Sunday, December 19, 2010
The Spheres of Galia Part 11
Branan, the former Royal Guard who allegedly leaked hundreds of secret magickal scrolls to Olslo, celebrated his 23rd birthday with the mice in the dark depths of the dungeon under the towers.
Since his capture, Branan had spent most of those two hundred days in solitary confinement. The sound-proof cell removed even the possibility of finding comfort in the screams of those being tortured. He had not even been permitted to touch the hand- written note from his family, rather, the guard read it to him through the small slat in the iron door. There were of course, no windows. No sun, no moon, it was life without seasons, color or natural pattern. In all respects, his birthday had been no different than any of the other days spent in darkness, it was by a small miracle that one of his guards had wished him a “pleasant birthday.” Perhaps it had been sarcastic given his situation, but he took it as an amazing gift, it gave him a way to count the days since his imprisonment, thus restoring to him a small measure of sanity.
His life had become a single endless night spent alone in a damp and cold narrow cell. His world, a sink, toilet, and bed. He was denied the luxury of sheets, pillow or blanket from the chill. Exercise was forbidden, human contact was a forgotten pleasure. In the earliest days of his imprisonment, when he was still permitted visits, he was forced to wear shackles and had to sit behind two rows of metal bars for the entirety of the interview. Now, he couldn’t bear to even hope for that long, difficult walk down the corridor in metal restraints, nor would he permit himself the dream of seeing another human face. The faces of people had become a diffuse thing in his memory. The harder he strove to recall a particular countenance, the more illusive it would become. His mother was a blur of pale pink and white. Remembering the smiles of old comrades was like looking at the world through rain-soaked glass, every color ran together, blurring into a palate of warped shapes. He had never seen the guards by the door, he heard their voices when they issued a command through the slat and though he resented his captors, he now lived for their voices, for that small reminder that there was life and humanity beyond the endless night.
On his birthday, he accidentally tore a toenail by bumping it against the hard leg of his bed. It had hurt for only a moment and the small sliver of nail served as a great diversion. He would toss it to the floor, then search for it in the darkness, fingers scanning the rough surface of the floor and delighting in its tactile stimulation.
Branan’s future remained uncertain. While he searched with eager fingers for a lost piece of himself, Councilman Coyar was in a meeting of the Council. The councilman called for calm and a measured response to the new challenges that Olslo’s actions had presented. The Kingdom had changed dramatically, not just with leaked magickal scrolls, but with the subsequent rebellion. The Council needed to find a way to move fluidly with the changes. "When everyone in this capital is joined together calling for someone's head, it's a pretty sure sign that we need to slow down and take a look," the elderly councilman suggested to his peers.
Councilman Pushkar responded with a call for punishment. “I have no sympathy for the alleged thief in this situation. He’s no better than a common street thug that deals in stolen merchandise and sells it to the highest bidder,” he spat angrily.
Councilman Coyar glanced at the empty seat of Willem the Bright. Where was his old friend, the champion of reason and justice? Times being such as they were, it was hard to distinguish reasonable fears from paranoia. Could Coyar himself expect his own seat to be empty tomorrow for expressing an opinion unfavorable to the King and his watchdogs, zealous men such as Pushkar for whom everything within the Three Spheres was painted black or white? Could Willem himself be in a dungeon beneath the towers after his recent denouncement of the King’s war in Vitnu? Long gone were the times of respectable debate and measured compromise. A glance into the face of Councilman Argus, the retired torturer, gave Coyar cause to shiver. There, he was sure he saw the answers to his questions. They made his blood run cold.