The Rune of Pain

            A young man was humming an eerie tune.

            The glossy mask, still smiling, hung upside down upon its hidden face. And the face hung from a strained neck, a tortured body and from shackled legs that longed to be free.

            Again, the knife carved a crimson line down the young prisoner's chest. It traced his abs and slid against the lines of his ribs.

            The grim voice of a woman hissed, "Tell us where your master is!"

            Behind the mask, the adolescent stopped humming. And after a moment, he laughed.

            "You think this is funny, boy?" Her voice rasped with anger, and the authority of her interrogation was now lost.

            "Mmm... I had a lover who used to carve me up like this."

            The woman blinked, and answered, "You lack the scars."

            "I lack the body," he retorted.

            She did not understand. Drawing a firm breath, and a new resolve, the interrogation continued. "Eyse Rend was with you on the streets, was he not?"

            "Aye," he confirmed through the ceramic, "I was traveling with Master Rend."

            She drew a fourth cut along his chest, and the blood continued to drip from the olive skin.

            Without looking up at his chest, the young man behind the mask acknowledge the symbol, "The Rune of Pain."

            "Yes, boy, I've carved the Rune into you. And it won't be long now. You'll writhe and jerk at our mercy." She tried to speak sternly as she looked down at the grinning mask.

            "You have a caster with you?"

            She slapped the boy across the face, gloved leather hitting the stark features of the mask. And she snarled, "Of course we have a wizard, do you think us daft?"

            "Well," he mused, "at least you know better than to take off my mask."

            "How," she questioned, "do you see without eye holes?"

            He chose not to answer her. The masked man, windswept hair falling down in disarray, just looked out at the window sill. There, upon the gray stone frame, a cat striped with gold and gray was licking blood from its paws. Calmly, the man smiled at this.

            And as the knife began to carve red lines upon his legs, the torture continued.

The End

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