Chapter XXVI: The Power Within (8/18)Mature

'No,' Will gasped, running past Taksony to try and reach them, 'NO!' He was nearly amongst the crowd when a guard appeared in front of him and punched him in the gut. He felt sickness creep over him, and as his body curled up, the guard stood behind him and locked his arms down, holding him helplessly in place.

Taksony strode confidently into the room as two soldiers took Carmen and spread her out on the altar, quickly applying the fetters and tightening them whilst she writhed with the last of her strength.

'This will be very simple, Your Highness,' he said with a crooked smile. 'You already know from Sapphire of our desire of the Power. I have no doubt you know where it is, so all you have to do is tell me.'

'You let her go!' Will yelled, kicking his feet against the ground. 'She has nothing to do with this!'

'She has everything to do with this. If I'm honest, I never had any doubt that the Power resided in one of you three. The other children were simply...experiments, and something to get your attention. You have two choices,' he walked over to Carmen and smoothed her hair out of her eyes, smiling down at her horridly, whilst she looked up at him with tear-filled, terrified eyes. 'One, you can tell me where the Power is. We'll extract it, and everybody keeps their souls. Then, you can join us with this new weapon to take down the Elemental Court and sit in your thrones. You can rule as you desire, as long as you abide by a few...negligible conditions. Or, you can remain silent, and we will extract from your brother and sister one by one, throwing in a few innocents along the way before you tell us. Your choice.'

'You can't do it!' he protested. 'They're royals, you won't hurt them!'

He shrugged impassively, 'all your brother and sister will ever become are viceroys, perhaps be awarded a dukedom if you feel particularly generous. There are many nobles happy to take their place. All we need is you. We keep you alive, and the bloodline is sustained.'

'You monster!' Will snarled.

Taksony laughed, 'I don't debate it. I wonder what your sister has to say about this. Perhaps she'll convince you.' He pulled down the cloth gagging Carmen, but she said the opposite of what everybody expected.

'Don't tell them anything, Will! I'll be alright, don't tell them who it is!'

Karn'el yelled something through his gag, what sounded like his sister's name. Taksony looked annoyed that Carmen hadn't begged for her life, but he turned to Sapphire, who stood with a blank expression at the sidelines. 'Sapphire, send for the leech.'

She deliberated whether to speak, then stammered, 'Master, I - I don't know if this is - are you sure? She's a - a -,' Taksony strode towards her and grabbed her arm, raising it up and bending it backwards until she cried out in pain and doubled over.

'Do you see this?' he hissed, 'who's the one causing you pain? Me. I am a Master, and you are my servant, you insolent whore!' He bent his head to whisper deathly words to her. 'You desire power? You must always lose to gain. Admittedly, losing another of the Avaric bloodline is a mournful sacrifice, but it - is - necessary. If I hear you contradict me again, I'll depose you and let the men have their way with you!'

'Please, Master...forgive me,' she whimpered, looking at him with a silent plea. He released her and she snapped up straight, rubbing her wrist where white fingerprints began to fade on her skin. A guard had already fetched a leech during their conversation, now he presented it towards Sapphire. She hesitated, but with a dark look from Taksony, picked it up and caused it to make another agonised shriek.

A soldier approached, holding a blade, he drew it down Carmen's dress, grabbed hold of the neckline and ripped. 'Last chance, Willow,' called Taksony over the muffled cries of Karn'el and Laguna. 'Make a decision: the Power...or your sister?'

The End

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