Once I was a man of valor. I stood proudly as a soldier on the battlefield, and as a guardian to the royal city.

Most importantly, was my duty to her ladyship.

Oh my Lady Fair, how could I have failed you so?

Twas Malice.

Malice and Betrayal, those dark names still haunt me even in my sleep.

They had infiltrated the kingdom without a warning, and with a host of reinforcements like none had yet seen in the kingdom ever before. Their attack was brutal, and it came at such a high cost.

By the end we were in ruins, and my Lady Fair had been taken by those two malicious beings, held captive and against her will in her own stronghold.

And I had been powerless to stop it. I failed to save her.

Upon the city's fall, I became one among those up for immediate execution. It was but by my lady's grace and endless pleading for mercy that I was but spared. But much to both our dismays, I was merely moved down deep into the cold lairs of the dungeons. An underworld of its own that knows no light of day. Not even her tearful cries could save me from my new and cruelest form of fate, to be indefinitely separated from her forever.

Time has since passed onward, and their influences has only grown stronger, nearly turning my Lady against me, as I continue to waste away in my prison. Several times have I been offered to merely leave, with banishment as my price, but I have thusly refused, opting to remain here in this place of solitude.

And once more he comes forward to me, dangling freedom before me like a bauble for auction.

A distant shuffling, followed by a resounding bang from the closing of a door in the distance behind stirs me from my comatic haze. My eyes, still momentarily clouded by reminiscent hallucinations from another time, continue to flicker across the back of my eyes. I slowly snap out of my dazed dreamscape, and my eyesight glances around quickly, trying to reassess and gain my bearings.

It is dark.

So very…..very dark.

And cold.

The air is chilly, clamming my skin and giving me a nasty crawling feeling across the base of my spine, and the thin, worn cloth that composes the makeshift material for my prison garment – a simple white tunic and pants that has been dinged and mossed by the grime around me over time, clings to my skin along with everything else.

The walls are closed in, made of slimy, hewn-out stone, and there is a gate at the front of the cell that is horribly rusted, running from floor to ceiling, coated with all forms of unmentionable grime. I only know this because of the total duration I've accumulated here in this festering pit of despair, but also by the fact that my face is currently leaned up, propped against the gate, while the back of my skull rests, rather painfully, back against the adjacent wall.

The shuffling ceases just in front of my cell, and a gruff, booming voice calls out, making the very air stand still and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on end like miniature spikes. A fearful and angry surge of emotion flares up at the base of my stomach as I realize just who it is that is before me.

"………….Malice." I glance over and up half-heartedly, smirking wantonly at him, rolling my eyes for effect. "What brings you here this fine evening?"

"You pathetic pile of sh**! Have you learned nothing yet?" The voice bellows out to me, standing mere inches from where I am currently slumped. I can feel a light gust blowing from a cape the voice is wearing, as it dusts the ground next to my cage.

I say nothing, my gaze moving down to penetrate as hard as it can into the ground; I fear then to look up any further.

Oh I am all too familiar with whom it is that is speaking to me…….all too familiar.

And I detest it like nothing else on this earth.

"You should leave….you already know my answer." I respond quietly, talking into the earthen floor.

"I wouldn't take that kind of an attitude if I were you." The voice chides me. I feel my insides starting to burn with irritation.

It is such a warm and inviting feeling, the warmest I've begun to feel in quite some time; for it is so very cold down here.

"Are you even listening to me?!" The same voice responds, and this time I feel a large, gloved hand grasp tightly around my throat, hoisting me up to its eye level. I am met then by two glowing pupils, staring back out at me from behind the gloved arm, and some unknown darkness that is now permeating the very air between us in a near suffocating manner. I can feel the shadowed figure's hard, cold stare burning into the depths of my soul as I am lofted there, staring back for several moments.

My eyes begin to water then, and my breath pace quickens as the hand squeezes my esophagus even tighter, almost closing my air way entirely.

