Inside the roach infested and rat pestered cell of stone knelt man—hanging by the arms, shackled by massive yet rusting chains. His once long, flowing black hair hung disheveled and soiled over his face. No chance to wash, or even shave it seems. For his beard jutted like unwanted shrubbery all across his chin. Grease and dried sweat caked the outlines of that hawked nose and thick brows, and even his graying eyes were not left untarnished—with amounts of dirt amassed in the recesses of those orbs. Dry and crusty, tried to lick his lips with remaining ounces of fluid; sticky, foul saliva.
Naked and helpless against the confines of his stead, his body lay limp, with muscles of once great strength and intensity now slumped and yielding. His chest trembled with reckless rhythm, wheezing and groaning in every beat—in harmony to the moans of his belly. The scars that marred him once by war and strife are only a quarter of the vestiges left from four years of submission under the blade, and whip, and the stone.
He held a grim state for survival, yet he remains undying. Struggling for four years against the sadism of his captors, he stood undaunted, unspoiled; always defiant. For four years wounds and infections afflicted him each passing day as new ways of brutality are experimented on him. For four years bruises and broken bones took their toll with the poundings he endured. But he stood—glowering and spitting and laughing; mocking and unwavering. He stood.
Alas, however, of all such days, now he lay weakened.
Amidst the wall of cold granite rose a door of iron and grime. Other than that, there was only filth and urine on the concrete floor and pitch blackness above the door upwards, having no estimate how high the walls scaled before they touched the ceiling. The chamber was seven feet wide from corner to corner, somewhat octagonal in shape, enough for certain contraptions of pain to fit in. far off to the man's right was gruel filled bowl the size of his face for him to simply lop up like a dog. Guards would usually throw in such a meal through a small square hole by the door, excellently offering a good view of their prisoner.
With large screeching bars affixing the door to the prison wall, they only discharge their shrilling cries on certain occasions. For one, obviously, to shelter in interrogators and bargainers in attempts to coax (in ways they consider a civilized manner) or to persuade (in vicious form) their captive into submitting to their intentions. None of them succeeded of course, though so far.
For another, it swung for guardsmen to amuse themselves with their prisoner—beating most commonly, though now and then lewd questions of the man's background gave similar satisfactions. At time even, men (noblemen by their suffocating perfume) came to visit with queries of blatant stupidity or worse, of fake naivety.
Yet on one such visit, the captive's perceptions were changed. For the nobleman did not ask of the obvious or the prejudicial, but instead asked only of one favor. His life.
He would most certainly refused preposterous proposals like such, may be he would have spat at the proponent right between the eyes; however, this man was far different from his own kind—a mystery perhaps, the innocence it carried, tempted him to hope again—may be it was a chance to believe a second time. A fragile prospect. A reason.
That day, the iron door swung hard and wide.
The wasted body shivered through the glare of sunlight, so unlike the glint of rays some cracks from the walls had offered him. With difficulty, he shunned his watering eyes with upraised arms until he heard the scuttling of feet as shadows of two metal-plated soldiers crowded his sight. They were truly prison-guard because of their crudely made and mal-maintained armors, and unsightly excess body fat. The shorter, much stouter officer grimaced at the unpleasant shape their captive was in—a once lean bulk of a man now merely bones with some patches of muscles.
Without warning, a metal garnished boot jabbed straight to his ailing ribs forcing him to cough blood and restore him to consciousness. He was manhandled upward, him without struggles, almost lifeless—so opposite to the litheness and ferocity those tendons had portrayed years ago. In another time, he might have spewed out insolence or even strangled one of those soldiers merely for his own entertainment. But not today, such days long forgotten.
Another yanked his hair back, keeping his face steady towards the broad-flung threshold and its blinding light. His tanned skin, though stained by dried blood and perspiration, still glistened against the gift of the sun. With unshielded gray eyes he heaved himself straighter, as he rasped "The Queen" with voiceless words.
He would no longer continue speaking as one guard fisted him to the gut, cursing, "Enough with your blasphemy, swine! I know how you chant to your gods."
"We have no gods fool, only our spirits." He labored to speak out, but his voice failed him again.
A second gauntleted fist would have bruised his cheek, but was prevented momentarily, as another man came sauntering to their midst. Grizzled hair and drooping features met the eyes of the prisoner, a purple robe hiding a buxom belly and leather sandals. This robe, so extravagantly fashioned, was hemmed with ancient golden symbols of a native language and belted through the waist by an ebony hued rope. The visitor sported a lengthy white beard still with peppered shades that came to his chest, and a mane though balding by the crown, still touched his sagging shoulders. Aside from the sandals he wore and the rolls of parchment he held, the old woman portrayed nobility.
