Beneath twenty feet of stone, in the blackness of death, the shadow-man dwelt. He sat motionless with his crippled back pressed against the cold, hard rock. The room in which he sat was five feet tall, wide and long. He was six feet tall and had not stood up straight for years.
He liked the summer. He knew it was summer because there was only a thin layer of water on the floor. In the depths of winter it reached up to a foot high, meaning he had to sleep sitting up to avoid drowning.
How long have I been here? The question tormented him. He was forty-two when he was incarcerated. I must be an old man now.
The only contact he had with the outside world was a silent jailer who threw scraps of food at him once a day; just enough to keep him alive. His cell stank of his own faeces, although he’d been here so long that he didn’t notice.
He had thought about escape when he was first imprisoned but he soon realised it was impossible. He was surrounded by stone. Now, after wasting away down here for an indeterminate length of time, he would barely have the strength to open the door even if the jailer were to leave it unlocked – which he never did.
His skin was covered in weeping sores. The clothes he wore had almost rotted away to nothing. Every day he contemplated suicide and every day he clung to futile hope, praying to the Author of All Things and deluding himself that one day this would all be over.
Hard to believe I was once on first-name terms with the king.