How many dark filled days had it been already? No light penetrated these dank dungeons, none had for some measure of time. Was it months? Years? He hadn’t cared to count in the beginning, but now he wondered if that nonchalance would haunt him. He hadn’t thought it would take so long. The darkness was serene at first; it held within it a nothingness that let the mind wander in abstract, intriguing ways. It gave one time to consider the course of life, death, fate, the universe. It made the ache of hunger less desperate after the long hours between feedings.
Ah. There was light then. In those few moments, a gap opened near the door. A flicker, so bright his eyes would be repulsed by it, though he was sure it was actually quite dim by normal standards. It would cast the dreary world he dwelt in a soft orange glow. His chamber was vast, and tattered. Chains, long abandoned to rust and decay, littered the walls and crumbled on the floor. The mat that served as his bed had unsavory stains which he tried not to contemplate too deeply. Knowing their origin was too much. After the light faded, and his eyes adjusted once more to the bleakness, he would make his way to the door.
It was a loathsome existence. He felt his knees scrape against the filthy floor, could feel that the repeated action had worn away what was once fine fabric, so that his bare skin brushed against the stony surface. His hands had once been fine, delicate things, but were now marred with dirt, caked with the disgust of this place, and scarred from the multiple collisions with the wall they regularly sustained from his frustrated tantrums. He knew it was useless.
The first few days, he had sworn he would starve himself. The food they offered was beyond disgusting - he was sure it came from an animal. As though they could force him to dine on such a low creature - they would not dare. But they did. And his pride did not win against his hunger for long. The sanguine liquid was as filling as any other, though it had made him wretch for weeks at first. Now, it went down without any difficulty. He wondered if his body had adapted to the stale flavor of it, to the cold, thick liquid filling his veins. The thought was revolting - likely as revolting as he was becoming.
Self pity was pathetic. It took him a long time to accept that.
Afterward, it was simply boring. He had nothing to do. He wanted to escape, but knew he could not. However it seemed, he was neither forgotten nor unguarded. Whatever sin he had committed would not go unpunished - though he was certain the sin was not of his own causation. It was around that time, after the months or weeks or years of his imprisonment, when he first found the loose brick.
It was by pure happenstance. He had decided to see the full extent of his little cell, to feel the floor with his crusted hands, to count how many tiles compiled together into the surface. It was something to do, to exercise his mind gone soft. He had not expected to feel one teetering so precariously. Despite such, as he probed it, he discovered it was still fairly secure. What was beneath his cage, he wondered. What could be even further from the furthest depths of this forsaken place. There was a sudden, almost desperate need to discover it. Perhaps it was because he was so dreadfully bored, or because the darkness and silence were wearing on him, or perhaps it was that slim hope that it might lead to an escape from this dank cell. It did not matter why, and he did not dwell on the various possibilities. What mattered was the discovery.
He never received any utensils. They were most unnecessary for a liquid diet, such as his kind employed. But there were remnants in the debris of this place, and among them he found a broken cuff with enough strength left to not become brittle under force. It meant leaving the loose brick, however, and finding it again proved something of a chore. Luckily, something he did not lack at the moment was time. It was loud, the sound of metal clanging against stone. After so long with nothing but the still air and quiet, measured breathing of his own chest, it was deafening - it was like waking from a deep slumber to the sound of sirens and war.
He didn’t see where to target, but he felt it. His fingers found the grout, worn away, felt the edges of the bricks used to make this prison. His arms hurt before long, throbbed with each strike of metal against the hard surface. Wetness began to weaken his grip. Sweat or blood. Perhaps both. He did not care, and the pain was an annoyance more than anything else. He continued. It must have been for a very long time - before he was done, the chamber lit up with the orange glow, and the sloshing sound of his next meal being given filled the area. His work paused. Whoever left the food did not care for the noise he was making, did not find it significant in the slightest, and did not so much as pause for any longer than necessary before disappearing again. He never heard them come. He wondered if anyone ever did. Perhaps it was an enchantment.
He did not stop for long. It was almost there. He could feel it. He set the metal aside, he knew it was blood now, and began to claw around the stone. His fingers could just fit. A little more and - it dislodged. The swell of triumph was so elating, he felt nauseous. He had to set the stone to the side. To his surprise, there was the faintest of light beneath it. Far below, like the glow of stars in the night. It did not take so long before his eyes adjusted, for it was not so garish as the light of his meal bringer. His floor was only a brick thick - that seemed dangerous. It would not take long for someone to tunnel out at that rate. The design seemed problematic.
After the initial triumph wore off, the exhaustion hit. His hands ached, his arms throbbed, and he only now became aware of how labored his breathing had become. When did he become so weak? He was sure this was not how he should be. It was the food, this place, his isolation - they were wearing him away like a stone under the river, slowly but surely waning into nothing. Self loathing ebbed and dissipated, replaced by a quiet, seething rage. He would get revenge some day. Perhaps through this hole. But it was not large enough for him, he knew, and just now he did not feel it was within him to finish the work. The other bricks were more solidly placed.
No. For now, he would eat. And sleep.
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