Monday, November 4, 2013

Kaymele (part 12)

    'Where am I?  Is this another vision or are these things taking place?' My thoughts are jumbled together, and my head aches.  There's a burning pain in my left shoulder, I carefully touch the area and feel a hole about three and a half inches across, and very deep.  Pulling my hand away into the dim light, it's covered with blood, it must be bleeding badly.  Somehow the dress I was wearing has been changed into a rough sack dress that comes past my knees. Though my vision is minimal, I can make out that I'm in a small room, possibly a cell, but there's a flight of stairs that lead up somewhere.  The only light comes from a tiny window far above me.  Standing is out of the question, if I attempt I feel certain I'll end up right back in the floor, and my ankle is chained to the wall a short distance away.
    The sound of approaching feet reach my ears from far above, and the jingling of a bunch of keys in a lock echoes from the top of the stairs.  The door creaks in protest as it moves open, the door closes with a loud boom.  Heavy footfalls of guards on the stairs nearly muffle the light clicking sound made by someone much lighter following.  Slowly I slide myself out of the light, that's when the shackle around my ankle pulls against the wall and glows red, not allowing me to move anything for a few seconds.
    'Sorry dear, trying to hide isn't going to help,' says a woman wearing a black dress and a blood red cape.  She laughs lightly, and comes down the last few steps, 'We haven't formally met, I am Lady Andromeda, it's good to see you're awake.  I'm feared my dragon had wounded you too badly, and I wouldn't get any use out of you.  But I think you'll live, for now.  What is your name?'
    I stare at her, as if she were talking to a statue.  To scared to speak, her eyes seemed to look straight into my soul, and she turned to face the guards.
    'Go back outside the door, I can handle this one,' she says in a commanding voice, both turned and marched up the stairs, 'What. Is. Your. Name?' she asks again insistently.
    'What a pretty name.  Tell me, Kaymele, what are you?  Are you dwarf?  Elf? I know you're not human, but definitely a mermaid.  My spies have assured me of that.  But you're very short for a mermaid, so not full blooded,'
    'I am what you choose to think I am,' I say indifferently.
    She narrows her eyes, and presses her lips together.  Slowly she begins to pace.
    'What do you know of The Starlight Cavern?' she asks slyly.  My heart skips a beat, wondering how on earth she could know of this sacred place, 'The less you say here, the more I can get out of you upstairs.'
    'What you could possibly have waiting there for little ol' me,' I say sarcastically.
    With one hand she grabs the fabric of my dress on my hurt shoulder, and yanks up hard, sending a horrific pain through my body.  I let out a small yelp of pain, and she smiles evilly.
    'Oh Kaymele, don't you know I have the power to inflict pain on you?  I wouldn't push your luck too much,' she releases my shoulder, 'Let this be a reminder. Guards!'
    The door unlocks and the guards hurry down the stairs.  They stop and salute her, she walks towards them.
    'Take her out of this cell and move her upstairs with the other prisoner,' she spins around, 'so we may talk better.'
    'Yes Lady Andromeda,' they say in unison.
    Without another word they unchain my ankle, and carry me up the stairs.  My shoulder objects to all the movement, it's all I can do not to moan.  When we are through the door at the top of the stairs, it turns out it's not the end to the stairs.  There is a door on the left and about 4 feet to the right there are hundreds of wide stairs leading up in a spiral.  But there's something funny about the stairs, they look like any other, but when Andromeda steps onto the left side, closest to the wall, she starts gliding up the stairs.  Almost as if they were moving for her.  The guards do the same, and slowly we begin moving up the stairs.  Not with rough steps like before, but the steps were moving for us, and at a quick pace too.  My shoulder is still bleeding heavily, and I think the guard on that side has changed his skin color several times from red, to green, and finally he's gone ghostly pale.
    This place must be full of magic, and all to soon we reach the doors at the top of the tower.  One door has bars across the window, and the other has no window at all.  I am led to the door with the window, and escorted inside.  Another figure is huddled in the corner, with his clothes torn and fresh whip marks on his shoulders and chest. I am slightly blinded by the abundance of light streaming through the window, but it's barred with thick iron rods.  We are so high off the ground I don't see how anyone could escape that way even if they wanted to.
    I'm led to the opposite wall and chained to it by both my ankles.  The other person moved slightly, and let out a soft moan.  The guards march out and lock the door.
    'Hello? Are... are you alright?'  I ask timidly.
    'Why do you ask, aren't you just here to hurt me more?' he pauses and stands up.  He is gigantic, at least 6 and half feet tall, and very muscular. His shirt is tattered and fresh whip wounds bleed on top of old ones.  He looks at me eyes wide and crazed, 'You work for her don't you?  And you're trying to get more information out of me.  I WON'T DO IT, DO YOU HEAR ME ANDROMEDA, I WON'T!!!' he shouts at the door.
