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To Geneva and Back
The hollow shaft of the cell was filled once again with the dull din of water colliding with cobblestone. The terra walls of his prison resounded with the ambient rotting of the moss hanging from the grating, another precious drop of liquid falling to the floor just as the last resounding pitch died in flight.
Through the disheveled strands of his brunette bristles, he watched with slitted eyes as the water continued to fall from the bars above as it dampened the tainted floor below. His arms hung listlessly across his knees, his muscles lost somewhere between apathy and anger as the dull sounding of collision kept him concourse.
His chest heaved with the intake of the dank air of the cell, the man lifting his head to greet the scarce slivers of sunlight that broke through the bars of the grating overhead. Another droplet slipped from its steel bonds, capturing a stray strand of glimmering luminescence as it fell back to the earth with its brothers. A trifecta of stifled chuckles, cut short with a low, laborious groan leapt from the pit of the mans throat.
The walls of the cell resounded once more with the chuckling of a man now caged for crimes unspeakable. The man, bound in tattered clothing, shredded and ruined - a fitting set of attire for the convict - now sat in his prison, pondering how long he had lied to himself, much less his family, about what awaited him at the dawn. So long had he fought through the sunset and dusk of the war that now plagued the continent, and yet he had barely made it past twilight before fatigue finally claimed him too.
The scent of blood hung in the mid-morning air, wafting through the confined spaces of the holding block and staying stagnant in the haze of a horrendous stench. The prisoner’s nose merely twitched at the scent. He had easily come to bear the odor of freshly ended life, learning not just to live by it, but to crave it.
And oh, how he craved it. The coveted scent of blood spilled on the freshly polished armor of the morning assaults; the stains on newly linked chain-mail after the onslaught of a midnight raid. Even the taste; the sweet euphoria of the sanguine substance was nothing short of breathtaking. It beckoned the warrior even now as he rose to his feet, the scent calling him forward to the center of the cell where the light now shone.
The prisoner inhaled the scent with gusto, his teeth glaring in delight as the euphoric sensation urged his senses further. His chest rose and fell, sluggishly, with each new intake of air. Within moments, the citizens of the city had begun to gather above the grating above his prison cell, murmuring their rumors about the prisoner below, not bothering to whisper out of disgrace for their captive.
But this mattered not to the man below. There was no shame where he had come from; where he had been born and reborn in fields of fire, ice, death, and pestilence. Shame was but another word for honor; a philosophy by which to live, to fight, and to die.
Shame... was power.
The vagabond began to cackle, taking in another ounce of his delusional fantasies with every resounding chuckle. Women and children watched with fearful eyes, fleeing the outer rim of the grating into the arms of their protectors. The grating was soon sterile. No one dared to remain in the presence of insanity, the fear of infection wandering the streets in the haze of night.
This is how it should be, thought the soldier.
The euphoric sensation quickly subsided, leaving only a residual odor of the scarlet liquids that had been spilled on the cell’s cobblestone floor. Breathing in the last sweet ounces of the mid-morning air, the prisoner smirked with malefic delight. They were actually convinced that they could hold him captive. Those idiots that called themselves soldiers really thought that they could keep him contained!
So easily have they forgotten just who they fought with, thought the captured man of war. How the mind grows fond of the caressing of sanctuary in times of disarray and despair.
As the prisoner continued with his eulogy, a dull tapping from beyond his cell began to echo in the distance. The detainee let out a gruff crow, wandering to his cell door to greet the oncoming figure.
Within seconds he arrived. Armored in shimmering steel plating that curved along his body, strips of tattered, violet fabrics seeping from beneath the metal the warrior stood. In his right hand, a javelin of pure silver and a spearhead like sapphire. In his left, a collection of keys strung to a metal ring, most covered with the mahogany burn of rust.
The prisoner greeted the man with a smile. Some form of decorum was to be expected facing this man.
“Captain.” The prisoner saluted with the general procedure, his right hand folded over his chest and a quick bow to the figure present. “Such a pleasure to see you again, after... well, let’s not go into the details.”
“I’m not here to talk, Silas.”
The captain’s fingers wrapped around a key in the midst of the mass collection, inserting it into the lock and flicking his wrist. The steel door swung open while the captain motioned his spear.
