A Lesson Learned
"The wolf is the quest of the lamb...on that holy mountain. The lion and the lamb shall lie down...on that holy mountain...Together they shall rest with the child...on that holy mountain of the Lo–ord...No harm or ruin, on that holy mountain...that sacred day, shall be filled with knowledge. There shall be pe–ea–ce. Lead by all the children...On that holy mountain of the Lo–ord..."
I paused and looked at my audience. Every Yautja in the chamber was watching and listening intently. Even the drummers had set their sticks down to listen. I glanced at the slaves and began the second verse of "On that Holy Mountain".
"The poor shall receive from the rich...on that holy mountain. The sick and the lame shall be healed...on that holy mountain."
I turned to the Elders and guests, "The wicked shall be slain by God's brea–eath...on that holy mountain of the Lo–ord. No harm or ruin, on that holy mountain...that sacred day, shall be filled with knowledge. There shall be pe–ea–ce...lead by all the children. On that holy mountain of the Lo–ord..."
"Holy and peace ore the day, of the mou–ou–tain..."
I stopped and much to my surprise, everyone started clapping. Well, everyone except the Elders. The High Elder in particular had his eyes narrowed at me behind a goblet he was sipping from, then he closed his eyes and went back to his drinking. I knew he understood my song, which got me thinking. If he could understand English, some of the other Predators could also understand the language too. I could use this to my advantage. I decided to keep singing church hymns, I really needed God at the moment.
"Oh let all who thirst, let them come...to the water...and let all who have nothing, let them come, to–o–o the Lord. Without money, without strife. How should you spend your life...except for the Lo–o–ord...
"Oh let all who toil, let them come...to the water. And let all who are weary, let them come, to–o–o the Lord. All who labour...without rest. How can your soul find rest...except for the Lo–o–ord..."
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Becky and a few of the dancers move with the rise and fall of the notes. I heard the Yautja guests call for the slaves to serve them food and drinks. The hustle and bustle of the feast began again, but they were not as loud as before. As I sang, I watched each slave serve the Elders and their guests with their heads bowed low. None of them dared to make eye contact with whom they were serving. All of the slaves were laughed and scorned at as they walked by the long table. On occasion I saw the guests cruelly stick out a hand to trip the slaves as they passed, trying to get them to drop the platters of food and pitches of beverages. Or they would purposely make a mess and yell at a slave to clean it up. It was a struggle to hold back my anger as I finished with the last verse of "Come to the Water.”
"And let all the poor, let them come...to the water...and let all who are laden, let them come, to–o–o the Lord...bring the children, without might. Easy the load and light...
"Come to the Lo–o–ord..."
When I finished the last note a whole rush of songs flowed into my head. I had to pause for a second to collect my thoughts. I finally chose a song named "Alone and Yet Alive" from a musical I'd seen when I was fourteen called Hot Mikado. The song seemed to fit the mood I was in.
"Alone, and yet alive. My soul is still my body's prisoner. Remote, the peace that death alone can give. My doom to wait...my punishment to live...to liiiiiive. Oooooooh, living I…come tell me why. When hope is gone, do you stay on? Why linger here where all is drear?"
I heard one of the drummers’ pound a simple beat in time with the tune.
Thump thump, ba–thump. Thump thump, ba–thump.
I started to slowly walk down the right side of the table, stretching the words of the tune to make it more dramatic and to get me deeper into the mood.
"Oh living I–I–I–I, come tell me whyyyyyy. When hope is gone, do you stay on? May not a cheated woman die?" I looked to the Predators at the table. Three males were staring blankly at me. I could not tell if they understood or not. "Does not a cheated woman die?" I spun on my left heel and planted my right foot firmly on the ground, giving myself a strong, confident pose. I put both my hands to the middle of my chest.
"Hearts do not break, they sting and ache. For old loves sake but, do not diiiiiiiiieee...though with each breath, they long for death. As witnesseth, the living I...the living I..." I turned and walked again, taking one slow step after another. The beat of the drums became faster, this time with a new rhythm.
Thump ta-thump, ba–tap–tap–thump tap.
" Oh living I–I–I–I, come tell me why. When hope is gone, do you stay on? Why linger here where all, is dreeeeeaaaaaar?" I stopped closed my eyes and slowly raised my right arm, "Oooooooooooohhhhh living I..." I pointed to the table and sang louder, "you'd better come and tell me why. When hope is gone, do you sta–a–ay on?" I faced the tall windows, raising both my arms, "why linger here when you can fly–y–y–y!" Turning back to my audience I put all my effort into the last notes of the song.
