The jolt that shook the castle also shook the man lying in the cell. Oren came to consciousness with a groan.
He struggled to his feet without the use of his hands. They’d been stomped on. He could still move his thumbs, but it was too soon to tell which fingers were broken or which were merely stoved.
His left eye was swollen shut and there was an egg-sized lump on his head. He learned forward on the bars of the cell, careful not to let his forehead touch. Six Sacred Servants and a cudgel had finally brought him down. He remembered the ambush at the top of the stairs, and remembered connecting with a jaw, a nose, and the two bodies which had been flung before his world went dark.
He also remembered a woman’s wail.
The Shivelite girl had been crying. Briefly, he wondered why.
They hadn’t broken his legs. He didn’t know if that was good or bad. Legs meant he could stand before the throne once more and tell the King that he hadn’t meant to crush the skulls of two Sacred Servants and broken another’s back, but that he’d been attacked. All the while hoping his teeth didn’t fall out.
On the down side, maybe they’d left his legs so he could pace about his cell until he dropped dead. Until he wet his lips on damp stones or ate the fetid straw. He’d heard of that happening although he’d not been trained in torture. The Shautu believed that torture was cowardly and all those who carried weapons had sworn an oath to deliver clean kills.
Across from his cell someone had lit a fat tallow candle, impaled on a wall scone. The bluish flame sputtered, but held. On a nail just below it hung a key.
The key to his cell.
This was their torture.
They’d known what they were doing when they’d broken his fingers and ribs. The old Oren could have torn the door off its hinges.
His second guess had been right.
He’d been left here starve in this forgotten, squalid row.
The blast that had shaken the castle had caused the foundation to shift, and Oren heard water pouring in. Cold rain water splashed down the hall, seeping under the door of his cell.