(This is a continuation of the previous chapter. I broke it up to make it easier to read online.)
The sudden light blinded him, and Perin stumbled along for quite some time before he was able to see. As they walked, he caught a glimpse of himself in a very shiny window. His dark hair fell over his ears and stuck to his head from the humidity of the dungeon cell. Perin was a small man, with not a lot of muscle or fat to his body. His face was small as well, although his eyes were a bit too large for it and made him look like he was constantly surprised. All over, he looked like a child that had simply stopped growing. He squinted at the image of himself. Wow, he thought.You look like hell.
Pons was a large city. The streets were interwoven in an odd pattern that sometimes confused even the city’s oldest occupants. The city was a giant circle, and dead center was the tower, a monumental black stone building that loomed over everything else. Underneath the tower was the dungeon, and Perin had surfaced from a small door in the ground.
Perin looked again at the man dragging him along. In the sunlight he could see the man better. Bomzie, that was his name. Or at least what everyone called him. Perin remembered Bomzie when he had first joined the Pons army. He was younger than Perin, but much larger and no where near as intelligent, so Bomzie was only assigned duties that required physical strength, not mental strength. Like pulling people out of dungeons.
Three other people were being herded along, two older men and a young girl. The men had graying hair and wrinkles, and their clothes were torn so much that they were barely wearing anything at all. The girl was in a perfectly clean, plain brown dress, although her face was dirty. She had evidently not been in the dungeon with them. She would have looked worse if she had been. The dungeon had a strong effect on anyone put into its depths, more so if that person were a child. Perin knew all about the dungeon and its occupants – he had put more than his fair share of people into it.
Perin realized where they were going. The city was enclosed by a high stone wall for about three quarters of the circle, and by the sea for the other quarter. They were heading for the wall. He looked at the people being punished along with him. He was not sure what any of them had done to deserve this, especially the girl. The men, well, they had probably done something against whatever law happened to be in effect at that time. But, what had the girl done? She was so young. He felt pain in his heart for her. She had probably spilt something, or spoke when she should not have, and she was being used as an example. He studied her for a second. Perin had seen her once, when she was younger. He blinked several times. After spending so much time alone in the darkness, his thoughts were very blurry.
When they got to the wall of the city, they were poked and prodded up to the top edge. Jerek Tyler was waiting for them. He was a tall, thin man with blonde hair and very straight teeth. He watched them climb, a broad, menacing smile on his face. That smile was always the most haunting part about Tyler. He would smile as he killed you, he would laugh as you struggled, and if you begged him for mercy, he would smile as he told you that there is no such animal. To anyone who did not know Tyler, the smile gave them a false sense of hope. But Perin knew Tyler well. The smile meant that they were about to die, and Tyler was going to enjoy every second of it.
The four victims were lined up along the very edge of the wall, shoulder to shoulder. Perin looked down. It was probably a twenty foot drop, if not more. He felt someone standing behind him. He did not have to turn his head to know what was happening. They are going to push us off, he thought. His heart began racing faster. Could he survive the fall? He was not sure. He had never seen this particular method of torture, or probably execution, used before. He was afraid, but he would not show it. That would be the exact reaction that Tyler wanted, and Perin was not going to give him the satisfaction. He suddenly felt the man behind him get close to his ear. “This will teach you to be a naughty boy, now won’t it?” the man snickered.
The man’s grip on him was released, and Perin felt a different body behind him. This one was much larger and stronger, but the man’s hands held onto Perin gingerly, as if to comfort him. He did not have to look to know who it was. Perin closed his eyes and swallowed. He was much more uncomfortable now. He would much rather be killed by a big brute than by his closest friend. “You’ll be alright. Just run for it,” Nico whispered. Perin could smell alcohol on his breath. “Run and don’t look back.”
The shackles were removed from each of them. The only place they could run was straight down; they did not need to be restrained anymore.Tyler appeared at his side. “Anyone have anything to say? Anything they want to confess to?” he said specifically to the two other men. They said nothing. The girl was crying. “Okay then.”
“Jerek,” Perin said.
Tyler came very close to the side of his head. “Yes?
“What’s my crime?” Perin said, not looking at him.
Tyler laughed. “Your crime is that you are still alive.” He stepped back, and gave the signal.
Perin was thrown from the wall violently. He slammed into the hard ground, his left hand hitting first. Pain shot up his left arm. He was sure that it was broken. A sharp pinch in his side told him that a few ribs were also broken. However, Perin was a lot less injured than he expected. He was used to pain – most Pons soldiers experienced pain on a regular basis – but he had never snapped this many bones before. Holding his injured arm against his body, he managed to struggle to his knees and looked up. He could seeTylersmirking down at him. “You have one minute,” Tyler announced. Perin struggled to his feet, feeling light headed from the fall. He tried to slow his pounding heart, but every deep breath he took made his ribs ache terribly.
One minute. They had one minute to escape from whatever Tyler was unleashing on them.Tyler enjoyed watching his victims struggle to escape; they rarely ever did.
In front of him, on the other side of the dirt patch that he had fallen on, was the forest. It was the only place that he could hide. The forest was hundreds of miles wide and filled with dense trees and groundcover so thick that even the sun did not poke through. Looking into it, all he could see was the first row of trees, and then complete darkness. It was easy to get lost and never find your way out. Perin had never heard of anyone going into the forest - in fact,Tyler always went around it – but he had no other choice. He began walking, and then went into a light jog. The other two men had bad injuries from the fall and could not move very much. They were trying to crawl. However, the girl was also heading for the forest as quickly as she could limp. She did not look badly injured either – she could probably make it. Perin bit his lip.Such a young girl, what did she do to deserve this? He stopped, went back, and grabbed the girl around the waist with his good arm, pulling her onto his back. Her extra weight made him moan in pain, but there was no other way that he could hold her and run at the same time. He turned and began running, as fast as he could move, to the forest.