The rotnak guards shoved Catherine and the soldier into the cell, nearly sending them tumbling to the hard stone floor.
“Your trial will be held tomorrow at noon,” said the lead guard, slamming the cell door shut. He walked away without another word. The cell smelled of mold, and lacked light, as there were no windows to speak of. The floor was covered in a thin layer of hay.
Neither Catherine nor the soldier said a word for a while. The soldier sat on a rickety wooden stool that was a touch too big for him, rotting in a corner. Catherine sat down against the wall across from him and closed her eyes. She could feel a headache coming on.
“I thought you were against violence.” The soldier said
“But then why did you attack the rotnak?”
“You threw a fireball at him. If you hadn’t missed-”
“Enchantresses don’t miss.”
“Did you want to get yourself thrown in jail?”
“Yeah, that about sums it up.”
“Now we get to talk to the chieftess. And besides, I couldn’t just leave you here.”
The soldier didn’t respond. For a while, he just stared at the wall, watching a little droplet of water make it’s way from the leaky ceiling to the floor.
“I… think I owe you an apology.” He said, “I’ve been terrible to you, haven’t I?”
“Yeah… kind of.”
“I really should be grateful. You could’ve left me behind back there, you had every right to. I’m sure someone with your power could’ve figured out a better way into the palace”
“I guess so.”
“You know, you’re not the only one who had to take an oath to get where you are. When I was initiated as a soldier, I swore not only to lay down my life for the people of my village and to uphold the law and all that, but also to be honorable and kind whenever possible. But when I was told to come find you, I forgot all that. The thing is, I’m not against magic because I think it distorts the natural order of things. Until a few years ago, I was just as enamored with it as everyone else.”
“Then The Warlock came.”
“You don’t mean…” Catherine trailed off,
“Yeah. THE Warlock. Before I lived where I do now, I was staying with my brother in another village about a day’s travel from the one we’re trying to save. The watchmen saw him coming from a ways off, and my brother-” The soldier buried his face in his hands, shoulders quaking.
Catherine drew in a breath. Whatever she’d been expecting, it wasn’t this.
“Are… you okay?”
The soldier lifted his head, and wiped his eyes. “Yeah… I’m fine. You get the idea though.” His voice quivered, “I told him not to go. That it was an impossible fight, but he didn’t listen. ‘Said the guards needed all the help they could get, and that they’d slow him down so everyone else could escape. So that [i]I[/i] could escape.”
“They say there’s nothing left of that place. I never went back to see for myself, I was too scared. I feel like, so long as I haven’t seen it for myself, there’s still some chance that he’s still out there somewhere, you know?”
The cell went quiet for a while.
“I know it’s not exactly the same,” Catherine said, “But I lost my master to The Warlock. He was part of the group that brought him down in the end… but you know the story.”
“Yeah, I went to the funeral at the capitol, like pretty much everyone else. It would’ve been wrong not to pay my respects to such a noble sacrifice.”
“I certainly took it hard,” Catherine said, “I still miss him sometimes… He was like a father to Rose and I.”
“His other apprentice. She went into denial as soon as she heard the news. One day she just disappeared, and I never saw her again.” Now it was Catherine’s turn to cry.
“Do you see now, why I hate magic?” The soldier said, “I’ve wanted to get back at The Warlock since the day he took my brother from me. I thought I’d be satisfied with his death, but it wasn’t enough. So when we met, I took it all out on you. Your power made you the closest thing to The Warlock that I’ve ever encountered. Deep down I knew that you were different than him, that I was wrong to treat you like I did, but I didn’t want to let go of that anger. And for that, I am sorry.”
“Well,” said Catherine, “for what it’s worth, I forgive you.”
The soldier fiddled with the hay on the ground, “I really appreciate that,” he paused, “Enchantress.”
“You can call me Catherine, if you like.”
“My name. It’s Luke.”
Catherine chuckled, “It’s nice to meet you, Luke.”
“Same goes for you, Catherine.”
“Anyways, I think I’ll go to sleep now. Tomorrow's gonna be a long day, and I get the sense I’ll be needing to do some pretty big spells.”
“Alright then. Good night!” Luke laid down on the hay.
“‘Night,” Catherine said, following suit.
The pair were awakened by the sound of the door banging open.
“Wake up you two,” Snarled the rotnak guard from the night before, “The chieftess will see you shortly.” he tossed them each a hunk of slightly rotten meat, hardly cooked well enough. Luke dug into his eagerly, while Catherine heated hers with her magic, cooking it through. The guard looked at her with distaste.
“You’d better not try any tricks, enchantress,” said the guard, “We’ll be getting a few extra guards to escort you to the palace, and they have been instructed to use whatever force necessary to keep you in line.”
“Sorry about yesterday,” Catherine said, “I can assure you, I won't be trying anything.”
“Hmm…” Said the guard, “I hope for your sake that you aren’t lying.”
"I do my best not to."
As soon as they had finished their food, the guard bound their wrists and pulled them out of the cell...
To be continued...