Chapter 11

Cornered Animals

Orion was awakened suddenly by the painful screech of his cell door. He was roughly dragged to his feet without warning by two burly guards and began the unpleasant climb up the long flight of stairs. Half awake, Orion suspected they might take him back to the council chamber to be interrogated. However, when they reached the corridor that lead to the council chamber, they turned down a different hallway. This one looked particularly older than the rest of the castle, and far less maintained. Half of the torches were unlit and some were missing altogether. The stones in the wall were cracked, and the mortar holding them together was coming apart. Wherever Orion was going, it wouldn't be pleasant.

They stopped at a wooden, partially rotted door and a guard knocked twice. Without hesitation, the door swung open. Before Orion knew it, he was blindfolded and shoved through the door. It slammed behind him, and just as quickly as he had been released, his arms were again seized by a new pair of hands. They led him through the darker hallway for a while until he heard a door open in front of him.

"Bring him here," a callous voice said. Orion was dragged through a doorway and hoisted up onto a platform. Orion felt himself being tightly bound to a post.

"That's well enough," the voice said. The ropes stopped tightening, and Orion remained immobile, secured too tightly and too tired to move a muscle.

"So it begins," a deep, unnervingly smooth voice that could only belong to the Alpha said, "There are many ways we can do this, Orion, and I'm sure you'd rather make this as quick and painless as possible."

"I assume you're talking about releasing me as opposed to my inevitable death," Orion answered. The Alpha chuckled.

"That depends on how cooperative you are. Hopefully, you'll answer all my questions without hesitation."

"I'd rather not answer anything until my blindfold has been removed."

"I'm afraid I can't do that, and you'll have to answer my questions regardless. Let's try one; Where is the Beta?"

"I don't know."

"When did you last speak with him?"

"I didn't."

"Have you had any contact whatsoever with the Beta?"

"No."

The Alpha sighed. "I can see this is going to be rather difficult. Very well, Anton, you may begin,"

"With pleasure," the callous voice answered. There was the loud clanking of metal tools, and suddenly Orion felt a sharp pain in his exposed side. He gritted his teeth as he felt blood seep from a fresh wound.

"What, that's it?" Orion said, "I've had spider bites more painful than that." Orion flinched and growled as another, sharper pain tore across his other side.

"That," he said between breaths, "I admit was not incredibly pleasant."

"That's the idea," the Alpha said, "But if you answer my questions, this needn't continue."

"S-Seriously..." Orion said, biting his lip as another piece of sharp metal was dragged across his body, "I... I could do this... a-all day..."

"And so you shall," the Alpha said, nonchalantly, "Now tell me, where is Leonard O'Henry headed?"

"Hell if I know, you threw him out of my cell. Urgh!" Orion shouted as blood flowed from a new cut.

"Were you and your friend acting alone?"

"You know, I'm not really sure," Orion said, gasping for breath. He felt the Alpha come very close to his face.

"Orion," he said in a low whisper, "This pain is nothing. These are merely physical blows. I will make you suffer so much you'll beg for death. Trust me when I say this; no matter how much you scream, death will not come quickly." He struck Orion across the face for good measure, and ordered for him to be taken away. Orion's bonds were undone and he was dragged from the room much in the same fashion he had entered it. As he exited the room, his blindfold was removed and Orion got a good look at his wounds. Painful, but not deep. The Alpha wanted him alive, and intended to keep him as such for a very long time.

Back in his cell, Orion was once again greeted by the suffocating darkness. His wounds suddenly stung painfully, more so than before. Orion convinced himself that it was just the cold, gritty texture of the rock floor rubbing against his cuts that hurt him. In the low light, he could just make out the shape of a meager tray of half rotted food in the corner. He gazed at it disdainfully, and then turned away.

I'm not starving yet, he thought. He sat awake in his cell, staring at what he assumed to be the ceiling, although he couldn't really tell in the darkness. He fell asleep, slowly and uncomfortably.

