In The Lair Of The LordlessMature

The echo of footsteps soon subsided and the prisoner stirred painfully in the dirt of the pit. He grunted, pulled his knees tightly against his chest and slid his bound hands beneath his bare and bloodied feet. Once on the other side he bit the knots through the burlap until they became loose and his hands were free. He tore the bag from his head and backed into the wall of the circular pit. He saw nothing but darkness, and heard all that darkness is to sight. “Someone there?” he said, his jaw aching from the beatings. There was no response. “They said there was another.”

“Did they?”

He stirred, trying to face the voice, but he couldn’t quite discern where it had come from.

“Are you sure? Perhaps they were simply trying to play with your mind.”

“I wouldn’t be hearing you now if they had been playing with my mind.”

“Are you sure? Perhaps your mind is simply trying to play with you?” The voice laughed but it soon became a cracking cough.

“It’s obvious you’re the only one trying to play with my mind.”

“Oh please.”

“Though there doesn’t seem to be much of your mind left to do a good job of it.”

“Don’t tempt me boy.”

“Boy? I’m older than you think.”

“As am I. They threw me in here when it still held water. Then it became a place to dump refuse and sewage. Then it became a place to throw the broken bodies of the dead. Then it became a place to dispose of criminals. Then it was forgotten, and when it was found again, it had become my place, and remained it. No one dares to come down here anymore. You‘re my first visitor in over a hundred years, if my mind is still faithful to the passage of time. Tell me, what is your name?”

“If I told you, what would you do with it?”

“Boy please, it’s not like I have regents and talismans to strike out at you with.”

“If you’re as old as you say you are you wouldn’t need any.”

“True.”

“Why don’t you tell me yours first?”

“Answering a question with a question again are we?”

“You do the same.”

“This will be a boring visit indeed.”

“I don’t intend to stay long.”

Laughter filled the shadows. “How, pray tell, do you intend on scaling the well wall and fighting your way through an entire garrison of armed men?”

“I’ll find a way.”

“Trust, you’re all the same. You all think you can do what I haven’t done for the ages I’ve been here. How ignorant.”

“You never answered my question.”

“And you mine.”

“Is this how it is going to be?”

“Aye.” The old voice said.

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

There was silence. Time passed, how much could not be told. In the darkness, he could only hear his breathing. As for the old man, he heard nothing. He began to wonder if the hermit breathed at all.

The End

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