answer to the Beast-Caller. Leave now and it will instruct you.”
The Dromite began the walk back to her home in the Upper City. Her depression at her enslavement had long since advanced to a hopeless numbness. So when she turned a corner on her way to the main road and saw a squad of the Scourge Hunters before her, she only felt the smallest bit of satisfaction as the searing light surrounded her and carried her into darkness.