“Now this is quite a turn of events, isn’t it Theo?” A whisper of a voice echoes in the cell as Mythalen strides out of the shadows nearby. He looks down at her then continues his gaze upwards to her face and what was left of her hair. “Looks like you’ve encountered something you couldn’t handle. What a shame. How is it said among your kind? The higher the pride, the longer the fall ?” While not quite mocking in tone, his voice has a similar strain of condescension she displayed towards him from their last meeting. He strides closer to her than before, but still not close enough for her to strike, bound up as she was.

 

She stirs at the sound of the voice.
Half covered by a sheet on a pallet, she’s dressed in a loose white shirt a few sizes too large and white loose linen pants. Her mangled arm is cocooned in bandages and elevated in a sling, which apparently prevents her from rolling over or moving terribly much- she must be very weak indeed to be incapacitated by that. A third of her face is covered in more gauze -the upper left third, from her skeletally thin cheekbones to her ear and the back of her head, including the eye socket- and the bandages go down her neck, covering her chest, and disappear into clothing. She’s physically smaller too, not as tall as she was before. The one unbandaged eye, previously closed, opens. Her bad side is the one facing him, and she carefully turns her head, exquisitely slow to avoid putting pressure on the bandages, to see him better.
Theo blinks, slowly, as if trying to gather her thoughts or find a memory. He’s…. Familiar…. Where have I-? Ah.

“….The assassin,” she croaked, and her voice sounds like a rusty hinge. She can barely drag the water glass by the pallet toward her. She can’t hold it upright for long; instead, she jams it between arm and side in the armpit area and drinking through a straw.

 

“Yes…” He draws out the word smiling slightly and crouches down to put his face closer to level with hers. “My … The Uncrowned was impressed with your abilities, before. But now, not so much. To be taken down by a band of ‘mortals’?” He makes a gesture to signify quote marks. “Perhaps it is for the best, then. Because if you had refused our invitation, which you did with no chance of turning back, might have meant my ex-communication, if not my life.” He shifts slightly, considering for a moment. “I should thank you then, but seeing you like this, there is no need. I would say enjoy the rest of whatever shortened unlife you have but I don’t think you’re in a position to enjoy anything.”

 

His words fell like lashes, but then- pain cleanses the soul. Even as he spoke, she wondered why he was really here. Gloating had its place, granted, but…

“Correct on all accounts save one,” she said, her voice still rough, sipping her water, the red eye watching him. She did not elaborate. Before, the words would have provoked some wrath- the assumptions of mortals…!

But now she finds the place in her chest where the fire came from empty, smoldering, embers only, instead of a roaring fire.

Then something seems to occur to her- and she makes a wheezing, painful noise only recognizable as laughter after the fact.

“…Your current masters and my old one seem to have a lot in common,” she said, a jagged lopsided smile crossing what’s visible of her face. “Maybe you should take that as a warning.”

 

He nods solemnly. “I have, many many years ago. And one of the first things I learned was if you fall, make sure someone else takes it for you.” He gestures to the dimmed socket of his left eye. “A price paid for a lesson learned.” He shifts slightly again, face becoming impassive. Enough banter, he thought. Time to talk business.
“There are several that do not want to wait for you to pay for your … sins committed while here. Burned alive, cut to pieces, cast into the light to burn eternally, the list goes on and on. And there are some who wish to see if you can become something you’ve never been.” He pauses for a moment.
“They also plan to assault the castle your master is currently hiding out in. I’ve given them a way in other than the main entrance. They will most likely succeed, and where will you be after?”
He leans fractionally closer and whispers, “They are divided, Theo. Use that to your advantage, and gain your freedom. Perhaps then, maybe, the Uncrowned will reconsider.”

 

The lopsided smile grows, very strangely, and- and then, the laugh returns, painful enough that it leaves her gasping and shaking in its wake. When she recovers -and it does take a moment- she shakes her head, slowly.

“Not for me to decide,” she said simply, though that strange, oddly broken, lopsided smile remains. “I don’t have the eloquence to tell you what it feels like, to have been so wrong twice- once to deserve Revendreth, and once now- in an existence. I’m too tired to try. But needless to say, I was. And there is penance to be paid. It might be with my life- Renethal or Nemalu or the mage may demand it. I believe it would involve a trial, given the Justicar’s emphasis on fairness and decency, but the outcome would be the same. I do not get to decide. I am not much,” Theo said to him, “especially now.”

She indicated her ruined arm.

“But I am still a Venthyr. I know how this works. I have no desire to make some grand escape attempt, even if I was physically capable of doing so. What happens to me… happens. I am content to not die in the Maw.”

Theo looked up at him.

“I’m sorry if this causes you difficulties. But I still have no interest in your organization. If they take issue with that…”

She shrugged.

“I am not going anywhere anytime soon.”

 

He nods again and speaks barely above a whisper. “So be it, Theo. I think you would have become a valuable ally in the days ahead.” He shrugs. “May you find the peace you were denied in life, and in this unlife.” Standing, he brushes the nonexistent dust off his pants and fades back into the shadows with nary a sound.

 

“A word. One hunter to another.”

There is no discernable movement in the shadows, but she can sense that he is still there, listening.

“Be sure your loyalty does not go one way. When I said your current masters and my former one had much in common, I meant it.”

She laid back, closing her one good eye.

Author Acele
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