Complying, Silas stepped out of his cell. Though he was a competent warrior, he was no fool. Any man with a weapon, no matter how inexperienced he may be, was not to be trifled with.
Standing before the soldier, Silas began to travel toward the end of the hallway, going onward to face whatever their superiors had prepared for him.
Life has become Oblivion.
Between the captain and the prisoner, the two hadn’t spoken a word to each other since they had left the cell. Sir Garret was a man of respect, both in giving and receiving. For nearly twenty years, longer than any knight before him, the hardened warrior had fought, bled and wept through ever battle he dared to face. With every swing of his sword, another kingdom fell. A thrust of his spear brought entire battalions to their knees. A man of such prestige did not consort with the likes of traitorous criminals. And he intended to keep it that way.
Silas, on the other hand, had much better things to be doing than conversing with an ally-turned-enemy. Plans were to be made, post haste. He was being led down a hallways filled to the brim with all manner of hardened criminals, most of which had either died of starvation or had given up on ever escaping alive. But Silas was no ordinary criminal.
By the time the two had turned the first corner, Silas had killed Garret three times, taken his spear, and escaped the city through the sewer systems at least five times, only to be stopped short by an archer just as he reached the city’s outer limits. This was most troublesome. Most troublesome, indeed.
Zectuch was called “The Wall of the Damned” for a reason. The city itself was widely known as being one of the most populated and hospitable countries on Krieg, having brought an end to multiple disputes with as little casualties as possible. The layered walls that encompassed the city’s borders created a haven for the inhabitants within, protecting its people from every threat that dared to approach it. However, the walls also provided a means to keep its criminals contained, ensnared by chains within a city of inescapable brick.
A challenge most impressive, Silas thought to himself as he rounded another corner. But every challenge has its solution.
Essentially, Zectuch was an impossible equation. A problem without a solution. A immovable object. Silas was just the opposite. He was a one-man army. A solution to every problem. An unstoppable force of nature. And when an immovable object meets with an unstoppable force of nature...
Things tend to get broken.
Just as the two reached the end of another corridor, Silas’ fist collided with the unprotected skull of his captain. Garret was sent stumbling into the brick surface of the corner, swinging his spear in a disoriented mess in an attempt to tear his target in two.
Easily dodging the swipe, Silas countered. His foot shot into the chest plating of Garret’s armor before the opposite foot pounded his skull into the wall. Taking his victim by the pauldrons, Silas drove the blonde-haired captain to the floor. The captain rapidly searched for his spear, his hand finding nothing before countering with a quick jab to his attacker’s stomach.
Taking in air, Silas’ arms shot up to defend the oncoming assault from the rising soldier. Garret’s fist struck with overbearing force. Silas could feel, even hear the fractions forming in his bones. With barely any time in an opening, Silas sent his shin into the side of Garret’s leg. Both brawlers cried out in agony, Silas pulling himself together before knocking Garret onto his back with swift uppercut.
The rest of Garret’s memory was blurred with an amalgamation of vivid pastel visions and the color red flooding his eyesight.
Taking no chances, Silas raced to Garret’s spear, taking it into his hands before thrusting it into his captain’s gut. Silas’ breathing grew heavy; thick, but unlabored. Each breath grew longer as the prisoner watched the sweet, sweet substance drain from his newest victim. The memories, the precious moments when the two had fought together flashed in the scarlet liquid as it spilled out onto the floor.
“You are herby relieved from duty.” The spear twisted between the plating of Garret’s armor, metal churning with bodily fluids in a chorus of twisted steel.
Garret looked toward Silas with venom in his very gaze, his breathing labored and flooded with distress. Fire mixed with the poison, igniting a rage that would not, could not, be quenched.
“You...” Garret struggled as his hand wandered toward the head of his spear. “You... traitor...” His grasp on the weapon strengthened. “We... we fought together, Silas. You... you can’t do this!”
His breath was cut short with the twisting of his weapon, a slighted shout of agony escaping his throat. The warrior fought against the cold steel, letting the fire in his blood fuel the remaining minutes, seconds left in his life. But it mattered not.
