The sound of wood hitting concrete startles me and indicates my captors the first signs of consciousness. The heavy and stale breath in my neck wakes my senses and causes waves of revulsion in the pit of my stomach. A low grumble resounds in my ears and echoes through the room, reaching for the dark ceiling above and the cold ground below. The monotonous tap-tap-tap of walking stairs and dragging chains makes me stir. My body is not in motion anymore and I dream of falling, falling into the abyss it has been created for me. But, when my body hits the cold, stony floor I knew it isn’t a dream.
“Chain her before she struggles,” the cold voice pierces through the stagnant and damp air of the dark room.
Without senses, all there is left to do is run. Run away from my captors, run away from the near death that awaits me, without looking back and unable to look forward. I turn on my side and place my hands on the floor beneath me, it feels grimy and powdery. I push my upper body up and force my lower body to exert weight on my knees. Thick arms wrap around my waist and impede me from crawling away. I am lifted, my body crushing against the bulky chest of my subjugator, issuing a wheeze from him. I kick the thin air before me, violently shaking my head sideways in an attempt to hit him.
In a swift movement, he hurls my body to the left, screaming in agony as he did so. I stagger to the floor, trying to maintain my balance but to no avail because my ankle gives in under my weight. My palms scrape the rough stone and my sore ankle throbs in pain.
“Master, her hair got into my eyes!” the servant whines, rubbing his prickling eyes.
The sound of chains compels forgotten memories from the depth of my heart into my reality. My left arm is seized abruptly and twisted painfully, I barely have a chance to scream before a filthy clothe is force into my mouth to smother the screams of torture and muffle the hopes of an escape. The cold metal clasps around my left wrist, leaving little space for mobility, asphyxiating further my futile resistance. Instinctively, my right arm pounces weakly on the firm arms of Drey, scratching and shoving him away from my body in pain. He snatches my fighting arm and wrenches it down to join my left arm, the cold metal closes in. He laughs and thrust my body to hit the stone floor, he stands and yanks from the chains of my handcuffs in order to tie and secure it in a wooden mast behind me. Face down on the floor, I grit my teeth and shut my eyes tightly, forcing tears back and stifling sobs.
“Look at me,” Drey pulls at the chains without a single trace of remorse. My body arcs backward, my arms burning with pain. I rest on my sore legs and hung my head close to my chest, refusing to have any visual contact with them. Fingers slip beneath my chin and lift my tired face to meet his gleaming eyes. With his thumb, he traces the contour of my face as a smile spawns on his sallow face. “You are beautiful, Zahira.” His thumb painfully presses just beneath my cheekbone as he lets out a soft chortle. “I am so glad to finally find you, you have been quite elusive my dear.”
“I am not Zahira,” I spat and jerk my face away from his grasp.
He holds my face with both his hands, and whispers in my ear, “don’t resist my love, nobody will hear you…”
I shake my head to free from his filthy and hateful grasp and seethe, “never. I’d rather die!”
He cackles and slaps me across the face, “you are nothing compared to me, but I will make you powerful once Zahira dwells in your body. Nobody has ever had the honor I’m granting you, undeserving witch.”
I look at him defiantly. The soft light from the moon streams through the window, behind sheets of clouds. The soft glow of the dark pearl in his ring laments for his deeds. “Darkness has been suffering,” I whisper, “She doesn’t deserve it.”
His face contorts in anger and angst, “what about me?” he shouts. “It is her fault Zahira died, if she hadn’t released her from her tower then Zahira would at least be alive and I will be content with contemplating her every night!” He stands, unable to look at my face anymore because it brings to him unburied feelings of loneliness. “She should’ve let me die and join Zahira in the underworld. She was the selfish one, not me!”
“Your pain didn’t give you the right to send all those innocent women to the stake.”
“They deserved it,” his wicked eyes seek mine, “the women flaunts their beauty, alluring poor men to fall into their clutches. They play with men, promising to love them forever and produce a family with them, but they leave in the end. They think they can dispose of men whenever they like for their beauty will be lasting and their vicious cycle never ending…”
“You are deceived,” I say, “I pity you, all you’ve done is seen the world through the eyes of Hate.”
“You can’t pity me!” he shouts, “you are the one in a lesser position than I am; you are the one whom should be pitied, not me.” He paces impatiently before me, “enjoy the darkness because it will be the last one you’ll ever experience.” He storms out of the room and climbs the stairs with his servant closely behind him.
I watch them go and hear a wood door slam shut behind them, enclosing the dire feeling of fate and the whispers of death in the basement.
The little window in the room, just inches above the outside street, offers no solace to my tears as the moon shines through the murky panes and at my face. I pull on the chains, but they are firm and strong against my frail will. The sobs finally wash over me as I sink into desperation and hopelessness. The train of memories passes before me, reminding me that my body had never been free… and will never be.
I tuck my legs beneath my numb body and allow myself to think of the only happy moments in my life: whenever I was with Adryan. Dread imprisons my heart at the thought of him and gusts of fear hits my fragile body. Was he dead? What had happened while Drey was drugging me? All of them will remain unanswered questions. The still night communicates strength as I wait for the darkest hour of the night, a dark so bleak and black that not even shadows reside in it.