Chapter 6 - Following in the Footsteps of a Legend
- Ghost: Casing the Joint - Day 4: 3:00pm
"Okay, the front door seems out of the question, as usual," I told myself as I noted the small army of Hammers standing around. I made the trip down to Cragscleft in order to scope the place out, and see what needed to be brought along on this heist. They now used the old mine opening as the entrance to the rebuilt jail. This meant two things to me. First, the Hammerite barracks were by the front door, to stop massive escapes, and so, in case of emergencies, they could all get out easily. Secondly, I would need a lot of help to get in or out that way. I pinpointed my location on the maps I brought.
I went a little higher up the hill and spotted something interesting. It was a small opening. It was maybe three feet wide, filled with a fan spinning away, pulling fresh air into the deeper part of the complex. After I noticed that one, I noted several more all along the side of the cliff. I presumed that those brought air to different parts of the prison. I wouldn't be able to bring a lot of gear with me since the hole was so small, but at least I could personally fit. At best, I could dragged a small bag of toys with me, but a bow or sword were out of the question. Those vents were to be my way in. I hoped they didn't lead to the dining room or something. As soon as I got in, it would only be a matter of finding my fence and Nightfall's chick. Piece of cake. "Time to go shopping!" I rolled up my maps and jogged back to town.
- Lytha: Break the Will - Day 4: 6:00pm
He sighed, once again.
"I do not want to do this, but you were really not very cooperative."
I lay on the floor, face down. I had lost conscious once or twice. I don't remember. My back was numb now. I could smell my own blood.
I heard the footsteps of the guards behind me. They came closer, and I felt their hands at my arms. They brought me back on my feet.
"You have broken the rule of cooperation, Lytha. Personally, I hate the thought of what we will do to you now, but the laws instruct me to break first the body, then the mind. I wish you a good night, though."
They dragged me back into the cell blocks. I found myself in the opposite cell from where I awoke earlier. Laying on my back, I heard the locking of the door, and the leaving footsteps of the guards.
I blinked into the dim light. I made a figure out in the corner of the cell. It was that tall man who I had noticed earlier. I saw him grin, and behind his lips was the largest set of yellow teeth I had ever seen. He stared at me with this horrible grin. I shrunk back. I knew and I feared what he was going to do. My hands and feet were still in chains, no chance in a fight. He rose to his feet, and stepped closer, without a single word. I had my back at the door, could not back any further. He was so close that I could smell his breath in my face. I could simply stare at him, at his teeth.
In a sudden movement, he reached out and pushed me on the floor. Struggling to come free, I tried to kick him. But he was already over me. With his entire weight, he pressed me down to the floor, grabbing my hair with the left, pulling my head back. I felt the cold stone at my cheek. And then the pain, when he bit and hit me. I felt helpless. So absolutely helpless. I could not even scratch him, or wind myself out off his hold, with my hands in chains. He pressed me down, he torn my clothes, and I could not even cry. Trying to repress everything, I formed a fist with my hand, so strong that it hurt. And then my head seemed to explode. He had started to hit it down to the floor. All went black, again. The last feeling was the sharp pain when he -
- Ghost: Shipping… And Receiving - Day 4: 6:00pm
"Wakey wakey!" I shouted as I banged on the door. Quenton rubbed his eyes as he opened the door. I continued, "How in the hell can you still be sleeping? It's almost dark out!" I let myself in.
He looked confused but grumbled something about working late and playing cards all night.
"I need some gear, and you're the only one I could think of who can get a few things I need in short notice, even though your prices are way too high."
"What ya need this time?" he asked, looking a little scared at what the answer might be.
"I need some gas mines, a few flash bombs, a pair of those boots with the secret compartment in the heels, the smallest lock picks you can find and a jar of that paste I used that time...and anything else you can think I need for a suicide mission."
He had a stunned look on his face but knew better than to ask what I was up to. Instead he staggered into the back room and emerged a moment later with a small box and a pair of boots. He threw the boots at me and said "Try them on." He opened the box and pulled out a small bottle and set it on the table. "That's yer glue, you 'member how ta use it?" He set out a small pouch of tools, grinning stupidly and giving off a chuckle, because those definitely were the smallest ones I'd ever seen. "How soon do ya need the mines and flashers?"
"Yes I know how to use the glue, and I need the gear now, or as close to now as you can get, no later than tomorrow morning, I'm in a little bit of a rush." Quenton winced visibly and said exactly what I knew he would -- "I can get 'em in a couple hours...but it's gonna cost ya."
