I hurt. There was no telling where I was, just that the floor was dirt, it was pitch dark and it was very hot. It took an age before my eyes adjusted to the dim light emanating from the grate set in the front of the heavy black furnace. I was in a box shaped stone room. Not large, and a basement of some sort by the looks of it. Two heavy wood beams supported the ceiling, set apart from each other and the center, and the floor was soft dirt.
I had been stripped of my chain, and sat there in my cloth breeches and one of Aalairius’ old shirts that I had worn beneath it. My feet were bare and a chain snaked across the floor from the support beam, to the shackle locked tight around my ankle. The stone of the walls here was colored gray, neither the colors of the Abyss nor the familiar warm brown of home. So, I wasn’t in the Abyss, nor was I in Elysea… I was in Asmodae then. I closed my eyes and breathed deep and even, and fought the rising tide of panic that surged in my breast even as my hopes of rescue and my heart sank. I huddled against the wall and waited, and prayed.
Aion protect me, for I know not what they will do.
I had no concept of the passage of time in the dark space they kept me in, nor could I roam far from the central point they had me tethered to like some mongrel. The furnace was set in the wall opposite the entry to the room; the door set in the wall was heavy iron-bound wood, the same wood as the support pillars centered in the floor. The wood was not something I had seen before but was very like the hard ulmus wood of Heiron. I know because I tried to see if I could unseat the ring that was set into the pillar where my chains called home. It was not possible.
The wall opposite where I huddled was taken up mostly by a solid work bench, again of the same solid wood as the door. I could not get close enough to see if anything rested upon it, my chains being anchored to the wood beam farthest from that side of the room. They kept me on a short leash so it seemed. I sat in the dark and did the only thing I could do by continuing to pray.
Faint echoes, the sound of rhythmic tapping interrupted me mid psalm, the sound resolved into the clack of booted footsteps from the ether, pacing up what sounded like a stone corridor outside my prison door. I sat with my back to the stone wall in the corner and glared defiantly as the lock clicked and the door swung inward on well oiled hinges, surprisingly silent. A door that massive should make a sound upon opening, a creak or a groan at the very least.
The Asmodian sorceress from the village glided through the portal made by the door just as soundlessly, an Assassin, blades crossed at his back her shadow. She was pretty, skin creamy and pale auburn hair artfully arranged about her face where the strands escaped its tail. Her robes were the color of cerulean and the sins she was about to commit clear in the hatred exhibited on her sharp features.
I was going to bleed, but they would not have the satisfaction of what they wanted. I set my jaw firmly and resigned myself for what was to come.
“You will talk us about Legion’s place.” She said in broken Elysean.
I raised my chin in defiance. She nodded at the assassin with her and he stepped forward, unsheathing his blades and setting them on the workbench. I watched him warily as he stripped off the accompanying leather holster for his weapons and laid it carefully beside the blades. He was tall, and well muscled, somewhere between the wiry muscle that Toxemia’s slender frame held for the more acrobatic maneuvers and the solid muscle that was so familiar to me when Aalairius held me close. His hair was close cropped and black and his eyes when they did not glow with red were a lovely jade green yet cold, as if no one were home, empty and devoid of any emotion.
“Your Legion place are belong to us. You tell us, you not hurt.” She brushed a bit of imaginary dirt from her skirt and crossed her booted legs at the ankle, swinging them back and forth like a child would. It was a disturbing image.
I dragged myself to my feet, the chain at my ankle rattling against it’s self. The sorceress quirked a perfect auburn brow and I lunged at her. The assassin was too quick and I was knocked back into the pillar, and to the floor, where I was kicked repeatedly until drawing breath was a myth and I retched in uncontrollable racking sobs. The assassin had not even broken a sweat.
I huddled in on myself making myself as small as possible as the beating and the questions dragged on. They would not allow me to break to the point my soul would return to where it was bound. They were very careful not to do that. I was very careful to give them nothing, not a sound, not a word not a scream… nothing.
The assassin was very patient and methodical, the more I listened to the shrew of a sorceress natter at him the more I was able to pick out words here and there that made sense to me. I gathered that his name was Switchkin and hers was Kuraia, the only time he spoke was to, in my best approximation; inform her of my body’s limits, allowing me enough restoration so that the beating could continue.
Hours passed and the sorceress’ frustrations with me grew to anger, and finally fury to the point that she took some of the beating into her own hands. Finally she grasped the hilt of one of the assassin’s blades and as she raised it above her head to strike me down I felt a moment of triumph, which was very short lived.
The assassin stopped her downward swing with a strong hand around her wrist. He glared at her and took the sword, shoving the blade into the furnace fires. He spoke to her in a soft, evenly controlled voice and her eyes widened. I thought she was going to slap him at first but she cringed a bit and stepped away, finally nodding.
“You are belong to us.” She sneered. “You can no escape. Switchkin be sure of dat.” My attention swerved back to the assassin who had removed his blade from the fires, the metal glowing rich orange. I looked back to the sorceress whose eyes burned hotter, a slow smile spreading her lips into a predator’s grin of anticipation. My chest squeezed down tight, and tighter. I knew there could be worse, there was always worse.
“Soft pink feet.” She said as the assassin advanced, and then as the heat of the blade neared my skin… I did scream.