His visage was grim and disappointed, however, at the actions that preceded his entry. He cocked an eyebrow, as if with fury ready to strike down the guards, but he remained composed in his stature.
"Give him more respect," His rheumy voice rumbled, "his nobility deserves such."
One of the soldiers stifled a grin, while the other simply looked appalled. Yet they said nothing, their inferior ranks told them so.
Still with restrained composure, the man slapped his hands together, producing a thunderous clamor of sound. He made the final echoes fade before he continued, "Quickly now, take those dreadful things off him and get us chairs and a table. You," he pointed at the guard on his left, "gather my things from my quarters and bring them here." When he noticed that the men were still waiting for further instructions or a curt recall of orders, he added "Now. Move." In a tone too stern for his own good,
The guards did as was ordered without complaint, masking their dismay, an with a curt salute of raising right fists to eye level, they marched outward—leaving a drained man now fully sprawled on the floor towered by the shadow of his visitor.
The old man took several moments constructing the words he would say to tug out a conversation as he moved noiselessly around his companion. The prisoner did not move after the guards freed him of his fettered condition, plainly curled with his back to the brightening light. Seemingly, the beams rushed inside the cell like a rhythm—the yellowish glow turning more argent on every pulse. Resembling a breathing thinking entity, the radiance flowed straight towards the prisoner's naked backside but made no slight touch, no stroking warmth to entice into accepting it. It seemed to have stayed firm in its place, forming a half-circle and illuminating particles in kaleidoscopic angles. No matter how astonishing or breathtaking it was, the noble ignored it putting the strange scenery of light behind him.
"It appears this is our second meeting, my good friend." The visitor began, pausing to see if his companion would react. But he received no reply of any kind.
"Please make me not fear that you have lost the capacity to hear, for it was but a short time since we first talked. A struck-up bruised man has still some worth, but a deaf man? Of no use at all!" he forced himself to chuckle. With this, the captive remained without answer, and he was losing words to say.
Finally he stepped aside from the brilliance of the light and spoke with his rheumy voice, "Cane you not stand up, one last time? Your Queen waits to kiss you once again my friend."
At last, the prisoner uttered distinguishable sounds though gruff and phlegm –tainted. The sharp accent of his foreign tongue crept out of his voice.
"Four years I stood. Four long agonizing years I won against the savagery of your people. Only spite kept me standing. That, and maybe pride as well. But now is far from so long ago, with all my best of perseverance lost as I lay dying I the midst of my enemies, certain that I will never be given the proper ritual of death. I am lost now. Forgotten. I think I have no more right to taste the kiss of the Queen, than to stand and keep my honor in your presence."
The old man's wrinkly countenance softened somewhat, trailing a youthful glow that seemed an odd remnant of what was. He came closer to kneel beside him, "You are not lost. Not yet. Not while your Queen rises and looks for you to feed you strength in every waking day. Not while the breath within you takes you to open your eyes, and quicken your joints, and your bones, and your flesh. No." His voice might have suddenly lost reverberating resonance of old age, "Not while friends are still beside you."
Still without turning, the captive's slurring vocals quivered, but his body did not, "Friends? Has your sight escaped with your fleeting days? I am alone. Battered. Naked. Diseased. My only shelter is my pain, no one else." He moved his head to face the nobleman, "There are no friends for the damned."
"Friends." The old noble's stubby fingers grasped his shoulders as he spoke."Friends, Katud. That is why I am here."
Another shiver stalked through the naked body of the captive as he heard his own name once again. Katud. Something pierced life into his eyes—orbs taking forms of recognition. Katud. Blood, tissue, ligament, all beginning to take mass, as if restoring themselves to their former splendor, former vigor. It is Katud. His heart seemed to start beating, powerful, rebellious.
My name id Katud Kalayo.
"…now stand up, friend," the noble was saying, "and feel once more, taste once more, the kiss of your Queen."
With this Katud staggered to his feet, swaying from side to side, desperately maintaining balance. He did not realize his groans, his harsh breathing, in the attempt to stretch everything that was of him, everything that empowered him—everything that made him a god. Then everything was nothing. All he saw the light from the opening of his cell. The blinding encroaching light engulfed him into its embrace as that purpose driven entity lurched forward—illuminating him into a flurry of argent flam, sparking, dancing, exploding; until even he was formed of fire.
The warmth. The touch. The kiss.
It was the kiss of the Queen
Queen Alveira of the Sun.
Hope you guys enjoyed it! Be sure to wait for the coming chapter, and all will be revealed soon. :)