He was awakened by the rough hands of the guards dragging him out of his cell. He was brought back through the crumbling hallways to the old wooden door, where he was promptly blindfolded and shoved through the door. An hour or so later, he left the room bloodied, and the Alpha remained no closer to his goal than he had the day before.

When he returned to his room, there was no food. Orion chuckled humorlessly. If this was how they wanted to spite him, so be it.

Two weeks went by, and Orion had been fed seven times, each meal more pitiful than the last. Orion was suffering, he knew it. As Orion lounged in his cell, lost in his thoughts, the door opened. He expected the callous hand of the guards to drag him off to another torture session, but they never came. Orion looked up with mild curiosity. Standing there was a lone guard with a lit torch. The glow of the fire warmed him, and Orion felt compelled to smile.

"Thought you might want somethin' to see by," the guard said, with no malice in his voice, "The other boys didn't want me to bring you anythin', but I figured you could do with a little kindness. It's not much, but it'll do." He fastened the torch to a hook on the wall and left, closing the door gently. Orion was surprised. This was the first act of compassion anyone had shown him since... well, since Amari. He moved toward the torch, the light comforting him. There was something... intriguing about it. The fire flickered in just the right way, and Orion no longer felt hungry, the pain not quite as noticeable. He sat in the warmth of the torchlight for a few hours before a few guards stormed into the small room. The noticed the torch with mild interest, but nonetheless grabbed Orion and yanked him out of the room. Orion was again bound and blindfolded.

"Hmm..." the Alpha said as he stepped into the chamber, "Most curious, most curious indeed."

"What seems to be the problem, your majesty?" Orion said sarcastically. The Alpha brushed the remark aside.

"There's no problem. It's just curious that your wounds seem to have healed significantly during the night," the Alpha replied, "That is certainly unusual. Harris!" Orion heard heavy footsteps.

"Yes, sir?" Said a burly voice. Orion recognized it. It was the same man who had given him the light to see by.

"You know what to do."

"Right away, sir,"

The footsteps faded, and Orion was subjected to the same questions and the same beatings he suffered day after day.

Orion was, as per usual, thrown into his cell violently. But, contrary to his expectations, the torch remained. Not only that, but there were now two more torches fastened to the wall. Orion couldn't understand for the life of him why, but although he knew he should have been unnerved, he felt nothing but relief. He could almost feel the life returning to him.

The next morning, Orion woke peacefully, undisturbed by guards. He sat up, expecting to be stiff after sleeping on the cold, hard floor, but found that his muscles remained loose and relaxed. He was also aware that his wounds seemed to have healed almost completely during the night. Orion was reasonably confused, but glad nonetheless. The door swung open the moment Orion stood up, and they began the standard procedure of dragging Orion to the chamber. When they got to the old wooden door, however, they led him straight through without blindfolding him. For the first time, Orion got a good look at the room he had been questioned in. It was a circular chamber made of dark red brick, and there was a barred window up high. Looking through the window, Orion could see that it was still very early in the morning, as the sky was still pitch black. The walls had become blackened with smoke that came from a large open furnace in the corner. Next to the furnace were an anvil and a toolbox, filled with metallurgy tools mixed with brutal instruments of torture. In the center of the room was a small raised platform with a single iron beam extending from the ceiling to the floor. Orion assumed that this was what he had been restrained on, as the beam was littered with scratches and stained with blood. The room, in Orion's opinion, was much more intimidating now that he could see it. Standing in the room were two men, a short man with wild brown hair and a face covered in grime, and another, taller man with slick black hair and a crooked smile.

"Quit gawkin' and gettim up 'ere!" the short man yelled.

"Where's the Alpha?" Orion asked.

"Out on urgent business, which means today's your lucky day," the man answered, yanking Orion up onto the platform, "Boss's given me free reign, so today you're gonna get the special treatment."

"What does that-" Orion began to say, but was cut off when the taller man shoved him violently into the iron beam where he was bound tighter than usual. Still, however, he remained without a blindfold. While the tall man finished tying the ropes, Orion watched the smaller man cautiously. The man had retrieved one of the iron tools from the box and shoved the tip into the furnace. Orion groaned. He knew what would come next. He'd received plenty of burns during his time here. But this was worse; the were going to make him watch. The short man pulled the iron rod out of the furnace, grinning at the tip, now red-hot and glowing.

