Shadow Slave - Chapter 569
The three Lost seemed to be in a better shape than they had been the day before — their armor was cleaned, and their wounds were properly tended to. However, somehow, they looked worse to wear. Their faces were paler, their movements were full of tension, and there was a strange darkness hiding in their eyes.
Only the sentinel who had spoken to Sunny before was the same. If anything, his cold resolve seemed to have grown stronger… as did his silent hostility. Without saying a word, he threw the tubes of syntpaste into the cage, then pointed at the waterskin laying on the floor near Cassie.
Sunny tossed the empty waterskin out, and received a new one in return.
"Sir! Can you please tell us what is going on? Where is your, uh... fourth friend? Did something happen?"
The sentinel stared at him with a heavy, grim expression. When he answered, his voice was steady and even:
"Don't speak unless spoken to."
With that, the Lost left. The door of the cell locked with a loud click, the flame of the oil lamp trembled, and everything became silent once again.
"...What an unfriendly fellow."
Just like that, their imprisonment started.
There were no windows in the stone chamber, so it was almost impossible to track the passage of time. Their only hint was the appearance of the three Lost, who brought them food and water once every day, and sometimes changed the oil in the lantern.
Sunny and Cassie spent the first few days in silence and tense, grim anticipation. They slept back to back, sharing the heat of their bodies to overcome the chilling cold of the prison cell, and suffered through the daytime without speaking to each other unless absolutely necessary. Both were waiting for something disastrous to happen.
However, nothing did.
The Night Temple had not shaken again, and nothing came through the heavy door to either set them free or destroy them. Neither Master Welthe nor Master Pierce had visited the enchanted chamber, as well, as if Sunny and Cassie were completely forgotten. The stone cell was silent and unchanging.
However, they could still tell that something sinister and dire was going on outside. The evidence was in how the three Lost that brought them food — their only connection to the rest of the world — looked and behaved.
With each day, two of them seemed more and more frightened, while the third grew increasingly cold and grim. No matter how much Sunny tried to get the sentinel to speak, the arrogant warrior refused to tell him anything, and only glared at the prisoners through the iron bars of the cage, his eyes full of ire.
Their actions changed, too. If before all three used to look at Sunny and Cassie while delivering the food, now only the sentinel did. The other two stood facing the door, their weapons drawn.
…Sometimes, their hands were trembling.
Realizing that nothing was going to change any time soon, Sunny had to reluctantly change his behavior. He shared everything he knew about Mordret with Cassie, and learned everything she remembered about the Night Temple in return. With nothing else to do but teach each other, they went over every little detail many times over… only to end up with nothing.
No new clues, no deeper understanding, not even a good guess or two. It was simply a dead end.
On the seventh day, the three Lost arrived as usual. The sentinel walked forward and threw the tubes of synthpaste into the cage, while the other two assumed defensive positions behind his back. Their eyes seemed dark and hollow.
However, before Sunny could toss the empty waterskin outside, a chilling scream suddenly resounded in the corridor outside the door. A long, drowning shriek echoed from the cold stones, full of torment and indescribable agony.
How could a human throat produce such a sound?
The Lost tensed and gripped their weapons, one of them taking an involuntary step back.
The sentinel snarled and pushed the man in the back.
"Get a hold of yourself, cowards! Remember your duty!"
With that, he threw the waterskin to Sunny and rushed outside, a slender sword appearing in his hand from a whirlpool of dancing sparks of light. The others gritted their teeth and followed, shutting the door behind them.
The flame of the oil lamp trembled.
…On the next day, when the door opened again, only two Lost walked through it.
One of the surviving Lost looked like a walking corpse. There were no wounds on his body, but his eyes were dull and glassy. He glanced at Sunny and Cassie lifelessly, then turned around and raised his weapon, staring at the open door with tired dread.
Even the arrogant sentinel seemed a bit… diminished. His handsome face was still cold and resolute, but there was a slight weakness to how his shoulders were set, and a slight uncertainty to his movements.
He tossed the tubes of synthpaste and the water inside the cage, not even waiting for Sunny to return the other two waterskins. Sunny wanted to try to get the Lost to speak to him again, as usual, but then thought better of it.
There was a sharp edge in the man's eyes that made the idea of pushing him even a little seem too dangerous.
The two Lost left, leaving the prisoners alone again.
Sunny stared at the door and the orange flame of the oil lamp dancing beside it for a few minutes, then shivered and turned away.
Their jailers returned several more times. With each day, they looked more disheveled and exhausted, the darkness in their eyes growing deeper and deeper. A few times, Sunny could hear strange, disturbing sounds coming from the corridor, but the two Lost did not seem to react to them at all.
A week later, the food did not arrive for an especially long time. Sunny glared gloomily at the door, feeling pangs of hunger torment his empty stomach. One tube of synthpaste a day was not nearly enough to satiate him, so he was always hungry… just like he had been in the past, living on the streets in the outskirts.
Hours passed, but the two Lost were nowhere to be seen.
'Where the hell are they...'
Then, something suddenly crashed into the door from the outside with a loud bang. A bit of dust fell from the ceiling, and then, everything became silent once more.
Sunny remained motionless for a few moments, then slowly looked down.
Something was flowing from beneath the door, streaming down the slope of the dome toward the cage. In the dim orange glow of the oil lantern, the liquid seemed almost black.
But he knew its smell too well…
Blood. It was human blood.
…After that day, no one came to feed them anymore.