The Book of the Fallen (sequel to Lord of Night) | Chapter Five (Betrayer of Men's POV) -- cries forever + mature themes
Posted March 13th, 2017 by maxi
in Erissa, Erilea, Westeros, The New York Institute, Roshar, Scadrial, New Chicago, Eye of the World, Metallica and Questeria
A/N; Yes, this is a hard-hitting yet short chapter. I hope you enjoy.
Betrayer of Men, the Ivy Court’s Dungeon
Prince Jauqin of the Eastern Dominion, Betrayer of Men, sat on his threadbare mattress in his cell in the Ivy Court’s dungeon, awaiting his own demise.
Truth be told, he had been expecting it for as long as he’d been in this festering cesspit. That gut feeling raged through his stomach day after day, haunting him long into the night where all dark and no stars shone. It reminded him of the Darklands Empire. Reminded him of who was currently upon the throne. Reminded him of who exactly was frightened of.
The din of the cell had, undoubtedly, been one giveaway that his doom was right around the corner: nothing. There were no sounds to be noticed because there were no sounds whatsoever. Even the humming of midnight critters and the chatter of crickets had dwindled down to silence. Perhaps that had been ever since he had walked from the bridge of sanity and onto the cliff of pure debauchery. Whatever the reason, his promise to not yield to the madness was broken, disconnected by some snapping of the bond between him and his mortal emotions.
Because gods be damned, he was as mortal as could be—no magic, no immortality and no purpose in this forsaken life gave him little chance in ever breaking free from such a shithole. He would not be the slightest bit surprised if one of the rats began talking with him. That was how far his insanity was going… and it was slowly showing in how often he acted and confessed to his talkative cellmate, Veela.
She lingered on the side of her bed. Staring at the cracks in the stone beneath them. Once, the cell had been strewn with hay and sand and dust. But it seemed that the Ivy Court had a fling for cleanliness, and so, a nursemaid by the name of Caraqay had swept the floor. Sure, she had not taken one damn look at the prisoners within—but she’d cleaned the cell nonetheless, her eyes firmly focused on her job. Neither Jauqin nor Veela had dared open their mouths for one of the court’s nursemaids. Guards may be lurking in the shadows, Veela had whispered one night as she’d reached over to take a small portion of stale bread from her dinted porcelain tray, and All only knows what might happen once they spot us talking to Caraqay.
Names—names were important and useless all at once. The two cellmates had received the name of the nursemaid just by listening to what a guard nearby had to report to them. By the hell-gods, this room is a mess. Caraqay will be right down here. About time somebody fixed to you rats. And at that, they had both ignored the pain of the insult flung at them… before figuring out the nomenclature of such an innocent woman, a spindly woman in her forties just wishing to get her monthly wages from the hands of the Eastern Dominion. The prince would sell all his remaining rights to bet that it was the Blacksentinels that handed out the coinage, which was passed along via boat, then, horse and wagon to the Ivy Court.
But then the prince would not be selling anything at all.
Amid all the prices to pay for his sin, there was one Outcome his heart still sung at. During the weeks and months and whatever amount of time he’d been here, the conversations with Veela had risen to the point of near-completion. His mind never wandered while they spoke, their mouths pouring secrets out like spells from a cauldron. His eyes were always captivated by her presence and there was something about her… something heavily mortal that he could relate to.
Maybe it was just Fate telling him that his purpose was not to be shown yet. Maybe it was a play that his mind portrayed. But, whatever the cause of this sudden uprising of pure emotions that had reigned in his heart, he was grateful. Grateful for her. Grateful for the time they shared together whilst they were both burning in the fiery heart of hell itself.
And that was why it came to Jauqin that, with no surprise, everything was soon going to go to shit.
He’d been waiting for it. Waiting for the end of the world, waiting for this culmination where evil would win and good would perish from existence. It was how all stories spun. The wheel spins, spokes on a wheel, and on and on it turns. Enemies and heroes rise, coming to power. But it is always one royal’s fault for the darkness that sweeps across the world.