"Now," he said, "let's begin." He held the iron rod a hair's-breadth away from Orion's face. "Tell me where your friend is." Orion looked at the glowing rod nervously. It was... frighteningly bright, almost blindingly so.

"I... I don't know. Really," he said.

"Alright then," the man replied, and inched the burning rod closer to Orion's face.

"Tell me where your friend is."

"I honestly don't know."

The man moved the rod just a centimeter away from his face, and Orion could feel the painful heat radiating from it.

"Where is your friend?"

"I don't know."

"Where is your friend?"

"I don't know."

"Where is the Beta?!"

"I don't know!"

Suddenly, the burning tip of the rod went out. The glow faded instantly. The man looked at it, confused. He poked the tip, and screamed in pain.

"Dammit!" he shouted, a painful looking burn forming on his finger, "It's still bloody hot!"

"Hell are you talkin' about?" the taller man said, examining the rod, "It's completely out."

"The hell it is, lookit my damn finger!"

"Gimme that rod. Look, there's nothin' left! It's completely- Godammit!" The tall man shouted as he burned himself. The men continued arguing, but Orion wasn't listening. He was staring at his hands, still bound at his sides. They were glowing with the same light that had occupied the rod only moments ago. A dim red light radiated of of Orion that seemed to whisper a single word; Radiance. The taller man finally seemed to take notice of this and his eyes widened.

"It was 'im! 'E's usin' magic!" he said. They both leaped toward Orion in an attempt to restrain his hands. Out of panic, he flicked his hand forward. A tendril of light shot out from his right hand and hacked through the two men instantly. The tendril whipped back, severing Orion's ropes as if they were made of butter. Orion stumbled off the platform in shock, staring at the beam of light whizzing around him. Two men who had been guarding the door burst into the room, brandishing their spears. Orion jumped and whipped his hand in their direction. The beam of light elongated and shot out toward the guards, slicing straight through the chest of one guard and impaling the other. Wide eyed, Orion drew his arms back. The shaft of light impaled in the guard withdrew itself from his body and floated gently in the air, unstained by the guard's blood. Orion stood stock still, staring at the bodies that now littered the floor.

I killed them, he thought, I killed them in barely any time at all.

A loud banging came from the door.

"Oi!" a muffled voice shouted from the other side of the door, "What's going on in there? Everyone alright?" Orion glanced nervously around. His eyes fell upon the window in the wall. It was barred, but if he could somehow break them…

Orion eyed the hovering ray of light, gently glowing a bright red-orange. He gazed back at the damage he had unintentionally caused and thrust his hand towards the window. The spear of light silently flicked toward the bars and sheared through them seamlessly.

"What was that? What's going on in there?"

Orion quickly hopped up onto the windowsill and jumped through. Fortunately, the chamber was on the ground floor, and outside of the castle to boot.

High up in the castle, the Alpha watched with mild amusement as Orion ran off into the forest.

Wonderful, he thought as the sun rose over the horizon, this boy wasn't as difficult to figure out as I had thought. This is going to be remarkably easy after all.


Hello, all! This chapter was particularly fun to write, so I hope you had as much fun reading it as I had writing it!

Threw you a bit of a curveball with that one, didn't I? Bet that's the last thing you expected, Orion busting out almost immediately after he gets in. Unless, of course, that's exactly what you were expecting and I just fed you a cliche piece of garbage, in which case feel free to tell me in a review! Even if it's flaming the chapter, I'll be grateful that you took the time to tell me how bad it was.

So, Orion's class is finally known! What do you think? How do you think he'll use his newfound power? Looking at your ideas always gives me some new ones, and I could really use some ideas.

As always, I appreciate your reviews and will work hard to bring you the next installment.

Next up...

Amari's a Shifter? I wonder what that could mean...

À bientôt, mes amis!