Chapter Thirty Three

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The last of the waning orange light hung precariously over the tree littered horizon. As far as views go, there was no doubt a better vantage point, but the small slit in the wall opposite the large mahogany door was more than he could have hoped for out of his current situation. Cells were one thing that he could not become easily accustomed to, regardless of how many he had visited throughout his lifetime. In most regards, the cell mimicked countless others, but each one had its own personality, its own uniqueness. Cold stone wrapped around his isolation, hugged his wavering sanity. It had been weeks since he had been dragged into the castle walls, which he presumed was Castle Bondary, though he could not be sure due to the dark hood and frequent bouts of unconsciousness.

It was important to occupy both the mind and the body in isolation. Time folded into itself; minutes became hours and hours became days. The main focus for him was to keep his sanity despite the drab situation. The threadbare woolen tunic scratched at his skin. He was sure that it was covered in lice, but it lessened the chill that threatened to leach every last bit of warmth from his body, and in that regard it was worth wearing it. He guessed it had been somewhere around four days since he had eaten, but it could have been as far as a week ago. The pangs of starvation were reverberating through his body like a stoic hum through an empty cave.

Footsteps echoed through the door, but Kareth did not see a reason to move from his spot on the wall. The steps ceased just outside of the wooden door and he heard muffled voices coming from the other side. A moment later the door creaked open and a tall, lean figure stepped through into the small cell, his face covered in shadows.

“Someone wants to see you.” The figure’s voice was gruff and seemed to bounce off of the stone walls.

Kareth raised his head indifferently. “And to think, I was just getting comfortable.”

“Get up.” The figure turned and moved out of the cell and into the hallway. “I am sure my lord will be able to enhance your level of comfort.”

“One can only hope,” Kareth said as he rose from the stone floor.

He had not been chained since being dropped roughly into the cell, and the guards made no move to secure him as he followed the tall man out into the dark, narrow hallway. It was a curious move, this lack of precaution, especially considering that he had killed his captor’s son not two months before. They made their way out of the dungeons quickly, and when they moved up into an open corridor, he noticed that in addition to the four guards and the tall man, another six guards had surrounded him, all wearing the colors of House Bondary.

“Unsheathe your swords,” the tall man said. The guards immediately obeyed, grim and wary looks upon their faces.

Kareth could not help but think that there was something undeniably familiar about the tall, slender man, though he could not place precisely what it was. They began moving quickly through what was undoubtedly a castle; en route to what he assumed would be the main dining hall, or perhaps some great chamber. Servants and cooks, soldiers and knights alike watched and whispered as he was led through the large keep.

When they approached a large archway the amount of guards decreased along with the audience. They moved into a large room with dark wooden rafters that hung the flags and sigils of both Bondary and the Vint, as well as countless other sigils that were undoubtedly pledged to the old Lord Borlay. The walls were decorated with lavish tapestries and oil paintings from nations far across the western sea. Though the floor was cleared in the middle of the large chamber, Kareth suspected this room had seen many a celebrations in its time. In the center of the room, sitting on the dais behind a large platter of food, was an older man with shoulder length white hair and a long matching beard. His glossy eyes looked over his captive for a long moment before finally opening his mouth.

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