This isn’t where I’m supposed to be.
That’s the first thing Selie thought as she was carried down a stairway that led below ground.
She bounced on the woman’s shoulder from time to time as they descended the stairs. The woman used one hand to support her and the other held the torch, to light the way. Selie thought of struggling to wriggle herself out of the woman’s grip, but immediately discarded the thought. Even if she managed to wriggle out, her hands and feet were bound by steel cuffs and they were on the stairs, she’d fall and end up causing more harm to herself.
They finally reached the bottom of the stairs. It was as dark as the stairs they’d just passed. Save the light from the torch, Selie couldn’t see any other source of light. Not for the first time, she wondered why the place was dark. It was like this in the parts of the prison she’d seen. Always dark, or dim rather. Why would a prison operate in almost darkness? Shouldn’t there be light everywhere, so the guards could see and be aware of the goings on in the prison?
As she thought this, another thought struck her. Guards!. She hadn’t seen any guards since she was brought here. Just one man who came everyday, took her to another poorly lit room where he fed her some foul gruel, asked her the same questions and then took her back to her cell.
She’d never seen any guards around on any of those trips and although she’d seen cells like hers, she’d never been able to make out if they held occupants.
All of a sudden, Selie didn’t feel bouncing anymore and realized they had stopped. She looked around and discovered they were in a hallway. Probably the same one they’d walked into at the bottom of the stairs. From what she could see with the little lighting, the walls were stone. Rough, like the hallway had been carved into rock.
It was plain. Nothing hung on the walls that she could see. The floor was stony and uneven. Selie had been lost in thought before, now she realized the place was quiet. Deathly quiet. Her heart began pounding. She craned her head to see why the woman had stopped. She was after all facing the woman’s back. She caught sight of a door, and for the first time, she really began to wonder why she had been brought here.
It seemed the woman sensed her fear, because she patted the small of her back and finally spoke, the first words since they’d left the cell.
“Damn girl, you’re shaking like a scared goat.” Then she began walking again and added. ” No need to be so scared, only taking you to see the boss is all. Hmmm. You know, you’re quite lucky. He requested for you himself. Can’t say he’s ever done that before.” She chuckled and stopped again.
This time, Selie heard a key turn in a lock and the door opened. The woman put her down then and gestured for her to go forward. “Lucky girl” she murmured as she closed the door.
For starters, the room wasn’t dark, Selie thanked the heavens. It wasn’t a very big room. But it was a plain one. A desk stood in the middle of the room, behind it was a chair, the back faced her so she couldn’t see who was in it. Another chair sat in front of the desk. The place smelled of damp and old paper. Books were stacked on the desk in neat piles. Also on her side of the desk sat a cup, steam trailed from it. The lights came from torches hung on the walls, these didn’t use flames, the light shone from some liquid in glass bottle like containers.
“Please take a seat.” The person behind the desk said.
Selie walked to the chair and sat down. The other chair still backed her.
“You can help yourself to the tea, I made it for you. You must be cold coming from your cell.”
Selie didn’t touch the cup. She could barely move, her heart had started pounding again. She didn’t like any of this, it all didn’t seem right, and when the chair finally turned to face her, she knew why. It was him!
“Hello again Selie Viper, I believe we’ve met before, but I was unable to introduce myself last time.”
The smile on his face was devilish. Selie wanted to bolt and run, but her knees chose that exact time to go weak. She couldn’t move and she could hear her heart pounding.
“I’m Mynas Bolt, I’ll be in charge of your Reformation” he said.
There was a scream. It sounded so far away and yet it wasn’t. Because Selie realized the scream was hers.
Zak bolted down the stairs into the common room of the inn, heart pounding and felt a shiver run through him. He stopped immediately. There was an ability user in the room. Shit.
The owner was behind the counter, attending to some newcomers drenched from the storm. There were only three other people in the room. And they were officers. Two stood at the entrance of the inn in discussion and the other leaned against the wall opposite the counter, whistling to herself.
He couldn’t be sure which of the people, except the owner had triggered his senses. Zak forced himself to calm down. The common room wasn’t too large, it held three rows of wooden chairs directly opposite the counter where people could wait to be attended to. A Flo-light hung on the ceiling, illuminating the entire room. The room, as everything else in Edinas was made of stone, but the floor had been smoothened and was surprisingly clean. The walls however, were rough.
After a moment of consideration, Zak started toward the counter. The officer leaning on the wall gave him a full look and went back to minding her own business. The newcomers had just procured a room. The owner handed them the keys and they quickly brushed past Zak, in a hurry to be out of their wet clothes he supposed.
The owner, a brown-skinned, almost plump woman named Nende was surprised to see Zak at the counter, with his bag slung across his shoulders.
“Honoured guest, whatever is the problem? It’s late and there’s a storm, people are rushing in but you’re going out?”
At this, the female officer raised her head and glanced in their direction. Zak made an effort to calm his beating heart. He needed to get out of here fast! He turned to Nende, her accent told him she was likely from East Antrusia, never mind that they both had the same skin colour. Afterall, there were enough people with his skin tone the other side of the damned ocean.
“I have important business, that can’t wait.”
He fished one silver coin from his pocket and dropped it on the counter. “Here is the remaining payment for the room, I won’t be coming back”
The female officer glanced in his direction for the briefest moment and then brought out a cigarette from her pocket, produced a lighter, lighted it and began to smoke.
Nende took the coin and said ” Well sir, whatever business you have out in this storm, you be careful”.
He nodded and started toward the entrance. Then there was a scream from the upper floor. For an endless moment, everyone in the room seemed paused in motion.
Then Nende scowled and bolted up the stairs, followed immediately by the female officer, then one of the officers at the door. Zak knew immediately that someone had found the unconscious officers. It took all his restraint to casually walk toward the door, nod at the officer and then walk out. The moment he was past the officer’s line of sight, he ran.
The storm was harsh. The rain was hard and he was quickly drenched. Lightning flashed as he made his way back to the Bar he’d been in earlier that day. He figured he would eat something hot, dry himself out and wait for a while before finding another Inn. Lightning flashed again and he caught sight of a figure from the corner of his eye. He kept on running. Another flash and this time he saw the blue of the empire. The shiver hit him at once.
An ability user! Has to be the same one from the Inn. When lightning flashed again, the figure was close enough for him to make a face. A face with a wicked grin. It was the female officer from the Inn.
Blessed Enkor!!! This is all too much for one night.