A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, Part 9. Character: Jaé
Dear Readers, this is the 9th installment of a continuous story! Please read the previous parts over here!
Reality was gone, and there was only pain.
This pain was different that the kind inflicted by my torturers during the past weeks. That had been bad too, but predictable, indifferent. The kind of pain I had been trained to expect, to endure.
This was a wildfire, spreading from my neck through my bloodstream, burning, disintegrating everything that I was. It was also strangely liberating. Any moment now, I would be released from my broken and shredded body, spread mighty wings and fly from this dungeon, away from the suffering carried by the wind into the next life. This had to be death, I thought, as I listened to my accelerating heartbeat, and my own screams, which sounded disembodied and distant.
I was wrong. Perhaps not entirely, as I would find out, but I was completely misinterpreting what the last fragment of my sane mind had just imagined.
My heart eventually gave up, and for a moment, darkness and silence enveloped me completely as I closed my eyes, breathed out one last time, and felt like falling into a deep sleep. Contrary to my expectations, this was not the end.
After an undefineable stretch of time, I heard something.
I heard everything.
I was still unmistakably in Escaton castle, in the dungeon, but the dungeon had changed. It seemed to contain so much more of everything than before. There were so many signs of life; heartbeats and breaths, movements and slight twitches of muscles, all individual, distinguishable. I counted seven other prisoners in my immediate vicinity, ten more scattered around some paces away, and the interrogator. Water droplets rolled down the columns, and dripped off the ceiling. One landed on the gory stone floor. The next on a prisoner’s skin, the third on something metal.
A swooshing of the air, a sickening crunch, a bloodcurdling scream of agony, shattering the dank, thick air, an unpleasant contrast to the signs of life and the water drops. The interrogator had hit the man with a solid steel rod, breaking the bones in his leg. After the screaming stopped, the man panted and babbled incoherently while his heart raced. The water continued to drip, the prisoners lived and breathed. Above the ceiling, footsteps moved about, bored guards shifted their weights from one leg to the other and poked the floor with the shafts of their pikes. The ocean’s waves rhythmically crashed against the walls outside. The wind howled through some openings.
A cool touch on my shoulder. That, I was not expecting. It came with no sound, nothing to betray a presence, yet it was very clearly the grasp of a hand. A hand from a cold, silent body. I opened my eyes, and took a sharp breath. The air rushed in, though I did not need it; it brought no nourishment nor relief, only more information. So many smells and movements, yet I did not have the time to sift throught them. All my attention was on the hand on my shoulder, and on whom it belonged to.
His skin was flawless and pale, his eyes a serene well of melting gold, and his somewhat angular, yet graceful face was framed by long, straight, black hair. His expression was curious, expectant, yet friendly, and he looked not much older than me. Very quietly, a faint memory called out from my mind, telling me he had come to rescue me. All this took only a moment to register, before his touch tore into my attention again and compelled me to move. I did not think, or consciously decide. My body almost moved by itself, propelled by an instinct.
I swung to the side, away from his hand, pulling my arms free, breaking the chains, twirling through the air, and lithely landed on my feet, on the ground. It was an effortless movement, where time seemed to wait for me with every detail. As the chain crashed to the ground with a clanging racket, the interrogator startled and wheeled around, reaching for a weapon. I sensed hostility in him, and felt it mirrored in me, a wild urge. I could not have run away, even if I wanted to. The prospect of a fight called out to an overwhelming new strength in me. By the time the interrogator finished his turn and faced me, I was already at his throat, and slammed him into the stone floor with all my force. His panicked heartbeats ceased at once.
I turned towards the silent one again but he was already running off, out the doorway and up the stairs. I lunged into a sprint to follow him, though he did not seem to slow down, as the rest of the world did around me. In a moment we were out in the courtyard of the castle. He had swung a door open, making a deafening noise, and so all the guards were alerted.
Ordinarily, this would have been the part where I made a run for it. Now I felt my muscles tense as I glanced around surveying the approach of each frantic guard. Everything in me longed to fight, to use this strength that was ready to explode from within me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the ‘Nairan boy curl into a loose crouch, his glance locked on the nearest foe as he waited for the distance to close. I was too impatient. Without another conscious thought, I hurled myself forward, and as I did, a fierce, beastly growl erupted from the depth of my lungs.
“Alarm! Vampires!” The lookout cried, as chaos descended on the castle.