I looked to each shadowed chamber as we passed, the burly guards stationed all about us. My heart was drumming wildly in my head, though I felt otherwise strangely calm. There was nothing I could do at the moment-no reason to panic. We were captives. We have fallen into Ukaor’s trap. Unusually, Jevin was lost to us, his position unknown after we had split up. Though these guards had managed to round the rest of us up. I held a secret hope that Jevin was free.

I could not help but peer into the prison cells, slow my step, to catch a glimpse to see if there was a prisoner. Could Dedril still be in here? Could my cousin still be alive? The person I had left my comfortable home to chase after? 

“Move along, Woman,” the guard behind me shoved me forward violently, forcing me to stumble.

“Hey,” Rerin stopped in his place, turning about to face the tall, opposing figure. The man only appeared amused, and looked inclined to easily give him a fist to the face.

“Rerin,” I muttered, giving him a warning look. Let’s not get killed….yet.

He shifted his gaze to me and seemed to give in.  I lowered my eyes and continued to walk with the rest of the group.

Through the winding halls, drenched in the damp darkness, we were herded. A maze a staircases spiraling downwards, halls weaving this way and that, only seemed to get us deeper and deeper into the stomach of the tower which had a strange air of dark magic to it. I wondered if Rerin had tried any spells yet…the enchanted ring on my finger only seemed to go unusually cold against my skin.

It was a long while-none of us were able to tell how long with the lack of natural light-before they finally came to a cell door, thrusting it open and one at a time untying the rags which were make-shift bounds about our hands and pushing us in.

“Enjoy your time together,” sniggered one of the guards as the iron door closed with a great ‘CLANK’ behind them, echoing off of every wall in the place.  “We’ll be ‘organizing’ you out soon.”

We were silent; standing as their heavy footsteps trudged away, sounding like a million feet with the echoes in this place. It stank in this particular cell, like the grease of sweat and rotten things.

“A-Arien?” came a murmur from the corner-weak and broken, yet familiar.

We all jumped around, turning to face the darkened corner of the already dark cell. From the shadows, he stepped, taking me a moment to recognize. He appeared completely different; all meat from his bones and a beard and shaggy hair framing his sunken eyes. “Dedril!”  I cried, running to him and embracing his narrow figure. I felt a few tears tug at my eyes, reveling in our reunion and the elation at seeing him alive. It was pure happiness, mixing with a disbelief of sorts.

“You know him?” Rerin said behind me, making me remember that he, Lace, and Alexican still were in the room.

I sniffed, wiping my tears with the back of my dirty hand, not helping to smile as I pulled away and faced the others. I could not help catch something of a….jealousy, fear, perhaps, briefly on Rerin’s expression? “This is my cousin, Dedril,” I began. “He is the reason why I….am here.”

Dedril turned to me, grasping me by my arm. His initial joy had evaporated, and he appeared incredibly alarmed, “What are you doing here?” He began. “Why did you come! You shouldn’t have come!”

“Why?” said Lace.

The whites of his eyes showed in the murk of the shadows.  “This is the End,” he said quietly, like a whisper. “I believe we are all to die.”

The End

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