    'I...I... d,don't work for her.  She captured me.  I don't exactly know why I was captured but I am.  Who are you, and where are we?'
    He crouches down and puts his head in his hands for a long while.  Slowly his hands slide off his face.
    'I am Thalion Uaine, and I too was captured for reasons unknown,' he pauses and double checks my face, probably still unsure whether I'm friend or foe, 'We are in a tower that was built long ago, for Wizards and Scholars to learn and grow in knowledge.  It's hidden deep in the South Marshes, and it has a tall, dome like, shield the makes you think there's nothing there so it's almost impossible to spot.  When Felix took over, Andromeda broke the shield and attacked the tower slaughtering everyone that crossed her path, until they surrendered.  All remaining wizards and scholars have been on her side ever since,' he turns, 'Thanks for offering to help me earlier, trust me I've been in worse pain than this before.'  
    In the afternoon light his face seemed hollowed out, tired, and filled with grief.  His shackles are shorter than mine, but still clamped on at the ankles.  I try to call out to Florentide, but some deep magic is preventing any message from getting through, and with every try I feel weaker. After a while I'm so tired I can't feel anything.  With the last remnants of my strength I scoot closer to get a better look at Thalion's wounds.  Upon closer inspection his wounds are more gruesome than anticipated.  I tried to whisper a few words Anakis had taught me, but they didn't work.
    'Maybe I should be asking who you are, and what you are trying to do,' he says stretching.  He stands and leans against the bars in the window, waiting for my answer.
    'Where do I begin...' I start.
    'Your name would be a good start,'
    'No need to be sarcastic.  My name is Kaymele, and I'm a rebel against Felix and Andromeda.  I don't know how many days ago I was taken, but the rebel base was attacked.  I have had, and still am having medical training.  That's what I was trying to do to your wounds, but for some reason my healing skills aren't working here.  Really it's Anitar who supplies the healing, but that's another story,' I have to pause to catch my breath, he's staring at me, studying my face closely, then turning away, 'Anyway, I was captured and brought here for something.  Though I don't know what besides the fact that she mentioned the Starlight Cavern.'
    At the name of the Starlight Cavern he whips his head around.  'You know of the Starlight Cavern?' he asked.  I looked out the window, and took a deep breath.
    'I only know what my Father has told me, and that's not much.  He's very secretive because he's the key bearer.  If anything was to happen to him I don't know what I'd do.  Far too many of my family members have been killed, and that is more that anyone should ever know.  To have that empty void inside yourself, is unlike any pain known to anyone, and I do not wish to feel that pain once again,' I say quietly.
    'It's probably best not to say that to Andromeda, she can and will do whatever is possible to get inside.  I don't know what for but I've been here tortured long enough to figure that out,' he says looking back out the window.
    'Where are you from? I know you're an Elf, but are you from the mountains?' I ask cautiously.
    'I am from Voronwë the glorious Elfin city.  And you, you must be from the seaside.  I can tell by your accent,' he says.
    'Yes, I do.  Well I did... but that's ancient history.  Do you have family in Voronwë?'
    He turns his head as if to say "Why are you asking?".
    'I don't mean to pry, but...' I drop my voice to a whisper, 'since we're both here together and I thought we might start talking about nonsense, so they don't get suspicious,' I pause, and bring my voice back to it's original volume, 'You're just so tall, I was wondering if you had a family would they all have dark hair and be close to the same height?'
    He nods his head, and sits down with one leg stretched out. 'Well, actually no my family looks nothing like me.  I have a brother, Lithônien and a sister, Bly.  Now my brother is chief scholar...'
    'You have a sister named Bly?' I ask cutting him short.
    'Yes, she is one of the Diplomats of Voronwë, she and her teacher tried to reason with Felix, but he only pretended to agree with the terms of lawful kingship.  After they had left he sent soldier to bring them back alive, but her teacher put up a fight, and was killed for his attempts.  Bly was taken to the castle...'
    'And locked in the dungeons. Later to escape with Xander,' I finish for him, 'I think I know your sister, she has long blonde hair right and blushes a good deal.'
    'Yes, that's Bly,' he laughs, 'how did you meet?'
    'We ran into each other in the Tawarthion.  I was already with group when Bly, Xander, Nairi, and Adonis joined us on our journey to Revelin.'
    'Well it truly is a small world that we live in, but now we have a danger facing both of us.  Named Andromeda, she's the so called king's right hand, and does most of his dirty work.  She hasn't been able to torture me as much lately because she was off getting you.  Now that she has you there's no telling what all she has planned for us.
    The minutes slowly pass by, and neither of us feels like talking after that.  We are either too weak from hunger, or our wounds.  The sun starts setting outside our window, I lie on my side away from it because it hurts my eyes, and my heart.  Thinking of the sunsets that I may have left, and how many I was suppose to have with Nithron.  Knowing that I truly have feelings for Nithron, and he for me is so unbearable.  The thought that we may never see each other again until death is heart wrenching.  
