Tibi Argues with a Demon

The Bower Demon dropped Tibi through a crack in the crumbling ceiling of the castle brig. He dropped painfully into the pile of rock and cement below, and his ringing ears could barely make out the voice above him.

“I must fetch mine instruments. Have no solace Knight, for I shall return with little tarry and wreak unspeakable tortures on you, devouring you afterwards.”

Inside, Tibi felt a numbing, gut-renching fear. But from some other corner of himself he also felt the need to do reasonable discourse with the demented, abominable monster above him.

“I will begrudge you not the motive of hunger, but what reasons have you to torture me? The harsh world that reared you boils out of harm’s way below. You need not the cruel mannerisms of your past here; rather I say, reject the brutal ways and adopt a kinder, human practice!” Tibi cried to the demon above. It gave a throaty laugh, a laugh that sounded human enough to make Tibi uneasy.

“Human practice? I see mortals wage endless war for differences petty, see them focus ingenuity on torture devices while waste rots on street sides. I see humans that are hungry, and eat. What I do is no more demonic than it is human.”

“Surely I concede your point; what is human is not usually good. But you are truly a marvel to justify yourself based on the acts of mere mortals.”

At this the demon narrowed his eyes into fiery slits and growled down at him.

“There are many reasons for what I do. I hate you creatures, and delight in the taste of your flesh. I watch your plodding lives that know not what pain is and I fill with a desire to demonstrate. But most of all, watching you creatures writhe in agony is simply exhilarating. It is the most alive we demons have ever felt.”

“Temptation exists for demons too, I suppose. The greatest among humans can resist temptation, as they are equipped with steadfast willpower and a desire to do right. Perhaps demons too possess these faculties for-“

“Enough words!” The demon hissed, “of all the knights I have bested over the years, you are by far the most annoying. I do wonder what words you will have when I excise your fingernails.”

With that the demon vanished from the hole above. Tibi heaved a great sigh and looked at the grim stone walls around him at his sides and back, the strong metal bars that enclosed him to his front. He was inside one of the castle jail cells, one of many in its large network of dungeons. There was little hope of escape as the stone walls were impossibly smooth and unscalable and the crack in the ceiling was out of reach.

The Schwann architects of old built their castles with excessive genius and insane paranoia. The entire castle was built with concentric walls that provided seven different layers of protection, so that when one wall was evacuated, castle members could simply take defense behind the next one and begin the siege all over again. Every defense structure was designed to protect from the outside and become useless once crossed over, so that invading forces could use nothing for their defense. Arrow slits, machicolations, trapdoors, hidden rooms once full of waiting soldiers, curses, boiling water and hot sand from above, and false passageways and switchbacks were common features that killed thousands in their time and wait to kill more. Several layers of secret tunnels snaked about underneath and within the walls of the castle. One secret tunnel system was typically easier to discover than the others and would be riddled with traps. The other would be very well hidden and allow its users to travel to the keep, the gatehouse, the inner ring, and other strategic locations. Its entrances were ingenious, and often in the most unexpected places. In some cases the entrances would even be placed in a discreetly marked jail cell, where it would have the advantages of being unexpected and of allowing the castle’s users to escape if the castle jail was ever taken and used by the invaders. From rigorous study of antiquity, Tibi knew these things well.

Now Tibi was no great believer in destiny or fate, so he found it strange that the secret passage was hidden in his cell, an unlikely occurrence. The opening mechanism consisted of switching two certain floor tiles in the cell. At the bottom of each tile was a key jutting out, and in the space beneath the tiles were strangely-shaped key-holes. Tibi could glimpse machinery through the holes, and when he switched the two tiles a series of mechanical clicking began under the floor. A seam appeared in the once smooth wall before him, then another, and soon a tall oval opening waited before him leading into darkness.

The End

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