"Does not a cheated wo–o–o–man, diiiiiiiiiiiieeeee!"
My shoulders rose up and down as I caught my breath. The Predators looked at each other in amazement and clapped louder. A few of the Elders even appeared astounded. Peering closer I noticed Nadar–ian'ah sitting between two male Elders. She wore gold and silver armour, white silk clothing and her hair was decorated in the most beautiful amber rings I has ever seen. She applauded along with the guests, but her face was pretty much expressionless. Well, I was not expecting much from her anyway. Another tune entitled "Close Every Door" from the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat came to mind and once the applause died down I began.
"Close every door to me, keep those I love from me. Bar all the windows and shut out the light." I looked at a passing guard and slave master, "Do what you want with me, hate me and laugh at me. Darken my day time, and torture my night. If my life were important I, would ask will I live or die? But I know the answers lie far from this world."
I again began my walk around the table. I was getting close to the Elders and I stared at them as I sang.
"Close every door to me, keep those I love from me. Children of Israel, are never alone. For I know I shall find, my own piece of mind. For I have been promised, a land of my own."
I was right beside the High Elder. A nearby guard squeezed the handle of his whip, ready to pounce on me if I did anything. I kept my walk constant as the High Elder watched me with a disrespectful look in his eye.
"Just give me a number, instead of my name. Forget all about me, and let me decay." I was now on the other side of the High Elder, his gaze never left me, "I do not matter, I'm only one person. Destroy me completely, then throw me away." I turned from the Elders and raised me head to the ceiling, "If my life were important I, would ask will I live or die. But I know the answers lie far from this world. Close every door to me, keep those I love from me. Children of Israel, are never alone. For I know we shall find, our own piece of mind. For we have been promised, a land of our own..."
Before anyone could applaud I immediately went into my next song. This time all the dancers were positioned in front of the drums, ready to dance with whatever I sang. The three percussionists had their sticks in their hands, listening to the rhythm of the song, so they could add in their own beat.
"Now I will tell you what I've done for you. Fifty thousand tears I've cried."
The drummers immediately pounded a beat. BANG! Ba–tap–tap. BANG! Ba-tap-tap, thump, thump. BANG! The dancers swayed from side to side, raising their arms and waving their diaphanous fabric in the air.
"Screaming, deceiving and bleeding for you. And you...still won't hear me...Don't want you hand this time, I'll save myself. Maybe I'll wake up for once. Not tormented daily defeated by you. Just when I thought I'd reach...the bottom."
I felt the energy of the song and the vibration of the beat pulse through my body. Closing my hands into fists and bringing my arms to my chest I sang out, tightening the muscles of my diaphragm.
"I–I–I–I–I'm...dy–y–y–ying again, I'm going undeeeeerrrrr!" I waved my left arm to my audience, "drowning in you-ouuuuu, I'm falling forever...I've got to break through, I–I–I'm going under."
As I sang the second verse of "Going Under" I noticed a male Yautja, dressed in black armour with red hieroglyphics etched into the metal look at me then whisper to a female wearing a black chest veil, gold bracelets along both her wrists and her hair tied back with a rhinestone studded strap. She took one glance at me, nodded to her companion and went back to eating a purple fruit. I could only guess that both understood what I was singing, but they did not reveal if they approved or not. It made me really uneasy. I pushed the feeling away and sang the last verse, glancing from the Elders to the guards.
"So go on and scream, scream at me, I'm so far a–way...I won't be broken again, I've got to breathe, I can't keep going under..."
When the song ended the drummers trailed off the rhythm softly and the dancers slowed their movements and finished with and elegant pose. I noticed Xeenan across from me, clapping with the guests. Several of the other slaves were applauding as well. I suddenly found myself short of breath and I knew I was going to need my converter soon. Sor'an and Xeenan's sister, Althui'entci–uh, passed by me. Her name was a mouthful to pronounce so I called her Al for short. Both were balancing huge platters of fruit and vegetables in their small arms. Despite the little girl’s burns she was forced to work. My mood darkened as I watched them and the other children work. "Clown" by Switchblade Symphony popped into my brain and my melancholy made itself known as I sang.
"Crying loud you are crawling on the floor...just a beautiful baby, you're nothing more. Close your eyes you're cra–awling into sleep. I swear I'll protect you, if you let me take you where the willows never weep..."
I knew I was going to choke soon, so I skipped to the last verse.