    'This was not how I had imagined death, I thought it would come softly like a gentle breeze.  But no, it's so much darker than that, I've seen death.  On the faces of men, women and children.  People I've loved and lost in so many ways, and for what?  I know there's no true answer, everyone dies of something.  Some may be more gruesome than others, but we have to forget the bad and remember only the good, that's just how we deal with life.  As an immortal I've never known death and never should, but if I do die.  My soul will go to Anitar.'  There is now nothing to do until morning, and until then I have purposed not to say anything more as the tears steadily flow down my cheeks.

    The night was unnaturally chilly, and there was almost nothing to keep warm with. I lay on the stone floor trying to ignore the pain of my shoulder, and the cold, by thinking of home.  The deep waters in the rivers, the mossy caverns, and the sweet air that would blow gently through the house when the windows were open. 
    When dawn approached it's no better than the night, it's cold with the changing of the seasons.  My skin is blue with the cold, and just looking at Thalion I can guess the cold is nothing new to him.  The only thing setting off the color of my skin are the smears of blood that I attempted to use as warmth in the night. 
    A door somewhere far off creeks open and slams shut again.  Though there are no footsteps we both know someone or something is coming.  The guards outside the door jump to attention, rattling their armor.  The door opens and both of us have bags pulled over our heads, and we're unchained from the wall.  They pick me up, but my legs don't want to cooperate and I fall flat on my face.
    'Don't break her!' hisses Andromeda, 'She is still needed... Carry her fool!'
    He doesn't hesitate, and hefts me over his shoulder.  We are taken down a long corridor, and at some point go through a door into a room that must be very large, by the echoing sounds of the soldiers heavy foot steps.  The bags are taken off our heads, and with horror we both look around the room.  It's apparent that neither of us have seen the room.  With it's high, blood streaked, walls even the ceiling has blood splattered on it.  But the blood is not what makes us gasp in horror, it's the impressive array of knives, whips, needles, a helmet with needles sticking in it with the blood of the last person still on the tips, and other terrible small objects.  Other things like a rack, and a coffin with a lock on it, a Garrote, and a small cage hanging from the ceiling were everywhere you looked.  Hooks were everywhere along the walls, to hold the chains of the victims, and posts were set up side by side with ropes to tie down the wrists for whipping.  There were no windows anywhere, not even a crack.  At first it was much warmer than the cell, but the heat seemed to increase the longer we stayed in the room.  On the far wall there were 5 words that made everything we've just seen a thousand times worse.  It said "I wish I could die." it looked as if the writer had written it with his fingernails.
    The evil smile on Andromeda's face, was a sure sign that she knew, just the sight of this place would be the first affliction she would give us.  She pointed a long finger at the guard that was holding my chains.  
    'Put her in the cage, so she can watch,' she said with a slight purr.
    Thalion is chained down to a table, and left there so the guards can lower the cage.  My shackles are removed only for a moment, then they tied my hands above my head with rope, and close the door.  The cage is so small that I can't move my legs out from underneath myself into a more comfortable position.  Both guards hoist the cage 10 feet in the air, and I am forced to watch as Thalion is beaten, burned, stuck with needles, and stretched in the Rack.  Finally she ties his hands behind his back, and forces him on his knees.  By now he's too weak to even consider trying to escape, and she circles him, her long fingernails running across his shoulder.  She had been asking him questions on and off the whole time, about whether or not he knew rebel secrets.  If he did, then he was not very well informed, most were things she already knew, but it didn't matter she just wanted to make me watch.  Suddenly she spun around and walked towards me.
    'Tell me Kaymele, aren't you enjoying this,' she asks smugly, she knows I've done a good deal of crying.  I haven't even known him for a day, and still I can't bear to watch him be tortured for secrets that he obviously doesn't know. 
    'If I answer yes, would it make a difference in your resolve to torture him?' I snip.
    Her face reddens, and she motions for the cage to be lowered, and she grabs my neck and digs her fingernails into my skin.  The nails themselves are not what truly hurts, it's the white hot heat radiating through them into my blood.
    'Don't you realize I have complete power over your life and his!  I could kill him in an instant and you could do nothing, and do you want to know why?' she releases her iron grip and walks around to my back, 'the dragon who pierced your shoulder injected you with, oh how shall I put this, a power drainer.  It invades your mind and body removing all powers you may poses.  Of course I had no true knowledge of Mermaids so I decided not to take any risks.' she hisses.
    'Is that what she's done to me?  No wonder I can't get in contact with Florentide!'
    'And now your options are this; I can kill your friend Thalion here, or you can take me to the Starlight Cavern and he can go free.  Your choice,' she bargains.
