“If you tell us where your leader headed off to,” said Fetin for the tenth time, rubbing his forehead impatiently, “I can promise you I’ll try to take as many of your comrades alive as I can. If you don’t tell me and he ends up doing something foolish that earns him a bounty, I cannot guarantee his safety.”
“Forget it. I owe him my life and I will not repay that with treachery!”
The bandit Fetin spoke to was the one leading the others during Dragonfury’s night raid on their fortress. Fetin had since learned that the bandit wasn’t a Human but a Half-Elf by the name of Melarl Huskin, and that he was something of a second-in-command to the bandits. And because he wasn’t talking, none of the other bandits were talking either.
“All of you people oppress us, fear us, chase us away,” the Half-Elf spat. “And why is that? Because we’re Human?”
“In your case, it’s because you’re bandits.”
“As if we want to be bandits. We were chased to the woods by lizardmen like you-”
Fetin grabbed the bandit by the collar and slammed his face into the bars that separated them. “Let me tell you something, you pointy-eared little prissy: my people have suffered oppression from Humanity long before your Elven father was even born. If you think I’m going to sit here and listen to some prison trash fling racial slurs at me while trying to play the pity card, then perhaps you need to learn what real pain and suffering is like!” He flung the bandit backwards with such force that he tumbled over the lone bed in his cell and into the wall, laying there dazed. “Be glad for these bars,” Fetin hissed.
“What do you know of oppression?!” Shouted Huskin as he struggled upright. “Dragonborn haven’t been chased down and exterminated ruthlessly in your lifetime, but I and my kind have.”
“That ain’t the only kind of oppression, kid.” Fetin suddenly felt quite weary, and his voice followed suit. “Sometimes I think being able to run for my life would be a far simpler solution. I could only choose the military as a career because unlearned men thought I would burn their houses down if I coughed or sneezed, as if fire just spews from my mouth uncontrollably like some sort of child. Every avenue was closed to me and before I knew it I was too old for apprenticeship. And do you know what the military was like? Do you know how it feels to be filled with a certainty that every quest you are sent on was supposed to be your last, surrounded by your racial kin on an assignment that felt more like a suicide mission meant to cleanse the ranks of unpure filth like us? I could only wish for direct conflict so I could die fighting for my life rather than fearing for it. But I had to let it go because I had no other choice. You? You only have to deal with a handful of overzealous racists. Until you step over the line that is, then you deal with me. If your life was so damned precious to you, you would have just hid in the forest and become a farmer, but you had to have all the shiny niceties of society, didn’t you? If you speak to me again as if you are better than me, then you are truly a fool.”
Huskin was quiet, sitting on his bed and staring hard at Fetin. His stare didn’t hold anger anymore, but rather was marked with deep thought. Fetin went back to his chair by the jailor’s desk, placing his face in his hands and breathing deeply, partially to calm himself down, but partially to keep his composure.
“Do you consider yourself better than me, then?” Huskin said at last, not in a challenging or offended way, but in a voice of interest.
“We’re equals, kid; we just happen to be on opposite sides of these bars is all. Always have been, always will be.”
Fetin no longer felt like talking, so he stood and left, informing the jailor that he was finished with the prisoner. Huskin sat in his cell, left to his thoughts.