During one of the many dark times in Kandrakah's history, the Blackmire group has taken complete and total rule of the country of Gael.
Only a few question their new rulers, and launch suicidal, guerilla attacks. Sheyn Aei is one of the so-called 'Lights', and this is his story.
I sit there, slumped against the dirty stone wall. My eyes open, but wide and empty.
I was dead.
“Aw, damn it,”
In the corner of my dry eyes, I see a man. He looks at me through the bars that have kept me imprisoned in the grotty cell for so many weeks.
“What?” Another voice, out of my line of sight asks.
“I think seven’s dead,” The man at the door says.
The man at the door shakes his head.
“Hang on, I’m going in,” He reaches into the pocket of his studded leather armour and pulls out a big brass key.
“Be careful, Spence,”
“I always am,” the man called Spence says, inserting the key into the lock of the bars, “Besides, we haven’t fed this guy since last week, even if he is faking it, he can barely lift his little finger,”
The two men laugh, and the door swings open with a squeal. Spence steps inside the cell. He unsheathes the short sword at his waist and holds it in front of him.
He stands over me, then leans in, his face just inches from mine. He turns and places his ear in front of my open mouth.
He listens for a moment, and then stands up straight again.
“Oh yeah, he ain’t breathing,” Spence shouts out to his colleague, who appears at the doorway. He’s a big man, hulking and unshaven.
“Shame, the ones that don’t give up are always the most fun. I’ll inform the Warden tomorrow, just leave him there for tonight,”
Spence nods and then leans back into me, his rancid breath washing over me.
“I knew you’d die in here,” He grunts, “this is what you get if you fight Blackmire,”
He sheathes his sword, which means he’s unprepared for what happens next.
Killing is an art, and art is not a discipline. Art is flexible. Something that is moulded to the way the artist thinks, and how his mind functions.
Killing is much the same thing.
And I could never really draw.
I snap my head to the right, and his eyes go wide. My arm lashes out, and my rigid fingertips strike his windpipe.
He makes a gargling sound that makes me smile as he stumbles backwards.
I’m up before he’s even had time to blink in shock.
I launch forward and send my flat palm into his face. His nose explodes in a fountain of blood.
His body tries to drop to the floor, but I catch him, grabbing at the hilt of his blade, I pull it out and let go of him.
I spin around once, and slice the blade at him as he falls. It cuts clean through his neck, sending another spray of blood up the wall of the cell.
He hits the ground, but my focus is already on the man at the door.
He has his sword drawn, but I’m faster than him. Much.
I shoot forward, dodging a clumsy slash from his sword. By the time he realises that he’s missed me, I’m behind him, and Spence’s sword is firmly planted in the base of his spine.
He doesn’t have time to cry out, and he hits the ground as his legs give way.
I pull the sword out from his flesh, and leave the cell.
I find myself in a corridor, a long one that curves slightly, stopping at one end with a wooden door.
Along the entire left wall, there are cells, behind bars, each with a number above the door, made of red metal bolted to the stone.
I look back at my cell, at the number seven.
I step over the guard’s body, walking from the door of the cell to the wall in three steps.
On the far wall, there is a window- a small, barred window that looks out into the night sky.
The moons are huge, and bright, and they illuminate the city of Gaelwin below, making it look almost beautiful.
But there is nothing beautiful in this city.
And there hasn’t been for eight years. There hasn’t been since Blackmire took advantage of the fall of the third Council of Kandrakah, and took control of the country of Gael, crippling the military and subduing the citizens in one fell swoop.
The citizens had long since given up their freedom to the totalitarian government, knowing that the other countries weren’t in any state to take down Blackmire.
They gave into the night curfews, the pointless and often boundary crossing searches. They gave into the corruption, not feeling safe in your own home.
Only a few people refused to stay down, and fell off of the map, out of the always present eyes of Blackmire, launching suicidal guerrilla attacks on any sort of official that represented them.
You have to have no regard for your own life to be one of the so-called Lights. Which makes me, Sheyn Aei, son of the late Marick Aei and the late Sulianne Aei a perfect candidate.
I turn round, away from the cityscape. I bend down and unclip Spence’s belt, put it on, and sheath his short sword.
I leave the cell and walk over to the desk on the other side of the corridor.
I find a ring of keys and begin searching the many drawers for something useful. Then I hear a noise from the cell next to mine.
I look up to see a frail old man standing against the bars.
“Hey, finally someone takes a chance, come here!” He says.
I narrow my eyes at him and look him over. He’s wearing the same standard prison dress as me: a linen shirt and trousers. He has an untidy grey beard and wild hair.
I smile and go to his cell door.
“Yes?” I ask.
“Let me out, we’ll get out of here together!” He says again, his bloodshot eyes blinking erratically.
“What help would you be in my escape?” I ask, shaking the ring of keys.
The old man grins madly. He steps back and holds his palm out, he looks at it, and flexes his fingers.
He makes an odd grunting sound, and then a small flame suddenly sparks into life.
He smiles again, and I humour him by smiling back.
“I’m not what I used to be, haven’t had chance since Blackmire outlawed magic, but I remember the basics!”
“Well, erm- sorry, I didn’t catch your name, what was it?” I ask.
“Jed… Jed McCormick’s the name!” He tells me.
I begin rifling through the keys, and his face lights up. I then stop, and look at him.
“Sorry, Jed, but… if you don’t mind me asking, why are you in here?”
His eyes flicker for a moment.
“I killed a family, a father- a mother, two little kiddies… even the pet Blegg. You should’ve seen them burn. It was almost beautiful. But we all criminals in here, right? Now come on!” He says.
I nod at him again, and then gesture for him to come over.
He steps towards the bars again, and leans against them. I lean in as though whispering to him, then, I draw Spence’s sword and drive it into his stomach.
He cries out.
“I am not a criminal,” I tell him, twisting the sword, “And what you did was horrific,”
His eyes go wide as I pull the sword out, he gargles slightly and then falls backwards, hitting the ground with a thud.
I sheathe the sword, and turn away, walking past the other cells, some empty, some not.
I reach the door, find the right key first time, and unlock it, peering through to make sure the coast was clear. I then step through without a second glance at my prison, leaving the smell of blood behind.