I came to and at first, I didn’t panic.
Then, I didn’t panic because I simply didn’t understand.
It was entirely dark, as dark as I have only once before known and although there was something disturbingly similar about this darkness, it was also different.
My arms hurt. I tried to adjust them and heard a sound in return, a pain in my wrists.
For a time I thought I was just dreaming.
Slowly, it became apparent that I was not and still, I was too confused to panic.
When it hit me that around me lay the mental nothing of Pertineri dungeons it was that I panicked.
I really panicked.
I thrashed and I screamed and thought I was losing my mind.
That went on for a long time and when I had exhausted myself I must have either fallen asleep or fainted and I when I awoke and nothing had changed apart from the pain being much, much worse than before I panicked again.
It was indescribable.
It was an eternity before any part of me started to think logically and even tried to work out what had happened.
An eternity of absolute horror, of feelings unlike I have ever experienced before.
It was a long time before it got through to me who had done this.
And even then, I would not, could not believe it.
I was chained to a wall in a dungeon, far underground.
I was inside a stone circle that disabled my magic.
The last thing I remembered was being happy, being with Lucian who wasn’t as happy as I was and all tense and tight as he had been all evening. There was no-one else. And I remember him hitting me. I remember seeing it, his fist coming towards me and me not being able to understand that, never mind being able to put up a defence.
Lucian knocked me out.
He did this.
Lucian chained me up here in the dark and left me.
And I cannot believe it could possibly be true.
I cry and call out for help, I sniffle and beg into the darkness for someone, something. I call to the creator, the sisters, the white Serein, anyone. I call for Chay, for Conna, for Lucian, over and over again.
I listen into the darkness and stare at it until there are stars before my eyes and I’m thinking I’m seeing shapes, patterns, faces.
And in my mind I’m trying to find every alternative there can only be to what I cannot think could possibly be true.
At last, at long last I hear someone. I see a light, I recognise the light. It is the blue light Lucian uses by choice when it is very dark around. I try and call but my voice is croaking, exhausted. There are locks being undone and a grating and it is him and I have never been so glad to see anyone in my life.
“Oh Lucian, thank the creator, oh Lucian, …” I whisper and tears are streaming from my face. He is carrying a bundle in one hand and a candle in the other, lights it magically before ducking in through the narrow low door way.
He places it carefully in a holder on the wall, comes across to me and crouches down.
I am sobbing incoherently. “Thank the creator you have come …” I try and say, over and over. I try to reach him, link him and can’t and I strain against the chains.
“Shh,” he says and strokes my hair, my face. “It’s alright. Everything is fine now. You are safe.”
I wait for him to undo the shackles, to break them from the wall but he does nothing, just strokes me like you would an overwrought horse to calm it down and when my sobbing lessens, he sits down on the blanket on which I have been kicking and thrashing and which is now beyond the reach of my feet. I am still wearing the gold coloured shoes and the dress. I could feel it being that but wasn’t sure in the dark.
He just sits and looks at me.
I struggle to speak and ask why he is not setting me free, and I am praying that I am wrong, that he didn’t do this to me, that his madness wasn’t such that he would do this to me, this of all things, of all things.
Then he starts talking, tells me that he will take good care of me and keep me safe from myself, after all, I stopped him from hurting himself at the Northern Tower, now he would do the same for me.
When I stop screaming he goes on in the same gentle tone and tells me that he is sorry for the inconvenience and that this is only a temporary solution until more fitting quarters have been finalised for me. I can’t stop screaming and thrashing against the chains, can’t stop screaming at him. I can’t stop. I am not getting through to him, I don’t know what his madness is, I don’t know how to communicate my fear and terror and total horror at this, that I don’t understand, why, why are you doing this? What have I done? What are you doing?
But all I can do is scream and he sits, watching me sadly, trying to talk about the sense of the arrangement and all I can do is scream.
When he leaves me I scream even more until I cannot even make a single sound and later, I become aware that the candle will burn out and I will be in the dark again and ...