Chapter 44 - The Rack (BONUS CHAPTER)

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Kastali Dun

Eagle heard a scream. It was drawn-out and piercing as it cut through him like shards of glass. The sound of it left his skin crawling. It was the kind of scream that put one's hairs on end and got a person's heart thudding. Eagle knew who the scream belonged to, and though he cared little for the man, he cared more for what would come next.

He was surrounded by torture devices. They lined the walls, set up along the perimeter of the room. He could not see them now, not in the pitch blackness, but he'd spotted them when the king's men brought him in. That wasn't the half of it—the stench inherent to this place was enough to drive anyone mad with fear. He knew one thing with certainty: many men had been tortured here. Now he had to listen to Tark's ear-splitting screams before he'd be given the chance to create his own.

Once more, out of desperation, he tried pulling at the ropes around his hands. There was little hope of untying them, but what else could he do? Tightening his abdomen, he kicked his legs up, until he was folded in half, and wrapped his ankles around the ropes just above his hands. His face was in the right direction, looking at the ropes, but he could see nothing in this blackness. It was useless.

He cursed and let his legs fall back to the ground.

When they'd brought him here, the knife hidden in his trousers had been removed. They took everything from him that could possibly be used as a means of escape. Perhaps this was the end. Yet, he refused to believe it.

Scream after scream, he listened to Tark's pain. Whatever they were doing to the man—and he did not want to consider what it might be—was agonizing. It could be heard it in the raw quality of Tark's cries.

There was no telling how long the screams lasted. Minutes? Hours? Time seemed to lose its value. All Eagle knew was that when silence fell, Tark was either dead, or unconscious. Either way—he would be next.

Fear in its entirety was upon him then, gripping his insides tightly. He became overly aware of himself. Tiny beads of sweat rolled down the sides of his face, his fisted hands were clenched so tightly, he could feel the drawn blood trickling down his wrists to his arms, and his breath wheezed in his lungs, which felt so tight and constricted, he had to fight for each draw. By the time the door burst open, there were little stars swimming in his vision.

Three Drengr men entered. He had trouble discerning their identities as his vision swam in and out of focus. They set about their business. One was lighting wall sconces, another was off on the side, fussing with instruments, and the third, the one standing before him, stood motionless.

His skin crawled again when he knew he had become the object of intense scrutiny. The eyes doing the appraising belonged to Dragonwall's king. "You put up quite a fight earlier, young Eagle."

"Young? I am hardly these days." He could think of nothing better to say.

"In comparison to the number of years I have walked these lands, you are."

He gave a nod of acknowledgement. There was no telling if his cooperation would lessen his sentence. But, if there was any hope of doing so, he was more than willing. To hell with his contractor at this point. No amount of gold was worth death.

"I imagine that by now, you know what follows your friend Tark."

"He is hardly my friend." Tark was nothing more than a hired hand—a reckless hired hand. That was his mistake for working in an unfamiliar city. King Talon said nothing, so he was forced to ask, "Is he dead?"

"No. He is not dead, though he very nearly was when we finished with him. Koldis has healed him. Tomorrow he will face much worse. I promised him a worthwhile death. When we finish with his torture, I will rip him to shreds, or perhaps I will eat him alive. I have not yet decided."

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