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The Last Interview
“Rogarn, what brings you here?”
I looked up into the stern blue eyes of the king, his golden brow rising he awaited my answer.
“On business, my lord. You sent for me a few days a go, and here I am.” Precise and unwavering, my voice echoed into the chamber, fading slowly away. I bowed my head down and waited for a response.
“So I did,” murmured the king. “Some guards will take you.” He summoned an escort for me; two men wearing red garments beneath glimmering metal plates marched in through a side door. The king scrutinized them for a moment, and then said, “Take this man with you to the dungeons.”
We turned and began to walk away, our footsteps resonating into the distance. “Wait!” cried the king, “I have almost forgotten. Here is a manuscript we found in the prisoner’s room. You may find it useful.” I walked back to him. The paper fell into my hands. The king said, “Now be off!”
For a long time we marched, plunging deeper and deeper into the heart of the castle. Torches replaced the sunlight, and the stone passage flickered, fading between light and darkness. My focus rested on the path ahead
Stone cold and full of purpose, the guards led the way. We were silent for a long time, until at last we stopped. They turned around and faced me, their outlines the only thing visible in the gloom. The one on the right said, “We reach the dungeons, my good sir. Which of our prisoners are you coming to speak with?”
“His name is Ben.”
They nodded and turned around. We marched on, deeper and deeper into the castle, until at last we stopped. A door screeched open and I heard Ben’s voice for the first time.
“Who’s there?” he asked. “Not the healer again! I’m telling you I do not want your treatments….”
I looked into the moon-soaked eyes of a grizzly war veteran, his clothes torn, his long, frizzled hair screaming of insanity.
“I am no healer,” I said. “I have come here to speak with you, Ben. I am Rogarn.”
“Well, sit down, Rogarn,” said Ben. “Make yourself comfortable. Well, I suppose you can’t. Ha! I haven’t felt comfort for five years!”
As I sat on the cold stone floor, the guards left me. I knew they would stand close by just in case…
* * *
I have decided to tell my tale on this paper, so that people may know my struggles. I sit in a dungeon, counting the days by my meals, losing myself in the silence. I never did anything wrong. My fortunes betrayed me near the end of a great war that ended years ago. They captured me with all of the other generals. They killed my fleet. After months of endless torturing, they gave up and threw me into the deepest dungeon of their castle. Madness settles in around me now.
* * *
I began my interview, “So you lived in the Kingdom of Nordon before the war, didn’t you…?”
“Yes,” said Ben, “Nordon! What I would do to return…. Have you heard news of it lately?”
I sat there silently, struggling with my thoughts. I knew I couldn’t tell him that after the war we had destroyed Nordon, that we had murdered every last one of its people.
“The usual,” I said finally.
* * *
In here I have lost contact with everyone. People are not meant to be isolated; it inflicts more pain than any physical torture. The only thing in me that fights away death is the thought of returning home to my family.
* * *
“I am dying,” groaned Ben. “They said I only have a few weeks left. Maybe they will move me somewhere more comfortable to pass away. It cannot end here.”
I shivered. “How have they treated you here?”
“Little food, no exercise.” He clanked his chains around. “I am bound to this corner.”
The inhumanity! I knew I had to say something of comfort. “Would you like me to request the healing quarters for you? You may find comfort there. The beds are comfortable and they serve ample amounts of food”
“I guess I would,” he sighed. “Wait… how do you know? Have you been there before?”
“What for?” he asked.
* * *
I do not hate my oppressors—I forgive them. I understand their motives, for I have oppressed others before. In my years as a young general, I was untouchable. I fantasized that after many decades of serving my nation I would retire in a grand ceremony. The city gates would open, and in I would stride, the city-folk cheering, flower petals raining down upon me. Chains would never bind me.
* * *
We talked for another hour or so. Then I departed with the guards. They led me up through the dungeons, and to the guest quarters of the castle. Before they left I requested that this man be taken to the healing quarters, so that he could spend his final days in peace.
He died alone in his dungeon at some point in the following weeks, and I could only imagine the anguish he must have gone through.
I am no longer Rogarn. I have no name. I dwell in a small seaside village. After the news of Ben’s death reached me, I lost all faith in my kingdom. I ran away without a word. I used to interview people and fight wars for my king. Now I sell fish at the local market. It is a meager living, and I am poor—I left almost everything behind—but I am happier knowing the truth.