Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Chapter 19

Riahn, the head of the Kevutian Detention Center, begins to torture Lagolen to get information about possible attacks on the Kevutians. A sacred holiday called the Day Of Awakening is coming soon and Riahn and his superiors are worried that it will become an excuse for more attacks. Lagolen gives him no information. In fact, he manages to get into his tormentor's head.

An excerpt:

Riahn entered the special room at the end of the hall. He was on the lowest level of the detention center–the level few people visited, fewer still by choice. The room was all block walls made of stone and crushed dirt. Gone were the brown dipda trees and the lush green leaves of the kova vines. The brown-black dirt that once mingled with leaves and branches was the only reality here. Though there were two thin slots up above designed to let in a small amount of filtered sunlight, they currently added nothing to the dullness of the room. By now there were only a few horons of sunshine each cycle and those horons had long passed. Instead the room now was lit only by a few torches. The solar powered lights preferred by the Kevutians were becoming useless; there were not enough horons of light during the day to keep them charged. Riahn noticed how the light from the torch flames flickered along the walls of the stark room. It seemed to him that they were dancing in celebration. Let us rejoice! We have another one in our midst! And in the center of the room was the prize.

Riahn walked toward his catch with the pride a hunter enjoys after bagging his prey. With arms tied to thick ropes above his head and his feet similarly bound below stood a man old in years but young in spirit.

“The days grow short,” said Riahn.

The prisoner said nothing. Though his body hung in painful exhaustion, his eyes glared with a seemingly endless source of strength. Encircling those eyes were patches of blood and abrasions. Mindless guards!

“Soon it will be the… what do you call it?” Riahn continued, undeterred. He watched the man’s eyes follow him realizing that, if they could, they would have jumped from the man’s face and strangled him on their own. As it was, they had to just watch.

Riahn paced back and forth in front of those burning eyes. “The, uh, Day of Awakening. Isn’t that what it’s called?” He took a few more circuitous steps and watched the face of the prisoner move only enough to allow the eyes to maintain their cursed grip on him. “Once every painfully long and gruelling cycle, the sun… uh, pardon me… Yocu dips further and further into the horizon until there is nothing but darkness for five days. Then there comes the glorious day when Yocu returns on the horizon and a new light fills the world. That is the special day, isn’t it? The Day of Awakening.”

Riahn stopped his pacing and stood a small distance away from the prisoner so that he could see the whole person and observe his reaction. He had to admit the man was working to maintain control, though nearly physically depleted. Only a slight flicker in those piercing eyes gave him away. He had endured horons of pain and agony under the Kevutian’s sadistic hand whose training and experience made it possible for him to inflict such torture for long periods of time. He knew when to inflict pain and when to stop so that the victim’s body was forced to endure just enough before it shut down in shock or death. He was truly talented and took great pride in his work.

“Ah, you see?” Riahn said. “I have read your sacred book, your Yocu Sachen. I have seen the covenant.” He began his pacing again. “Every Myshkan, or should I say, every Yocugan must pay honor to the Temple at least once every cycle before the Day of Awakening. Yes? Then on that sacred day the Masters come forth and bless their people, bestowing upon them the Sacred Dust.” He stopped to look at the flame of one of the torches. “Sacred Dust. Seems a bit strange to have the culmination of a hallowed day be the gift of a handful of dirt! It’s not even sacred dirt, special dirt, dirt from some hallowed ground. It’s the same stuff you step on every day.” He paused to think, then continued. “I suppose there is some hidden significance to the act or maybe it is simply because it is given by those most pompous and arrogant despots you once called your Masters.” He turned back to face his prisoner. “Yet surely you know these pointless practices have been banned. We constructed sanctuaries in every province as alternatives to the temple. Even your cherished Yocu Sachen allows for that. Oh yes, I know that some of you pass the Temple innocently by and pretend to ignore it while in your mind you are going through the illustrations. But you…” He turned to directly face the elderly detainee. “You had the audacity to step on that pile of dirt in front of the Temple and bow to it.” He paused. “What were you thinking, old man?”