With a final shifting of the blade, Garret let out a shriek of raw anguish as his body arced above the stained ground below him. Within seconds the body fell limp, and Silas removed the blade from the bloodied corpse of his comrade.
“I just did.”
Sneering at the lifeless body before him, Silas took the spear firmly in hand and continued to race down the cobblestone corridors of the prison.
That vile temptress Fate has played me for a fool.
Silas darted down another passageway, spearing another guard before tearing it from the body. That had made five guards he had dispatched. This was easy. Too easy...
Light! Silas inwardly exclaimed, catching sight of the sweet warmth of the outside pouring in from the end of the hallway. A smirk spread across the renegade’s face. It’s a shame that I couldn’t stay in your services longer, Zechtuch. Perhaps, in another life...
Without a second thought, Silas began sprinting towards the opening, his feet nearly losing their footing in his hastened pace. This was it. Sweet release from the rats-nest he had been confined to. All that remained was the outer limits, and from there it was paradise. All that awaited him afterwards the forests outside the country. And Geneva...
The poor woman had been in Silas’ absence for too long now. During his time on the battlefield, the two had only communicated with simple letters, not even a meager amount of them returning safely to his beloved. And then she left. Not on her own accord, but on Silas’ command. The two would meet in the forest of Freige, where life would be bliss. There, they would have everything they would ever need and so much more. And from there, it would be just the two of them...
Reaching the threshold of the outside world, Silas catapulted himself through the opening, rolling into the sweet embrace of sunlight.
The stone surface of the outside world uplifted Silas into the unparalleled beauty of the mid-morning sun. Its veil brushed against the battle-hardened soldier’s skin, gracing his presence with sweet serenades and gentle whispers of heavenly beings from a plane far more divine. Motherly warmth grazed his body, sidling up against the warrior’s chin and nuzzling his worn muscles with a fragile sense of security. Silas had finally escaped, reclaiming his place in the world beyond darkness.
But Silas had no time to be sprawled across the stone floor of a fortress guarded by his enemies.
Recovering from the jostling movement, Silas rose to his feet to find himself barricaded by four walls of tarnished and dirtied brick. Walkways stood over the constructs, spires at each of the four corners, each with an archer at its post. The courtyard itself was barren, empty of everything of nature or man, save for a vaulted door guarding the western wall.
All that stood was a single implement in the center, its silver steel blade tearing the air with its very presence.
A scowl managed to break Silas’ once-enchanted gaze. Scarlet liquid frothed into simmering foam under the skin of the warrior as he looked upon the wretched contraption. Many a life had the weapon of Zechtuch taken, men, women and even children falling prey to its unforgiving wedge.
A dull clapping, like thunder, tore through the atmosphere, resounding with the clash of metal against metal. Silas’ head whipped around to see who had dared to break his moment of unrestricted fury.
The man before him merely turned his frothing blood into smog.
Positioned atop the eastern wall, head held high and face twisted into malice and brash contempt, the captain of Zechtuch’s forces applauded the warrior brought to ruin.
“Well done, Silas!” Garret congratulated with a bow. “You managed to escape your cell and make it outside!”
Silas’ breathing quickened as his grip tightened on the spear in his grasp. “You- I killed you!” Silas swung the polearm. “I impaled you with your own weapon!”
The captain shook his head in reply. “Poor, poor Silas. Your naiveté was your downfall. You killed a doppelgänger, you insolent fool!”
The muscles underneath Silas’ skin contracted and slacked with rapid succession, matching his heartbeat in pace and power. The weapon in his grasp coruscated in the fresh light of the day, the hardened blood of the head reaching for the captain atop the barricade. But its hunger would not be sated.
Taking in air, Silas considered his options. Surrounded by guards was never a good position for one to be in, let alone archers that can kill a man from three-hundred yards away.
The western gate was approximately ten yards away from Silas’ current position. The spear was at least six feet long, and considering the materiel that Zechtuch spears were usually forged with, the weapon wouldn’t even clear the wall if he threw it.
Silas’ eyelids fell in sudden realization. His breathing became heavy in weight and pace as the spear fell to the earth with a clatter.
Death had finally caught up with the warrior. After ten sieges, thirteen raids, seven conquests and a spear shoved into his stomach, an simple escape plan is what brings him to his knees.