"So typical," I answered, but I needed the stuff now. "Fine, whatever, just deliver them to me as soon as you get your hands on them, cash on delivery. I'll be taking this other stuff now as a deposit to keep you from forgetting." Grabbing my stuff I headed for the door without another word.
- Jyre: Betrayed - Day 4: 6:00pm
I could feel its presence behind me as I fled through the door and down the desolate street. Its groans were a constant echo in my ears. I didn't know where I ran and I couldn't see where I was going. All I knew was that I had to get away! My foot caught on a crack in the stone walkway and I slammed into the ground with a thud. The wind was blasted from my lungs and I could feel blood on my palms where they had ripped open. I glanced over my shoulder as I scrambled to my feet and saw the sickening mockery of life that chased me, shambling closer. Even as I watched, a chunk of its rotting flesh fell from its body. I turned and ran again, plunging thoughtlessly into the nearest shadow. I ran straight into something solid and bounced back off. A second zombie now towered above me, its arms reaching for my throat. I scrambled quickly away, barely holding my feet, and darted into the ruins of a house across the street. Its walls were crumbled and in some places gone completely. But I wasn't overly concerned with that just at that moment. I looked up and saw the second floor.
Quickly I gaze around and found the half-collapsed staircase. I just hoped it would take my weight. The first few steps were gone completely so I had to scramble up. The wood moaned beneath my weight and I felt it bend. The groans of the zombies had reached the door. The first one stepped through just as I pulled myself onto the highest step. Seeing the state of the upper floor I began to sob. At least half the planks had rotted away completely to leave the thin plaster beneath. There were no walls and whatever other rooms had once been there were gone. I expected to feel the zombies' cold touch any second and waited, breath held. When I finally built up the courage to look down I found them milling about in confusion. Not once did they look up. I brought my fear back under control, wiped me eyes and crawled into a dark corner to wait for their moans to fade away.
I must have fallen asleep, for when I next looked at the sky the moon was well past its zenith. For one horrible second I almost believed in the Builder. Then I shook my head at my own foolishness. It was luck, nothing more. I dug into my pocket and pulled out an apple, which I began to munch. Then I took out my supply of paper and charcoal, which I had kept in my belt pocket, and crawled over to a lighter spot. My apple finished, I lifted my stick and began to record the days events.
This to you I do write from the city of haunts. Forgive the badly shaping of my words but my hands do shake much from my small times here. It is bad. Very bad. Never should I have come here. The one of which I told, Ramirez, I fear he hath tricked me. To me he did tell that the haunts they do be much less now but when I does the wall climb I find many, many such dead. Back then I should have turned. Els, he did be right. Adventure it was I sought and so to continue I did. I sneaked and I crept and the shadows I did hug but nowhere did I see signs of where I be. I knew only that cathedral's rear did to the front of me be. Compass I use not but follow instead my feelings. The moans and the groans all around me they be'd and shiver my spine and chill my blood it did. And from the many doors to my ears did come the voices of many a dead one. In every bone I felt their pain and in every breath I feared it. So distracted did I be that see I not the zombie til almost I stood upon it. In my pack I did reach and turn my eyes did I. The flashbomb I did throw but came there no shriek. I look and there it be sitting much unchanged in the dirt. It was dud. Fake. The zombie groaned. I did me panic and run.
Away from it I did get and much relief I felt. I sat me in shadow and my pack unslung. From it did I take a flashbomb and xamin it I did. The trigger that the bang does make was gone! I took another and found the same. Zombie then did me surprise and the pack I did drop. I run again, much and long til this place of safeness did I reach. And now I do this letter pen, though fear I that reach you it never will. Still, it does me distract from the horrible groans that do me surround. More I will record later, if I do survive.
- Nightfall: An Unscheduled Encounter - Day 4: 9:00pm
In spite of Thurm's protests, I made it clear that I would rather sleep at home, and have to take the trip to and fro each day, than sleep with him in the command tent. That is what I was doing right now -- going home. It was late. My pocketwatch told me ten-thirty. No rest for the weary, however, for I spotted a sign that a drop box had a message for me. Sighing, I investigated. I found the letter posing as a piece of debris by the roadside. I picked it up, and, having nothing better to do, read it. It was from Sheam of all people.
