Grand Prison, Fetid Prison

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A little fantasy short story I wrote a while back when someone challenged me to write such a thing, arguing that it was nigh-on impossible. Well, I tried, and I don't think the result was all that bad. You decide.

Submitted: November 21, 2012

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Submitted: November 21, 2012

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Dagman sat in his study, staring blankly at the dusty table that was his writing desk. No more would books decorate it, carelessly left open with empty brandy cups leaving odd brown stains, no more would the bleach white skulls with their jolly smiles make him grin as he paced late in the night, trying to remember some complexity he had missed in his studies, and no more would his fine inkwell be used, a dip for his fine, long goose feather pen, scrawling notes on odd sheets of parchment, be they serious studies or simply idle scrathing. He sat down, staring blankly into the gloom of his stone tower room, the fine rugs in disrepair, a mountain of stained robes and torn shoes in one corner, and a filthy bed, unwashed for the lack of water.

The tower, he had found out from a bit of research, was ancient, a tall dome rising out of the desert on the island where he had spent most of his life, only accessible through a single door built of what seemed to be the huge carapaces of some ancient crustacean. Inside, the tall, undressed stone walls, perfectly even as if made from mud, created a sense of eveness and symmetry, a sense of darkness and loneliness, a sense of something ancient. The tapestries he had decorated them with in his younger days had long since been burned for warmth. The long room just behind the door had once been a sort of visiting room, but it had been empty of any wanted visitors for a long time. The tables had been looted long ago, his boxes of dishes and fine wines carried away, his chandeliers replaced with rude camp candles, now waxy, shapeless mounds. The long, winding hall behind the barred door that was the last barrier between himself and the outside world circled around a large room underneath, which he had used for exercise and for demonstrations and experiments. Then, a tall flight of winding stairs gave access to the dome, a great amber structure that in its heyday could have passed for a palace.

But not now. Cobwebs hung in profusion. The stink of urine and feces filled the dark, dusty air, and the growls of the soul of the place's ancient inhabitants seemed to fill his ears. Dagman had run out of candles months ago, and torches even before that. His eyes, he felt, could never see in the full light again. His hands, dark blue as where all his people's, seemed to blend in with the darkness, his similarly toned skin seemed to be a smoky black in the fetid night. His long dirty robe felt like a hair shirt, and he wished with all his heart that he had enough energy or resources to give himself something fresh to wear. Sighing, he pulled himself off of his bed and walked to the top of the stairs, listening.

He had been under siege for four months. They had arrived on the last day of spring, a whole contingent of seemingly random men, bearing swords and spears and a writ for his arrest. He had barred the door, terrified, unwilling to abandon his precious home. Trying desperately to drive them off, he had raised all the corpses (as a student of anatomy and necromancy, he had quite a few) and attempted to direct them at his enemies, but they had been dismantled, the bones and rotting flesh burned. He had tried to blast his way out, first with magic and then with alchemy, but had failed, instead only having close encounters with death by his own hand. The walls of the once benign place seemed to work against him. Dagman sat behind his desk, and stared blankly ahead.

Once, he had tried calling for help. The middle child of a wealthy House Jelvgoaud warlock, he had a long history with the noble wizarding family, and good standing. But it was not in the nature of the selfish Jelvgoaud to help one of their fellows, especially if it could work to their advantage. Dagman had powerful enemies in his own family, and no one had answered his pleas. Somehow, the besiegers had managed to block off his last means of escape; they had somehow halted his Traveling ability; moving out of the tower by magic had been eliminated.

So now he sat, alone in the dark, his greasy black hair and blood-shot eyes ghosting around in the lonely black, searching for food and light, wanting to lay down and rest forever in a clean bed, to enjoy the pleasures of an older life. He did not want to die, not now, barely in his twenties, while his grandfathers, ancient warlocks, had managed to live monumental hardships to over four thousand years of age. Shivering, he pulled the dusty garment tighter around him, and felt like weeping. Suddenly, he heard a noise like a glass bell. The small ding grew louder and louder, mirrored by a steady humming. He stood quickly, brushing his robe off. That was the sound of Traveling. Someone had broken through both his and the besiegers enchantments. Swinging open the door to the stairs and into the large room, he skipped every other step, nearly tripping over his robe. Dashing into the large open area, he saw the blue Traveling gateway expand on the large stone dais, revealing a tall, older woman with the same deep blue skin and dark eyes, her white hair all done up in seemingly random spines, and dressed in a long, extravagantly golden robe. He could have groaned; this was Mayin, a nightmare in the best of times, suffering from serious memory lapses caused be her far advanced age. It was likely she had wound up here by accident. But still, it was someone. She was among the most powerful witches in the world, and perhaps she could help.

“Mayin! You heard my call?” The woman tilted her head, and suddenly grinned.

