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The knife was cold against his skin, skimming over it lightly. The man locked eyes with him, only inches away. He rested the edge of the blade against his collarbone. The boy swallowed hard, feeling sweat drip down his back. He was cornered against the wall, his hands empty and his back pressed against the cold stone. He saw his broken knife and discarded sword in opposite parts of the room. The man had sheathed his own sword, choosing a knife to finish him off with instead. The cut along his arm stung and scarlet blood ran down it, to drip of his fingers and pool on the ground below him. He wondered briefly how much more blood would pool there.
“Did you know,” the man said slowly, in a menacing, low voice, “That there is a spot, on a man’s neck where you can not only kill them, but block their Rights as well? “
The man shifted the blade, so that it landed against a pulsing blue vein. The boy began to tremble, and yet he kept the man’s gaze steadily, not allowing himself to lose control.
“And did you know, that by blocking their Rights, in their last minutes – because it would be several minutes before you would bleed out completely – they suffer an agony that surpasses any other in this world? That it is by far the worst death anyone could hope to suffer?”
The boy swallowed, for he did know. Flashes of that fatal practice session flashed before his eyes. Where the other boy had blocked his Rights. It had been less than a second – only a flicker of it, really. He had been incapacitated for a week while he recovered. The pain had knocked him off his feet and sent him spiraling into an oblivion of agony. He knew people who never recovered from it. People who had been like that for long seconds before their Rights were restored. He had never heard of someone enduring it for a full minute, let along multiple minutes.
The man moved his head, towards the boy’s ear. The boy was frozen where he stood, and with the way the man was standing, he couldn’t have moved if he wanted to.
“By the time ten seconds have passed, you’ll be begging for death. By the finish of a minute, you will be clawing at your own neck, gouging the wound out in hopes that it will be faster. And by the second minute, you will be reduced to a quivering, brain dead, screaming shell of a human. And you will be pain, and only pain, until your death. And while you are doing that, I hope that you remember my brother. I hope the pain haunts you in h*ll. I hope it stays with you for all eternity, as the pain will stay with my brother for all his life.”
The boy shuddered, unable to speak. Terror griped his body.
“Unless of course, you were willing to reconsider,” the man said, stepping back, but still with the knife at his throat.
The boy gasped. “I – I didn't try to. I didn’t want to,” he stuttered.
“But you did,” the man said gravely.
“I couldn’t stop it,” the boy said, “I don’t have control-”
The man flicked the knife up and the boy flinched. As he did so the blade cut his cheek and left a shallow wound. In a flash the man brought the blade down, across his arm, making another ragged bloody streak, identical to the cut on his other arm that he had received during their fight.
“You don’t have control, do you now?” the man said mockingly, and with malice, “But you had enough control to direct that Right of yours at my brother? You had just enough to make sure it didn’t harm any of your own, huh? Just enough control to protect your family, and your friends?”
“No,” he cried, almost desperately now. “It doesn’t work like that. I can’t choose!”
“So you want me to believe that it just happened to strike down the man that you felt threatened by? That that was none of your doing?”
“Yes!” he yelled as another cut was slashed across his skin, parallel to the one before it, “I can’t control it!”
The man suddenly reeled back, and the boy blinked in confusion. Then the man swung with his fist, and starburst of pain broke out behind the boy’s eyes as his head slammed into the wall with the force of the blow. A second later another fist was in his gut, and he doubled over before slumping to the ground, throwing his arms up in an attempt to shield himself.
“You have a choice,” the man said in an ominously calm voice, despite his previous display of anger. The boy began to shake, losing all previous resolve. “You can sit there, and I will kill you, and in the next five minutes you will suffer all the agony my brother will endure for his entire life, condensed so that you get it over with in minutes before you die, or, you can agree to help me, and you will repay his debt that way. Your choice.” The man gave him a sickening grin.
“I c-can’t help you,” he stuttered, “I don’t have control. I can’t just inflict the suffering on people at will.”
The man smiled and griped him by the front of his shirt, hauling him up, the knife digging into the vulnerable flesh of his neck, just the very tip, like a pin prick. A tiny drop of blood trailed down his skin.
“Oh, but you’ll learn,” the man said, a dangerous, haunting gleam in his eyes, “I’m sure of it.”
The boy trembled, but he managed one last argument, “If knew how to inflict the suffering on people with the Right – if I could do it whenever I wanted to – don’t you think I’d be doing it now?”
The man grinned again, but it was almost worse, because it was a grin of confidence and of revenge.
“You got me there, I suppose, or at least you would think so right?” he threw back his head and laughed. The sound made a shiver run up the boy’s spine. “We have ways of freeing the Rights. We have ways of pulling them out, of extracting them from a man’s body and mind, like you might pull a splinter form the skin. Just like that splinter - hurts while it’s happening, but afterwards there is only relief. We can teach you not just how to control it, but how to master it.”
“I don’t want to master it,” the boy croaked, “I want it gone.”
The man gave him a knowing smile, “Ah, but that is impossible boy. Now make your choice, before I become angry again, and do something rash.” He trailed the blade across his skin again, over the blue vein on his neck. “Something rash… something you would not like.”




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