And how long had Jauqin been waiting? Waiting for the spokes to finally snap?
Too long. Long enough, it seemed, that Jauqin had become Veela’s own personal liaison in the hopes that they both made it out of this alive. No, it was not official as it should have been; even a blood-sworn oath would not prepare them for the raised stakes that were to come. Yes, perhaps it was too early in time to do any linking with one another via ally-bonds… But this was war and amidst the ruin and death and destruction, he needed a shoulder to cry on.
Even if that shoulder belonged to a woman who had not completely healed.
“I think my tongue is going to turn to stone,” the woman said, lips chapped. She had resorted to licking them wet, but it had done nothing but reassure herself that she was indeed deprived of water—let alone any other liquid to satisfy her desiring needs.
“Rely on the guards to help you with that—or curse them, but don’t blame it all on me. Or complain to me.” He had to admit: he was starting to sound quite discourteous but, packed into a room with little space and very few people to keep him company… Well, it did give him many reasons to become less polite than he ever had been before treading upon such dark paths.
She poked her tongue out at him, however unjust it might have seemed. “I don’t think they’re coming anytime soon. They’re outside, yes, but if I hope for food to come…” Veela sighed through her nose, her caerin blowing softly in the gentle breeze wafting from the barred windows behind them. “Well, it’s just not going to happen is my point.”
He did not say a single word. Did not voice anything that might seem as conspicuous as he. There was truth in many of the lies he heard—lies in many of the truths he heard. And there would be much to endure before he got to snap in this decaying, damned—
“Five. Five days and still no food. Water, yes, but no food. Can you imagine how life would be without food? Luxurious roast lamb topped with the Eastern Dominion’s divine dressings,” she murmured, those gods be damned lips wet from the licking. He could not stand her insistent behaviour, no matter what got in their way of escape.
Escape. There will be none, nothing to save us from whatever we’re trapped in.
“Don’t talk about the Eastern Dominion. Not my father, not the continent, not even the bloody food,” he snarled, eyes full of mad ire he had never felt before.
In the blink of an eye, icy water washed over that fire as Veela snapped back, “You know what, prince? I understand—trust me with all that unloving heart of yours, I do—what you are going through, whether you know it or no. Yes, we are both committed for crimes. And, yes, I am trying all my best to be a liaison you will not forget until the end of eternity. Maybe that’s because I feel bad for you… or maybe it’s because I feel bad for myself. So you listen to me, and you listen to me damn well like it’s the last thing your ears will ever hear. There are many things in this world that can kill you. Flame, steel, betrayal. But, above all things savage, there is love. And love can make you weak, especially when thrown into the fire. You throw yourself into that rage, you burn and you die. Don’t love yourself so much to the point of hatred for your undoing. I suggest you leave me be and let me speak when I gods-damned want to.”
As if the words had summoned him on a mystic’s wind, a guard of the Court traipsed through the door blocking them off from independence and freedom. The man was fit for the battlefield—muscles adorned his arms, glistening in the lamplight he hooked upon a sconce to the right of him just as he entered the cell. His eyes promised a slow death for the both of them but, of course, the grand and mighty Imperials of the Court would not bode well with death to either one of these prisoners.
Jauqin could tell—there was something about them both that the Imperials adored. Something about them they wanted to use and manipulate and hang before them like bait.
“No,” Veela whispered. Her demeanour towards the prince seemed to change between such a minute moment, but that wrath still glimmered in her dark eyes. Brown or black, he could never tell. “No, no, no. Not now—give him time. Give him warning.”
Nothing. Nothing in those death-kissed eyes to even direct the guard had any emotion left inside him from whatever the Imperials had done to him. But… no. A flicker of darkness rammed home to face Veela just before Jauqin was knocked down to his knees, the guard’s leg hooking around his ankle.
Knocked down to the ground, a pet before its master.
The guard, face scrunched with viciousness and cruelty, unhooked a leather whip from his belt. Jauqin hadn’t seen it in the time the man had approached the cell but, perhaps, that was from the undying horror that shone upon the prince’s face.