This was just lovely. Hopefully Els would show back up, and not try and save Jyre in his current condition. I had to force myself to not be concerned. As much as I cared about what happened to those two, they were not the top priority. This was about more then just helping Jyre get her revenge. This "lady" posed a threat to The City. I was weary, and didn’t want to think of it any longer. I wanted the day to end. One more thing had to happen though.
I was helping Els pick out his equipment, as you asked, when he demanded that I let him go home to get something. I offered to go with him. He refused. I told him that I needed to get him some health potions first. He said that he hates the stuff, and never drinks it. I told him that he was in no condition to run across town and back to get only one item! He wouldn’t even tell me what the item was! I told him that I’d send a servant after it. He refused, and told me that no one should follow him when he went. I told him to at least get some equipment before he went, and he refused again! He left, and I was unable to stop him. I tried to follow him, but he lost me. I’m sorry Daneel, I haven’t seen or heard from him since.
It happened when I was about halfway home. I was in a rather nondescript area of The City, not far from Lord Bafford’s manor, in fact. Suddenly I felt someone walking next to me. I glanced. I saw nothing. I kept on my way, sure that I had an unseen companion. I walked to a secluded corner, and there I stopped.
"You would be wise to heed thy past errors." I heard a voice say.
I knew it. It was a Keeper. Slowly I turned to face the man, asking "Why do you say that?"
The man in a black robe stepped out to where I could see him. "Many forces are at work here, but they all lead to one. Choose one path, not all, and follow it, and the key shall be apparent. If you walk too many paths, you doom yourself to hardship."
- Lytha: A Voice in the Dark - Day 4: 11:00pm
They had brought me back into the other cell.
I stared at the light, at its flickering. I could feel the blood running where he had bitten me. I was sore and bleeding. My back was numb. My clothes were torn. And I felt humiliated and hurt and helpless and alone.
"Lytha," someone spoke to me with the voice of my dead sister. The voice seemed to come from behind. It spoke very quietly, but sounded also very urgent. But I knew that there was only the stone wall, and that no one could be there. I ignored the voice.
The light went on, and off, and on, and off.
- Ghost: Undercover in Cragscleft - Day 5: 4:00am
A sharp knock on my door woke me from my nap. It was still dark outside. That was a good thing. Otherwise it would have had to of been a late night raid. I peeked out of the doorway to my home. I saw a bag sitting in front of my door, with no one in sight. I cracked open the door and flipped the bag open to see a few small boxes and more little bags. I grabbed it and left a bag of coins in the same spot for the messenger to take when I'm gone. I finished packing up what little I could bring with me. I threw on the boots I bought, with the worlds smallest picks in the left boot (I hope I can even use the things). I slung my pack over my shoulder and headed off for Cragscleft, expecting to make it there before the sun came up.
The prison loomed ahead of me. Just before sunrise it seemed almost serene, with only a handful of guards at the front gate and typical prison sounds. I probably should have thought more about a late night entrance through the front door. Even if I had, though, attracting the attention of only one guard would still have proven a bit difficult. The birds started chirping. I took that as my cue to head up to find a vent to make my way in.
Finally I was in an area which wasn’t swarming with Hammerites looking for someone to grab. I made my way to the point where the rocky slope turns into a rock wall. I hoped I could get up to the vent without killing myself or getting spotted. I went down to a spot far away from the front door, where the noise from a fan suddenly stopping wouldn't be heard. I tied a short rope from my pack to my waist, so I could pull the pack up with me. With a running start I jumped and managed to grab the edge of the hole. I pulled myself up into the small crawl space. The fan was blocked by a small grating which easily popped away with a crowbar. This was the part that worried me. Did they have the fans on some kind of alarm if they stopped working? Even if not, would this make a ton of noise when I stopped it? I thought of jamming the crowbar into the blades to stop them long enough to clip the belt driving it, but I decided a big rock would work better. I jumped down to get one. A hauled up a nice big rock inside my pack. Back up to the fan, I closed my eyes and crossed my fingers. I slammed the rock into the blades of the fan, praying that the Builder was still sleeping.
"Oh my god they had to have heard that!" I wasn't sure if I screamed that out loud, or just in my head. It was hard to tell with my ears ringing like they were. Regaining some composure, I cut the belt driving the fan and proceeded to remove the blade section so I could get past it before the alarm sounded or the guards came running. I hadn't seen a Hammerite guard pop his head into this hole yet. Filled with paranoia, I carefully peered out, saw no one, and realized that they must not have heard it. I was confused and deaf, but happy. I tossed the rock out of the hole behind me, and set the blade by the edge of the hole. I also tied a thin rope to the grating so I could find my way back out this way if I had to.
