Inmate 400

The Chasm is a secret prison, one that few people know of, and one that nobody has escaped from. Where Anarchy is King and there is no Law, the Chasm is run by bandits and muderers. Convicted for a crime he didn't commit, Inmate 400 is branded as a traitor and threat to the Duke of Gariton, and thrown in the Chasm. Forced to survive in a world of madmen, he learns things that pushes him to the edge of sanity, and knows that escape is the only cure.

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6. Reaper

We walked in silence. I was made to keep p with the pace being set by this band of brigands, lest I be flogged from behind with whatever weapon the man bringing up the rear of the group deemed fit to use. But, apart fromt hese times, nobody set a hand on me. They were not overly-agressive, or brutal captors, nor did they go back on their word, not one man splitting off to chase down Cleave and the rest of the group. No. We trudged along in silence, and my mind was spinning off to all the worst case scenarios.

We exited the Desert after a few days. We didn't emerge into the stone city, but started to encounter more people, and the only thing resembling communities I had seen during my time in the Chasm. I expected I had been down here for around 2 weeks now but, when you had no Sun to gauge the time by, it could have been more or less. We stopped and rested when we were tired, and started moving again when everyone was ready. It was monotonous, but with scarily ruthless military precision.

It was during this journey when I allowed myself to think of my past. Obviously, I had been trained in combat to a certain degree. I could now clearly remember Marcus, and that my father had died. I knew we were rich, Nobles of some sort, but that was it. Patchy memories came through in short bursts, but I could never hold on to them for long enough. Who was I? Why was I here?

The small camps we encountered soon became full on towns. People had obviously settled here and worked their houses and other buildings into the stone walls. There were shops here, people selling various meats which they had caught down here, mostly rat and other vermin, and clothes which people had knitted from the remains of other people's garments. There seemed to be no currency, just people bartering, but the life which bristled here made me question my own self-imposed isolation. Being with Cleave and Sneak and the others, I never really thought that people would ever settle down. But, with nothing else to do, people wil find a place to make a living, even if it is in a prison. Just because I had decided to move with Sneak and the Shadowsn, follwing where they would go, doens't mean that others should live such a nomadic life. The Chasm was becoming more and more interesting every day, yet I still knew next to nothing about it.

Soon, I heard the familiar sound of water, and eventually, could see that there was a small waterfall, cascading from a point high in the ceiling of the particular cave we were in. And, if one could srain their eyes enough, they would be able to make out something I had previously taken for granted: daylight. The strength it gave me kindled new life inside me. I vowed to myself that I would not die down here, would not deprive myself of the sunlight for the rest of my life. I would escape. Right after I had killed the twisted leader of a group of murderous criminals in the highly guarded underground prison, protected by men with muskets, crossbows, and other contraptions. Easy.

Muskets. That thought hit harder than most. Muskets. Recently invented and circulated around the army, I had been trained to use one. The pouring of gunpowder, the loading of the musket ball, using the ramrod to push it down, lighting the charge...yes. I had definitely been trained. If I closed my eyes, I could hear the sound of a musket volley, feel the weight in my hand, the polished wood in my hands, the cold steel of my sword against my thigh, the snapping of a banner in the wind. Yes. It was a vivid and clear memory, and I clung onto it tightly. So tightly, I completely ignored the order to stop, and walked into the man in front of me, resulting in some severe harsh words, and a light rap on the head.

"400, 400. A nice, round number. 400. We usually like having centurions in. I've met 300, and knew of those who knew 200. And now I have met 400. Not the newest, mind. 402 came in just a few hours ago. You see, I know everything, 400. Everything." Reaper's voice was echoing around me, bouncing off the walls of the cave. Everyone who was just a moment ago floggng their wares had evaporated. The town was empty. I looked up into the stare of a killer, and stared straight back.

Reaper wasn't big. Not impressively so, anyway. He was tall, but not stocky, His hair mostly shaved except for some stubble in the middle. He was covered from head to toe in dark, writhing tatoos, and in the middle of his chest was a branded Hand. He was a traitor. Catching my gaze he continued.

"Oh yes, 400. Me and you, we're brothers. Traitors. Exepct I'm better than you, 'cos I did it. I killed the Duke, did you know that? Poison. He died slowly, and suffered. Just about long enough to see me betrayed and thrown down here. You see 400, back up there, I was king. I owned the Underworld. I was death. People wanted someone dead, they came to me. Someone wanted the Duke dead, and he was. Boom. No more Duke. And then, I get dragged out by the very man I'm helping, tortured, and thrown down here!" This last statement was accompanied my manic laughter. I realised that this man was insane.

"I don't care Reaper." I heard myself say. It seemed childish, something a sulking child might say, but I really didn't care. If he was going to kill me, best gt it over with.

"Oh hush 400, I'm tellin' a story here. As I was sayin', I'm broken, beyond repair, but I got my own life here now. I'm king again, you know? And then I get told that some little sewer-rat comes down here, thinkin' he's all bad with a Hand on his chest, and he's cuttin' up my men. I don't like that." During his speech, he had made his way towards me, and was standing directly in front of me. "I don't like that at all, 400. And just so you know, your friends, who you thought you saved, they wont be saved much longer" and in the flash of one punch, I was, as I seemed to be most of the time, unconscious.

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