His Pain

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Concessions

“You can’t be.”

Jacklin hugged the daemon tightly, crying.

“Ouch. Careful!” The daemon laughed as Jacklin pulled away. He rubbed his ribs as he continued to smile at the boy. Jacklin could see the daemon’s eyes sparkling, his face lit with joy.

This daemon in front of him was Tracer, his father's friend that had come to visit Jacklin when he was a baby. And he really liked him. But one day both his father and Tracer disappeared, leaving him on his own, which led him to live the life he did today.

"Where's dad? Is he still with you?"

The spark in Tracer's eyes diminished. He stared at Jacklin carefully before shaking his head slightly, his eyebrows furrowed with worry. "Honestly, I don't even know where he is. I'm sure he's alive somewhere out there though... so don't worry. He'll make it back one day."

"One day? It's been fifteen years. And where did you guys even go!?"

Jacklin started to feel frustrated, angry even.

Tracer sighed and stroked his goatee. "Nowhere. The people that were after us since the beginning of time suddenly appeared as we were working. We had to flee, or else, they'd kill us."

Tracer paused, taking in a breath, "I'm sorry we had to leave you alone..."

Jacklin's mood turned sour. It took more than fifteen years for them to say sorry? And only one to come back to the city? Where in the world was his father?

"No, no, it's fine." Jacklin forced a smile as he talked to the man. But inside, Jacklin felt bitter.

"If he isn't with the old loon, your father's probably dead son," Urak said, cleaning his nails as he watched the two converse.

"He's stronger than that... And don't say anything about my father when you don't know anything about him," Jacklin growled at the man.

"You know, we should probably try to break out now. I don't think we have much time..." Katelyn said.

"I know, I know," Jacklin replied irritably.

"There's no way out. I've been trying to find an exit for the past week now."

"There has to be."

Tracer got to his feet, following Jacklin as he inspected the walls of the tower.

"Why are you even looking at the walls? Are you going to climb down the tower? Are you mad?"

"Shut up okay!?"

Jacklin had enough of Urak. Who the hell did he think he was? Why did he need to comment on anything, and everything he did?

He heard Urak huff before he started inspecting the walls to find no flaws. Even if they were going to do the impossible - climb down the tower with no equipment - Tracer and Katelyn would most likely not be able to make it. They were human after all.

Jacklin walked over to the door and examined it. It was cold against his palm, the cold biting against his skin. The whole of the door was made of metal, with a few spaces at the bottom to let air in and out. Then as he was about to turn back, he saw a few engravings at the very bottom, written in tiny letters.

It read; V.C.

It was then Jacklin knew no one was able to break down the door.

V.C. was a legendary smith. He made countless items and all indestructible. No one knows exactly where he is, but his impact on society made security so much better.

But in Jacklin's case right now, it made everything so, so much worse.

"Why're you staring intently at the door?" Urak asked.

Jacklin spun around and glared at the man. He got up and sat down beside Tracer without responding.

"We're not getting out of here are we?" Tracer asked, letting out a resigned sigh.

Jacklin nodded.

"But I can't die yet. My father needs me." Katelyn muttered quietly, "He'd end up never leaving my mother-"

"Who said we're giving up?"

Katelyn looked up. Jacklin was smiling faintly at her.

"If everything goes along to plan, they'd take all of us out to the center to our deaths. We can just escape then. They'll be people there watching - probably a whole crowd. All we have to do is to figure out how to escape." Jacklin shrugged before adding, "I've kinda thought about it already, and have a rough idea of what we're gonna do."

"Tell us."


"This is so not going to work," Katelyn muttered, unable to hide her nervousness. She was shaking a little.

"Don't worry." Jacklin nods his head at her slightly, careful to not let the guards catch on with their plan.

Yesterday, Jacklin had gone through his plan with Tracer, Urak, Katelyn, and the other woman in the cell.

His plan was pretty simple;

Since Jacklin was half human and half daemon, all he needed to do was to break free from his bonds and knock out the guards once they are about to be killed. To be honest, against Jacklin, the bonds were no use. The bonds can only be opened using strength as well as logic. Because there was so little mixed race in society, no one really cared to make cuffs for them. That's what Jacklin was counting on yesterday, as they all talked in the cell.

Urak told Jacklin that the bonds were cuffs that had a puzzle on them. And so far, he'd never seen anyone break out of them. But once you do finish the puzzle, you then have to break them with your strength.

No human can break the bonds. No daemons can solve the puzzle. It's foolproof until someone like Jacklin comes along.

"Welcome everyone! Thank you for coming to the criminals' death trials. We'll start once concessions are finished."

The death trials were held in a big dome-shaped building. Tons of people get seated here to watch the concessions. Besides that, there wasn't really much to it. There was a big platform in the middle and a big metal gate on one of the sides

The Vice-head of the law enforcers stepped away from the microphone and walked over to the guards that were holding on to Jacklin and his group.

"Hands."

The Vice-head waited for them to oblige to his command. Urak went first. He stuck out his hands and the Vice-head turned them palm up. The Vice-head was a big man, a daemon. He had the strength to crush Urak's bones if he wanted to. The Vice-head took a burning iron and grabbed Urak's right hand. He pressed the hot iron into the man's hand, the hot fire, and metal sizzling as it created a print. Urak cried out and fell to the ground when the Vice-head finally let Urak's hand go. The crowd laughed and jeered at Urak as he clutched at his hand in pain.

"Next."

Next, it was the woman. She cried out - with a shriek. In return, there were jeers and laughing coming from the crowd. Then it was Tracer. He also cried out from the pain, but less than the woman had.

Katelyn cried out too. When it was Jacklin's turn, he was determined to not give the crowd what they wanted. Tracer looked at Jacklin, his eyes seemingly saying to just give in.

'Just let it go. It'll make our escape easier.'


But Jacklin ignored it. He was not going to give them what they wanted.

The Vice-head followed the process and grabbed Jacklin's hand, pressing the burning ember colored metal into his hand. Jacklin tightened his jaw at the burn and stared hard into The Vice-head's eyes. He wanted to scream out loud and let the voice rip out of him. His eyes started to water, threatening to fall. The Vice let the iron burn for a second longer on his hand before removing it. The crowd was mostly silent, all of them expecting Jacklin to scream and yell.

"Now, the second concession will begin."

The crowd went back to their loud chatter after a while and soon the second concession began. Jacklin and the entire group got tied to a pole, the pole in front of them. They kneeled behind it, their backs bare. The sun that shone through the dome was making the air hot. The group was left there for a while before the torture actually began.

The law enforcers soon start to whip them all - all at once. They held in their pain as the beating went on. The flick of the whip stung and soon brought blood to the surface. The sound was harsh and brutal. Blood flowed and the lashes could be visibly seen.

Urak was bent and beaten, his body slack. The two women were holding on, with gasping breaths and bloody backs. Tracer was like the others, half-unconscious, half awake. Jacklin was still holding strong.

"Stop, that's enough. We can't let them die before all three events have taken place," The Vice-head said. The beating stopped, and Jacklin quietly let out a sigh of relief.

"Not him. Keep beating him."

The other enforcers obliged. Another whip stung Jacklin's back. And another and another. They kept on coming until the whip was covered in his own blood. And they kept going until Jacklin cried out weakly.

"S-stop..." Jacklin whispered eventually, his voice weak and broken.

"Prepare the water." The Vice said, "And untie him. We don't want him to lose all his dignity at death."

When the third concession was prepared, it started immediately without warning. After this last one, Jacklin would finally make everyone lose their focus and be able to attack. He just had to bear with it. Just one last time.


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