I took what could be my last look at the free world, through the small opening in the side of the hill. I started my (hopefully) short climb into the hell these prisoners had to deal with. If I could manage it, I'd break them all out just to let the Hammers know who was really in charge here.
Air shafts all looked the same in the dark. Thank goodness for the thin white rope I trailed behind myself. After several minutes of sliding through the airways I was not even sure which way was up anymore. My muscles already hurt from trying to move slowly and quietly and trying to not drop the 10 feet to the next shaft intersection. Luckily for me, the Hammers were nice enough to add hand holds along some of the tunnels. I guess this was in case they had to repair the cables that bring power to the vent fans. Or maybe they had people chisel these tunnels by hand. They seemed too irregular for that, though.
Suddenly, after climbing for what seemed like hours, a faint light came into view to my left. I shuffled along the tunnel in my quietest shuffling fashion until I could peek out through the vent into the room below. "Hmm, no happy whistling guards or groups of Hammers waiting to kill me."
The vent popped off easily. I tied my rope to the corner of the grate so I could find my pack and my way out later. If I didn't come back for it they probably wouldn't find it for a while. I wasn't leaving much here anyway. I dropped down into the room, unpacked some things from my pack, threw it back into the shaft. Finally I replaced the vent cover.
The room looked like an average living space. It probably belonged to someone just above a guard, but no one really special. I cracked the door open. Peering out, I saw something I really hated seeing on a job like this: a nice, well-lit, hallway. "Oh man, these people are lame! Why couldn't this be a normal dismally lit prison?" The first thing I needed to do was figure out where I was. Then I needed to know where I needed to be. Finally I had to figure out how to turn off some of these lights, so I didn't get killed along the way. "Hmmm," what a thought, "maybe I don't need to turn out the lights.." I stepped back into the bedroom and rummaged through the closet for a uniform, hoping this guy was my size. A nice red uniform hung there. It was just a little too big. That was actually a good thing, since I was going to wear it over my own stuff. My boots, which I had to keep, were a little different from his, but I didn't plan to let anyone check me out that closely. I didn't look anything like the Hammerite I'd seen walking the streets. I decided that was just because this type of Hammerite didn't usually take strolls about town.
Feeling somewhat confident with my new attire, I stepped through the door into the world of the Hammerites. (I hoped they didn’t mind my grizzled unshaven face, rather then that silly goatee they usually have.) The hallway to the right seemed unpopulated, so that's the way I went. I needed to find a stairway or elevator, so I could find a sign that told what floor I was on. I had to get to the fourth level, the maximum-security area, to find Lytha. I also needed to find where they were holding Ragbert. If all else failed, I could get Lytha out and then come back for him, since I had a decent way to get in, or so it seemed. I had to get both of them out eventually, but right now Lytha was the one I was making money from.
I was nudged from my thoughts by the sound of someone walking towards me. I quickly slowed down. I was just standing right outside of the hall intersection. A sleepy guard walked by, yawning as he went. When he turned to glance at me he started grinning stupidly. "Just keep walking; he was obviously a freak." He finally shook away his giggles and went on his way. I tried to convince myself that the problem was with the guard, but something in the back of my head was nagging me. I tried to keep my "holier than thou" attitude going. At least he didn't ring the alarm or scream something. Rounding the corner I noticed a gated hallway to the left and an elevator to the right. There wasn't much straight ahead. I went to the elevator to see what floor I was on, and maybe get to where I needed to be. I pushed the button and waited for the lift to come down. Much to my dismay it was packed with a bunch of guards mumbling about breakfast. I noticed a few stares and a remark or two about my clothing as they unloaded and walked past me.
Now the paranoia really kicked in. I checked myself to make sure my pants weren't on backwards or something. I couldn’t find anything wrong with me! Well, aside from the fact that my uniform was rather unique. But what do I know about Hammerites? At least I hadn't been busted yet, so I was reasonably happy. I boarded the lift. Once inside, I found that there was good news, and bad news. The good news was that I was close. Two floors up was the maximum-security section. The bad news was this elevator didn't go to that floor. "Great, now I have to go through some checkpoint or something. Lets go up a floor and see what’s happening." I muttered under my breath.
Strangely, the next floor looked very different from the other. It was darker here, with only two guards in sight near an intersection.
