He opened his eyes and looked around. The room was dimly lit and had a musty aroma. There were tables and racks throughout the room designed for torture. Next to each table or rack was a small cart and on top of it were various instruments designed for cutting, snipping, crushing, pinching and so on. The man himself was strapped to a table of his own that lay at a forty-five-degree angle, his head is on the higher end of the table. His hands and feet bound to the table by leather straps.
"Well now," he said to himself, "I seem to be in a bit of a pickle."
"That would be the understatement of the year." Said a voice from behind him. A man stepped around from the other side of the table to where he could see him.
"Oh, hello there," the man said in a chipper tone with a pleasant smile on his face.
This caught the stranger off guard. "Are you mad or simply stupid?" The other man asked.
The man on the table laughed. "Well I've been accused of both at different times, and both at the same time on one occasion."
"I see." He replied with a frown. "Since it seems you don't grasp the depth of your current situation allow me to explain it. Last night you appeared out of nowhere in king's banquet hall during his daughter's birthday celebration."
The man on the table quickly interrupted. "A birthday party?! How incredibly rude of me, I didn't bring a gift."
This angered the other man. He clenched his gloved hand into a fist and struck the other man across his black-skinned face. "Shut up and listen!" He barked. "I am Commander Trent of the king's royal guard and head of security matters in the castle. You will hold your tongue until I tell you to speak."
The man on the table gave him a funny look. "How can I hold my tongue if you have my hands strapped down to a table?"
Trent struck him once more, blood began to run down his lower lip. "Any other stupid questions you would like to ask?" He growled.
"Actually, yes, if we're taking stupid questions." He replied completely serious.
Trent's face turned blood red. "Enough!" He shouted as spittle flung from his mouth. "I don't know who you are, where you came from, or what your intentions are, but I promise you that we will pull that information from you piece by piece." His tone had a threatening hiss to it.
"Frazier." The man replied.
"What was that?" Trent snarled.
"My name, it's Frazier." He clarified calmly with a smile.
"Alright then 'Frazier' and where exactly are you from?" Trent eyed him suspiciously.
"I'm a wizard from the kingdom of Ventrice, and I was preparing a new teleportation spell last night. That's how I ended up in the banquet hall." He explained. "It's new mind you, still working out the bugs." He added in his own defense.
Trent glared at him wondering if he could believe anything the odd man had just said was true.
"If I may," Frazier politely said, "exactly where am I?"
"Burton." Trent clearly wasn't interested in making small talk with his prisoner.
Frazier nodded. "I see." His eyes drifted off up to the ceiling then darted back to Trent. "And is that the city I'm in?"
Trent grew visibly frustrated. "Yes, Burton is the capital city of Gunrick."
"Oh, of course, Gunrick… is that a real place?" He asked.
"Of course it's a real place!" Trent snapped.
"Alright, alright, no reason to get testy. I've simply never heard of it." Frazier looked at his hands. "I don't mean to be a bother but having my hands strapped to a table makes it awfully hard for me to carry on a conversation. I'm one of those people that talk with their hands. You know what I mean?"
Trent just silently glared at him.
"You know, never mind. I'll find a way to make it work." He continued to smile at Trent which just made him glare even harder. "So what continent is Gunrick on?"
Trent ran in hand down his face. "You've got to be joking."
He shook his head. "No, I'm completely serious. Geography isn't my strong suit."
"Gunrick is on Terith." He sighed.
"Terith?!" His face began to beam with excitement.
"Yes." His tone now exasperated
"That's superb! I cast that teleportation spell from my tower in Ventrice. That's clear on the other side of the planet."
Trent looked unimpressed.
"This is fantastic! I don't think anyone has ever managed to teleport so far before, especially without a supporting team!" His eyes darted to and fro as his mind raced. "I'll have to contact Russo and let him know to try it. Oh dear, I hope Ginger comes by the house to check on me. Mr. Whiskers is likely hungry by now." His words trailed off as he mumbled to himself.
Trent crossed his arms and scowled. "William, he's all yours. I can't take this anymore."
"Aye, commander." A deep voice replied, and a new figure stepped out from behind the table.
"Oh, hello there," Frazier said just as cheerfully as before.
"Find out everything you can," Trent ordered, "but don't kill him, yet."
William nodded. "Yes, sir."
Trent quickly left the room. He had no desire to spend another second with this infuriatingly annoying man.
"William is it? May I call you Will?" Frazier asked politely.
"No." He replied coldly.
"Well alright then, Willy, what would you like to know?" He asked.
The burly man raised an eyebrow and stared at Frazier. "Normally people don't start telling me the truth until after I've broken a few fingers." He leaned in close. Frazier could see the stubble on his face and smell a sourness in his breath. "Why should I trust anything you tell me now?"