Now… Now he knew the trouble coming for him, the doom that surely awaited just around the corner.
And he did not yield as the doom carved itself into his skin. Again and again and again, the whip made its mark, blood dripping down his back as he held back the tears. As he struggled to keep his emotions at bay in the damp darkness.
He lifted his head and let the din of the whipping set him free.
It had not been long, Veela thought.
No, it had not been long at all in the time since Jauqin donned those fresh new scars, which had been set to with salt water by Caraqay. The woman hadn’t murmured a single curse as she glanced at those scars with such discharge; she merely nodded and went to work, taking out her salves and bandages and the like. Veela had watched, much appreciation in her heart, as Caraqay had set her mind into focus and concentrated on the intricate weavings that she made, adorning Jauqin in newly forged stitches. Wending and crafting and binding.
She looked at him now with some distaste—not at him, purely, but at what he’d been through. At the things that he had confessed and the things she had not. It was not fair, even she had to admit, but no one could know the truth about what she’d done. Even her cover-up story seemed too dangerous.
And, even then, there was that other thought on her mind. It had been there ever since the whipping, something that struck a chord deep into her forlorn soul. How in the seven realms of the Afterworld had Jauqin lived and felt almost no pain after so many professionally, flawless executed lashings? The scars on his back would be there long after their hopefully inevitable escape… So how did he survive? How did he endure?
“I’m sorry,” she murmured, a midnight breeze hushing over them and whispering through the stones.
“W-Why are you sorry?” So much fear in those tear-ridden eyes as he gazed at her, heart full of mystery and dread. And somehow, she knew it, too—possibly as much as he did.
“I have treated you so poorly and you don’t deserve it. Not when you have been cowering for so long, not when you were just whipped like some scum. Not when…” She couldn’t bear to go on. The pain in her chest began to spread, a blight in her soul.
“Don’t feel bad for something that is not yours. Pity those who do not have the chance to be mortal—not someone who is,” Jauqin whispered, a stone dropped into an ocean of fire. Wiping out all sense of emotion or presence of fear. He was not to be afraid.
Or, at least, it seemed that way.
“Why? Why are we even here?” she asked. The cold, hard truth compacted into one single question. A simple one, if that.
“We are here because, apparently, we must confess our sins and proclaim ourselves guilty. If that is not enough for the Duchess—”
Duchess. Interesting. A kernel of information from the prince’s mouth that she could use to both of their advantages. They had the title of the Imperials, they had the power to govern an argument. A debate. A war.
“No, not in this gods be damned prison. I meant… Why are we here? What is our purpose and who is made and who is forged? Who gave us this fate, whether it be cursed or blessed by the gods?”
It was the question she had been pondering for far too long, stuck in her greedy little mind and following her every step of the way. Even when she turned down dark paths, ending one and starting another—the beginning and the end—that question still had no answer. And perhaps it would stay that way long after the War.
“We control our own fate. We manipulate it—whether that be right or evil, that is our purpose: to investigate the behaviour with which we proceed our lives,” the prince replied, a cold smile lingering on those once-pouting lips. The prince was no warrior. If anything, once this War had spread and devoured the world and started it anew… If he survived, if they all did, she could see him as a librarian. A regent, but one of information and knowledge and truths.
“Then what do we do with that? You and I, we’re stuck in this place with no way out. We’re doomed to rot in here until the end of our days.” Yes, she had a promise to herself carved in the stars that she would get them out of here… But things changed just as she had these past few years. Maybe Farcian had altered her in some way; maybe it was herself who had crafted a new piece of herself.
She wasn’t sure. Whatever it was, she was afraid and lost in this vast husk that was the world and its dreadfully enemy-flanked continents.
“We’re getting out.” His throat bobbed.
She sighed not in relief, but in the hopes that he wished for freedom also. In the hope that he genuinely cared for her opinions. The end of the road. The beginning of the next.
“It’s just a matter of time until we get there.”
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