“It is amazing how people usually behave in the name of pure ignorance”, Captain Phereo Aigrund said to himself in his guarding post, at the gates of the city of the Subterran Kingdom.  Tunnels made from the underground dirt convoluted towards his direction, and the gates he was standing by were shaped by two rectangular pillars with an archway over them, made entirely of polished ivory. He and the rest of the guards were facing the city. Hopefully there are no executions today, he thought. The errands linked to this were usually tedious and demanded way too much of his time, more than what he would usually like.
Phereo was not covered in armor. He was an enormous humanoid shape made from rock, crystal and ice that was distributed well enough in his body to have the shape of a bipedal being. The iridescent crystals had the shape of spikes all around his back, making his own body an incredibly good defense material. His physique was hairless, his facial features angular and strong, and his eyes were made of a soft icy blue. The Arcanican didn’t need any type of metallic defense, they were great at standing by themselves.  
He observed how two fellow guards were grabbing a prisoner that tried to enter to their sacred city. He saw his scarlet green scales and frugal, grey, and dirty clothing. They took a lance from his hands, it seemed. The foreigner was from the lizard folk, the Lacertilians. A spy, probably, or a scout. They had attempted several times to try to pillage their city and their attacks never fully stopped, but they were intelligent enough to make secret tunnels that lead to











the capital and that the military could never dismantle on its entirety. It was a shame. A society with that level of stubbornness and loyalty to their kin, as they were known, could work very well without recurring to such mundane practices. It was almost pitiful.  Phereo sighed. The prisoner could not be seen anymore. Only the Subterran Kingdom was facing him. These tall, iridescent cities made from exquisite quartz, chalcedony and amber raised itself majestically before him.  The Opal Tower looked imponent and unforgettable in the middle, and the rest of the buildings just lied at its feet, as some sort of cover. The Opal Tower, also known as The Sacred Light, by no chance should be near anybody who wasn’t an Arcanican.  It was their sacred place and their source of pride, of purpose, of life, as well as the residence of the Arcanican Emperor.
Suddenly, a nervous voice resonated inside the mind of the Captain.

Sir, are you available?
Phereo answered, but his lips didn’t move:

Yes. What is it?

Then, in front of the guard, the air seemed to shift and started to look like two purple and rectangular-shaped sources of energy, which moved towards him, barely resembling a double door. He saw a messenger, a small male Arcanican with concern in his eyes who was also a soldier of a lower rank. He knew what was about to happen. It was always the same.

“Sir, you need to see the prisoner.” 

“Right away,” Phereo sighed, a soft glimmer of light signalling his displeasure.

He really didn’t feel like doing this. At least, he hoped he didn’t have to execute him right now. That would literally take all day. Phereo walked through the dimensional door and appeared right after at the gates of the prison.
He found himself surrounded by silence again. About four guards, including one that was working as a clerk in a desk, were walking through the halls of the prison. He asked to the official if the prisoner had anything extremely important over him apart from his lance, and he nodded.

“Yes, two bone daggers.” 

Phareo flashed lightly with appreciation, and movedto the cell where they usually bring new prisoners first.
The cell accommodations weren’t the best. It was just a humble prison as it could be found in any other common village. The Captain silently walked until he found the male Lacertilian again. He was silent, sitting on the floor with his legs crossed and looking at a corner. Apparently, he refused to use the stone bed. He didn’t blame him.
"Aye, outsider," Phereo exclaimed to call his attention, while grabbing one of the crystal bars. 
The lizard didn’t seem to bother.
"Don’t make it difficult for me, wouldn’t you? My time is precious and I’m sure you want to be free as soon as possible. He knew this was an extremely false premise, but surely, he didn’t know that."
The lizard uttered a humph and hissed, almost like a cat after being bothered while he was napping. He said something in that language that Phereo particularly didn’t enjoy listening to.
“Ak, bhoszrasz uchutszit, Chotukkux drisk”
Phereo raised his eyebrow. He was starting to feel impatient.
"I will give you one last chance to speak in our language."
The lizard, who felt very annoyed to be interrupted, turned to see him. He had a scarred eye with a patch, a long oval face that reminded Phereo of a deformed small dragon, his scales varied through different shades of green, and he was only covered from the waist down with a piece of grey cloth as he has seen before. His healthy eye was blue. The outsider spoke in a very broken Arcanican speech:
"Will not. Speak. Leaders. Will not. Betray," he seemed to be struggling with the phonetics. Mimicking grinding stone speech tended to be hard for lesser races. 
"So, you will not speak because your leaders, whoever they are, may not like it? May punish you? You won’t meet a different fate here, I’m afraid. Make it easy, for you more than for me, then. Prisoners that behave correctly have a decent destiny."
"People…are more important than own life. More will come. Not alone."
Phereo sighed. The Lacertilian remained silent as well, looking down.
"What’s your name, foreigner? And say something simple to pronounce, or I’ll throw you to a more uncomfortable cell. He was already grabbing his keys to unlock the door."
The lizard seemed still thoughtful, but he heard the keys and instinctively, answered:
"You can understand me when it’s convenient for you, huh?" He didn’t open the cell, and saved his keys. He pressed his giant rocky hand against the metal bar, this time with emphasis.
"Look," he raised his tone. "If you tell me why you are here, and how many of your kind are in the surroundings of Arcanica, your death will be quick and painless."
The lizard man didn’t speak. Stubborn, of course. Maybe a part of him even respected the prisoner for being so loyal and unquestioning about his orders. Also, cowards who stab their people in the back are not entertaining to question, as they break very quickly, and those were the most. Phereo turned his back to him.
"I will return tomorrow. I would recommend you have more answers for me by then
" Pheneo said psychically. The Lacertilian winced and hissed. Let him think on that, Pheneo thought. 
And the Captain left Q’uuz in his cell, who remained in a meditating position, looking at the lifeless crystal walls.



Stubborn by Maria Gabriela Orellana