The Dagger's Dungeon
A Short Story
A Short Story
The day was warm, sunny, and still. Perfect, I thought, to get some reading done by the lake. It was there a young messenger, barely fit to wield a sword, found me. It was Erodyn, a young messenger who believed that all wizards were gods. He wasn't the brightest, and would often attribute my knowledge of his presence with some arcane third sight. Granted, it was something I could do, but more often than not I would see him bumbling about in search of me or, in this case, notice his shadow fall over me.
"What is it, Erodyn?" I asked, in my typically bored manner. Erodyn nearly jumped out of his skin. I turned to look at him. He was young and handsome, with corn-colored hair that lightly touched his shoulders and not a blemish on his youthful face. I was sure he had already made young girls giggle back home, and given a few more years of hard work he would be a real lady-killer. He made us older guys giggle for a different reason, of course. He was a clumsy oaf, a boy in an army of men who hadn't quite found his footing yet.
"M-m-message for you, m-m-m'Lord," Erodyn stammered, probably thinking that I had done it again with my crazy wizard stuff. I waited. Erodyn continued to stare at me.
"Well," I asked, "what is it? Come on, don't just stand there!" Erodyn tried composing himself, but failed, before finally blurting out his message.
"Captain Tilinus requests your presence in the dungeons of the fort, sir."
I sighed. "The dungeons? But it's such a beautiful day. Can it wait?"
Erodyn shook his head. "The Captain wanted me to stress that it was a matter of security, sir."
I growled. a "matter of security" meant we had captured a prisoner and my talents were needed to deal with them. I thanked and dismissed Erodyn before making my way towards the fort. I decided I'd leave my books by the lake, reasoning that if I was quick, I'd be able to return and finish where I left off. I met Captain Tillinus in the dungeon's main office. Upon my entry, he smiled warmly at me and opened his arms in greeting.
I held a hand up to shield me from his impending embrace. "Tillinus. It's a nice day out and I'd much rather be doing something else, like not working."
"Mordeux, you grouch, it's always so drab talking to you." Tillinus never stopped smiling. He led me through the office and into the cells.
"Did you think that maybe I didn't want to be here?" I countered, annoyed with his smile.
"You're at my side, friend. Where else would you be?"
"Literally anywhere else."
Tillinus laughed. I remained surly as we passed rows of cells. Most were empty, but every so often we would pass one with someone inside. Prisoners of war, Dominion scouts or Pact warriors chained and dragged back for interrogations, beatings, and general mischief. Some of the prisoners were calm but the majority had their wills broken days ago. Now they were rotting away until we saw fit to execute them. A pity.
Tillinus led me through a heavy oak door into the interrogation room. Lit braziers stood in each corner, casting the whole room in an orange glow. The floor, though dry, was stained with the color of dried blood. A table, adorned with various instruments, sat against the right wall. To the left, one the more mundane interrogators, a man named simply "Red" was washing his hands in a low basin of water. He turned his head to us as we entered.
"Ah, Captain, 'eh tried my best but this pig wouldn't break too well." He continued scrubbing his hands. "Prob'ly best you brought 'ye heavies in 'ere." Red sickened me. He was a Breton who derived great pleasure in his work. Rumor was that whenever a man screamed, he would become erect with pleasure. He also never washed that filthy beard of his. "Yup, think 'eh migh' stick around a wee bit and watch the light show. 'Eh love seeing 'ye wizards at work, Mordeaux".
I glanced at Tillinus, who merely shrugged. "Fine. But keep that maw of yours closed." I strode past Tillinus and stopped in front of the prisoner, suspended by chains against the far wall. He was unconscious, presumably from the beating Red had given him. He was an Orsimer, judging by the pointed ears and protruding jaw. His skin, however, was paler than an average Orc, and nearly the color of a Breton. "Why do we have an Orc down here?" I asked Tillinus.
"Caught him with a band of Pact scouts running for their border," came the response. "He was the only one we couldn't take down."
I looked back to the Orc. "Mercenary, then?"
"Looks that way."
I shrugged. "No matter. What do we want to know?"
Red interrupted. "Tryna' find out what 'ee knows."
I patted the Orc's cheek before focusing my will into my hand. I channeled my Magicka, unleashing a shocking jolt of electricity into the Orc. He awoke almost instantly, thrashing in pain against the chains that bound him. I pulled away, and the torture began.
"What was your affiliation with the Pact, Orc?" I growled, sending another jolt of energy through his body. He resisted, snarling at me.
"Think I'll break because you've got some fancy tricks up your sleeve, magician?" For an Orc, he was well spoken and articulate. I answered him with another round of pain.
"What was your mission here? Are you part of a larger force?"
"Shor's bones, is that all you've got? That slow fellow of yours hit harder than this."
I repeated my methods again and again, always using Lightning Palm spell with varying degrees of power. An hour passed, and the Orc had given me very little. His name was Gaegron, a mercenary sometimes contracted by the Pact for special assignments. As to the nature of his current assignment, he would not say. Whether or not he knew the location of a larger military force, I would never find out.
I was caught off guard when I felt the magicka in the air stir. I looked around for the source, but when I realized it was Gaegron, it was too late. I tried to unleash a fireball, but I was too drained. I was thrown back, slamming into the far wall before losing consciousness.
By the time I came to there was no saving Red. His face had been melted. Tillinus stood over me with a mender nearby. He looked sore, but alive. "Are you hurt?"
I felt my head. There was dried blood. The mender busied himself fixing me while I turned my attention to Tillinus. "What in Oblivion happened?"
"The Orc broke free. He.." Tillinus paused, "I think he melted the chains. But where did he get the magicka for a spell like that? And why hadn't he broken free sooner?
I coughed. "I think he was gathering magicka. Must have recovered enough to break free. Why in Oblivion wasn't I warned about this?"
Tillinus shrugged. "We didn't know. When the men dragged him back they didn't mention any spells, and being an Orc, well, it was easy to assume."
"That assumption cost Red his life," I countered. "Not that I'll miss him." When the mender was finished, Tillinus helped me up. "Did we stop him?"
Tillinus shook his head. "By the time the alert was sounded, he'd blown a path through the kitchens and took off into the woods. We've got riders searching for him now." Disoriented, I followed Tillinus topside. The beautiful weather had turned into a violent thunderstorm. Rain came down in sheets, and a fierce wind whipped across the fields.
"You know what the worst part about all this is?" I asked wearily.
"No. What is it?" Tillinus asked. me.
"I never picked up my books."