A Harvest of Broken Stars

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Chapter 37: Rats

‘Get away from her!’

Ada kicked wildly in the direction of the sickening sound, as she had done so many times since Rayn passed away. Every time Ada dozed, she awoke to the sound of rats feasting on her friend’s body.

In the utter darkness of the cell, her eyes were of no use. Instead, other senses were sharpened. She heard tiny claws scrape against the stone as the rats approached the dead half-elf. The awful sound of sharp teeth piercing her skin, ripping crumb-sized chunks of flesh from her. There were softer sounds as well, all the more disturbing.

The smell from the corpse added a subtle nuance to the foul odour of mould and excrements. Her skin was cold and numb, despite her routine of standing up, bending and stretching as much as the short chains would allow her. If she ever got out of this place alive, she would have to be strong enough to walk on her own.

Ada never thought she would be desperate enough to lick moisture off the walls or eat a rat. She had done that, and worse. Similar to how she sometimes channelled fire from her surroundings through herself, necessity taught her to extract moisture from the damp cell. Ada would catch a rat as it tried to take a bite of her, and hold it firmly in her fist. It would squirm in her hand as she slowly absorbed the water. In the corner behind her, there was a stack of dried rats. In case she ever felt hungry enough for it to be worth the effort of chewing them.

However, rat meat and magically extracted water were not enough to nourish her through weeks in the cold dungeon. Or was it only days? No, it had to be weeks. Ada clutched the shard in her hand. It was fading, as she had been drawing from its power to sustain herself, to stay alive.

Ada had benefited from her shard’s enhancing abilities to draw heat from her surroundings, keeping her warm enough to avoid shivering. As thirst, hunger and despair overwhelmed her, she drew energy directly from the shard. Draining its essence of life, as she had been draining water from the rats.

Soon, the powers in Ada’s shard would be depleted as well, and her soul would depart to wherever souls go. Leaving her weak body behind, another feast for the rats.

She would have to find a way to escape. There must be someone who could help.

In the dark dungeon below the city of Sha’ton, Ada lowered the barriers separating herself from the world outside. Her spirit naked and vulnerable, she reached out for someone—anyone—who could help her.

‘I’m dying. Find me.’

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