Sam awoke when a bucket full of ice-cold water hit him in the face. He sputtered, shook his head, and tried to wipe the water from his eyes until he discovered that he could not move his hands. He'd been manacled to the wall.
A leering, ugly, scarred face grinned at him, revealing several missing teeth. The man's breath was rancid as he jeered, "Well, what have we here? It looks like we've caught ourselves a spy. What do you say, Mr. Hugo? Are you ready to tell us what you know?"
Sam was still gasping from the shock of feeling the water on his face, and didn't answer. He knew no answer was expected yet. First he would be beaten for fun, then tortured specifically for information. Sam knew the typical procedure for torture, and he thought that knowledge made him even more fearful than he suspected he would be if he didn't know what lay ahead.
Sam would never admit this fright to anyone, of course- not even to his own mother. He didn't feel particularly brave as he shivered before his torturers, water streaming down his face and dripping from his shirt, but he knew that one aspect of honor was acting strong even when he felt weak.
The ugly man before him nodded, and two skinny dark shapes darted toward Sam. While the one on Sam's right bore shiny tools that Sam couldn't see but for their sparkling sharpness, the other seized Sam on the chin and sneered, "You'll look at Mark when he's talking to you, understand?"
Sam mustered all the defiance in his tired body to spit on the man's face. The man rewarded the action with a smack.
"That's enough," said the leader, who Sam took to be Mark. The skinny one scampered back into the shadows while Mark stepped forward, each meaty foot hitting the stone floor with a thud. "You probably think you're somebody special, don't you?" the man demanded. "You got closer to the king than most would-be assassins ever dream of. Do you think that makes you special, somehow?"
Sam noted the phrase "would-be assassins," and wondered if he had been successful in his attempt to kill King Joel. He knew one of his targets had survived; maybe both had. He still had enough dignity, however, that he wouldn't stoop to ask this man for information. He wouldn't even open his mouth if he could avoid it.
Before Sam had left the Ma'hala the final time, he'd received some rudimentary training in resisting torture. He'd known that the lesson's he'd learned had only been very basic, but he'd never planned to get caught and had thought his lessons unnecessary. Now, however, as he counted the pimples on Mark's face, which hovered only inches from his own, Sam wondered if his honor would be enough to sustain him. The thought was distinctly unsettling, and nearly contradicted everything he'd ever learned or been taught.
The skinny man with the tools stepped forward at some unnoticed cue, bearing something small and sharp that reminded Sam of a corkscrew, except Sam wasn't frightened of corkscrews. Trepidation filled him, and Mark said, "You know, you're right. You're very special, and because of that, you're going to be getting a lot of attention for the next few months."
One of pain's most disturbing qualities was that it distorted time. When pain was particularly intense, a few seconds could feel like hours. Thus, Sam was unable to determine how much time had passed when, much later, he was tossed into a dark jail cell. All he knew was that sunlight came through the tiny window at the top of his cell.
After being thrown into the room, Sam huddled in a corner for a while, trembling. He was ashamed of his own reaction, but knew he would expect nothing different from a stronger or braver man. After what he'd been through, he needed time to sit still and refuse to move and be afraid.
Eventually, Sam turned his shying mind back to the last long minutes or hours to try to recall what he'd said. He didn't think he'd betrayed his people; he was almost certain he'd told the torturers nothing important.
As Sam reflected on those horrible moments, he knew that he'd been successful at least in his refusal to tell them anything. He remembered how agitated Mark had become as the minutes dragged on; he was a professional, and most of his subjects broke early on in the process.
Sam had given much about himself away, though. In one particularly shameful moment, he'd begun to cry and had wailed that his brothers were dead and it was all his fault. Although Sam hadn't told the men any sensitive information, the knowledge that they'd been able to draw tears particularly shamed him.
Time passed. Sam was left alone. The sunlight that filtered through his window began to take on an orange hue as day became evening. He began to explore his limited surroundings.
Sam's cell, despite its musty appearance, was comfortably large, and came with a cot filled with prickly hay and a bucket that could be used as a latrine. Sam used it once, but after a few hours the bucket began to smell and Sam realized he had no way to empty the bucket.
The sun set. Nauseated by the smell in his cell, Sam sat as far from the bucket as he could get, which was only a few feet. When night fell and darkness permeated the prison, he climbed onto his cot just as he heard the sound of a door swinging open. Light flooded the hallway for a moment, then disappeared again when the door shut.
