The following narrative contains scenes of torture, and a pickaxe penetrating a skull. That may sound like a lot of fun for simulated violence lovers like me, but for the rest of my audience, reader discretion is advised.
It seemed that the assumption that Mhanuel had been replaced was correct. The current leader was a sneering, brown haired man in his late twenties. He waved me off immediately.
“Take her to the basement. She’s the problem of Dez, not me. I don’t really care.”
Before I was hauled away, I saw my mother. She was smiling and looking at the back corner of the room, as if some floating creature was telling her a joke. My mother has some sort of metal issue, perhaps more than one, so for all I knew she might really be conversing with a creature. Either way, she did not notice me. I figured it was better this way.
I wasn’t expecting to be thrown into a manhole, but that’s what happened. The “basement” it turned out was actually a catacomb that had been expanded. I was in what appeared to be a really awful waiting room. I could have done my trick back when I had met the leader. I could have jumped over my bound wrists so that I could actually put up a fight. I might have won too, but I was nervous. I didn’t know this new guy, and I noticed his weapon. It looked like a small dart launcher. I didn’t want to take any chances.
I sat down in a chair next to the only other person in the room. It was a man, he looked dead. His arm was missing, and his bare feet lacked most of the toes, seemingly at random. Sitting down caused my head to swim. I realized just how dehydrated I was. I stared up at the manhole and into the mansion as the two men who had escorted me here closed it on me. We were left in dim torchlight, the walls nothing but jagged stone. I saw a door of iron and decided I should try to get information out of the man beside me. Or at least find out if he was dead or not.
“What’s behind that door?”
The man’s face snapped up from its limped position. He stared at me and said, “No, Jutt… How did you manage to get yourself caught up in here?”
I realized that this was Mhanuel. He was probably ten pounds lighter now that his arm was gone.
I shrugged, “Failed a mission. But I’m not worried.”
“You should be.” He said.
I shrugged again.
In seconds, the metal door swung open with a metallic shriek. A short, hooded man stepped out carrying a disembodied arm. He had the look of madness in his eyes that I had only seen on my mother, and very occasionally in my own reflection. But don’t worry. I’m normal most of the time, I swear.
“Oh, good. I was told by Orion that I would be getting some nice flesh soon. But don’t worry, miss! You won’t be losing any of your digits right away.”
I wasn’t actually sure what to say about this. It’s not often that your torturer talks to you so casually about your impending torture.
He continued, “I’ve just thought a really easy way to work with the teeth! Pulling them out has always been a hassle, but I’ve thought of something much easier I want to test on you!”
He left and then returned, the limb replaced with a pickaxe. Was he going to knock my teeth in one by one with that? Nope, instead he hacked a chunk out of the wall and then refined one of the smaller pieces. He dropped the pickaxe on the ground and strode over to me, shoving the stone into my mouth.
“Oh yes, this should work out just fine. I’ll have to get a contract with some associates to make moulds in the future. That way I can get all the teeth uniformly. For now, we experiment!”
He grabbed my short hair and pulled my through the iron portal. It was another crudely dug room, but much larger. It contained something that I hadn’t even know existed.
“Isn’t it amazing? Look, this is what the southerners call a ‘battery network!’ I’ve tried hitting people with shocks, but it is so boring compared to just severing fingers.” He sighed, but he wasn’t done yet, “No no, I actually use it to power the machine over there.”
He pointed to what looked like one of those foot-powered wheel grinding stones. Instead of a stone, there was a disc of metal with teeth.
“I’m saving that one for someone famous,” He smiled, “Uses up all the batter, and I really don’t like dealing with acid. Like I said, I specialize with sharp things.”
Finally, I said, “So why the teeth and the rock?”
I was surprised with how understandable my words were, considering there was a stone in my mouth.
He answered, “Well, I like to experiment, you must understand.”
I nodded, as if we were long time friends or something.
Then I decided it was time. He wasn’t going to damage me without a fight. I pushed the rock out with my tongue and then jumped, pulling the ropes under my legs. Then I ran at him. He smiled and shoved a wooden club into my stomach. I vomited mucus and bile, the only things in my stomach. He took my bound arms and hooked them onto a peg at a tall table.
