Authors: M. Lee Holmes
here was no sunlight in the dank and foul room that held him captive- only the sinister glow of the sconces on the walls. It had taken two whole days for his eyes to adjust to the darkness of the room and now they were wide open and filled with tears from the smoke that burned them.
Terryn lie outstretched on a wooden table. His arms and legs were stretched away from him and strapped down with leather bands. His body ached from being pulled and his naked skin crawled from the chill in the air.
He could never tell day from night and had no concept of how long he had been trapped down here. Zane never let him sleep. The most he could get was a few moments here and there before his tormentor would return and flick the leather whip at him to wake him. He had become afraid to sleep, knowing that the whip’s lick would pull him from slumber.
As he lie outstretched on the rack, his heart pounded and his arms and legs trembled. He was uncertain how much longer he could withstand the torture but he knew he had a purpose. It was in the first day, locked away in the bowels of the castle, he realized the King did not know when Lord Ivran planned to attack. Nor did he know the extent of Lord Ivran’s allies. Lady Ashryn could not have been certain but she would have told King Firion that if anyone knew, it would be Terryn.
That is why it is me in this dungeon and not someone else.
He decided he would not speak a word to Zane, though it was becoming more difficult every day. The only thing making him keep his promise to himself was the small glimmer of hope he held onto- hope that somehow, he would escape and rush to Lord Ivran to warn him about Lady Ashryn and her evil protector.
Zane peered down at Terryn through narrowed eyes. His hands rested on the large wooden wheel, threatening to turn it at any moment.
“Have you anything to say?” He asked quietly, as though he did not want the other prisoners to hear.
Terryn felt himself begin to shake with panic but he shook his head regardless. Zane twisted the wheel with a grunt and Terryn immediately felt his arms and legs being pulled farther away. He cried out in agony and tears began rolling down his cheeks. He was certain that Zane was determined to rip his arms and legs off and then Terryn would die a slow, agonizing death.
Death would be such a pleasant end.
But I cannot die, not until I’ve warned someone about Lady Ashryn and Zane.
“Have you anything to say now?” Zane asked in a still quiet voice. Terryn did not open his eyes. He merely shook his head and heard the wheel turn again.
It was his left arm that popped first. He felt it pull and then twist and heard the sick sound of his arm pulling away from his shoulder. He screamed in agony and cursed into the darkness. Zane twisted the wheel again and Terryn cried out, knowing that one more pull would rip his arm off completely. He waited for the turn but it did not come. Instead, the sound of footsteps walking away and then the shutting of the large, wooden door on the other side of the dungeon told Terryn he was now alone in the dark. He let his tears roll freely down his cheeks and soon, the pain took hold of him and his eyes closed as his mind slipped into unconsciousness.
Terryn woke to excruciating pain jolting up the length of his arm. He screamed, though he was barely aware of it and turned his head to gaze at his tormentor. He had expected to find Protector Zane standing next to him, pulling his arm free of his shoulder, but instead, he was faced with an aged man, wrinkled and withered. His forehead jutted forward like there was something beneath the flesh trying to break free and his eyes were being buried underneath, barely visible.
“Who…” Terryn tried to speak but his voice cracked and he choked then began coughing instead. Each compression of his chest sent waves of pain throughout his tired and mutilated body but there was no way for him to scream.
“I am the alchemist, Derrick Morveyac.” The old man said, knowing what it was Terryn was trying to ask. “I have been ordered by Protector Zane Almeric of Bhrys to reset your arm.” He held tightly to Terryn’s shoulder with one hand and with the other, grasped his upper arm. With a strength that was not expected of such a frail old man, Derrick twisted and pushed Terryn’s arm until it locked back into place.
The cavern of the dungeons was filled with Terryn’s howls of pain and Derrick flinched at the sound. He turned to his satchel he had carried with him and pulled out a vial of liquid. He reached forward and grasped Terryn by the jaw, squeezing until his mouth opened then poured the liquid down his throat.
“This will help you sleep.” He said as the last bit of draught trickled down the back of Terryn’s throat. He drank quickly to avoid choking and relaxed when he heard the word ‘sleep’ escape the alchemist’s lips.
Sleep was the release Terryn craved. He wished he could sleep and never wake.
Terryn closed his eyes and the sound of the dungeon door echoed throughout the cavern. When he reopened his eyes, Derrick was gone and he was once again alone in the darkness. He did not fight the tears that formed in his eyes. He cried aloud, unafraid of who might hear. He cried because sleep would take him and it would be such a sweet ignorance but it would not last. Zane would return and when he did his patience would be running thin. Terryn knew that he was given permission to sleep only so that his torturer could return and deliver to him more pain without fear of his body succumbing to exhaustion.
Terryn’s eyes fluttered and his vision focused on a burning candle against the opposite wall. He watched as the tiny flame danced before him, happily unaware that dancing in a place such as this was inapt.
The flame danced and twirled until it no longer flickered with light but grew dark and cast a shadow over the cavern. The faces of his enemies appeared in the shadow- the King, the High Protector, and Zane…
Zane was standing over him, kneading his hands into Terryn’s wrist. He stood at the arm Derrick had reset and pulled at the leather strap that held it in place. The sound of metal, like that of a chain being dragged across the rough floor, filled his ears but Terryn’s vision blurred and Zane’s face melted away. The chain suddenly stopped and his wrist was lifted. Terryn could not understand what Zane was doing but was barely aware of the pain. He tried to ask, but instead, let out a low moan. He shook his head from side to side then looked up to the candle only to discover it had burned out.
How could the flame have died so quickly?
