Part 15 of The Adventures of The Split Falchion
Marwyn had stopped trying to shout for help about an hour after he had been captured. No one had answered, not even any other prisoners. Confused at the sudden change of his fortunes, and with his isolation starting to bear down on him, Marwyn slumped down on a far wall. They had taken his reagents and ritual book, along with his other possessions, when he had arrived, yet Marwyn still remembered the words to his unseen servant. He shifted into a meditation…Or perhaps he hadn’t remembered them well enough. Marwyn cursed after another failed attempt, the fourth by his reckoning. He had yet to cast the spell without reagents, but even his earliest attempts had elicited a magical response. Now, however, he couldn’t even manage that. Despair turning to frustration, Marwyn tried again, angrily shouting the arcane mantra.
“Won’t do you any good here,” a voice calls out as he begins. Marwyn shouts briefly in surprise at the interruption, concentration broken. “Think the guard’d let you cast magic here?”
“Who…” Marwyn pauses when he realizes the voice was coming from the cell next to him.
“I’m… Sorbin Chevy. Been here for as long as I ca’ remember,” The voice answered. Marwyn realized both that it was a dwarf, and that he was lying. The bard didn’t feel he was in the situation to challenge this, however, and asked,
“What do you mean?”
“Cells ‘re warded, o’ course. Take it you’re some kind o’ wizard who got too drunk for the guard ta ignore?”
“No, I’m…. well, I’m a bard, but that doesn’t mean I was drunk. I didn’t do anything!” Marwyn defends himself, regretting the slight slur at the end. He was still somewhat intoxicated from the midday’s drinking, despite the sobering atmosphere.
“I’m not lying!” Marwyn shouts. He waits for a reply, but none readily comes. Minutes pass, and Marwyn begins shouting at the dwarf.
“Shut it! There’s no one there,” a guard yells at him from just outside of his cell.
“No, no there was a dwarf. He talked to me, it wasn’t more than a minute ago!”
“Gods, sleep it off you drunkard,” the guard moves into Marwyn’s vision, brandishing a mace, “Or I’ll have to “help” you.”
“N…no, I,” Marwyn backs up to the far wall of his cell, sitting down passively. “Heh. Good,” the guard leers at him, and then keeps walking. Marwyn hears his footsteps stop for a moment shortly after, and the sound of one of the cell doors opening briefly. “Blasted drunks,” the guard murmurs to himself, and continues on his patrol.
Marwyn, not wanting to provoke the guards’ ire again, remains completely silent, and eventually lets himself pass out.
The Next Morning
Or, what Marwyn thought was morning, as he awoke in the same cell he had always been in. Torches had been lit in the passageway outside, and Marwyn faintly remembers that he had passed one of the guards who was extinguishing them on his way here. He also noticed a tray of food which had been placed just outside of his cell, the bars barely allowing him to reach it.
While he hastily devoured the meager suppliers, trying not to think of what he was eating, or how it tasted. Craning his neck, Marwyn could barely see the space in front of the adjacent cells, though his vision ended far before the hallway did. No tray lay before the cell the dwarf had occupied last night, and Marwyn didn’t even bother trying to call out to him. ‘There must have been someone there,’ he thinks to himself, though all evidence pointed to a vacant cell.
Despite the supposed dwarf’s warning, Marwyn still attempted to run the words of his ritual through his mind, trying to focus on other things. There really wasn’t anything else for him to do. However, he could not help himself, and his mind turned to Mevalyn. He wondered where she was, if she was in a cell much like this one. Why hadn’t his friends come looking for him? And, lingering in the back of his mind, pushed back by the most part by his current situation, was the dread that he had again been cursed. The hole in his memory had survived the night.
“Prisoner! Stand and face the wall,” a voice commands. Marwyn looks up and sees three guards standing by his cell. He didn’t recognize any of them, though the one in front had the regalia of a sergeant. Seeing no point in resisting, he complies. Shackles are placed on his hands, and he is led from the cell by the three guards.