Sam's first impulse was to pull the blankets over his head and pretend to be asleep, but he resisted. That was not an honorable way to behave, and even if it was, it certainly wouldn't stop the torturers from doing their work. He climbed out of bed and strode to his cell door, ready to face his fate with bravery.
Of all the people to approach, Peyton was the last person Sam expected to see. She wore a fine black dress, and her hair was carefully piled atop her head underneath a black veil. Sam was so startled to see such beauty, which he'd never expected to see again, that he was moved to tears.
Peyton looked distinctly out of place. Even in her drab clothing, she seemed to shine in the dingy dungeon. She wrapped her arms around herself and walked down the middle of the hallway, as if frightened to get to close to any of the cells, even the empty ones.
"Peyton," Sam called, frightened to speak above a whisper, as if such an action would make her fly away like a bird.
She jumped, as if she'd forgotten her purpose in coming to the cell, then approached the bars that separated her from her fiancée. "Sam, oh Sam!" she cried, and tears rolled down her face to mirror Sam's. She ran toward the bars of his cell and gushed, "They said you did it, Sam! I don't know why they'd say that, it had to be a mistake, but they said you killed. . ." She trailed off, aggravating Sam with her inability to say who had died.
"Who, Peyton?" Sam pressed, wrapping his hands around the bars of the cell. "Who died?"
Peyton turned her teary-eyed gaze to Sam, and murmured, "You don't even know, do you? How can they do this to you, Sam? They're holding you for a crime you didn't commit, and you don't even know what's happened! I don't understand it! I always thought Captain Le'Roi was kind, and fair."
"Captain Le'Roi?" Sam repeated. "What does he have to do with all of this?"
"He's the captain of the royal guard," Peyton answered, adopting a tone that revealed that she hadn't expected that she'd need to explain the situation. "When the king was attacked, Le'Roi announced that you did it. I didn't believe him, though, Sam. I would never believe that you could do such a thing."
Sam sighed, and reminded himself that he could no longer hide his true self. He would never speak to his torturers and betray his people, but he had no more reason to hide his alliance any more. He was tired of pretending to be ashamed of his associations with the Ma'hala.
"Peyton," he sighed. "I did it."
Incomprehension colored her face, then she blushed and stepped back. "Sam, what are you saying?" she asked. "What did you do?"
"I attacked King Joel, and Andrew Hoaurhem," Sam confessed, and wished he knew more. "I wanted to kill them both, because I am an agent of the Ma'hala, and my duty is to kill the king and those loyal to him."
Peyton gasped, and confusion mingled with horror as she continued to back away from his cell, as if she was frightened that he would leap out at her. She hit the door of the cell behind her, jumped, and edged closer to him, but only slightly. "You're lying!" she blurted.
"No, Peyton, I'm not," Sam insisted. "Please, don't ask this way. Please. Come here. Listen to me."
Wide-eyed with terror, Peyton began to tremble. "This was all some sort of game, then, wasn't it?" she demanded. "You said you loved me, Sam! And all the people you lied to. . . You joined the royal guard! Sam- is that even your real name? Who are you? Really?"
"My name is Sam Le Saux," Sam explained patiently.
Peyton squealed a bit as a hand covered her mouth. "That's a traitor's name!" she gasped.
Ignoring her interruption, he continued, "My father and grandfather started the Ma'hala together. I am their eldest son, and followed in their footsteps by infiltrating the castle and attempting to kill King Joel II and any other contesters for the crown."
"I don't believe this," Peyton muttered, although the look in her eyes revealed that now she finally did believe what he said.
"Peyton, don't be angry," Sam pleaded. "I know this must come as a surprise, and I meant to tell you before, but-"
"You meant to tell me before?" Peyton interrupted. "Why? What sort of sick game are you playing, Mr. Le Saux?"
"I love you, Peyton," Sam declared, unable to think of any more flowery declarations in his agitated state. "I asked you to marry me because I want to spend the rest of my life with you. You said you love me, and isn't submission to her husband one of a good wife's duties? Peyton, please?"
He reached an imploring hand though the bars. He couldn't reach Peyton, but he didn't want to grab her or force her to do anything. All he needed to know was that she understood what he'd done and still cared for him. If he had only that assurance and none other, he knew he could survive his upcoming tortures.
