There was no time like the present. Kroll marched purposefully through grey streets and into the courtyard. He was in possession of a skeleton key. A lock clunked and he swung the door open. Striding quickly along a corridor, he went through another door and down a spiral staircase. He stood in front of the last door. The key would not turn. His fist smashed against it, causing a thundering noise on the other side.
“COME ON!!! He shouted.
The lock clicked open and Numbskull peered out. The door was pushed into his face and he fell backwards and hit the stone floor as Kroll’s massive frame filled the doorway. Side-Kick looked up in fear as Numbskull dragged himself over to the desk.
“Y… yes? What can we do for you?” he asked.
“It has been seven days since I gave you the boy. Where is my money?”
“Ahh,” Numbskull said. He shuffled behind his desk, attempting to look official. “The market was not so good today, so I heard. Only four slaves were sold and… your boy achieved just one gold coin.” He pushed a coin across the desk.
Kroll breathed in and walked forward, putting both hands on the desk. “Do you think I’m stupid?” His voice was low, threatening.
“N… no, not at all. But I cannot influence prices in the market. One gold coin was all he achieved. And, looking at the specimen, he was lucky to get that,” he said with a smarmy smile.
Kroll lifted the table up and threw it against the wall. It smashed into pieces and crashed on the floor. The gold coin bounced into a corner. Numbskull looked startled and stood up. Side-Kick pressed his back against the wall.
“I was at the market today, the first one since I handed the boy to you a week ago. He was not sold at all. So… where… IS… HE?”
“I, um… it must be the auctioneer. He’s a shifty profiteer. Yes, yes, it must be him,” Numbskull replied.
Kroll grabbed a burning torch from the wall and walked down the corridor. The flames streamed behind. The air whooshed, but the warrior was so angry he never heard it. He looked into each cell for the boy, but he was not there. Kroll stood at the end of the corridor and faced the wall. There was no way a little man like Numbskull was going to cheat him. He walked toward the jailors. Numbskull rubbed his hands together nervously. Kroll leant into the jailor and scowled.
“See? You should talk to the auctioneer.”
Kroll kicked the remains of the desk aside and smashed a chair with his boot. He took the other chair and hoisted it down the corridor. It crashed and broke up halfway along. Looking down, he saw a metal clasp. Grabbing it, a wooden panel came away. He saw Ned curled up inside. Kroll glared at the jailors and threw the wooden panel at them. Numbskull raised his hands to protect himself, but it hit Side-Kick in the face. He sprawled on the floor. Kroll leant in and lifted Ned out. He waved the flames by the boy and looked him over.
Kroll turned to Numbskull. “You reneged on our deal. And I will take a hard line on you.” He paused to stare at the weaselly man. “Feed the boy and treat him well. Make him presentable for sale at next week’s market. Whatever money he realises, I will receive twice the amount from you.”
Numbskull hissed dissatisfaction. Kroll’s eyes pierced the deceitful man. “You are the lowest of the low.” His voice was hoarse. “If I do not have at least twenty gold coins from you in one week… you are a dead man.”