"Come Arturia, it is time that I show you the reason for rulers," her father, Uther, had said.
So they had gone, deep into the castle's walls. Gradually, as they went the air grew more stifled and moist, almost like a cave. The darkness grew and would have swallowed them whole except for the torches that lined the walls. After a long walk of silence, a sound began to break through the seemingly impenetrable barrier; laughter, not the warm and inviting kind but one of a hollow person. This was something new to her. Without any doubt, she had already decided that she wasn't enjoying this. It didn't matter thought, this wasn't the time to give into her weaker nature as her father had called it. She was going to be the king of Britain, a job where no weakness could be afforded.
Going down the final few steps she could see the cells black cast iron bars. Inside were several men, all of whom were bend over someone. Uther leaned over and whispered in his fake son's ear "This is what it means to rule. Be strong and don't show an ounce of emotion or perhaps we will have another lesson before the day is out."
Arturia was supposed to be Uther's son, but she had one obvious flaw. She was a girl. Having his mind set, he had refused to let this one go and decided to raise her as a man. To the rest of the world, she was the prince of Britain. Not even a single person had questioned her thus far and she figured no one would. Her father's "lessons" generally ended with her having a few new bruises but generally weren't that bad.
A voice brought her back to reality "Come, have your mentor's failed at their teachings, or are you all just failures? You don't know the meaning of pain."
The source of the laughter was the man they were all leaning over. Understanding began to dawn on her while her father opened the gate. That insane sound kept escalating as her disgust grew rapidly. It was abruptly cut off however when the gate to the cell opened. She coldly stepped to the doorway, hardening her mind like she did so many other times.
The tortures split to either side like a wave as she and her father entered the small chamber. What she saw made her puke on the inside. Strapped to a table was a young man about her age, 13 or 14, with raven black hair and a set of eyes just as dark. That confused her for a moment because his eyes weren't just dark but they were solid black. They didn't even have whites like a normal human. He had no shirt which revealed a finely tuned torso of muscle and tan skin. Thankfully he wasn't naked, she decided, trying to look at the bright side of things.
He was covered with scars. There had to be years worth of combat displayed on his skin. Dozens of needles were puncturing his arms on pressure points and in his joints, some of which were still red hot from the fire that they had been heated with. She could tell that all of his fingers were dislocated if not broken. Blood seeped down the board of the table he was on and she could only guess what his back looked like.
His face was the worst though. There was nothing wrong with it, in fact if they were anywhere else; she would have thought him to be attractive, but not there. It looked as though he didn't care. It seemed that he was almost enjoying himself if that were possible. He was looking at her father straight in the eyes. Despite being like black holes, Arturia could still see the satisfaction in them.
"Still we wait Uther. How long will it take you to realize that you are the one who has broken?" he said.
"And here we are again, I will tell you once more as always, admit your crimes and I will let you go. Simple as that." Her father replied.
Arturia expected him to start crying out in thanks at the offer but to her surprise, he laughed. This time it was full, unlike that of before. She stood there confused for a moment. It must have shown on her face because the prisoner looked to her with the same light in his dark eyes.
"Confused?" he stated more than asked," It is better to take the pain life gives you than to avoid it. It simply… tempers the armor to protect you in the future."
"Only a fool laughs at their king, especially under such circumstances."
"And only a fool would think that he is better than another. A king without peoples is nothing more than a shadow of a mark in the history of time."
Arturia only looked back at him with the same stony expression. She couldn't think of anything to say. With a quick glance at her father, she saw that he was in the same perplexing situation. Maybe there wasn't anything to be said she supposed, after all the man did seem quite mad.
"You're doing a good job Uther, she acts just like you," he said.
One of the jailors was the first to react. He used his hand that was covered by a mail glove and slammed down on some of the needles sticking from the prisoner's wrist. They went through with a sickening suction like sound and blood began to squirt out of the wound with his heartbeat. The slow and steady rhythm never changed, nor did his facial expression. He looked like he didn't even notice the action.
He continued to sit and smile at her with knowing eyes. They all thought that he had just insulted their prince gravely, except for her and Uther of course. She turned on her heels along with her father and simply left the man to his entertainment.
Shortly after leaving, the sounds of that soulless laughter came boiling up from behind them. She would visit again. She felt excited for some reason. It was probably just the fact that he was the first to realize that I'm a girl, she thought. Arturia was happy knowing that at least one person could see through the metal cage of decorated and very effective plate-mail that she always wore.
Just as they were almost up the first flight of stairs, the laughter stopped for a brief moment. "Young woman, I give you this warning, beware your actions in life because they become your character in spirit. Besides, you never know when the gods have decided to play a small… Jest or two," and with that, the pair walked up the remaining stairs, her father ranting about some court issue and her trying to remove the thought the strange, black eyed prisoner from her mind.