He didn’t seem dangerous at first. Just a man in a prison cell; a dirty, musty, ramshackle cell embedded in the stone. It wasn’t until you truly stopped and paid attention, was his true nature revealed. The way his eyes didn’t quite catch light, but instead glowed dimly in the low light of the chamber. The unblinking, ever calculating stare at everyone and everything within his field of view. But the worst of all was his reflection. When the rains hit the town above, the ceiling began to leak, depositing small stagnant pools of water on the cold stone floor. Normally these pools were enjoyed by the mice and other vermin, and only a mild nuisance to any human that came down here. But not anymore. Now these water slickened stones showed darkness. A consuming void with piercing red eyes. Even when the man was seemingly asleep, or looking away, the eyes in the pools remained fixed on their target. Never blinking, never moving, two red orbs in the center of nothing. His reflection consumed every reflective surface in the room. Every pool that once showed the contents of the room was now an endless void.
This made those rainy days a controversy among the staff that maintained the prisons. No one wanted to go anywhere near that cell on a good day, but now, forget it. They debated leaving it until the next day when the pools had dried, or their number lessened. But their orders clearly stated that the prisoner had to be observed regularly. This left Arden.
The newest, most naive of the workers. His mother, handmaiden to the duke’s daughter, petitioned for a job within the castlefor him so that they would not be separated.Her request was granted, and now, he was about to be sent into the lion’s den.
It was easy to convince him to go. In fact there was no convincing needed. They told him to go, and he went. The other workers almost felt guilty. Almost. They watched him take a lantern and walk down the long, empty corridor. Holding their breath, they watched as the light got smaller and smaller until he turned a corner and it was dark again. They waited for a scream. None came. That was almost worse. The silence filled the catacombs, the only sounds being droplets of water hitting the stone floor. None of them dared to breathe.
The light returned. His footsteps grew louder and louder, filling the space once more. They observed him, watching his gait, scanning his face for signs of trauma. Nothing. The boy was fine. Fear consumed the other workers as they glanced at one another with uncertainty. What had happened down there? Had the room not leaked as usual? Was the prisoner asleep? Had he somehow avoided looking at any surface containing the horrors of which they so desperately avoided? No. Impossible. The rain was heavy and so were the leaks in every section of the jail. This left one option. The man was possessed.
One of the workers stepped forward. “So…. How was the prisoner?”
Arden looked startled, but recovered quickly. “He appeared to be sleeping.”
An older man spoke next, “anything… unusual?”
“Unusual how?” Arden asked, bemused.
“Never mind, let’s move on”
The four of them left the room, off to the next set of chambers. Arden thought back, trying to remember if anything seemed strange. But this was a new place, and a creepy prison for that matter. Everything seemed unusual to him. Lost in thought, he followed them to the next set of cells.
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