Swallowing my fears, I approached the guards and nodded to each as I stepped up. Oddly, they didn't seem to care much whether I was here or not. I figured that the Hammerite disguise was working after all. I turned confidently to the right to create the illusion that I knew where I was going. After a turning few corners it became obvious that this was one of the prisoner areas. I saw a sign which read Cell Block 5. "I wonder… where do they keep the admittance records?"
"Can I help thee sir," the guard on watch asked me.
"What?" Where did he come from?
"You asked about the admittance records?"
"No, I'm looking for a prisoner." What the hell was I thinking? I'm going to get killed for this. "Yes, maybe you can; where do you keep your records in this block?"
"Follow me sir," was all he replied. Why did he keep calling me sir? This didn't look like any high priest uniform I had ever seen. It had to be something different. I wasn't going to ask this guy what I'm supposed to be dressed as, though. I followed him to a guard room, which he opened with a key. Inside he showed me the book listing who was kept in this area.
"I thank thee for thy help, guard." I always hated the way Hammers talked but I had to be convincing if this was going to work. I flipped through the book looking for familiar names. I noted a fellow thief or two who had been caught. I went through the entire list, but there was no Lytha or Ragbert listed. This must not have been a complete book.
"Where is the prison registry which shows the new arrivals?" I took a stab in the dark. Maybe he was dumb enough to tell me, thinking I was from out of town or something. He turned to look at me, without saying a word.
I knew he was having doubts that I should be here. Finally he turned away from me to leave, and answered, "Where they always are, sir, in the Inquisitors chambers." His mistake was turning away from me. I slid the blackjack out from under my shirt and thumped him over the head with it. He slumped to the ground in a heap.
"We can't be having ‘thee’ think I don't belong here, now, can we? Have a nice nap, hope you don't get fired for sleeping on the job." I grabbed his keys, checked the log book for an empty cell. I found one, and dropped him in it. I cut off his shirt and gagged him with a strip of cloth so he wouldn't make too much noise when he woke up.
Now I knew there were at least four other cellblocks on this floor alone. There could have been twenty or more in this place, though. This floor didn't matter for now anyway. I had to get up one level to find Lytha. I searched around quietly while looking for a stairway. All I could hear were the moans of prisoners and their cries for help. I didn’t see any more guards around but, then again I didn't see that first one who snuck up on me either. I also didn’t see a way out, so I headed back to the intersection where the two guards were probably waiting to grab me. This time I passed them without even looking at them, and headed to the opposite area. I noticed a sign on the wall that I obviously missed earlier.
Cell Block 3 & 4 - Left. Cell Block 5 - Right. Maximum Security, Straight Ahead.
I couldn't believe I missed that sign earlier. Must have been too worried about being caught. I still needed to go check 3 and 4 for Ragbert, and maybe find a way out.
The entrance was actually leading into cell block 4, but across the floor I could see the door leading to 3. There was a guard by the door to the next block, and one standing inside the office overlooking the entire block. I saw a staircase leading up to behind the guard. I went that way. With a purpose to my walk and a serious look on my face, I planned to walk right into the office and look through the book. I could see now why these Hammerites thought they owned the place. It must have been the clothes. Approaching the door I pulled out the set of keys. I knocked on the door before unlocking and opening it. The guard looked me over casually, not noticing much in the dim light. "I need to check your log book," I told him. I proceeded to flip through the pages of the book. "Ah ha," I mumbled quietly as I saw Ragbert's name in the roster. I felt great that I had found one of my objectives. That is, until I read the line next to his name. He died on the rack while being questioned. "Oh damn!" I cursed, among other things, as I spun around to face the guard. "Where are the Inquisitor’s notes? I have to know what this man told him!"
Confused, the guard's only answer was a stuttering which told me it should be upstairs in the high security area. Someone was going to pay for torturing Ragbert to death, and I knew who it was going to be. "Stay here until I come back to talk with you!" I shouted at the man. I grabbed his keys and the log book and stormed out the door while he stood looking baffled at my anger. Once I was alone I took the key-ring and stashed it in the compartment in the heal of my boot. I didn't need them anymore, and they should be safe there, in case I did. I tried to calm down so I didn't alert the guards at the intersection. A lot of thoughts ran through me. The biggest thought on my mind was the fear that Ragbert had mentioned me to the Inquisitor while being tortured. If that was the case, then I’d have to ask Nightfall to NOT spread my name around. Trustworthy fence or no, I couldn't risk one of them deciding that my bounty was worth more then my skills. I would have to find a new alias, and build a new reputation. I didn’t look forward to that. I also didn't care to end up as a resident here.
