Sorik awoke with a start, scanning his surroundings and bracing himself for an attack that did not come. The commotion was further away.
He laid on a bed, (if you could call it that) of itchy straw, complete with a small, stuffed woolen pillow. That was some comfort, at least. The cell, however, was a different story. Bleak and dark room held no heat, being constructed from stone. It was a wonder there was no pool of water in the corner, the source of which dripped down from the ceiling.
Suddenly one of the shouts was heard much closer, getting into the hallway. “This way,” he heard a feminine voice call before multiple footsteps echoing downwards. What in the world…
A young woman stepped through the hall, dressed in a light blue style of dress he had never seen before. She was obviously looking for somebody, as her head shifted from side to side to process the information her brisk walk carried her to. Their eyes met, and she slowed, judging his existence with a condescending posture. Three people wearing similar clothing followed behind her, and stopped to address her target.
“You think that’s him, milady?” one asked after a moment of silence, staring at him.
“No, milady. But he could be any foreigner.”
“No. He’s not from the west. He looks more ragged than that.”
“Excuse me,” Sorik cut in. “Are you referring to me? Am I some specimen to be studied?”
“A Veritian dialect, even,” she stated, pondering while still managing not to acknowledge his sentience. “Intriguing.”
Sorik’s teeth were clenched now. He wasn’t used to being looked down upon, and it itched at his head. Not even Sallus, his headmaster, ever made him unworthy to speak to. “Who do you think you are?!” he fumed.
She was not phased in the slightest. “I am Lady Senture, head of the Eventide.”
He had never heard of the -ure family suffix, but that hardly came as a surprise. Wherever he was, it was obviously far from Veritia, and he probably wouldn’t have recognized any names short of the Keepers and Kings. Obviously she thought she was important, but that didn’t explain why she was here. Especially not when she seemed to have seeked him out in specific. Once again, Sorik wondered at how nice it would be to know what was going on.
“… customary to respond with your name and title in these lands,” she was saying, offense mixing in with condescension now.
“I am Sorik, descendant of the Archon Verik.” In Veritia people would introduce themselves by attaching their name to their like-sex parent, but he decided not to bring that up this time. It was probably wiser to connect his name with the Archon than his father, Ulrik, who was exiled from the country.
Senture nodded in response to the introduction, but the nod was more of knowledge than acceptance. It was clear she didn’t entirely believe him either. Just like the people on the boat, he thought. And with that, memories came back to him. Open seas. Shouting people. That huge, impossible tear in the sky. And Allia. At least, the girl looked like her. What had happened? How had he gotten from the ship to here? He remembered defending himself, then everything faded. He must have passed out. Maybe it was sea sickness or something.
Yells came from up the stairs, snapping him back to the present.
“We need to go,” Senture said, urgent. She gestured towards one of her men, who replied affirmatively. He went up to the cell door and closed his eyes. Around his palm, a circle formed from thin air. It had intricately woven geometric shapes and patterns, and after it formed completely, water came forth and encapsulated the lock. Once it was completely submerged it hardened into ice, and another one of her men swung a club and shattered the lock with one decisive strike. The cell door creaked outwards slightly, evidently not having been constructed on a perfectly level surface.
Sorik, of course, got up and left the cell without a second thought. If these people had come to rescue him, that proved that he had been wrongly imprisoned, didn’t it? Whatever had happened, they were allies. There was no logical reason to stay.
Soldiers came down the steps, one by one, armed with spears and shields. There was no clear number, but they flooded into the hallway like water spilled from a glass. Senture’s men put themselves in between the oncoming threat and the woman they served. Senture, in turn, placed herself in between them and Sorik.
“Stay behind us,” she ordered, “and you’ll live to see the light of day. They won’t hesitate to kill you if they get the chance.”
“Why are you doing this?” he asked. “I don’t even know who you are.”
“Maybe not,” she replied. “But I know who you are. Or at least, who you claim to be. In any case, somebody who willfully connects themselves to a dead god and a dead people is worthy of some investigation, don’t you think?”