The rock, the tree. Both were there, though with a lot more moss than he remembered. Schrau couldn't have known where the slave den had been, but he remembered his final moments clearly enough; bursting from the small hole in the ground, utterly exhausted from the adrenaline rush of his escape, his only companions a rock and a tree.
Then he woke in the infirmary of the biomancer guild, where his wounds were tended to and he was granted the time he needed to recuperate. The biomancers never explicitly told him where he had been recovered, and Schrau never thought of asking either; it wasn't a place he intended to return to.
Now he was back. Back in the cool night, next to a rock and a tree and a hole. Schrau remembered how as a child he had scrambled up the steep incline to freedom, the same incline that now appeared to be at a much shallower angle. No problem, Schrau took a deep breath and one step.
Fifteen epithet-filled seconds later, a battered and scruffy vulpin picked himself and his gear up at the bottom of the stone-and-mudslide that served as the only entrance to an underground warren of stone. The sentinel sighed, set his shoulders, and did something most sane former-slaves vowed never to do. Return home.

Disturbingly, the den was almost exactly as Schrau remembered it. The torches had burned out, and the bodies nothing more than desiccated skeletons, but if Odie's claim of sending a group to investigate the den was true, then they took great care not to disturb anything.
Schrau had left the place in a rampage, a level of fury he had since been unable to achieve for all his efforts. The human bodies, he noted, were all placed individually by himself.
Schrau stepped into a break room that separated him from the cells to the external passage, the smell of stale ale and rotted flesh and food assaulted his nose. Bodies lay strewn across the room, one headless skeleton sat at a table. Schrau remembered that one distinctly, he had interrupted a poker game and decapitated the man who sat with his back to the door before anyone could react. Schrau crossed the room and glanced over his shoulder, seeing that the skeleton's dead fingers still clutched the man's final hand of fading and yellowing cards - A full house of eights and aces.
Through the hall, and past another body. Schrau had lurked in the shadows above a snuffed torch, wedged between two walls and a ceiling with toes and fingers pressed tightly into the cracks between stones. Schrau had extinguished the torch himself, and while the passing guard had fumbled for his tinderbox to relight it, the vulpin had dropped onto him like a spider. Schrau remembered pounding the man's skull into the floor over and over again until he felt something crack. The guard's scabbard lay empty, his long sword now lay discarded and rusted beyond use at the foot of the slide that led into this place. The black mark on Schrau's throat, his curse which ached, had become a blazing hot scratch on his neck that he couldn't get rid of. Since joining the sentinel guild, the slash hadn't bothered him much, convincing the vulpin that he was well on the way to extinguishing that which had plagued his family since the death of his murderous ancestor. Now he was back where he started.
And now beyond the cells, each door closed but unlocked save for one. Each cell holding the remains of their previous occupants, and Schrau could name them all, Layke, Geeha, Nora; names and face never to be used or seen again. Aldar's favourite weapon lay broken at his feet, and a ring of keys at one cell door, both rusted completely.
A cold shudder caressed Schrau's spine, and he once again considered opening the one door he hadn't then. He pressed his hand against the wood, and felt nothing but the cold of the room, absorbed and condensed into the very grain of the door. He shook his head and continued on. Aldar's skeleton lay curled up on the floor.
Schrau pressed against the massive double doors that led into the training room and found them unlocked. They creaked stiffly open, warmth spilling out with the crackle of torches.

Someone lived here, that became obvious. A flat roll of cloth that might have been a bed lay at the west wall, and the east wall had caved in revealing further tunnels beyond. The torches were lit, and the wooden training swords rotting on their racks, some cannibalised into torches. Aldar's bokken rested on the rack, pride and place along the north wall. Aldar always locked the bokken into place with the only master of his key, and due to the gloriously complicated system of the rack, none of the wooden swords could be removed unless Aldar had unlocked the bars keeping his sword in place.
Schrau considered returning to the previous hallway and digging through Aldar's corpse for the key, before realising that the swords that had been removed had been done so neatly - Without snapping or breaking. That meant that the highly elaborate weapons rack was unlocked. So why was the bokken still there? Unlike the rest of the equipment in this godsforsaken place it was in reasonably excellent condition, the varnished sheen still gleaming in the darkness. Schrau got halfway across the room to investigate when he heard the voice from behind.
"Ah, so you've found yer way back, eh?"
Schrau spun, his harsh blades sliding effortlessly from their scabbards to gleam wickedly in the torchlight. Standing in the doorway was Rory.
The human had changed a lot since Schrau had last seen him. Most obviously, he no longer had his left leg and stood against a crude crutch. His beard was much longer, his hair grey, his frame much more emaciated, and yet he still wore the same clothes that was wearing when he stormed out of the same room some five years ago.
Rory grinned wide, showing less than half his usual amount of teeth. "Bloody hell, Cadnos, you still look like something a catfolk brought in and brought up. I thought those effin' sentinels had a dress code."
"It's roosrey enforced." Schrau growled by way of explanation. "What the herrs are you doing here!?"
Rory cast a critical eye over the former slave. "Yeah, well even when you were in rags you still managed a level of scruffiness that no one else could reach. I'd bloody well hate to see you the day you bloody get married..."
"Rory!" The vulpin snapped, taking several steps towards the human. "I asked you a question!"