I could feel the guards watching me as I rounded the corner to get to the stairway. I think they said something to me but I wasn't in the mood to deal with them at the moment. I went around a few more corners until I reached the stairway up to the next floor. Two more guards waited at the bottom of the stairs, both wearing heavy chain armor. I walked to pass them, but they both held out a hand to stop me.
"State thy business," one of them said.
"I need to speak to the Inquisitor about a man who died here."
"The Grand Inquisitor is busy at the moment, he can not see thee."
"I'll wait!" was my answer. After a moment's pause I lunged past the blockade. Obviously they didn't understand my urgency, since one of them grabbed my upper arm and stopped me in my tracks. I spun and pulled the dagger from under my tunic. It found its mark in the unarmored part of his body. He dropped quickly to the ground uselessly grasping his neck, trying to stop the bleeding that would soon kill him. Before I could deal with the other guard everything went black, just after I felt something heavy hit me.
- Lytha: The Interrogation Continues - Day 5: 9:00am
The Inquisitor gave me a sympathetic look.
"As I told you yesterday, our rules are easy. And you broke the rule of cooperation. I had no choice. But you must understand that it was your own fault, Lytha."
I lay on the floor, once again.
"What we are working on now, is your confession about the two events we have witnesses for. What did you do in the lodge, and what did you do in our Temple?"
I lay motionless on the floor, saying no word. I was filled with numbness.
"The problem is that the confession is needed urgently. So... You have the choice how we shall get it. We can ask friendly, or -- "
A lash from behind, again. I felt the blood running over my back. Must have opened old sores, I thought.
He stepped closer, and sat down beside me. "You do not have to go through all of this. Just look at the instruments in this room. They will open your mouth, trust me. But do you really want to learn this from your own experience? All you have to do is give me the confession about the two events."
I closed my eyes. I wanted the end of this, but I had not the strength to start speaking. All was numb. Nothing did matter anymore.
He sighed, and nodded to the two guards.
- Jyre: Hauntings - Day 5: 9:00am
Dark and silent. I saw nothing beyond the heavy black veil of night, heard nothing through the thick air that surrounded me. I was alone in an empty world without a single ear to hear me scream.
A gust of wind, like a heavy sigh. A spot of gray in the distance. My eyes fixed on it and drew it in. My heart thudded in fear of what I would find.
"How many times, Jyre?" Els's voice. It filled the void with echoes. "The Lady knows best. It is not your place to question."
"Not your place...not your place..." The words rebounded inside my head, taking on the voice of the dead. That which had been black was now gray. I could see figures in the mist. One of them turned to me, pointing. "Foolish child...." He started to cackle.
I was in the dining hall, standing before Els. Guards filled the room, their eyes focused on me and their voices filled with laughter. Els seemed to grow in front of me. His skin became gray and lifeless. His eyes held the same glazed expression that adorned the living dead. "You should have listened to me." His words filled the whole room, blocking out the laughter. "But no. You had to ask, didn't you? You had to know!" The laughter came back, harsh and overpowering. I dropped to my knees, clamped my hands over my ears. The taunting refused to go away.
Hands grasped mine, pulled them from my head. "Hush." My face was pushed into something soft. "Ranson's here. He won't let them get you." I wept into his chest, shivering. He lifted a hand to my chin and slowly raised my head. "Just be a good girl like The Lady says."
He began to change. His face became softer, his eyes harsher. The fingers that cupped my chin began to squeeze. "You were coming along so well, child," -- The Lady's voice. "If only you had learnt your place." She shook her head. Her fingers burnt my flesh. "Such a bright girl. So much potential. Ranson did well bringing you to me. If only you had learnt your place..."
Guilt tore at me. I looked up at her. Begged her forgiveness. Her voice joined the laughter. "No child. You do not mean what you say." She gave me a push and I was falling.
I landed in something soft. The stink of rotten flesh met my nostrils. Looking up I could just make out The Lady's form, staring down at me. I shuddered, rolled over and let out a scream.
His eyes were shrunken hollows, his hair nothing more than a few brittle tufts. His skin was gray and dry, drawn so tightly over his bones that I could see the skull underneath. I was staring at the face of a dead man.
"See your fate," The Lady called down to me. "And learn its face well. For soon it will come to collect you."