"Cir–ircus lights are shutting slowly dooowwwwn...but still you're up in the air and loving your wings, my dear you still play the clo–own. You're still up in the air and loving your wings, what's gonna happen when you come do–oooowwwwwn?"
I went right into a coughing fit and held the converter over my mouth. It was then I realised how dry and sore my throat was. I heard a bark behind me and I turned to see the High Elder standing up on his cushion. I held the translator to my ear.
"You're songs are too sad ooman. I demand you sing differently."
"I sing what I feel," I said defiantly.
A huge guard appeared right beside me and before I could react he back handed my face. The mask and translator were knocked off as a white flash engulfed my sight. The room was a blur as I spun and landed on the floor with a thud. I tasted blood and my head began to ring. The slaves gasped in fear as the guard raised his whip.
"Stop!" roared the High Elder.
The guard obeyed and put away his whip. Fighting back tears I held my stinging cheek and swallowed back blood. Shaking off the throbbing pain in my head I crawled on the floor to pick up my translator. The High Elder turned to Xeenan.
"Get the ooman water," he said and sat down. Xeenan bowed his head and filled a glass. He came over, knelt down and took my hand, bringing it to the cup. I sat on my knees and drank the water gratefully, squinting my eyes when the water washed over the cut inside my mouth. Xeenan handed me my mask and helped me to my feet. When I found my balance I stared at the Elder, hate burning inside me. He met my stare with his own look of hate.
"Let that be a warning ooman. Speak like that to me again and I promise your punishment will be much worse."
A low growl come from Xeenan's throat and his mandibles opened slightly, but I squeezed his arm and shook my head. I turned away and slowly walked down the chamber, taking several deep breaths as I did. I heard whispered clicks and hisses from the table but they were too quiet for the translator to pick up.
"Hurry up ooman, we are waiting!" yelled the High Elder.
The guests joined in the Elder's demand, their roars and growls mingling together like a swarm of angry bees. I sighed deeply and struggled to hold back an insult. Then I raised my head and took the converter and translator off. I faced the audience and they instantly went quiet. I wanted to know just how many Yautja could understand English so I searched for a song that these hunters could relate to. I chose "Shamaya" by Susan Aglukark. I stayed in one spot and watched my audience.
"Deep in time the hunt took place and made the boy a man. A song was sung to celebrate, and welcome each new hand."
The female percussionist put down her sticks and used a bongo shaped drum to pound a soft beat with her hands.
Bump, thump ba–da–thump, thump.
I noticed a few of the guests tap their hands on their knees and the top of the table along with the rhythm.
"The story of Shamaya, the song that brings to life. The hunt that each boy has to face, the hunt of joy or strife. And he knooooooows...there he gooooooes. Shamaya...Shamaya."
Becky danced by me and gave me a worried glance before she spun on one foot, with her diaphanous trailing behind her. The ornaments in her hair rattled together as she twirled and swayed back and forth.
"So they paddled down the water’s edge, a journey of first rights. His trembling hands are clenching tight, excitement in his eyes. The old man starts to tell him, of a journey just like this. When forty years before he'd lost himself in this same myth. And the boooooy...became a maaaaaan."
Bump, thump ba–da–thump, thump.
I finished the last verse and the whole chamber exploded with loud clapping and cheering. This proved that about half of the Yautja knew and understood English. This is going to be interesting, I thought. Rays of sunlight suddenly shone through the windows and lit up the entire chamber. I looked out one of them and saw fluffy greyish–blue clouds slowly creep through the sky under the two fiery suns. A tiny bird with its wings out stretched to catch thermals of air, gently glided into view and was gone in a second. My lips curled into a smile as I began the "Sun and I", another of my favourite songs from Hot Mikado.
"The sun whose rays are all a blaze with everlasting glor–ry. Does not deny his majesty, but stand on fire, befooooore meeeee." I stepped into the sun’s rays and felt their comforting warmth. My voice felt soft and sweet as honey, "He won't be coy a blushing boy complete with childish whi–ning. But fierce and bold in fi'ry gold, he glorifies his shiiiiiining."
I closed my eyes and was completely lost in the song.
"I mean to rule the earth, as he the sky–y–y–y. We really know our worth, the sun and I... " I turned to my audience an spread my arms slowly, "Observe his flame you icy dame, the moons celestial highness. There's not a trace upon her fa–ace of diffidence...or shy–ness. She burrows light that through the night, mankind may all a claim heeeeeeerr...And truth be tell she lights up well, so I for one, don't blame heeeeeeeeerrrr..."
I brought my arms to my side and squeezed the muscles of my diaphragm.