Frazier wondered if this was some kind of trick question. "Because I have no reason to lie?" He replied somewhat confused.
William stopped and thought for a minute or two. He could normally sniff out a lie just by the tone and inflection of someone's voice. This was the primary reason he was the head interrogator. Frazier didn't seem to be starting out with the typical barrage of lies, but nothing about him seemed typical at all. William walked over to the wall of the room where there was a chair and brought it over to the table.
He sat down, flipped open a small, leather-bound book, dabbed a feather pen into a jar of ink, and looked at Frazier. "Tell me everything that led to you coming here."
An hour passed by and Commander Trent returned to the torture chamber to check on William's progress. He could hear Frazier talking but it was not the conversation he had expected.
"So like as I was saying," Frazier said in an encouraging tone, "just hang in there and she'll come around."
"You really think so?" William asked.
"Of course I do! Willy, my man, you're a catch. She just needs time to see you for who you really are. Once she's gotten past your big, slightly intimidating exterior to see the gentle giant underneath she's sure to fall for you." He paused. "Also, try the apple thing out. It should help with the bad breath problem."
William breathed lightly into his hand then sniffed. "Apples huh?" He shrugged. "You know you're one of the few people I've ever known who's cared enough to try and help me. And you're certainly the first person I've had on a table that's shown me any kindness." He sounded a little moved.
"What in the world is going on here?!" Trent shouted furiously.
"Oh no," William muttered.
Frazier cocked his head to the side to try and see Commander Trent who was standing beside the table just out of view. "Trent! You're back! Come on in and have a seat. We're having a lovely conversation."
"You, shut up." He growled. His gaze shifted to William. "What do you think you're doing?"
William hesitated. "Extracting information, I guess." He sounded like a child being scolded by his mother.
"Oh really? That's not what it sounded like to me." A large vein began to bulge from his forehead.
Frazier tried to jump back into the conversation. "Well, that's because he ran out of questions after about fifteen…"
"I told you to shut it!" He jabbed his pointer finger into Frazier's forehead forcing his head into the wooden table.
"You really should see someone about your anger issues," Frazier said gently.
"AHHHH!" Trent punched Frazier in the gut as hard as he could. "Just shut up!"
His furious eyes turned back to William. "I want a fully detailed report on my desk in one hour. And if I come to check on this lunatic again I better find he has some broken bones." Trent turned and stormed out.
Frazier and William looked at each other for a moment. "You know," Frazier began, "I think I would look for a new line of work if I were you. That man is insane."
"He's not normally like this," William said trying to defend his superior. "It's just that you broke through all his security measures and crashed the princesses' birthday party. The king was not happy."
"So you're saying this is all my fault then?" Frazier asked.
William shrugged. "Kind of, I suppose."
Frazier nodded. "Alright, then I best take responsibility. What do I need to do to make things better for you and Trent?"
William frowned. "Well, I've already got a full report for the commander." He noted hesitantly.
"I see, so on to the fun part then?" Frazier winked at William.
"Yeah, fun." He mumbled, sounding wholly uninterested in what needed to happen next.
"Willy, come on now. You've got a job to do so do it. Don't worry about me I'm a tough nut to crack." Frazier tried to cheer him up.
William couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You do know what I'm going to have to do to you?"
"Of course, just don't mess with my face or the boys. Anywhere else is fair game." He flashed a big smile and winked at him.
William reluctantly picked up a small hammer from the table next to him. It looked like it was just the right size for cracking walnuts. He looked at Frazier. "Spread out your hand." He ordered with a sigh.
Frazier flattened his palm against the table and spread his fingers. "So, Willy, tell me more about this woman that's stolen your heart." He said trying to stir up another happy conversation.
William looked at him with a sad expression on his face. "I'm not so sure I can talk about it and do my job, sir."
"Fair enough, business before pleasure and all that. Then how about I tell you a little story of my own to pass the time?" Frazier's indomitable smile was plastered across his face.
William nodded. "If that makes it easier on you, sir."
"It will, and cut this 'sir' stuff out. We're friends, remember?" He winked at William.
"Last time I checked friends don't torture each other." He replied.
"Then you must have boring friends," Frazier said with a laugh.
Something about his laugh was contagious and it made the burly torturer crack a smile of his own. "If you say so, Frazier. Are you ready?"
"Let's do this." He replied with an energetic smile.
William swung the small hammer down on his pinky finger with a loud crack.
Frazier cringed. "Holy, sweet, chunky babies, that's a different kind of pain."
William stopped and looked at his friend. He didn't want to cause him any more pain.
