The light filtering in through the only opening in the dark cylinder was barely enough to illuminate a matchbox, little yet a large chamber like the cell. Though it was more a hole than a cell, cut out of the raw stone of the western mountains beneath the foundations of Tor Gabriel, Gideon's western most fortress.
The fortress sat high in the western mountains, providing protection both for the pass that burrowed through the mountains below it and the hills and plains to the east. And the hole that was a cell dug almost twenty metres into the ground beneath it.
Into that hole a man had been thrown, bound in chains, by ten strong men. There they had left him to rot, giving neither food nor water. That had been five years ago.
"Hey! Van Joss!" the burly guard shouted into the rusted iron grating that sealed the top of the cylinder closed from the outside.
"Are you still alive, you traitorous bastard?"
When no sound returned, the guard turned with a shrug to the massive man in black that stood beside him, his face unreadable as he stared at the grating.
"Looks like your prisoner is dead, Kala Uthon. Sorry."
The bearish man slowly shook his head.
"You are mistaken, soldier," Uthon rumbled with narrowed eyes. "He is not dead."
The guard, unshaven and rumpled, snorted in disbelief, thinking himself big enough in his stupidity to rival the giant Kala and thus able to speak with some disrespect.
"Believe me, Kala, when you are thrown into a hole without food or water for five years, you usually end up dead!" His pig-like eyes flickered over the big man and he hastily reassessed his position when he noted the man's size wasn't weighted in any way by flab or excess flesh. As the guard's was. Perhaps they weren't so even after all.
"Meaning no offense, of course, sir."
"The only thing that offends me, soldier, is your ignorance," Uthon replied in a soft yet dangerous voice, making both the soldier and the knot of officials at the Master's back shift uneasily. "For there are things that will keep a man alive when food and water are scarce." His dark eyes came up to stab into the guard's watery blue ones, hidden as they nearly were in his puffy face. And the fat man began to shake with fear under the weight of that gaze as he realized his folly.
"Hate can be meat and milk to one determined enough. Revenge: bread and wine!" The powerful Kala took a step forward.
The grate was levered back with the help of two large iron pry bars before a long rope ladder was thrown down into the darkness.
"Do you really think he's alive?" Brin stepped up behind Uthon to whisper softly in the big man's ear.
The Master's answer came quickly. But not in the big man's words. Instead a low murmur of astonishment swept through the small crowd when, without warning or sound a dirty hand appeared out of the hole to grasp the next rung of the rope ladder. Uthon felt a small smile crack his grim visage.
And that smile grew wider at the continued nervous shifting behind him as a slender form, both pale from the lack of sun and dark from the dirt and grime caked on its skin, clambered free of the hole to slowly look around the square-shaped chamber at the cylinder's crown. From out of the dirt-encrusted face, half-covered by thick, matted hair, a pair of brilliant green eyes shone forth. They were so bright, they looked like twin emeralds in a bed of charcoal, glittering in the pale light of mid-afternoon.
YOU ARE READING
Hand Over FistScience Fiction
Like a phoenix, they arose. From the ashes of a world burnt by massive nuclear holocaust and frozen by a millennia of nuclear winter. They are the Fisted Races and they struggle against the tattered remnant of Humanity for what little resources ar...