They were builders and architects. Some were masons. Others still were engineers. There was but one thing they held in common: they were here against their will.
They knew no other life, for they had always lived in the tunnels.
The droags came from time to time and selected a team to do whatever was necessary, wherever they needed the work. new workers replaced the old.
The ones who went away did not return.
The young were not tasked with anything other than learning.
From the moment they hatched, they were kept apart from the workers and were sorted by aptitude. The skilled ones studied drafting and engineering. The rest learned carving, lifting and obeying.
Above all else, they learned to obey.
Pippa felt quite fortunate. She was not interested in drafting and drawing.
She would much rather be outside, where the grasses grew and the water sparkled. Sometimes, she would slip away from the trainers and look across the sky to the other islands.
She wondered who lived on them. Were there other frogloks there as well?
Friendships were discouraged amongst the froglok captives. The trainers would rotate the young frogloks from one camp to another in shifts
Still, they were occasionally unable to tell one young froglok from another, which allowed Pippa to remain with her friend Barap.
“Tis one time that I praise Mithaniel Marr for giving me no remarkable features, “Pippa said to Barap.
They both looked like any common froglok: smooth green skin flecked with gold and brown. And they were careful to never draw attention to themselves, blending in perfectly at whatever task the droag task master assigned.
As often as possible, Pippa and Barap attended to their chores side by side.
In time, they were old enough to be moved into the tunnels.
This marked the end of their relatively carefree childhood, for now they were assigned to a droag master. The master stood before them and doled out their tasks.
Pippa always tried to slide into the group being assigned to resource gathering. Barap did likewise.
And under the cover of rushing water beside the waterfalls, they would hide from droags and talk.
This is not to say that they were lazy. They hurried through whatever task had been assigned to them and left the best for last: carrying water from the pools.
Setting their earthen jugs into the soft mud beside the pool, they dove into the water and hid themselves behind rushing water.
Each pool emptied over a ledge of rocks to another island below in a series of waterfalls that seemed to empty into thin air from the edge of this last pool.
“What do you suppose in on all the other islands?” Pippa asked Barap one day as they snuggled together behind the curtain of water.
“More of these beasts” replied Barap bitterly. “They ask us to build temples to their god, but do not allow us to worship our own. There are temples to their god on all the other islands; I have heard so from one of the lifters.”
“Who is their god?”
“It matters not, for they are not the children of Marr”
Even though they rushed though their tasks, they could never spend more than a few precious minutes together.
They began their interludes cautiously, but as their love grew, they forgot caution. All that mattered were the moments when they could sit together in the waterfall’s mist and speak tenderly of a future in which they were captive no longer.
“Where are the bearers of these urns?” demanded the droag master one day, coming upon the empty earthen jugs, beside the pool.
Reluctantly, Pippa and Barap swam forward. The master’s eyes glinted as he said, “We do not suffer insolence. Your deceit brings you to your doom.”
Pipp felt her heart racing. She realized the droag master intended to send them into his temple; the temple from which no one ever returned.
“We have discovered something, master,” Pippa said, lowering her eyes. Barap followed her lead, but said nothing.
“What have you discovered?” hissed the droag, stepping closer. “Do not think you will be saved. There are no miracles for any but the faithful.”
“It is this way, sir”, said Pippa quietly. She picked up her urn and so did Barap. Pippa led the way to the edge of the pond where the current was strong.
The water spilled from this tier of their island into a misty oblivion below.
Pippa braced herself against the water’s insistent tug and pointed over the edge. “We have seen something below and it has frightened us,” she said. “Tis a dragon; he looks much like one in the statues.”
“He has returned, as the prophecies said!” cried the droag in awe. He sloshed his way to the edge nearest Pippa and leaned forward. “Where did you see Him?” he asked reverently.
“Down there,” said Barap. He swung the urn in his hands and hit the droag squarely between the wings.
Caught off-guard the task master teetered for a moment before losing his balance. The water’s current did the rest, sweeping the fallen droag over the rocks and into the mist below.
“He did not have time to pray,” said Pippa thoughtfully. “But he will surely meet his maker at the bottom of the waterfalls”.