Rory raised his free hand to stop Schrau. "Easy, kid, I was just getting to that. Now, if I really wanted to be a bastard I'd be asking why yer trespassin' in my home, but I don't think you'd appreciate that."
"You rive here?"
"Squat, if yer gonna be specific." Rory shrugged. "Hadda, hadda. Nowhere else for me to be... Still..." He glanced over his shoulder. "Bloody nice job with Aldar and his boys. Wish I could've been there to see it." He chuckled. "Maybe not, else I'd be one of those poor dead bastards an' all."
"Here? There?" Schrau nodded towards the tunnel carved straight of the wall.
Rory shook his head. "Naw, hear. Couldn't tell you what made that hole. My guess is something else, orcs maybe, expanding their home. Tunnelled in through here and... Turned back. Something must've spooked 'em." Rory sighed. "Maybe that goes a long way to explaining how smart I am."
"Something... Something brought me here." Schrau said. "You?"
"What, me? Naw. Weren't me. You getting voices in your head, Schrau?" Rory grinned. "Maybe they were right. I may be living as a reclusive hermit down this pit, but I do hear things."
"Such as?"
"Such as a psychotic little vulpin charging into the sultan's palace on Suthnas, for one. Lucky fer 'im that someone else decided to scare the ectoplasm out of ol' Odie. Now..." Rory fixed Schrau in a cold gaze. "...Why would a little kid like you be threatening a big ol' scary jinn? No, don't tell me, I know. I know Odie was a customer of ours. Did ye find anything?"
Schrau shook his head. "But he wasn't the onry one who bought off you..."
"Ah, now I get it. You're still lookin' for the vulpin we sold." Rory glared at Schrau's gleaming badge. "Sergeant. Goin' places, you are. Truth is when we were raising you boys we didn't think you'd amount to anything. Don't throw it all away." He warned.
"Just... Just terr me what you did with-"
"There's no pleasing you, ain't there?" Rory sighed. "Okay, listen kid, we never sold in bulk, so to speak. Lotsa little clients, maybe buying one or two vulpin. Odie was pretty much one of our biggest clients by himself, and he couldn't exactly afford the prices for what he wanted to buy and what we wanted to sell for back then. Poor li'l pauper jinn with delusions of whatsit... Grandeur. That's it."
"Anyone that did afford the prices?" Schrau coldly asked.
Rory nodded. "Yeah. Yeah. Rich ol' family. Really nasty bastards. Kuroryu."
"Sounds So-"
"Soselian." Rory finished. "Yeah, that they are. Old family of dragonians, and considering those scaly freaks are bloody immortal that's saying something, innit? Good luck looking for 'em."
"Why's that?"
"Reclusive. Nobody knows where they live. Some say underground, some say beneath Fenriss War. One rumour has it that they live in a hole carved straight down into the planet near the core. People been lookin' for 'em for centuries now, and nobody has come close, or in some cases come back. But..."
"But what?"
"Bit of a scandal some way back. About a year after you busted straight out of this place their youngest hatchling left the family. Now, big daddy Kuroryu didn't exactly like his son's new occupation, and considering that the whole bloody clan's a bunch of insane murderers it gives you a pretty good idea just how insane they are..."
"Heh, don't terr me. A dragonian paladin." Schrau chuckled. "Seems pretty funny just to-"
Rory shook his head, shaking some dead bugs loose. "Nope. Think opposite end o' the scale."
Schrau's eyes widened.
"Yeah, you got it."
"Fallen..." The vulpin whispered.
"Strange, ain't it? Lord Kuroryu, famed for feeding on the blood of his slain enemies, and more than a few innocents too, doesn't like the idea of his son falling in, haha, with those creepy nutjobs and their spooky letter-openers." Rory nodded. "There's one thing that should make you feel better."
"What's that?"
"Well, unlike the rest of his clan, little master Kuroryu has been seen lately."
Schrau sighed. "Why are you terring me this?"
"Do I need a bloody reason, Cadnos? Nah, maybe I'm feeling something close to... That thingy... Remorse, yeah, remorse. Maybe I didn't exactly like what happened here and to you. Or maybe..." Rory grinned another gapped-tooth grin. "Maybe I like the thought of you getting hacked to pieces and eaten by a fellblade. Before you do anything crazy, dangerous, or stupid, maybe you should have a little talk with someone."
"Who? Who do I have?"
The human shrugged. "Beats the hell out of me, but I shouldn't think one gets to be a sergeant in the sentinel guild without making a few friends. Even if the bloody lot of them are suicidal loonies."
"Thanks." Schrau bitterly said.
"One more thing..." Rory said, pointing to the bokken. "I believe you were doing something."
Schrau glanced at the wooden weapon, sheathing his own, and then crossed the distance between them. He lifted the wooden blade off its rack. It seemed remarkably heavy, much too heavy to be nothing but would.
"Aldar told me it's wood over metal." Rory explained. "Never believed him until I picked it up meself. No wonder he loved to bloody well thrash you with it."
"No wonder it hurt so much..." Schrau absently said.
"Nothing is ever what it seems to be, kid." Rory said as Schrau carefully set the bokken on the rack. "Not slavers, not sentinels. Not even bloody Fallen."