"I……I am..now!" I gasp out between frantic spurts for air.

"Better." The shadow breathes icily, loosening his grip then. I gasp for air, and my lungs fill sharply with the toxicity around me.

"W…why don't you just end me huh? What use am I to you ANYWAY?!" I crack at them, unsure as to what my true aim is at this point.

"All this time….all this long time, and you're still as stubborn as the day I threw you in here. You truly ARE a pathetic fool." The shadow's voice drops into a regretful, musing tone.

Anger…no….rage; I feel it beginning to settle its way into my chest, eating at my insides.

"Do you honestly enjoy it down here that much? Have her personal sacrifices meant nothing to you at all?" The voice of Malice roars angrily at me, and the hatred he still feels for me permeates the air around me in a near smothering manner. If it weren't for me being used to this by now I'd fear him to rip through the cell and end me right here and now.

"Wait….what does SHE have anything to do with this? What did you do to her?!" I spit my words back into what I deem to be a face.

The response I earn is that of being pulled forward violently into the bars of my prison cell. I not only hear as it rings throughout my skull, but feel the sickening crack as my face meets metal. The arm releases my neck and I fall forward. The front of my body sliding against the metal rails, landing with a dull thud on the ground. My vision blurs once more and I can feel the gush of blood as it flows freely from my nose and mouth, dripping onto the earthen floor and forming a deep black puddle.

"You…you sick f***!!!" I curse back, my words muffling through my now busted and swollen lower lip.

"The Lady Fair has spent many an evening mourning you, far more than I dare to even count. Your imprisonment here is a farce as far as I'm concerned you wretch! I believe you had seen this entire thing coming from the beginning…did you not?" the shadow began. "Your failure was just a scrape on the grinding stone. Time and again you let her down after the fall. And as times march goes on her faith in you has slowly waned less and less." The words sting through me like knives.

"You continue to remain content rotting in this festering pit. She is the only reason you are still even living, as it was by her word that you were not executed in the first place!" The voice teased me further.

"So what? What do you expect me to do? The minute I even step out of here I'll be exiled. It's a checkmate all on its own. You lot would just be playing us again." A vision of my dear lady brightens the back of my mind for but a moment, then fades as I realize her soft glowing face will never again be a reality.

The truth rings best in silence.

And is followed by even more.

"So it would seem. I don't know which is crueler at this point…..here….or death?" Is the finishing reply I recieve, a ring of taunt in their tone.

He could only hope for the chance that I'd fall into an even deeper depression at this point, and end it all myself.

"Oh….I thought for sure you'd have tried long ago to amend this. But is seems you really are completely gone from any suiting grace." The shadow leans forward in a hushed voice.

"You know what must be done. Why don't you pursue it? Why is it you continue to linger on in this darkness?" The voice chuckles, bemused with wonder as to my impending answer.

"……………"

"Well?"

"……I know not." Is all I can say.

"Too bad." The figure moves away, making their leave from this place.

A panic builds then as they move further and further down the way, and I begin hyperventilating at the thought of facing this darkness all alone once more. What more could this malicious bastard even want from me?

"Wait…..WAIT!!!! I SAID WAIT YOU SONNUVAB****!!!!!!!!!!" I cry out in a frenzy. I reach my arm out to motion them back; I can no longer see them in the shadowy abyss.

"I told you what to do long ago…..so I no longer see a need to continue waiting for you, much less repeat myself…..and neither can our lady." The figure stops momentarily. "I am only remorsed that it has come this far. They open a door, and I hear as it is shut forcibly, leaving me isolated once again.

Silent sobs rack my body and I grip onto the cell bars with a vice hold. My arms fall after several minute and I resume my nostalgic coma, slipping into that peaceful dreamscape once more, hoping that this time I'll never be disturbed.

A solitary tear...my last waning hope, trickles slowly down my cheek, falling into the blackness that surrounds me.

Lost forever……just like I am.