Peyton, however, didn't move toward him. She kept her arms wrapped around her body and looked from Sam's tormented face to his open palm. "I'm not your wife, and I would never submit to a terrorist such as yourself."
Without a further word, Peyton turned in indignation and marched away. Sam sank against the cell doors, utterly defeated, and continued to stare in the direction Peyton had departed long after she was no longer visible and the doors had shut closed. He blinked, and recognized that to physical pain or torture could ever be worse than what he felt as the woman he loved literally walked out of his life.
A few hours later, Sam recognized that his earlier thoughts were nothing but melodramatic sentiment. Every cell of his body ached, and his torturers knew the best emotionally crippling taunts to use as he writhed under their attentions.
As he grieved for his brothers and cringed under torture, Sam forgot that Peyton had ever existed or broken his heart, up until one of the torturers would mock Sam and open his physical and emotional wounds anew. He knew a little bit about torture from his training in the Ma'hala, and Sam understood what the men were trying to do to him, but that knowledge was a sour comfort when the skin of his stomach was being flailed by a sadistic servant of the king Sam had failed to kill.
Sam knew, too, that he had failed. It didn't matter who still lived, either Joel or Andrew was in power, and both were tyrants with no goal other than to wrest as much democratic power from their people as they could. All that mattered was that the man who still lived was Sam's enemy, and he had ordered the tortures Sam underwent.
Still, the spy didn't speak. He told his torturers lies, and confessed secrets that could never harm the Ma'hala, but Sam still would not reveal the secrets he'd been raised to treasure. Sam vowed that no matter how long he remained imprisoned, he would never tell anyone his secrets. He feared that he would have to live with his information for years before he could be killed.
More than anything else, Sam longed for death. Sometimes, he fantasized about escape. He imagined how he would run down the fine hallways of the castle, and how he would have his revenge on whoever still lived, but too many of these dreams and fantasies were interrupted by sharp pain and cruel, knowing jests for Sam to place any trust in such musings any more. He feared that even if he were able to escape someday, he would be afraid to trust his own senses.
He knew that if he remained in his prison much longer, he would go insane.
After one particularly excruciating afternoon, the two skinny men tossed Sam into his cell, where he writhed on the floor. He felt like he was on fire, and even the touch of cool stone against his skin hurt too much. He couldn't lie and he couldn't sit and even standing scorched the balls of his feet, and so Sam rolled back and forth, seeking some position he could adopt that wouldn't be rife with pain, and aware that no such position existed.
Each passing moment felt like an hour, but Sam had grown used to a sense of timelessness since he had come to the prison. His life could now be divided into two parts- day and night, characterized by sunlight and darkness, respectively. Day and night were very much like one another, and the only real distinction between the two was that Sam usually slept in the darkness of night's comforting cool, although sometimes he struggled to stay awake during the day.
Neither day nor night was entirely safe, for the torturers were likely to come rip Sam from his cell at any hour. Sam constantly lay in a state of exhaustion and unease, torn between the desire to rest for a few hours and escape the world through comforting dreams, and the fear that he would finally find a way to be happy only to have that comfort torn away.
He began to feel apathetic. Waking and sleeping became like one; if he dreamt, he couldn't remember what he dreamt of, and sometimes he wondered if many of the tortures he'd undergone had been nothing but nightmares that mirrored reality too well.
One night, Sam lay half-awake and half-asleep, staring at the wall across from his cell and imagining there was something of note. Far off, he heard a door open and close, and new the torturers were coming for him. He didn't move; nothing he did or said could stop what they were going to do anyway.
Sam didn't even look up when he felt a shadow fall over his face. Sam knew he carried a lantern of some sort, for the only other light in the prison came from his window. Still, he didn't look up.
"Well, well, well," sneered an all-too-familiar voice. Sam looked up to see Andrew Hoaurhem towering over him. The treasurer was quite alive, although Sam was pleased to note that his arm hung in a sling and he looked like he had lost a lot of weight. Sam took a small pleasure in knowing he had wounded Andrew Hoaurhem, even though he hadn't been able to kill him.
Andrew didn't act like a wounded man, however, as he smirked at Sam. He seemed quite proud of himself as he preened, "And to think, two weeks ago, you were so proud. Now, you've been reduced to a shell of a man! You hardly have the strength to lift your head and look at me!"
