"Water." That had been the first word she'd uttered in hours, her parched lips rasping as she asked for the life-sustaining substance I had been rationing ever so preciously. I looked up from the log I had been sitting on, sharpening my knife painstakingly.
"Water? Are you ready to admit you're wrong, then?" I asked her, my steel grey eyes looking her over. She was a sad sight, three days into this. Her cheeks, which were once full and bright pink, were now hollow and drawn, and her blue eyes, once so clear and perceptive, were now hidden behind tear-clotted lashes. Her lips were beginning to crack, they were once luscious and a deep crimson. Her body had sustained many bruises and cuts over the past few days, and while she was a battle-scarred warrior before, her hunger strike had taken a toll on the taut muscles of her frame, and her own body had begun to eat itself from the inside out. Before, I would have considered her attractive, but now, she was merely a prisoner of war, no more special than anyone else.
"No," was her simple but fierce response. Her eyes glared at me with renewed rage, and she struggled at her bonds which tied her to a large oak tree. Her wrists and shoulders were raw from her struggling at her bonds all night. I hadn't been a fool and left her armor on, allowing her to merely cut her way through the cords that bound her by moving her body. She had the scantest of gauze bandages covering her breasts and hips; I was, after all, a gentleman and not going to allow her to remain naked.
"Well, you know the consequence then. You aren't getting any water. Just wait until I'm finished with my knife, and perhaps I'll find something to wet your lips," I smirked, looking her over. She snarled slightly, baring her teeth like an animal. "Paladin, it would be best to give up now. Come and join my army, and we'll ensure that you're kept care of, hmm?" She turned her face away from me, her cornsilk-coloured hair swaying slightly, revealing the fine points of her elfin ears. I had managed to capture the High Inquisitor of the holy hunting grounds themselves: Aeon Crimsonreaper.
"Tyr will forgive you," she sighed softly, shaking her head. Tyr was a god of justice, his followers concerned that the law be followed justly and according to the laws of the land. It wasn't such a shabby god to follow, I figured, but she is the High Inquisitor of El'rath, and that's a big deal to me. Most of the men I had personally lost went to her dungeons. It's true, they were guilty, and most of them caught red-handed, but she was a nuisance to be disposed of, little else. Unless, and what a delicious what else it was, I could turn her over to my side, and have her fighting for me. Aeon Crimsonreaper, a blackguard for my army. The thought was rich, but the opportunity too good to pass up.
"Tyr won't forgive me for what I'm going to do to you, Aeon, not His High Inquisitor. May he strike me down now, if he opposes, though." I looked up at the sky, which was as clear as could be, with white, fluffy clouds and waited a moment. Nothing happened to me, just as I had expected. "Well, as Tyr doesn't oppose your torture, and quite possibly murder, what do you think of your god now?"
"You couldn't possibly know what I think, because you don't understand what my faith is." She replied simply. I decided to humor her, I didn't feel like cutting her open quite yet, not while she still had so much fight left in her.
"All right, paladin, tell me of your faith," I smirked, pulling a stool to sit just a few feet in front of her, placing my knife on my lap so she could see how sharp I had honed the edge. She looked down at the knife, then back into my eyes, with her damned calmness. She had been so calm, since I was torturing her, and that was something I simply couldn't bear. If she'd simply scream or something, that'd make it so much more fun for me!
"I am a follower of Tyr, the One-Handed god. Surely you know of his honesty and good judgement?" She asked me, looking hopeful. Damn, she was almost pretty when she smiled.
"This is your story, kitten, I'm not helping you out one bit." She frowned, not looking very impressed with me calling her kitten. I didn't give a damn. I could tell she had never been had, just by her bearing. She abstained from everything, it seemed, turning her head away when I offered her wine even when she was desperate for something to drink. She was one odd creature, having been so untouched by the luxuries of life, and yet she was a full-blooded woman, and a killer, on top of it, depending on how one looked at it.
"I won't bore you with the story. Let's just say Tyr gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, and in that particular situation ended up having his hand bitten off for it. My faith comes from the knowledge that I know what I am doing is just and lawful. None of your men, General, were ever executed without their being a trial and full evidence, heard by myself and other peers." She knew who I was-- this could be bad. I would have to win her over quickly, and try to charm her. "I know that if I die on the battlefield, defending my cause, my death will not be in vain, because I've lived my life the way I wanted it lived."
"And how is that? Without ever knowing a man, the taste of a good wine? Without so much as a comforting word from a friend?"
