This heat is going to be what kills me. There is nowhere safe from the strangling rays of the sun as it beats down upon me with an intensity I never knew it had. I am familiar with cruelty, but this, lying out unprotected in boiling sand and devoid of food and water... Torture. Torture until death, that’s what I’m subjected to.
They brought me out here two days ago. I had been sequestered away in the prison before then. It’s that towering shadow out there in the distance, hidden among the mirages. Inside, it’s cold and damp and mossy. Again, they provided me with no food or water, but at least in there, I could cup the water running down the stone walls in my hands and have something to drink. If I was hungry enough, which I was, I could eat the moss and have something small to attempt to sustain myself. That was my suffering for three months as they waited for my body to weaken and my magical stamina to fade. They dragged me out here to this little metal birdcage, miles from Khatardon Prison, where they left me alone.
I had laughed at first. It was funny that they were leaving me outside in the open with no guards to make sure I stayed put. Then I realized exactly what they had done. I couldn’t escape. I didn’t have the strength or the power anymore. They were going to leave me out here to deteriorate in the dry sun, and nothing I did could save me. I could not break the iron bars or dig under the metal plate on the bottom. I couldn't use magic unless I wanted to faint just seconds after beginning my work. I couldn’t cast the simplest spell. I have already been worn down into nothing.
Here I am, rambling away to you as a miserable wretch lying helpless and hopeless in the sand, and yet you probably have no idea who I am, do you? Since I’m doomed anyway, I don’t see any harm in telling you. Most people would be able to recognize me by my iconic mask, one in the shape of a bird's beak and clouded eyes. I suppose there is no point in wearing it anymore, but it’s all I have to protect my face from the sun and to remind me of who I once was. This mask, this style of mask I should say, belongs to the Royal Family’s Elite Guard. Mine is special. Mostly because I am special. Well… I was special. It’s made of iron and treated carefully with oils for strength, though it has been withered in this desert. It identifies me without anyone ever seeing my face.
I am Agent 5260, otherwise known as Blackbird. I was the Princess’s most trusted protector. It was my job to keep her safe, and yet I have failed that mission. Now I am here, left to rot, as punishment for it. If I had been able to save her, it may have ended differently.
But I didn’t.
I suppose this is my punishment. I was given one mission in my entire life. From the moment I was born, I was raised with a single purpose. That was to protect the princess as if my life depended on it. And I failed her.
You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about. I’m sure it is all very confusing. Since I have nothing better to do while I wait for my death to come to me, I’ll share with you my story. I have nothing to hide anymore.
It all started a year ago, at the siege of the palace.