I’m so cold. Why am I so cold? The muscles in my neck screamed in agony from supporting the weight of my head as it hung limply for lord knows how long. Slowly the memory of the mess I was in came into focus. I kept my eyes shut this time and did my best to keep breathing the same. I had to reach Hue… On no, Hue! He must be terrified. Hue? My mind seemed cold and silent. Hue, please hear me?
It started with a tingle, and then feelings of relief and panic spread through me. Mo shíorghrá?
Those two words were almost enough to make my heart stop. I’m here.
Where is “here”? he asked, trying to stay calm.
In the tower, I think. It’s a large, round stone room but I’m not alone. He has others here besides me.
Who is “he”? His frustration was rising. We went to the tower, there are no signs of you or the Gargoyles. Who is holding you?
I don’t know. From the direction of the door I heard a click. I have to go. Please, find me. I’m not sure I can save myself this time. I love you.
I love you too. Are you safe for the moment? Mo shíorghrá?… Mo shíorghrá?! I felt horrible for pushing him out of my mind, but I didn’t want him to feel my terror. A knot had been sitting in my stomach since I had woken to discover my predicament the first time. I realized that there was a very real chance I may not make it out of this. I didn’t want his last memories of me to be my terror or pain.
“I know you’re awake, little Elf,” came the cold and crackling voice of my captor. “There is no point in pretending to sleep.” I kept my eyes closed, head dangling and breathing steady. The approaching steps came to a halt. “Look at me!” he commanded. I didn’t move. My limbs, numb from bearing my weight, tingled and with each passing moment I became more and more aware of how much pain I was in. Searing, sharp pain ripped through my arm, causing me to open my eyes and look up.
My captor, who still had his face hidden from view, was dragging a sharp white blade down the length of my arm, taking care to avoid the veins and arteries there. “What are you doing, you monster?” I snapped at him.
“Ah, good, I have your full attention. You’re going to answer some questions for me now.” He withdrew the blade, dripping the blood coating it into a chalice.
“I wouldn’t bet on it,” I told him, finally rolling my head back to lean it against the wall.
He chuckled and mixed other herbs and liquids into the chalice. When he finished he returned, pouring it over my open cut. It burned and bubbled. “Every last drop,” he said as he methodically scraped the last of it into my cut. “This will ensure you only tell me the truth. Why were you are the Mage tower in Myeangdong?”
“I was there to negotiate a case on behalf of two lovers separated by their families.” I tried to will myself to stop talking and it was difficult.
My captor tilted his head to the side, considering the words. “Why would you do that?”
I had a moment to consider my words but couldn’t compel myself to lie in the least. “I am a Magistrate for the OAC. We were approached by a Unicorn and I was assigned the case.” I snapped my mouth shut, frustrated by the amount of info I was giving out.
“How old are you?” he asked all the more quickly.
“Thirty-two,” I answered.
“So young and yet you radiate power.” He paused and stared me in the eyes, looking for something. “What are you really?”
Without hesitation I said, “A Changeling.”
“When were you discovered and trained?” He was giving me no time to process his words. His tactics were ruthless, leaving me little leeway to mold my answers.
“Last year, next to no formal training with my Elven mentor.” Still, somehow I was managing to control the conversation.
“You don’t look Elven…”
“Half Elf,” I corrected him, wanting to swear under my breath.
He reached up and pushed his hood back, showing me his face. I stared at him, drinking in his grey lifeless skin, his yellow glowing eyes, and black lips that framed jagged teeth. “That explains why the Iron has less affect on you. You’re only half a Fae… and yet you radiate power. Your Fae parent must have been very powerful to pass on such traits to a half blood.”
“I wouldn’t know,” I told him. HUE!?! I did my best to try and broadcast my mental image of my captor and all I could do was hope Hue could see it and it was helpful.
“It’s unfortunate that you are only a Halfling. I might have spared your life if you were of use to me.” He turned to walk away.
“Then you plan to kill me?” I called after him.
He turned to face me, bearing an ugly smile again. “No, my dear, I mean to leave you here and watch you wither and die. It’s the perk of your Halfling blood. You will slowly die here with time and I will enjoy watching the gradual progression of it.”
“I am a Magistrate for the OAC. People WILL come looking for me. I was given a familiar. Someone will find me eventually. When they do, you will answer for your crimes against me and all the others.”
His smile deepened and it sickened me. “I’m counting on it. If they can catch me, maybe they will bring me something useful. After all, I am a VERY old Mage,” and with those words he was gone.
Hue? Did you see him?