Then darkness took him once more. The shadows swept over him like a blanket and Zane was gone.
Terryn’s cries for mercy could be heard echoing down the halls. They bounced off the stone walls and found their way into the cells of the other prisoners. All of them shuddered at the cries of pain- knowing that it could very well be their own cries echoing off the walls. They crouched and huddled in their dark corners, pushing aside the rats in an attempt to hide their faces against the stone. They covered their ears and some cried out at the torment they felt just from hearing the pained echoes.
“The King has been told of the rebellion.” Zane said as he paced back and forth in front of Terryn’s shaking and crippled body. “Lady Ashryn has told him everything she knows.”
Terryn looked up and through tortured gasps asked- “then what does the King want from me?” He wished Zane would just kill him. He looked to the blood that had spilled on the floor below and wondered how it was that he was not dead already.
“We must know what Lord Ivran is plotting. He was reluctant to share any information with me when I asked. We need to know how many allies he has and when he plans to strike.”
Terryn lowered his head once more. He felt his eyes flutter and his right arm grew increasingly numb. The pain in his left shoulder never subsided and grew worse with every moment from being shackled in the spikes.
Long, metal daggers protruded from the shackles that held his wrists, cutting into his flesh and turning his hands into mulch. He dangled helplessly from the ceiling by two chains and watched as his blood raced down his arms and dripped onto his chest.
He shook his head once more, signaling to Zane that he would not tell.
I cannot betray Lord Ivran. For all the suffering I have endured, I will be avenged.
The thought brought a small, indecipherable smile to his face.
The sound of the whip cracking through the air made Terryn shiver in fright even before he felt its sting. It landed on his chest and broke apart his flesh, making a fresh new wound. Terryn howled in pain and again the whip struck him, this time on the underneath of his arm and he whirled and writhed in his chains, causing the spikes to dig deeper into his wrists. Finally he went limp, realizing that struggling only made his pain worse.
“I am surprised at how long you have held your tongue, Terryn, but it will do you no good. The King will attack regardless of the information you give me but if you tell me what I want to know, your suffering will be cut short.” Zane stepped in front of Terryn and grasped his neck tightly. Terryn struggled for breath under Zane’s grip. “Tell me!” He hissed and he shook Terryn violently.
“No!” Terryn shouted and spat down at Zane’s face. Zane let go of Terryn, reached a hand up to wipe away the saliva and frowned. He turned and left Terryn hanging in the cold dungeon.
Though he never fully lost consciousness, he could not recall how much time had passed before Zane returned. With him, he carried a hatchet and a long metal pole much like a harpoon with jagged teeth on one end. Terryn froze in terror at the sight of the devices, wondering what Zane meant to do with them.
He set them next to the long table, walked towards the lever on the wall and lowered Terryn to the floor. He grasped him from behind the shoulders and dragged his limp body to the table, throwing him on top carelessly and strapping his arms and legs down tightly.
He stood at the end of the table at Terryn’s feet and held the hatchet tightly in his hand. “I will give you one last chance, Terryn. Tell me now or you will wish that you had.”
Terryn broke into a hysterical fit and cried mercilessly. Tears fell from his opened eyes and he could not stop them. Even if he wanted to give Zane the information he sought, he would not have been able to speak. Zane shook his head disappointedly, raised the hatchet in the air and Terryn watched in horror as he thrust it down with strength and severed his foot clean off.
Terryn howled and raged. His head flew back and his eyes closed tightly. He screamed and thrashed against his restraints, trying to free himself in any way necessary. There was no use. He could feel his blood as it poured freely from the open wound and when he finally got the courage to look, he felt his heart pounding and suddenly he thought he would lose consciousness again. It wasn’t until Zane lifted the spiked pole that Terryn’s eyes widened once more and he felt more awake than ever.
“No! Please no!” He begged but Zane grew a small, crooked smile on his face as he realized the fear Terryn felt at that moment. He suddenly felt sick with the knowledge that Zane enjoyed this and he turned his head to the side and vomited.
The scream escaped his lips without him realizing it. He had no control over the jerks and thrashes his body made. He felt the pole enter his open wound and Zane grunted as he shoved it through, up the length of Terryn’s leg and pulled it back out hastily.
Terryn thrashed and tried to wriggle free but any movement he made caused his entire body to shudder in agony. The blood from his wound came out in spurts, caused by the jagged teeth that had ripped apart his insides. Each time he tried to jerk free, a wave of fresh blood poured onto the table and dripped to the floor in a pool.
Zane watched as Terryn’s head bobbed up and down and his other leg kicked at the restraints holding him down. He no longer seemed to be coherent and soon he was quiet again. His head dropped to the side and his eyes rolled back uncontrollably. Vomit and saliva dripped from his gaping mouth and Zane suddenly felt he could not stand the sight of him any longer. He left to find a healer and told them to severe the prisoner’s leg and cauterize it. The healer bowed to him and hastily made his way to the dungeons. Zane spun around and called after him- “if you fail to save his life, it shall be you I strap to the rack next!” The healer’s footsteps quickened and soon he disappeared out of sight.
Myranda snuck through the darkened hallways as though she were a thief trying not to get caught. Her hands shook with fear and she could feel cold sweat dripping from her brow. She had waited until the castle grew silent with the night- then crept out of her chamber slowly. She knew she could not be seen.
As she moved through the castle stealthily, she thought on the poor prisoner in the bowels below. She did not know who was being kept underneath the stone floors but she could hear him crying out for mercy at night as she tried to sleep. Finally, she decided that she could stand it no longer- she had to go see who it was.