"When you're in my position, General, it is prudent to take precautions lest your character ever come into question. I know you've never had to worry about that," she said, looking me over, for once actually passing judgement on me. I shook my head, growing bored with her tale. The sun was slowly making its way westward, and I had vowed to myself that I would either convert her this evening or kill her as the moon rose. She had no idea how little time she had left, and yet she was still being an impertinent little bitch.
"Mmm... if I were a different man, Inquisitor, you'd be stripped naked and taken to my bed, to be had by me and then by my men. Do not question my character, lest you wish to see a man truly without it." Her face paled, apparently that had struck a chord within her. She was pressing her thighs together as tightly as she could, without trying to make it perceptible to me. "Oh, does that thought worry you, kitten?" I smirked, looking her body over. She was still very attractive, her features pure elfin, her high cheekbones had just become more obvious with the absence of any sustaining nutrition in her diet.
"You wouldn't dare," she snarled, her entire body tense, as though she were readying herself to fight me.
"Don't tell me what I would and wouldn't do, Inquisitor." I got up, dusted my pants off and drew my knife, placing it just below the gauze, between her legs, and drawing it slowly upwards, tearing the gauze away. She gasped as the cold steel slid against her flesh, turning her face away from the blade. "Because I'll do exactly as I please." The sun-bleached gauze slid away, revealing her entire body, the softness of her curves now visible to me. "Mmm... Aeon, what a pretty woman you are. You've never had a man, I gather. How unfortunate for them, I would imagine that with a few tries you'd be quite something."
"You bastard," she snarled. "Just kill me now. You aren't going to change my mind about Tyr, and doing what you're thinking of doing certainly won't change my opinion."
"No, you don't think so? I've heard many a woman cry out my name instead of their god's while I've done just what I'm thinking of doing to you to them." She balled her hands into fists, and glared at me, as though trying to frighten me. The whole scene struck me as rather funny, and I burst out laughing, shaking my head. The light in the sky was now a deep red, bathing everything in a ruby glow. The air began to cool, and her entire body goose-bumped, and she quivered softly, looking at me. "I've grown bored with you, Aeon, and it's quite unfortunate to note, but this is the third day I've asked you to join me and been refused. Usually at the first sign of such a rigid opponent I merely kill them and theirs, as a message. I was really hoping we'd get along better, you'd make an admirable officer."
"How have you decided to kill me?" she asked me.
"I've decided to kill you as other paladins would kill heretics."
"By pyre?" she asked, a ripple of discomfort running up her spine.
"Yes, by pyre. I've sure you've seen me gathering the necessary wood, mind you, you probably just thought I was preparing for a much longer visit. It's all right. Apparently it's relatively painless, you should suffocate before the fire burns you to death." I picked up some of the bigger logs I had cut specifically for this purpose and began to place them around the tree to show her how serious I was.
"Please, don't do this!" She cried out, looking at me, her eyes wide.
"Do you still believe in Tyr?"
"Then I have to, Aeon. I'm sure you'd do the same thing if you were in my position. Oh wait-- you have." I continued to build the pile of wood around her body, and she begged me to let her go, to let her live. I'm not sure if she realised it, but the whole time I was tuning her out with thoughts of what I would've done to her luscious body had she decided to recant her faith and become one of my officers. Either way, with the pyre built, it was dark at night, and I stood before her with a torch taken from my own campfire.
"Aeon Crimsonreaper, you stand here, accused of being the High Inquisitor of El'rath, which we both know you are, and of sentencing my men to die for your cause, which we both know again to be true. Furthermore, you are sentenced as being a Tyr-worshipping paladin. The penalties for these crimes is execution. How do you plead?"
"Don't do this, General!" her voice begged me.
"How do you plead, Inquisitor Crimsonreaper?"
"I still believe in Tyr."
"You have chosen to plead guilty. May Tyr see this, and know that I will do this to all of his paladins and clerics, one by one." I tipped the torch over into the kindling, which caught quickly, and burst into flame. Tossing the torch onto the pyre, I stood back as the tree began to be consumed by fire. Flames licked at her soft skin, and blistered her flesh. She cried out, screaming in pain, looking at me, her eyes incredulous as her flesh quickly blackened. I began tossing her belongings on the fire, everything that could be burnt, anyhow. I stopped as I picked up one of her last few belongings, and burst out laughing. It was her empty water-skin. I could stop her death right now, if I gave her what she had asked of me just a few short hours ago: water.