“Eyes forward!” one of the guards chastises him, as Marwyn attempts to sneak a peek at the cell the dwarf’s voice had come from. In the brief second before the hand knocked him in the back of the head, Marwyn had only seen an empty cell.
After a few minutes he is led to a small room, where a man sits behind a simple wooden desk. It was obviously an interrogation room of some sorts, though Marwyn took comfort in that there were no visible tools of torture.
“Ah, yes, sit him there,” the man orders, looking up from some parchment he had in front of him. He gestures towards the empty chair on the other side of the desk. The guard closest to Marwyn manhandles him into a chair. He doesn’t remove the shackles.
“Why…” Marwyn begins.
“Silence,” the interrogator says, a cold tone entering his voice. “I will take it from here. Remain outside of the door.”
“Yes sir!” The guard sergeant responds. The sound of their departing footsteps, and then the closing of the door. And then silence, as the interrogator looks intently at Marwyn.
Eventually, he speaks again. “You were captured whilst inquiring after a known terrorist. What was your business with this… Mevalyn, of Cyre?” he asks, referencing the parchment in front of him again.
“She’s not a terrorist! And I’m her friend, I just wanted to see her!” Marwyn explains.
“Ah… a friend. How nice. However, unfortunately, we are quite certain that your “friend” is a part of a band of renegade Cyrians bent on disrupting order within the remaining kingdoms. Some kind of perverted revenge, I must imagine.”
“No… no she left them!” Marwyn protests.
“But you admit you know that she was a part of them. And, this is interesting, we had information that she was attempting to meet one of her “former” compatriots. In Fairhaven. This week, as a matter of fact.”
“You don’t think…”
“How convenient that you arrived precisely at the indicated place, even carrying the mark that was supposed to identify the agent,” the interrogator cuts Marwyn off, ignoring him, “A bundle of dandelions. I don’t pretend to understand the symbolism, yet the evidence itself is quite damning.”
“No, I got a letter from her. I’m Aundairian for… for Aurala’s sake.”
“Oh, but anyone can be a terrorist. A Cyrian renegade…. a Brelish knight…..” the man gives him a pointed look, “even an Aundairian bard. And yes, we found this letter on your person. Fortunate that Mevalyn named her intermediary, though it appears that the warforged was unaware of any malicious intent.”
“Klezard isn’t a part of this!”
The man smiles to himself, satisfied with something, “I believe I just said that. However, I find your choice of words… interesting. A part of what?”
“Nothing. Nothing! I just wanted to meet her.”
“Yes, where you would plot acts of terrorism against our fair nation!” The man yells, his voice rising with the accusation. He stops for a moment, then leans back in his chair, calm again. “This has been what we refer to as a ‘polite chat’. Now, you can tell me everything you know about these supposed plots, or our conversations will have to become… less polite.”
“I just wanted to meet her,” Marwyn repeats, pleading.
“Well, I’m sure we’ll get the truth out of you yet. Enjoy tonight, for you won’t enjoy the morrow. Guards! I am finished with this prisoner.”
“Yes sir!” The sergeant answers from the other side of the door, and the guards from before rapidly enter and seize Marwyn.
“Wait,” the man says, right before Marwyn is led back through the door. “This is your last chance.”
“I don’t know anything,” Marwyn says to the man behind him, while the guards in front menace him with their glances.
“So be it,” the man sighs, “Sergeant, we will need to prepare the rack tomorrow. I always believe one should stretch before any… serious interrogation.”
“Yes sir!” the sergeant answers as he always had before, and wordlessly leads Marwyn away, and back to his cell.
Marwyn huddles in the corner of his cell, trying to process what he had just endured. His train of thought turned dark, wondering how he would survive the oncoming torture. He drifted, imagining other horrid ordeals that would await even if he did. Despite himself, he started wishing he had never left Wrendale. Better 40 boring years a tanner than to die here.
“A Cyrian rebel, huh?” Marwyn jumps as a familiar voice returns. That of the illusionary dwarf.
“You!?” He shouts.
“Shhh… not so loud.”