Indeed, although Sam had turned to watch him when he'd realized who visited him, Sam hadn't yet risen from his cot. He didn't see very much purpose in doing so. He blinked once, then asked, "What happened two weeks ago?"
The question startled Andrew, who blinked, then answered, "Are you losing your mind? That would be a delight to watch indeed, although it is a shame that you haven't yet told us the information we want to know. Perhaps if I step up the torture, you'll break before it's too late."
Sam blinked. Only two weeks had passed since his arrest. Some days, the time he'd spent in prison felt like years, and Sam had hoped that at least a few months had passed. He didn't give Andrew the satisfaction of seeing his surprise and distress.
"I take it the king is dead, then?" Sam asked.
"Oh, yes," Andrew answered, relishing his words. "And I must thank you, my dear friend, for eliminating him for me at such an opportune time. I suppose I could have had him killed myself, but that would have cast too much suspicion on me. You, however, have proclaimed yourself a member of the Ma'hala, and so I can coddle the prince in order to appear compassionate, and have you imprisoned so as not to appear opportunistic, and rule Surivien behind the throne. Thank you."
"I didn't mean to help you," Sam growled. "I meant to kill you."
"Yes, I noticed," Andrew replied, his voice remaining dry even as a hint of a smile quirked the corner of his lip. "That was also very helpful. Nothing convinces a populace that you had nothing to do with an assassination like almost dying."
Sam swallowed a lump in his throat even as he decided that Andrew was utterly despicable. "If I could have killed you and the king both, I would have done so gladly," he said in the best show of defiance he could muster from behind the prison bars.
Andrew sneered, entertained, and responded, "It's that sort of attitude that prevents me from letting you go."
"I don't want to get let go," Sam responded. "I'd rather sit in prison for a hundred lifetimes than pretend loyalty for a moment longer! Besides, even if I was as cowardly as that, we both know you couldn't let me go. You have to make a show of being angry about King Joel's death."
For a moment, Andrew's irritable smirk became a slight frown of respect. A moment later, it disappeared as he said, "We're going to get all our information from you. It may take time, but few men last as long as you have, and even the strongest break. You can't have much strength left."
Sam knew Andrew spoke truth and that he didn't have much time left. His only remaining hope was that he would die under torture before he could give his friends and family up. He wasn't going to admit such weakness to his enemy, however.
Sam couldn't reach Andrew to hurt him, so instead he simply spit on him.
Sam had to be exhausted, because his sleep was so deep that he didn't wake up when he first heard the voice calling him. He dreamt of being alone in a dark room, surrounded by angry voices and painful flashing lights. This dream haunted him day and night, for the images were drawn from his memories of torture.
Sam dreamt that he thrashed back and forth, desperate for some means to escape the pain that was unavailable to him. While sweat rolled down his body and began to pool on his floor, a dark shape approached, and Sam knew this demon would hurt him worse than he'd even been hurt before. As it approached, it hissed, "Sam! Sam! Sam!"
"Sam, wake up!" the whispery voice called in the darkness. Sam opened his eyes, but his cell was dark enough that he could tell no difference between the room around him and the world behind his eyelids.
"Who's there?" he mumbled, forgetting where he was for a moment. The voice was insistent but kind, and such sweetness was alien to Sam after all that he'd suffered through, and thinking he was enjoying a rare, sweet dream, Sam smiled and lost himself in imaginings of who might be calling him.
"Sam, it's Mason," called the voice, startling Sam out of his reverie.
He flew across his cell to the window, and called, "Mason? Is it you, really, or am I dreaming?"
Sam squinted up and out the window, and sure enough, Mason, his one living brother, smiled at him. Sam hadn't recognized Ethan the first he'd seen him, but he had no such struggles with Mason. Even in the darkness, when Sam could only make out a faint outline of Mason's features, he knew his brother.
"It's me, Sam," Mason sighed indulgently.
For a moment, no words passed between them. Sam found himself struck speechless for several seconds, then, in a moment of relief, gasped, "I never thought I'd see you again. I never thought I'd see anyone who I love again. I've been so alone."
"I've feared for you, brother," Mason replied. "I didn't think I'd find your cell, and then, when I did, I feared I wouldn't be able to wake you."