"Oooooooohhhh pray make no mistake, we are not shy–y–y–y...we're really wide awake. The sun...and I."
I raised my right hand, "The moon..." my left went up, "...the su–u–un..." Slowly I brought both my hands together and placed them under my collar bone, "...and...I..."
The loud applause and the joyous roars woke me from my trance. The High Elder had a smirk on his face and he nodded his approval to me. I bit my lip to hide my own grin. He wanted me to sing differently and he was going to get it. Glancing at the drummers I saw they were anxious to play, squeezing their sticks and tapping the tight skin of the drums; since the "Sun and I" was not suitable for percussion. I had the perfect tune in mind. This one was called "O Siem", by Susan Aglukark.
"O Siem we are all family. O Siem we're all the same...O Siem the fires of freedom...dance in the burning flame."
The drummers immediately picked up the beat.
Thump. BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! Boom, boom, boom!
Becky was the first to start performing; spinning and jumping in the air, with the other twelve dancers joining in. I did not look at the High Elder as I travelled around the table. I knew the old Yautja's burning stare was on me. I kept smiling and sang like I did not have a care in the world.
"Siem o siyeya, all people rich and poor. Siem o siyeya, those who do and do not know. Siem o siyeya, take the hand of one close by. Siem o siyeya, of those who know because they try...and watch the walls come tumbling down..."
As I sang the refrain and the second verse I gazed out the window again. I thought of the sun, I thought of the bird. Both were waiting for me outside these walls. Freedom was waiting for me.
"Fires burn in si–lence. Hearts in anger bleeeeeeeeeed. The wheel of change is tur–ning. For the ooooooooones who truly neeeeeeeed...to see the waaaaaaalls come tumbling doooooown!"
The pounding of the drums filled the room. The beat became faster and faster as the vibration pulsed through my chest. I gestured to the slaves.
"O Siem we are all family. O Siem, we're all the same. O Siem the fires of freedom...dance in the burning flame!"
I sang the refrain three times before concluding. The applause was not loud but it did not matter. It proved I had gotten the point across. I cleared my throat and rubbed it. My vocal chords were getting tired, it was starting to become an effort to keep a note in tune. I could see the children and the adults looked just as drained as they tried to keep pace with the demands of the guests. It was hard to believe such an advanced species could be so beastly to their own kind. Then again, we humans could be harsh to our own kind; maybe worse than the Predators.
Xeenan passed by me silently, this time carrying a huge pitcher full of an alcoholic beverage. A song called "Bring Him Home" from Les Miséables appeared from my memory. I paused for a moment to change some of the lyrics to make it more fitting to the dishonoured warrior. I spread my arms and looked up to the ceiling.
"God on hiiiiiiigh...hear my praaaaaayyyyer...In my need you have always been there. He is yoooouuuung...he's afraaaaiid...Let him rest, heaven blest. Bring him hooooome...bring him hoooome...bring him home."
Xeenan stopped in his tracks and turned around. Did he understand what I was singing?
"He's like the friend I might have known, thank God He granted me this friend. We shall not fail all alone, how soon we'll fly on our own. And we'll be free and will be gone."
An Elder with bright yellow eyes and gold armour like the High Elder, barked at Xeenan to fill his goblet. He obeyed and kept his head lowered as he poured.
"Bring him peeeaaaace...bring him jooooooyy...He is young, he is only a boy. You can taaaaaake...you can giiiiiiiiiive. Let him be...let him live..." I belted out the words, "If I diiiiiee, let me diiiieee!" Releasing pressure on my diaphragm, the notes became gentle, " Let him live...bring him home...bring him home," I stared at Xeenan, "Bring...him...hoooooome..."
My voice rang through the chamber and all was silent, save for the sounds of running feet, the clang of plates and glasses and the mumbled talking. Xeenan, showing no emotion turned away from me and travelled to the other end of the chamber. Did he understand the words? Did I offend him in some way? Was he nervous that I acknowledged him in front of the entire chamber? That thought caused a sinking feeling in my gut. I did not want raise suspicions and get my friends into trouble because of my singing. But I could not resist dedicating the next song to Becky. Just don't look at her while the Elders watch you I thought sing for her, but don't look at her.
"May it be, an evening star, shines down upon you...May it be when darkness falls...yo–our heart will be true. You–ou walk a lonely road, oh how far you–ou are form ho–ome..."
I made my way down to the Elders.
Morniè, utú–li–ë. Believe and you, will find your way. Morniè, alan–tië. A promise lives, wi–ithin you know..."
