* * *
So many things, all at once.
My beating heart.
My panting breath.
A blinding light.
I woke to the taste of stone and copper, my limbs too heavy to be of use. I could see little but rough, red-tinged walls, and my head was so heavy, I could not lift it. Cold beyond thought, I wondered at everything, even my own name. Moving my eyes brought enough exhaustion that they closed again.
When next I could open them, the world surrounding me resolved into a large, empty hall of rough-hewn rock. My hands and feet wore heavy manacles and heavy chains that snaked off into even darker shadows. I’d been stripped of my armor, and now wore only the padded underthings meant to keep the metal from chafing my skin.
The world rang with sound and stench, bells and burning.
I could taste the battlefield, still, on my tongue.
I sat up, wincing at the sound of the links rubbing and falling over one another, and licked my lips, struggling to wet my mouth so I could breathe better.
The sound of my movement brought a visitor, who held a torch down in front of him well enough that I couldn’t see his face.
“Unchain me,” I said, but my voice was broken. “I am the commander of…” I was silenced by a gauntlet pressed against my lips, the cold kiss of metal stinging my split lip.
The torch-bearer knelt beside me, and spoke.
“Not anymore,” he said. I knew who it was even before he moved the flame enough to let me see his face.
“Send word to Her Majesty,” Kellis called, turning to shout into the darkness. He looked back to me, and the only recognizable thing I could see on his face was madness. “The prisoner’s alive.”
* * *