Sam sighed and thought of explaining that endless rounds of torture had utterly exhausted him. He decided against such a statement, loath to disturb his brother so soon after reuniting with him. He smiled, indulging in the small comfort of having a friend nearby, and asked, "What brings you here?"
"I have gifts from mother," Mason answered, and for the next few seconds, he passed small bits of food and a folded piece of paper through the grated window. Once all had been passed on, he asked, "Do you have a safe place to hide all this?"
"I don't know," Sam answered honestly. "These are the first possessions I've had since I was arrested. I don't know if people will search my room after I am taken away or not."
"Read the letter tonight, then," Mason replied. "It's important."
"I will," Sam assured him. "And, whatever bits of this food I don't eat tonight, I'll find an especially good place to hide. Thank you."
"I wish we could be certain that you'd have a safe place to hide everything!" Mason complained. "I would have brought you enough for months if I could have been sure you'd have a chance to eat it."
"Nothing is sure," Sam complained with a sigh. "Every day I wake up hoping that I'll be killed, for the chance is very real, and every evening I am disappointed."
The comment, drenched in honesty, reflected much of Sam's typical outlook of late, but he hadn't meant to divulge these feelings to his younger brother. For a moment, nothing was said as Mason processed Sam's words, and Sam felt shame creep onto his face; he hadn't intended to alarm his brother with his self-pity.
"Tell me about the Ma'hala," Sam called, desperate for news and eager to change the course of the conversation. "I can get no news in this prison. Is everything well?"
"No, Sam, it's not," Mason answered. "We've been struggling for weeks; ever since you were arrested. I think we're starting to get back on your feet now."
Sam cursed, and didn't bother to censor himself. He couldn't make out Mason's expression, but he imagined the younger man would be surprised at Sam's free use of expletives. Seething, Sam demanded, "It's because you received faulty information from me, isn't it? We have an enemy named Andrew Hoaurhem, Mason, and he's controlling Prince Drake from behind the throne. I tried to kill him, but I failed."
"I know," Mason sighed. He caught his breath, then continued, "We all know about the treasurer, Sam. We received your letters, and mother had a plan. We were going to stir up discontent among the people, and present evidence of Hoaurhem's treachery to the ambassador of Ireax, but. . ."
Mason sighed, then complained, "Mom told me not to tell you. She didn't want you to be troubled at a time like this when you need your strength."
"Mason, I'm already worried," Sam replied. "Tell me what's going on."
"Everyone knows you're part of Ma'hala," Mason complained. "Your attack has given the monarchists an excuse to persecute us, and some of those who were uncertain whether or not they would support us have withdrawn from the fight, thinking we ordered you to kill the king, and that we are too anarchist. Things have fallen apart since you acted on your own."
Sam moaned the worst curse word he could think of, then declared, "Mason, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to ruin everything, but I thought I needed to act."
"I know," Mason confessed. "I do, but you made a mistake." For a moment, the accusation hung between them, and Mason continued, "I have to go now."
"No, don't," Sam called.
"It's not safe for me to stay here," Mason insisted. "I'm sorry, my brother, but I must go. Remember to read the letter from mother, and enjoy your food. Whatever happens. . .good luck."
Fearful of being alone, Sam didn't reply. In a moment of irrationality, he imagined that if he said nothing, he could freeze the moment and Mason wouldn't leave. Only once his shadow had passed his window did Sam call, "Mason! Be careful. I don't think I could bear to lose another brother."
For too long, a sort of silence stretched between them, until Sam feared that Mason hadn't heard, and that he was already gone. Then, softly, like a prayer, Mason responded. "You be careful too, Sam."
"I love you," Sam called.
"I love you to," Mason replied. "I have to go now."
For maybe an hour, Sam sat awake in his cell, delighting in the small tidbits of food he'd received. He knew that his torturers could return at any moment, and imagined that he should eat as much as he could before it was taken away, but too much time had passed since he'd tasted sausage, or cheese, or fresh fruit. He nibbled on each delicacy, and ruefully thought of how palace life had almost banished his memories of true hunger.
Finally, his heart stopped throbbing and Sam thought himself ready to read the letter from his mother. He opened it.
I would like to begin by assuring you once more that I love you as only a mother can love a son. You have made a grave mistake indeed, and will most probably pay for it with your life. If I could do anything to save you, I would, but no action I can think of to save you seems viable any more.