The old males and females rested their heads on their hands and listened. Even the High Elder looked deep in thought. Feeling more relaxed I continued my way around the Elders until my back was to them.
"May it be the shadows call...will fly, a–way. May it be you journey on...to light, the day. When the night is over come, you may rise to–o find the su–un...
"Morniè, utú–li–ë. Believe and you'll will find your way. Morniè, alan–tië. A promise lives wi–ithin you know...a promise lives, wi–ithin...you...know..."
I saw Becky glance at me. I knew she did not understand without the translator, but there was a gleam in her eyes. Whether or not she knew the song was for her, she clearly enjoyed the sweet melody. The applause that followed was much more audible. I coughed and swallowed, holding the converter to my face. Much to my surprise the High Elder allowed me a break and a drink of water. I checked my watch and found it was a little after three in the afternoon. I had been performing for two hours. I did not dare ask how much longer I had to sing. Five minutes passed and the guests roared at me to continue. For hunters, they sure were impatient. Trying to ignore my aching throat I began my performance once again.
The seconds had turned to minutes and the minutes turned to hours. The time was close to midnight. Torches burned along the chamber, the golden walls sparkled in the light of flickering flames. The sky was black and an orange moon was trying to shine through the thick clouds. My vocal chords were wrecked. It hurt every time I swallowed, my diaphragm was sore and I was constantly short of breath from inhaling too much of the atmosphere. The younger slaves were almost collapsing with exhaustion and the adults had to step in to help them carry their heavy trays or pitchers. Dropping any of those resulted in a beating. The dancers looked very tired as well. For the past hour their movements were slow and simple and they were having a hard time keeping their sheer cloths above their shoulders. Several guests consumed so much liquor that they could not sit straight. I saw a few of them pass out in mid–drink and flop heavily onto the floor in sprawled positions, while their friends laughed at them. I sometimes had to stifle a giggle. It was a hilarious sight, seeing these great hunters in such a stupour. But their drunkenness also caused them to be violent. If they thought a slave was not doing their job, they would yell or hit them. Thankfully they did not abuse the children.
Finishing yet another off key song I saw Xeenan carrying a huge male Yautja out of the chamber. The male looked like he was going to puke at any moment. I tried to sing again, but a sour note came out. I held the mask to my nose and mouth, but I knew it would not help. The High Elder bellowed at me. I squeezed my eyes shut and reluctantly held the translator to my ear.
"Why did you stop ooman. I didn't order you to stop!"
Anger flowed through my veins.
"I can't sing anymore," I said in a raspy voice.
The High Elder laughed, some of the drunken guests joined him.
"You said that an hour ago ooman, and you still sang," he gave me a murderous stare, "would you rather have a beating?"
I stayed silent. The old male settled comfortably in his large pillow and a grin appeared on his ugly face.
"I thought not. Continue ooman, sing to the gods."
Oh he was going to get a song, I promise him that! I let my anger rise and I picked another song by Switchblade Symphony called "Dollhouse", but I changed the lyrics. This time, I did not turn off the translator.
"Pushing...pulling me dooooown a–a–again. It's getting bad, I can't breeeaaath! I won't...let them iiiiiinnn...I won't let...your go–ods in. Crushing...pulling me dooooown a–a–again. I need to get away–ay–ay.
"Listen now to their hurting words, they rip and they do tear! Pushing out all your hidden things, refuse your hand, won't take me there. Sickening eyes seem to mesmerise...they melt you as they glow. Memorise your alibis, gods laugh at you in the snooooooooooow."
The sober Yautja looked at me horrified and outraged. They spoke in growling words, giving me enraged glances. I shut them out of my mind and shouted the last verse out.
"Gods climbing up the waaaaaalls, breaking all, of you wretched dolls. Fingernails...that tear your flesh...in their wrath you will hiiiiiide! Breaking, all of you wretched dolls, claws...that rip your mind...in their wrath you will hiiiiiiide! I won't let them in!"
The High Elder shot up from his seat and let out a roar so loud I swore the chamber shook. I snapped out of my spell and found myself panting. Putting my mask on I saw all the guest's and Elder's eyes on me, burning with hate. The slaves looked at each other in confusion and fear. They knew something was wrong.