    I look over at Thalion's bruised and bloody face, he shakes his head and mouths "no".  Andromeda's violet eyes flash with anticipation.
    'I don't want any more blood shed, and yet how do I know you're telling the truth?' I say question.
    'Oh dear me, I guess you'll just have to find out.  Now quickly my dear, my patience is wearing thin,'
    'I.... well I,' I take a deep breath, 'I'll take you to the Cavern, just promise you won't hurt him,'  Thalion's head drops as if he's been hit, but the blow was much worse than bodily damage.  
    Andromeda's lips spread into a smile, 'Oh I won't hurt him... much,' she walks past Thalion to a bench with dozens of knives.  She lingers over them, waving her hand gingerly until she passes over one of the larger knives.  It's a wicked looking thing, serrated on both sides, and a slim, bright blue tip.  She faces him, pulls him in plain view, and stands just off to the side so I can see his face.  I bite my lip to stop the words, but it doesn't help.
    'What are you doing?! You promised no harm would come to him!' I shout.
    'Oh did I?' she sneers.  
    She doesn't even wait for my response, she whips around blindingly fast, and slashes the knife through Thalion's throat.  His eyes widen and his pupils dilate.  Blood starts flowing out of his mouth, and gushing from his neck.  Andromeda kicks him square in his chest, and he falls to the floor gasping like a fish out of water, but worse, the only air he will get from this moment forward is his own blood as he slowly chokes to death.  
    'THALION!' I scream.
    Andromeda only laughs, 'As you can see, I don't bargain with life.  It far too easy to destroy,' she hisses.
    'You killed him... YOU KILLED HIM!' I bang my hands on the bars, and the cage shakes dramatically 'Why did you kill him?!  He was innocent, and was promised life!' I say choking on tears.
    'To reinforce my power over your life.  You see, I have total control, and there's nothing you can possibly do about it!  And now the only distraction in your life is me.  Bring her down,' she commands.
    The guards quickly obey, not wanting to be the next victim of Andromeda's wrath.  They let the cage down entirely too fast, and it hits the floor with a loud bang.  My arms have been over my head for so long that I've lost all feeling in them, and my legs have been numb from the beginning.  Andromeda is screaming at the guards to be careful, and to get rid of Thalion's body.  One grabs his legs and the other his arms.  I try not to look but I looked away too late, his head falls back, and the cut is so deep I can see the bone.  His death is something I know I don't want to tell his family, and yet something I must.
    'Tell the other guard outside to get in here and move the prisoner to the rack,' she orders.
    He clicks his heals, salutes, and walks out.  No sooner he walked out then the other walks right in.  He unties my arms, and they drop like a rag doll's.  My arms are on fire with the fresh new blood pumping through them.  He hefts my body over his shoulder, and surprisingly, gently places me on the rack. He clamps the ankle shackles but leaves the ones for my wrists alone, and just stands there.  Under his helmet I can see his kind brown eyes, that look down at my bruised face.  All his eyes can say is "I'm so sorry.", and that's more than anyone could ever have done for me in that moment.
    'Use the lower wrist restraint fool!' Andromeda orders.
    Our moment has passed, and he bolts my wrists down without saying a word.  She walks slowly over with a triumphant smile playing on her lips, and takes her time walking around the Rack.  In her hand she still holds the dagger, dripping with Thalion's blood.
    'I must say, I'm quite impressed.   You have now been branded as weak.  That's right, weak!' she slaps my face, and points at the guard.  He nods and starts cranking a wheel, slowly the rack starts to lean up, until it's straight upright, 'But now there's nothing slowing us down from going to the Starlight Cavern.'
    'I will never help you with anything but finding your death witch!' I shout.
    'Oh, I see we are going to have to do this the hard way,' she shakes her head, and without warning she grabs my face and slams my head back against the table hard, nearly blacking me out.  She takes the very tip of the knife and slits my lip 5 times.  I can taste my blood slowly oozing from the slits, but my first taste was Thalion's innocent blood on my lips.  She quickly walks to a shelf filled with multiple bottles with labels in a different language, and picks out 3 different vials.  She starts chanting something and fills a wooden bowl with a mixture of the 3, and splashes the purple mix on my face, hands and legs.  Then she dips her entire hand into it and smears in on my lips and face.  The sensation of the mixture on my open wounds and flesh is horrific, then she opens my mouth and forces me to swallow.  It burns like salt in an open wound, and going down my throat it's like drinking sticky fire, anywhere it touched it burned, I'm sure this is how I am to die.  But no, after that she has a huge man come in, he looked about 10 times the size of Thalion, and beats me with a giant wooden rod.  Someone's hand runs endlessly over my face smearing the blood until I blackout entirely from the pain. I know nothing more accept that I was carried back to my empty cell with Andromeda saying 'Tomorrow is the day,'