ACHARIUS - In Karina's Sights
Stone Peak, Black Mountains, Battling Border
Chavias was chained in his cell. Bound to the cot so tightly he couldn’t move at all. Radix’s favorite mode of torture. He savored the method as much as Okine took glee in the rusted blades.
I’d rather be cut open. Chavias gritted his teeth. Sweat pouring into his eyes.
Laying here day after day was a torment drawing very near to crushing his mind. In his panic and frustration in the dark, his body constantly tried changing. Making bones crunch and the chains bite into his wrists or tear apart his shoulders, nearly splitting him in half as his wolf tried to emerge. Scales peeled through the skin of his face and he had to fight down the katash trying to rise as the chain around his neck would cut his throat.
Don’t change. He willed himself. Calm down. Cool down. His breaths were ragged.
He roared in anguish. Fighting the bindings restlessly. Hungry and craving sunlight or fresh air. Anything to escape this miserable immobility.
His body felt suffocated. Grunting in a sound that nearly emerged as a whisper, he tried to focus on the sounds and smells in an effort to detract his focus from blinding despair.
He caught a whiff of a Targue approaching over the ground above him. Its step was heavy. But any scent to separate hours of boredom was welcome. Even one so foul.
It carried someone. Probably a woman.
He heard her dismount. She’s approaching. The sound of her step became deeper, more echoing as she entered the cave.
“Lover.” She called.
Radix stiffened in his den. Groaning in distaste.
Deeper in the caves, Chavias gave a low snarl. Despicable girl.
A liar and deceiver. One of Radix’s many spies.
“I’m here.” Radix rasped.
Chavias cringed. I’ll hear everything. He’s too close. Already, he heard her excited breaths as she wandered deeper into the caves.
It sickened him. The sounds and smells of Radix’s lustful sessions were excruciating for Chavias who couldn’t escape them.
“Where are ye? I canna see anythin’ down ’ere. Me have news!” She cried.
The wood table rattled as Radix leapt to his feet.
Follow the stink of rot and ash. Chavias thought waspishly. Contempt filling him.
“I’ve a former lover.” Karina whispered to Radix.
“I am sure you have many.” Radix interrupted dryly.
“This one is unique.” She confided. Uninsulted. “Methinks ’e may be one of the ones ye seek.”
“In truth? Or you are just upset with him for some slight?” Radix’s voice dropped warningly. “I’ll not play vindictive games.”
“Me learned distast’ for ’im indeed, but methinks ‘e is wha’ I say.”
“I’d have more than your distaste for a man, to think him a Forever Knight. What magic have you witnessed?”
She shuffled uncomfortably.
“’e is uncommonly good with a bow. Speed unlike any other. I neva seen the like!”
Acharius. Chavias grimaced. It can’t be anyone else.
Fear made his stomach drop and his struggling cease as he listened.
“Stop your gushing, gel.” Radix’s disgust tore through the caves. “I asked about magic.”
“’E is so fast.” She muttered. Chavias could hear the way her voice rose from her hanging head.
“That is not magic. Skill and magic are different.”
Yes. Dismiss her. Chavias hoped.
“Oh.” She sounded forlorn. The coaxing note of her voice as she’d called for Radix disintegrated in her shame.
“Take your clothes off.” Radix ordered.
“But I-” She whimpered.
“As I said!” He roared.
“May I have just a taste?” She pleaded for the magic as though asking for an opiate.
“Lean over the table.” Radix barked.
Chavias could hear her scurrying. He’d heard it all before. It sickened him. He knew the cries and screams that would follow. And yet, the girl would return in a fortnight to give him more information in a desperate attempt to please the demon for a bit of reward.
And he’ll likely abuse her again then. Chavias closed his eyes tight and tried to block the sounds. Focusing on the drip of water in his dank, empty prison. Trying not to think about the horrible smells of blood and pain. Doing his best to leave himself.
Finally, his body eased, and he was able to project his spirit to wander in search of a reprieve.
To find something beautiful.
Or somewhere peaceful. Anywhere but here.