What's wrong with me? I thought, why do I feel horrible? I wanted to bring them down with the song and I succeeded, so why was I not tasting sweet revenge? The answer hit me like a brick wall. I had brought them down in the worst possible way, I mocked and ridiculed their religion. My face scrunched up as I lowered my head in shame. Deep down, I knew it was not a smart move to use the lyrics I made up. Yet somehow, I did not care. I was angry, frustrated, hurt but I felt sick for what I did. How would I feel if they insulted my religion? I heard the High Elder growl something and two guards grabbed my arms roughly and dragged me in front of the furious Predator.
"Do you realise what you’ve done ooman?!" The High Elder screamed in my face, his mandibles wide open.
"Yes," I replied in a small voice.
"Was I unclear of my order and my warning?!"
"Yet you sang that song, regardless!"
He uttered a sharp hiss and growl as he shook his decorated head, "For what you have done ooman, you shall be beaten in front of the entire chamber until I say you've had enough. Maybe this will teach you some respect."
The chamber went into an uproar. Many guests cheered for my penalty, others demanded that I be executed. Nadar–ian'ah would not make eye contact with em. Xeenan was beside a very worried Za'Becc on the other side of the chamber. I noticed him holding her hand in comfort. The few children huddled arround the adult's legs for reassurance and I heard them whining. The High Elder faced the table and waved his hand for silence. He glared at me.
"Do you have anything to say ooman?" he asked in a mock hiss.
"Yes," I stood tall and I spoke as clearly as I could, "I know what I did was stupid and morally wrong. Nobody deserves to have their religion disrespected by some else." I paused. "For what I have done, I apologise to you and to everyone in this room."
I swear it was so quiet I could have heard a pin drop. The High Elder jerked his head back and stared at me in disbelief. After a moment, the High Elder collected himself, waved his hand to the guards and sat down. My jaw trembled in fright and I closed my eyes to hold back tears, as I was pulled to the middle of the chamber. I did not make an attempt to struggle. Coming to a stop, my captors let me go and I opened my eyes. Four heavily muscled guards surrounded me, none of them were carrying whips. I turned to Xeenan and Za'Becc. They were frightened.
I gave them a reassuring wink, when BAM! The first punch came across my face. I spun to the left, stumbling over my feet as the converter flew from my mouth and nose, then the second guard kicked me in the midriff. I doubled over when the third guard nailed me in the back. I raised my head and screeched when the fourth guard punched me on the right side. I fell to the ground, coughing up blood. One of the guards grabbed my braids and pulled me to my feet. Stars appeared before my eyes as two more hits came across my face, followed by a kick in the chest. I staggered backwards and crashed into the wall. The second guard grabbed my neck and hoisted me up against the wall, the carvings digging into my back. My legs shuddered and my eyes rolled up into my head as I began to suffocate. Before I passed out I was thrown to the ground and tumbled across the slick floor.
Lying on my stomach I wheezed and gagged for air. Blood dripped from my nose and lips and landed on the polished floor; it hurt to breathe and blink. I heard footsteps heading for me as I got on my hands and knees. Looking up I saw the fourth guard above me. He roared and gave me a swift kick to my stomach. Screaming I flew up into the air, a stream of blood poured out of mouth and I landed on my back. Please God I thought desperately, looking up to the ceiling please make it stop. Two of the guards took my arms and hauled me to my feet. I stood on wobbly legs as the third guard appeared in front me and used me as a human punching bag. The torture seemed to last forever when a loud bang echoed through the chamber.
"Enough High Elder. SHE'S HAD ENOUGH!"
I hung in the guards’ grip and saw it was Nadar–ian'ah that shouted. She had slammed her fist onto the table and left a dent on the top. The golden cloaked Elder stared the female down and she immediately lowered her gaze. For a while nothing happened. The four guards waited for orders. The High Elder turned to them.
"She has had enough. Put the ooman into solitary."
The two guards obeyed. One of them picked up my converter and they dragged me out of the chamber. I let my feet slide on the floor and did not try to raise my head. Down the dark, marbled Great Hall we went, until we stopped. When it opened, I found myself in the prison in which I had first arrived. The guards opened a cell and threw me inside, the converter clunked beside me. I crumpled into the dirt, pain radiating through my body as I heard the door close. It was almost pitch black in the room, only a bit of moon light shone through the tiny window at the top, but the light was quickly covered by a cloud; as if the very sky wanted me to fall deeper into the darkness. My eyes, jaw and lips were so swollen I thought my face had turned into a balloon; my back, chest, and stomach felt tender and bruised. I coughed once, twice, then vomited on the floor. Moaning I carefully rolled to my left side, reached for my mask and put it back on. Staring at the wall, I did the only thing I thought was sensible to do. I curled into a painful ball and cried myself to sleep.