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Chapter 2

“Time to wake up little birdies!”

I lost count on how many days it has been. Every time it’s the same, we are woken up and given food. Does it mark the morning? Or are we all too tired to stay up and we are woken up 2-3 times a day, for each meal we are given. The constant hunger suggests we are not fed that often. Has it been a week, ten days,.. more?

I look down at the tray with something that’s supposed to be food. At least it’s quite tasteless, and it’s better than starving if I ever hope to get out. They won’t keep us here forever. And wherever they will put us next, it can’t get worse than being caged like an animal.

There are nineteen other cages. All of them occupied. We are not allowed to talk but occasionally we whisper with whoever is near and awake. To keep some sanity. Even if it means getting a beating when we are caught.

It’s always dark in here with only light from around the corner of our cell coming in. I guess that’s the station of our guards. There is always someone there, to keep watch. I think there are three guards looking after us, it’s hard to say. They all dress the same, heavy boots and dark loose clothes. I cannot make out their faces because of the hoods they always have on.

So far we haven’t learned much from each other, only that all of us seem to have the same story, suddenly everything went black, and the next thing we know we are here. When we came to it, everything was as it has been for days. Guards don’t say a thing, some tried to ask, beg for answers. No use, only a growl at best, slammed away from the bars, or getting knocked out. It’s best to stay quiet.

A few more days pass. Or I think they do.

I feel so stupid when I think back to the night I was taken. I should not get tempted by the nights’ breeze to extend my walk. Should haves, would haves. I clench a dirty blanket around me tighter, I don’t think I stopped shaking since I was brought here. Being starved and frozen to near-death is not a good sign.

Now I barely have the energy to eat, I mostly just lie and I try to think about other places, about being rescued, about everything just being a dream, about warmth and food. Nothing can distract me from one thought though - it won’t be much longer until I waste away. A lone tear runs down my cheek. That’s all I have the energy for.

Voices wake me up. There is a commotion that is getting closer to us. I force my eyes open and slowly sit up to see who’s coming.

A few moments and a group of people walk in, with a blond woman in a dark red cape at the front. Her features are sharp and cold, she stands there slowly scanning the room. Not a movement on her face to show emotion. She starts walking, stopping in front of each cage. Pointing at a few and they are being open by her companions. Whoever is inside is being dragged out to wait at the front of the cage.

Panic rises as she stops and looks at me, I cannot see her eyes but I can feel them. My mind might be playing tricks on me but I swear I can see a quick red glimmer flash in the dark where her eyes would be. I know I was hoping to get out of this cage, this dungeon, but my senses shout at me I should not go with her. I silently pray she doesn’t pick me.

The opposite happens and I am yanked out of the cage. My heart is beating fast and hard in my chest I fear it will burst. I have to calm down. There is no point in being scared, if I stay in this cage I will die soon anyway. If I go, I might have a better chance of surviving longer. Or even escaping.

My heartbeat stabilises a bit and still as a statue I wait for what’s to happen next.

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