Silence.

Dima's heart beats faster. He needs a plan. But first -

"Come out," he softly calls. He doesn't feel it, or see it, but he feels a low and heavy weight drop, almost inaudibly, by his side.

The tiger, without even being asked, bites through his strap. Dima falls to the ground. He buries his hands inside her thick pelt. The tiger licks his shaved skull - almost motherly.

"Poor girl," he whispers. "Must have been worse on you. Watching. We'll be free soon. Don't worry."

He pauses for a minute and thinks. He needs as many people free in as short a time as possible. Give the guards more to worry about than just him. He draws crude outlines in the dust with his heel, from which rises a swarm of rats, of snakes and spiders whose bite can paralyze and kill. Silently, they move towards the door, driven by his orders, impressions faint as genetic memory, images of straps to gnaw through, of guards to bite. It didn't matter who.

He draws few dogs, too. Some - whose bite can rend steel in twain - he sends out, to save others. The rest he keeps by his heel. (The tiger flicks her tail in irritation.) Although they're strong enough to tear out the throat of a guard, Dima knows they'll stay under his control. Dogs are like that.

As for the tiger, however. The tiger was a part of his flesh, and as such, is bonded to him. He can have her do something a little more complex.

He takes her jowls in his hands. "All right, my friend. Listen, what I want you to do is go find Korram Altsan. Do you know his scent, the sound of his voice? Kill whoever's guarding him. Chew through the straps. Let him free."

He gives her a pat on the head, and the tiger slinks off. He has faith in her - the Manslayer. But if anything happened to her incarnation now, he could always call her up again from his arm. Dima turns his attention to the blood on his body, to the dust on the walls.

He's going to need some firepower. Can he risk calling up something that he can't control?

Well, whatever. It wasn't like he had plans to stick around this level, anyway. Create a little pandemonium up here once the freed prisoners started running around, then find the people he had tattooed and call up their beasts.

He dips his thumb in his own blood - if they came from his own blood, he figures, they will not, at least, try to attack him - and paints the walls with all manner of forbidden creatures.