Frazier could see it in his eyes. "So, Willy, while you continue, let me tell you about the time I found myself captured by a bunch of angry cyclopes."
William sighed and continued. Crack! Another finger was broken.
Frazier winced. "Cyclopes." He said then paused. "Come to think of it that doesn't sound right. Maybe it's cyclopsi?"
Crack! A third finger down.
Frazier bit his lower lip. "Oh, what does it matter? There were a whole bunch of the one-eyed buggers and they had taken me prisoner. To earn my freedom I had to beat them all in a game of eye spy."
"Ahhahahaha, whew that was a good one." He took a deep breath and let it out quickly. "Any who, eye spy of all things. Who would have thought one-eyed giants would be so fond of a silly children's game."
"Mmmmm, wow so thumbs feel nothing like the rest, just in case you were curious." He took another deep breath. "Anyways, it turns out cyclopsi are also color blind to green and yellow. Once I figured that out the game was in the bag."
William moved to the other side of the table. "Your other hand please," He politely ordered.
"Oh right, sorry." He spread out his other hand. "Now where was I."
He let out a deep grunt followed by a snort. "That's right. So I beat them at their favorite game and they let me go. But just to make sure there were no hard feelings I asked if I could stay and help them with dinner."
"Hmmmfff." He shook his head back and forth. "You skipped a finger! You can't do that I was mentally prepared for the other one!"
"Sorry," William replied apologetically, "I thought that might make it easier if you weren't expecting it."
"It's fine." Sweat started to bead up on his brow. "Well, like I was saying. I stayed to help them with dinner. Turns out cyclopsi are masters of barbecue."
"Shhhhheeeets!" Frazier shouted.
"Sorry I missed and just busted the nail." You could hear the regret in his voice.
"No worries, big fella," Frazier said between heavy breaths. "I'm sure this hurts you just as much as it hurts me."
"Not really." He replied.
"Okay, I got it that time," William informed him.
"Yes, yes you did!" He took another deep breath. "So as I was saying. You've never had pork ribs like these in your life. You could practically just lick the meat off the bones it was so tender and juicy. And the flavor…"
"Ohhhhh Nelly! I'm not sure what they seasoned it with or what kind of wood they smoked it with but man it was amazing." His smile was beginning to fade along with his mental fortitude.
"Goodness gracious that was a meal I'll never forget, and it turns out after they've eaten they love to dance the night away." He said with a forced laugh. "I've never seen anything like it."
"Sounds like a right good time," William said.
Frazier laughed once more. "Far better than the one I'm having right now." He winked.
"If it's any consolation you don't have any fingers left to break so we're done." William put his hammer back on the table.
"Not really, but I'm glad it's over. What's next?" He asked.
William scratched at the stubble on his chin. "I think Commander Trent will be satisfied with this." He sat down and began to review his notes. "I'm just going to check and see if there is anything I may have forgotten to ask."
"Sounds good, I'll just be here if you need me." Frazier chuckled at his own sense of humor. "By the way, you have excellent penmanship." He added.
"I have to write a lot of reports," William replied as he continued to scan his notes.
"Well if you ever need to take up a new line of work I'm certain you could get hired on as a scribe somewhere," Frazier suggested.
William finished his task and closed the book with a snap. "I have to go report to the commander."
"May I come?" Frazier asked.
William looked at him with a raised eyebrow.
"Gotcha, asking too much. I'll just stay here then." He said rescinding his request.
William began to say something then stopped himself. He shook his head.
"Something the matter?" Frazier inquired curiously.
"Don't take this the wrong way," William didn't want to hurt his feelings, "but I just don't see how someone as… eccentric as yourself could be the wizard you claim to be.".
Frazier let out a big hearty laugh. "You know I get that all the time, I have no idea why." He cleared his throat. "Just wondering, how many wizards do you know?"
William stopped to consider the question. "I guess none. I've seen a few of the royal wizards in the halls but I've never talked to them."
"Ah ha!" He exclaimed. "Then how do you know the best wizards aren't all blessed with just a little touch of crazy." He smiled.
William raised a finger and opened his mouth but paused and thought for a second. "You know, you have a point."
Frazier nodded feeling quite satisfied with himself.
"But at the end of the day, you're still strapped to a torture table." He pointed out. "Just something to think about."
"Pffft, trivial details." He replied dismissively.
"If you say so." He turned and started to walk away. "I have to go deliver my report. I'm sure after that the commander will have you transferred to a cell."
"Can we stop at a bathroom on the way?" Frazier asked as the door to the chamber slammed shut. "Willy, I need to pee! Really, really bad! Did you hear me?! Willy?!" He looked up at the ceiling. "Rats." He mumbled to himself.