“See how this table comes right up to your chin? Isn’t it wonderful!” It was as if I hadn’t just tried to attack him, as if we were still buddies. “Now comes the fun part!”
He placed my chin on the table. My heart started pounding. I kept telling myself that I didn’t need my teeth. I was so close now, my mother was right here! I just had to get free, take out this fool, and then maybe get Mhanuel to help me out. From the corner of my eyes, I could see the torturer, Dezallldwinn I think his name was, rummaging through tools. On the ground in the corner I saw a large jug of water, likely used to wake up people who fainted. Make sure they felt everything.
“I think I’ll just use my hands. Okay, I have two rules. You have to tell me how it feels, and you have to keep your voice down. I hate screaming.”
I didn’t bother trying to look at him. He grabbed my head in one hand, and then lifted it up. I couldn’t see what he was doing behind me, but I assumed that he had balled both fists up over his head. Then, they slammed down, and half my teeth, the top half, shattered. Sharp pains ran up my face into my brain. I probably would have vomited if I had anything left inside me.
Then, before the pain even faded, he pulled me off the table and the peg and thrust my head into what appeared to be a vice specifically designed for heads. He smiled. Not an evil, sinister, or even insane smile. Just a regular smile, like I had just done him a favour and had promised to do another one free of charge. Is that what this was to him?
Just as the first wave of pain began to recede, he put an uppercut into my jawbone, smashing the rest of my teeth. Funny, it wasn’t so bad the second time. Maybe I was getting used to it. I sneered at my new “friend.” I didn’t really care what he thought at this point. Blood poured from my sneer and splashed I the floor, and a couple of tooth chunks slipped out from my lips. My saliva had become tainted with iron and syrup.
“Perfect! And so quiet! We’re going to get along great Alexandre. And I love that expression! So fitting, so wonderful!”
I let the pain wash over me. I didn’t separate myself from it, I just felt it and accepted it. Blood ran down my lip and dripped onto the floor slowly. Then I realized that my hands weren’t hooked into anything.
“So? How is it?”
He stepped forward and pushed my mouth closed, and another flurry of bolts ran through my face, sending pain signals to my brain.
“Fine if you don’t touch it.”
“Interesting! So you’re saying that I can freely cause the subject pain just by touching their broken teeth!”
I stared into Dezallldwinn’s eyes, tried to push the dehydrated dizziness from my mind, and then rushed forward. He hadn’t tightened the head vice, so nothing was holding me back. I thrust both fists into his neck, and he scrambled back, clutching at his throat with surprise. It was as if a friend had suddenly turned on him. I wondered what it was like to be inside his brain.
I spat bright pink blood on his shoes.
“We’re done here, Dez. You’re time is up. I’ve never killed anyone, but I wouldn’t mind starting.”
Dezallldwinn was beyond offended. He drew a long, thin sword with siderings.
He sighed, “I don’t want to hurt you, Alexandre. I really don’t. I want to keep you around as long as you can last, I really do.”
I stepped back and bumped into the vice, and then I stepped to the left and moved back again, edging towards the door. Dez cut at me, but missed. I had the feeling that he wasn’t all that good at armed combat. Or unarmed combat. The presence of the weapon was only really an issue because my hands were still bound. Maybe I could get him to cut the ropes with his sword?
I tried, edging back. It didn’t work, his sword was unbelievably dull. I was more angry than I was scared. This man was so stupid, so weak, but I couldn’t fight him properly!
And I couldn’t close my mouth. It turned out that the pain was worse after the act then during it. My own face was the source of the pain. Could you even fix teeth? No, I might have to get them all pulled out.
I heard the door open behind me. Damn! I must have been too loud, and now the man had backup. I turned and saw that Dezallldwinn was not the one who’s backup had arrived. It was Mhanuel. He was holding the pickaxe by the head and handing it to me.
“Don’t you dare-” Dezallldwinn’s piercing scream was interrupted by a shard of metal piercing his cheekbone and entering his brain.
I didn’t actually hit him that hard, and so the axe didn’t get too deep, but I could tell by his suddenly vacant and mildly surprised gaze that I must have punctured something important.
I let go and the pickaxe clattered to the ground. I stepped back and stared. I might have stared until I passed out. My limbs were shaking, and I fell to the ground, seizuring.