I pray that you will remain strong in your final hours, not only for the sake of the Ma'hala and the secrets you might divulge, but also for your own sake. Die with honor, my son.
With Great Love and a Heavy Heart,
Sam sighed, and refolded the paper. He'd hoped for more political information, but he was grateful for the tender message from his mother. The letter was all the more special when he remembered that this was the first letter he'd received from his mother about which he could be certain that her words hadn't been altered.
He slipped the letter under his mattress. Hours later, when he was tossed into his cell after another torture session, the letter was gone, as was his food.
Too quickly, the monotony of depression returned. The small thrill Sam mustered from memories that his family still loved him was quickly beaten to nothing more than a sort of despair that he would never see them again.
Still, Sam did not tell his secrets. He knew Andrew Hoaurhem had to be desperate for information, because his beatings became more frequent, and more intense. Often, he returned to his cell not only writhing in pain, but half-dead and bleeding.
Somehow, the days seemed to become shorter. He had no hope and no happiness, for his world was only pain and darkness, but at least he could sleep outside of his torture sessions. His body needed the sleep to heal, and to escape. Often, he passed out during torture and awoke hours later when it was nothing but a half-remembered bad dream.
Sometimes, the opposite happened, and he would awake to find himself strapped to a table, his torturers looming over him and simply waiting for him to awaken and entertain them again. Pretending to still be asleep never worked.
Usually, the torture sessions stretched so that Sam couldn't remember whether he'd been awake to see it begin, and he couldn't remember any other session ever ending. He feared it would never end. He would then begin to scream- long ago he had stopped using words with his torturers. Everyone knew he would give no information; now, he was tortured for fun.
Once, Sam almost gave himself away. An ugly man with three teeth leered at him while he twisted a corkscrew into Sam's hand. This was hardly the most creative torture method Sam had undergone, nor was it the most painful, but this small bit of pain was what Sam needed to finally reach his breaking point.
"I'll talk," he moaned, and tears burned in his eyes. "You killed my brothers. . . Ethan and Brandon. . . They're all dead. . . Except for Mason."
Sam had spoken of his brothers many times, but somehow, his torturer seemed to sense that this time something different was happening. He left off his corkscrew experiments to grab Sam by his thin shirt and lift him off the table. "Tell me about Mason, and all the others," he hissed. "Tell me where they're hidden. Now!"
"No!" Sam wailed, and he was too exhausted even to care that he shamed himself by crying. "No, I won't. I can't!"
The torturer smacked Sam in the face, but all this accomplished was that Sam cried harder. The torturer cursed at him, insulted him and called him a woman for crying so hard. All the while, he continued to beat Sam, working himself up to a rage. Sam didn't even care enough to flinch from the blows.
That was when he saw them; Brandon and Ethan stood in the corner of the cell and watched all that went on. They looked healthy: they were clean, well-fed, and hardly looked as though they'd been dead for months. Sam wanted to be with them. For the first time, he had hope that he could escape his present situation. He reached for his brothers.
Dennis cursed as the subject passed out again. The man, whose name apparently was Sam Le Saux, had been passing out a lot lately. Dennis suspected the subject wouldn't live much longer- he'd wanted to hold off on the torture and let him recover a bit in the hopes that the king's men could extract some information from him, but Regent Hoaurhem's instructions had been quite clear- Sam was to be tortured almost continually until he died.
Dennis called to Greg and Harold, who waited in the shadows. His apprentices hurried forward, and Dennis said, "He passed out again. Take him back to his cell, and check on him every hour until he wakes. Find me then."
The pair nodded, and approached the table where Sam lay. Harold tugged at Sam's feet, while Greg paled and called, "Sir? Mister Danton? The subject isn't breathing."
Dennis felt a momentary urge to curse. He should have tried to revive the traitor; he needed Sam's information. The country stirred with civil unrest and tiny rebellions erupted ever closer to the capitol. For the sake of Surivien, Dennis needed to find a way to wake Sam.
Andrew's orders had been quite clear, however. Sam was to be tortured to death, and Dennis had no intention of disobeying those orders. He could quite easily find himself locked in a cell in a matter of a few days if he took matters into own hands.
With a sigh, Dennis said, "Fine. Toss his body into the river with the others. I have to talk to the regent."