Leaving the spear behind him, the recaptured prisoner began to march towards his punishment, his arms raised in surrender.
A stream of bitter contempt ran down the face of the soldier as he neared the guillotine. Memories of his shattered existence played and replayed before him, each vision passing into the next with complete succession. The walls of Castle Mycroft as they became nothing more than a smoldering pile of rubble; the smiling face of Hawkins as the light faded from his eyes; Geneva’s jade-green orbs glimmering in the morning light as he kissed her once more before leaving her behind...
Even if I cannot survive... the warrior prayed as the guillotine grew closer, Maybe Geneva can...
Silas stood before the guillotine, staring upward at the silver crest. The machine brandished the blade with foolhardy arrogance, reveling in its ultimate and absolute judgement as it gazed upon its victim with lunacy.
Letting his eyelids close, Silas lingered before the construct, standing motionless as he waited to be put into the stockade... Except no guards came. Nobody was standing next to him. The western gate hadn’t even opened.
The sound of a shrill cackle broke the stillness, Silas looking up to find Garret in a state of utter hysteria. A wry sneer of perplexity broke through the plastered expression on Silas’ countenance.
“So you find this funny, do you?” Silas questioned with a belligerent growl. “It’s not enough you condemn a man to death. You must humiliated the accused, yes? Find a way to turn a gallant man of war into a court jester!”
Regaining a sliver of repose, the captain gave a humble reply, saying that he did not wish to kill Silas. No; that would come for another day, when the hour was more appropriate. But not today. For now, Garret merely wanted to show Silas the price of his actions. To show the consequences of his hidden conspiracies and personal vendettas.
On cue, as if the entire series of events had been rehearsed, the steel grating of the western gate opened to reveal the condemned.
Out of the tunnel came two guards clad in steel, a saber at their sides and a hand firmly gripping the arms of their prisoner.
Between the soldiers, a young maiden dressed in a gown of gossamer veils and twilight velvet walked towards the center of the courtyard. Her face was barren of all emotion; not even her lips twitched at the tightening of the soldiers’ grip on her fragile forearms. Her champagne locks wavered in the open air, draping strands of the silky substance across her visage. She dared not look Silas in the eye, and yet his pupils beckoned her gaze.
Her beloved stood before her final destination, mouth agape as she was escorted to the center of the makeshift court. Silas looked turned to Garret, an incredulous stare of question and hatred strewn across his countenance.
Without a second thought, Garret found Geneva Aldwyn guilty of conspiring against the High King of Zechtuch, treason, and consorting with a criminal of the same nature, and sentenced her to death.
The declaration was only met with the objections from the condemned’s husband, shouting all manner of expletives against the captain as the maiden was brought to the stockade. The wooden slab was lifted over her head as the latches were secured and the final lock was clasped.
The world came to a standstill. The skies above stood motionless, no wind propelling them in their never-ending journey across existence. Her jade-green eyes met with the coruscating tinge of his ruby orbs. Secrets words exchanged over the course of eternity, breath meeting breath, even from across the ends of the earth. She mouthed three words to her beloved, the only words that ever mattered to him, a lone tear gracing her pale face as the world began to motion once more.
Slicing the air to ribbons, the steel blade fell in an instant, colliding with the wooden base with a dull thunk. Blood ran through the cracks in the cobblestone floor, staining Silas’ feet as he looked upon his wife’s disheveled corpse. Her fluids mixed with the violet threads of her gown, blending into a melange of mystifying pestilence. Her skull dared not roll. Instead it remained still, looking towards Silas through covered orbs of fading light.
Before their captain could even give the order, the guards that had escorted the deceased took hold of Silas. The warrior thrashed about in resistance, watching in rage as Garret ducked out of sight where he could not reach him. Where his throat remained protected and unharmed. Where his blood remained contained and unspilt. Where his vengeance remained unclaimed, and where it would remain forevermore.
Silas’ muscles let go of their stubborn pride, losing their stigma as Geneva’s body disappeared in the light as it diminished in the distance.
The echoes of the soldier’s weeping could be heard throughout the prison, as they echoed on through the night, the remnants of his hope dying with Geneva...