He left me in the dark for a very long time that time.
How many days might it have been? Three, four, more?
Who’s to say?
But it gave me the time I needed to calm down and re-assess the situation.
Before, I had been simply too distressed to think. Then, he had given me something that made my thoughts slow as syrup and my head heavy and hollow and my feelings far away.
I knew well enough that the wine he was giving me was tainted. It tasted bitter and at the bottom of the metal cup there was a residue. At first, I didn’t want to drink it and he forced me. Later, I wanted to drink it because it helped me not be aware of the pain so much and it helped to drift the time away.
The worst were the hours after the wine had worn off and before he finally came back.
Even though I was not now chained to the wall but flat on my back on the layers of blankets he had brought and arranged, my arms hurt then bad, and my back, and I would have given anything to be able to turn over and curl up and ease the pressure on my spine that was unbearable.
I would lie and cry and sometimes, I would hear myself laugh and I was frightened that I was truly going insane.
I could not keep my thoughts together, they would jump from one thing to another and they would be out of my control, as though the faculty for given them a direction no longer existed; it seemed to have broken down and I was at my thought’s mercy.
It was truly terrifying.
I hated him so much, so unbearably and every pulse of pain and agony deepened this desperate, bitter hatred. Yet I would pray for him to return and give me a brief respite from the darkness and the pain and I could not help myself, no matter what I did, for crying in sheer relief and gratitude every time I heard his footsteps, saw his blue light approaching.
I hated myself for my own weakness and for not being able to save myself, help myself, talk my way out of it, influence him in the slightest.
I hated myself with abandon every time I took food from his hand, every time I took a drink from his chalice, every time I allowed myself to feel his touch and not fight him, bite him, strike him, try and kill him.
Oh creator how I hate us both!
How – and this is the thought that I would have in brief flashes of clarity, over and over again, how did it come to this?
How did I not expect this, foresee this?
How could I have missed this?
I know more about this – whatever he is, perhaps Chay was right, and he is, truly and honestly, a demon and not a man at all – I know more about him than ever one could know about another.
And yet I know nothing, and understand nothing.
I knew my pains by then well enough to have a sense when his return could become a reality.
This time, they exceeded anything I had experienced before and still, he had not come.
I fainted, awoke, wet myself, cried, slept, awoke, screamed, thrashed myself sore against the wrist bindings and those at my feet and still, he had not come.
Slowly, slowly it began to filter through to my awareness that he might never return, that he had chosen differently, changed his mind, fallen into outright insanity himself or simply died somewhere with no-one to take care of it and rebuild him or revive him this time, and that I would simply lie here and die, fall to dust and someone, a thousand years from now, would find my bones scattered across the brittle remnants of the blankets.
When I thought it for the first time, it shocked me back into some kind of clarity and somehow, it stopped me from feeling sorry for myself.
I lay in the dark and for the first time since he brought me here I could rise across and above the pain and be in a different place, a place above the mindflashes that had driven me to desperation, in a place where there was control of my thoughts.
I was able to call upon specific memories then and watch them dispassionately. The first thing I called up with deliberation was the last time I had died.
I had died so one of us would live and restore the other following the madness of our angry fight.
It distracted me and I wondered if it was that which had caused him to do what he had done.
Still, I could not make sense of it.
I replayed our conversations, if that is what you could call them, in my mind to try and understand. Damn it, if I am to die here, I want to know why.
I just want to know why.
Tell me why and I will cease to struggle and accept it as my punishment for the moment when I looked across Pertineri’s spires and thought that I could have anything I wanted. I will accept this as my rightful fate.
Even as I thought it, I knew it to be a lie.
Even if I knew why, I would argue against it, not accept it, not bend my will to the inevitable for I have never truly believed that anything was inevitable, that anything was insurmountable, that anything at all could not be overcome by me if I truly tried.
Not even Lucian.
Especially not Lucian.
I was very cold now, hungry. Very thirsty. No Conna here to rub my back and whisper small encouragements or distract my thoughts.
No plan of escape.
Just the dark.
And it doesn’t stop, it doesn’t end, it goes on and on and as it does, it just gets worse.
This is not in my power to have it stop.
I am entirely powerless to put an end to this my suffering – this is not my choice, this is not my doing.
I have no magic.
Perhaps I never did and all I had were tricks, fancy tapestry weaving that gives you an illusion of control, an illusion of knowledge, an illusion of power.
I wish I was an illusion, too, for they do not hurt like this.
I wish he would come back and make it better for I cannot help myself.
I cannot help myself and neither can or will the creator; the only one who can help me now is Lucian. He has the power to end this for me as he had the power to begin it.
I lie in the dark and keep the vigil for him then, from now until the end.
He will come or he will not come.
It is all the same now.
It is a relief to know and not to have to fight any longer.
I’m too tired now.