“Ah! Foryn! I have not seen you since you where a young man!” Foryn was Dagman's younger brother. Dagman grinned, and took the woman's hand, leading her a bit farther away from the shutting gateway. The chances of getting back through where slim. He had seen bodies severed in two trying to jump back through such a portal. “Please, how are you doing?” She sniffed the air suddenly, and grimaced. “Not keeping a clean house, I see? You should pick up your toys.” Suddenly, she stared up into the air, and began to hum. Odd, he thought, but he shook her gently on the shoulder anyway.

“Mayin? Are you alright?”

“Oh, yes. Just remembering the house where my toys used to be.” Dagman took a deep breath, and decided to try to explain.

“Listen, Mayin, I need you help.”

“Me? I keep my things in a wooden box, usually. Keeps delicate plants warmer.”

“Yes, yes I know you do. But listen, Mayin. I am being held hostage in my own home. I need a powerful witch like you to help me escape. If you and I Link, we can blast our way out, I know it!” The witch looked at him for a minute, as if considering, and then giggled.

“Oh, Joran, you where always one for jokes. That is why I loved you!”

“No, no Mayin, it is Dagman, Adelmeris's son. You remember?”

“Oh yes! Your father had a knack for trouble as a boy, I remember. What is he up to these days?” Adelmeris, Dagman's father, had been dead for almost four years.

“He is fine. You know him, always busy with his studies.”

“Yes, yes, always has his nose in a book.” Mayin said, with a small nod and a grin. Dagman grinned weakly, thinking on how to reason with the woman.

“Listen, Mayin, may I have your permission to form a Link? We really must get out of here!” The woman nodded slowly, and Dagman breathed a sigh of relief. Suddenly, she grinned.

“Thank you for coming over, Dagman, although I do not remember the house being this dirty. Do you know where my slave has gone?” Dagman resisted the urge to shout at the woman. This was an exercise in futility.

“No, Mayin. We need to form a Link!” He raised his voice, and she looked startled.

“What? Link? Why?”

“I am under siege! Look around! Did this place look like this the last time you where here?” Mayin had never actually visited, but Dagman hoped she did not remember.

“No, no you are right. Whoever has done this...do you want my help finding them?”

“Not at all.” Dagman took a deep breath. They where making progress. “We need to escape. You are the most powerful witch I know.” Maybe she would buy it, “and I need to reclaim my tower.” Mayin nodded, and the leaned over, kissing him on the cheek.

“Oh, alright Joran. Let us be rid of these bandits!” She raised her fist and grinned, and Dagman made a less enthusiastic response. Whoever Joran was, perhaps posing as him could work to his advantage. Suddenly, Mayin sniffed, and sat down, pulling a rag out of her pocket. “Oh, Joran, I've missed you so. Where have you been all these long years?”

“Here, right here, darling.” He reached out, hoping that he was right, and Mayin looked up, still weeping.

“Is it really you? Why would you leave me.”

“I was trapped, my darling. You have finally found me.” Mayin dried her tears, but remained seated. “If you want to get out together, we are going to have to escape from the monsters blocking the way out. Do you understand, darling?” The old witch nodded, and Dagman helped her up. “We need to Link. Open yourself up to me.” Mayin finally tucked the handkerchief away, and raised her arms. Dagman felt suddenly the immense amount of magic pouring threw her, and summoned his full will not to fall back in fear. A woman so volatile wielding so much power was a frightful thought. But there was not time for thoughts like that now. This was the moment he had been waiting for. He summoned his strength, and took in Mayin as he would an enchanted relic or token, adding her stored strength to his.

The power rushing through his veins was euphoria. The world seemed alive, the smells and sights and textures all more real. Focusing, he raised a hand to the heavy iron door, and, with all the strength he could muster, hurled an enormous fireball at it. It arced through the air and smashed into the door, but dissipated as it made contact. How was that possible? He was wielding enough power to level stone walls. Again he tried, but it failed again. Then he tried lightning, then probing the door and trying to dismantle it, then fiddling with the lock using a tendril of power. Nothing worked. The door was like a void to his magical senses, something outside of the world. The whole tower seemed like a malevolent black beast, trying to keep him inside. Finally, he collapsed, and let the magic sink out of him, exhausted. Mayin clapped giddily, like a little girl getting a new present.

“Oh, how wonderful, Joran! We are together again!” She made an almost squealing sound and walked back over to him, sitting down on the cold stone floor, and putting her head on his shoulder. He was trapped. There was no way out of this tower, a place he had once sought refuge from the world in, a place where once he had studied the bodies of man and elf with diligence, a place where he had laughed and talked with friends, a place where he had intimate relationships with the characters of the pages of a thousand books. Here, he was trapped. He put his arm around Mayin, and answered.

“I know, dear, it has been so long.”


© Copyright 2020 Traveling Bible Salesman. All rights reserved.

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