Concentrating on the voice, Marwyn finds that it was coming from the same direction as before, the adjacent cell on the right. Yet, now that his mind wasn’t fogged by alcohol, he realized that it wasn’t muffled in any way, despite the wall between them. “Wait…” he says to himself, placing his ear against the wall.
“You might just be sharper than you first appeared. Though, that ain’ sayin’ much,” the voice says again. Though to Marwyn, it sounds like the dwarf is practically speaking into his ear.
“AHH!” Marwyn screams, jumping back. He nearly screams again as a stout figure steps out from the wall, though the force of him hitting the opposite wall knocks the wind out of him.
“What di’ I say about the noise?” the dwarf admonishes in a whisper.
“H..ho..how did you,” Marwyn stutters.
“But… but you… but.”
“Look, it looks like we both don’t have a lot o’ time. I need a mage. Ca’ you use this?” the dwarf asks, handing Marwyn what looks like a scroll.
Still numbed from both the shock and impact from the wall, Marwyn takes a few seconds before he reaches out. Focusing on the scroll with arcane sight provides a chance for him to recover, however, and Marwyn quickly gleams that the scroll was charged with a teleportation ritual of some kind. A… familiar ritual.
“Y.. yes. I should be able to,” Marwyn stutters out, “But I’d need my…”
“Supplies?” The dwarf asks, “Don’ take me for eh fool. Scrolls ‘ve the magic in them. Yah don’ need reagents. I’m offerin’ yah a way out. Don’ try barganin’.”
“Why are you doing this?” Marwyn asks.
“Need to bust some friends out. The idiots can’ activate this.”
“My power’s from nature, yah fool. Couldn’ use this if I wanted ta.”
“O…ok. What do I need to do?” Marwyn asks, realizing how desperate his situation was.
“Sta’ here. I’m goin’ ta free ma’ friends. You’ve got ta have this ready when we do.”
“But I can’t cast in here. And what if a guard comes by?”
“Oh, I’ve made sure none won’t. As for yer door,” the dwarf produces a key, “And don’ think o’ leavin’ without us. Some other friends are on ta other end. They won’ be happy to just see you.”
“Ok. Ok, I’ll do it.”
“Good. Won’ be long.” The dwarf says, returning to the wall. Marwyn watches in fascination as the dwarf seemingly melts into the stone, leaving no trace of his presence. He wasn’t sure how far he could trust the dwarf, but this was a chance to escape. He was going to take it.
The cell door opened to Marwyn’s key, and he quickly unfurled the scroll that he had received from the dwarf. With more time to study it, Marwyn was sure he had seen this spell before. It was the same teleportation scroll that was used by the men who had taken Lancaster, so long ago. He knew from experience that an uninterrupted caster could keep it readied as long as their endurance held. As broken as the past day had left him, such a feat wasn’t beyond him yet.
The sounds of yelling from further down the hallway, opposite from the direction he had been led for the interrogation, briefly startled Marwyn from his concentration. He kept the spell going, however, knowing his life may well depend on it. A few minutes later, and figures round the corner at a sprint, yelling at each other to keep moving. Perhaps a dozen in all, most were wearing prison rags. One, however, was wearing the robes of the dwarf, and it was he who led the charge towards Marwyn. Guards soon chased after, some clearly wounded, though closing on the fleeing prisoners. The dwarf reached Marwyn first, watching the rest as they reached him.
“Blast it all, now! Go now!” he yells, as the guards close almost to lance-reach. Marwyn, awaiting such a signal, released his hold on the magic, allowing the spell to go to completion. A haze fills the surrounding air, the tell-tale sign of an approaching teleport. The last prisoner, an elven woman, sees that she herself is not included in the field, and cries out as she jumps for the rapidly diminishing sphere of magic closing in on her cohorts. A bright flash temporarily blinds those in the prison as the spell completes, and when their vision returns, all that remains is the elf, holding the leg she had broken in her attempt at escape. Marwyn, and the rest of the prisoners, were nowhere to be found.
Continued in Part 16, Tales Told Twice – A Fresh Perspective