When the World Falls to Darkness

A kingdom at war, a web of truth and lies, a vicious game of friendship and betrayal, and a world that will kill you, whatever path you take.
When the World Falls to Darkness, nobody is safe.
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Beautiful cover by River_Summers.

(I also promise much more frequent updates starting July, when exams are over. :D)

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8. Torture

Warning: Expect some fairly violent scenes coming up. I suppose the title of the chapter gives it away... If you don't like blood and gore and all that fun stuff, just tell me and I'll do something like summing it up for you at the bottom of the chapter.

You have been warned. *Evil laugh*

 

                                                                                                                                          

 

 

Captain Shou was watching as they took the Guardian away. Vile creature, he thought with disgust. He still couldn't believe the filth had managed to sneak into their village, quite possibly preparing to attack and slaughter them all... How could he be so blind? The Guardian, now being dragged into a carriage by the Alliance Guard, had him completely fooled, blinded by the fighting powers. At least, Shou told himself, the spiteful beast would be put to use working for the Alliance. He would be beaten until his foul Guardian soul was destroyed, until his spirit was little more than shattered fragments, burned and broken. And then, they could force him to fight for them, destroying the humans dwarves, and elves who crossed paths with them.

There were only four types of people Shou hated, and that was humans, dwarves, Guardians, and some of the elves. Of them all, he despised Guardians the most. They were disgusting things, sly and cruel and uncaring. Then again, Shou reminded himself, they hadn't started the war. That had been the humans - forever seeking destruction and death. Of course, the dwarves had joined the human race, their greed engulfing them almost as quickly as the blood lust had swallowed the humans. An alliance had formed between the two races - the Dawnbringers, or so they called themselves. Apparently, they would bring about the dawn of a new age - an age where only the true Alpha races remained. Angels, according to them, were just as impure as the Guardians.

Shou did not share in their opinion. The humans and dwarves thought they were pure races, but Shou could see nothing pure about the twisted cruelty and ugly figures. At least the Guardians had the decency to look slightly less revolting, Shou supposed briefly, though their very beings were repulsive. Perhaps the only evil that could even begin to compare to the existence of the Guardians was the decision of the majority of the elven race. That they would willingly ally themselves with the Dawnbringers... To Shou, there was nothing more disgraceful for an elf. Angels belonged within the circle of Alpha races; as for the humans and elves, he wasn't so sure. Then again, they deserved the position more than the Guardians.

Monsters like Louki served only one purpose: to be subdued into servitude.

Anything but that would be simply unacceptable.

 

 

 

Lukas screamed again.

Everything around him blurred together in a vortex of grey and black, watery with the tears in his narrowed eyes. Long since had he lost count of the times they'd struck him and cut him and taunted him. Their words were already beginning to slur together, a mass of indistinguishable mockeries, stabbing into his head but not understood.

Agony shot through him again, the lash of the whip as it sliced across his raw, bloody back. To pass into oblivion would be a kinder fate, but he could not, however hard he tried, force his eyes to close and his mind to engulf itself in the bliss that was unconsciousness.

At some point they left him. The slam of the door echoed through his head like a grim reminder of what would come tomorrow, and he was left to slump in the chains they'd secured him in. Pain still clung to him, the agony, the unbearable struggle to make it through the night. Cold air stung his newly acquired wounds, cutting into them like freezing knives.

Thoughts tried to form in his head, the pain transforming them into a haze of indistinguishable emotions shooting through him, vanquished by the overpowering pain each time he tried to move in the cold clutches of the chains.

Finally, the blurred thoughts managed to construct themselves to a point that Lukas could actually use his mind again. Somewhere in his mind, he worried for Ryuu, for the elf who would likely hate him now, simply because he had been born cursed to be a Guardian. And Avalon - she would despise him as well. Lukas had seen how quickly she had dived down, not to save Ryuu from the dwarves, but to save him from Lukas.

But that thought was not the one that prevailed. Lukas could only think of his family, screaming and crying, tears of pain streaking down their cheeks as they were lashed and beaten and bloodied. Trembling, he pushed the memories from his mind. He'd been remembering far too much, lately. Everything he'd worked so hard to cast into the very depths of his mind, resurfacing with the pain. It was tearing him apart. And yet, he still couldn't regret saving the elves - no defenceless victims should be slaughtered.

At some point, he managed to drift into the realms of sleep.

To finally fall free of the pain was the most beautiful thing he'd felt all week.

 

 

As soon as it came, Lukas wanted to scream. How could he have been so stupid? Even the torturous agony of consciousness had to be better than what was coming, what he could tell was to follow the screams that entered his head through the nightmares.

The screams were, at first, faint, but quickly grew louder, resounding through his mind as he was engulfed in the pain of watching his parents tortured before him.

Eyesight blurry, he could remember only fragments. His mother's cries. His father's shouts. His own tears, scalding his cheeks as he begged for it to stop, pleaded desperately that they stopped hurting his parents. After what seemed an eternity of the screams, they'd dragged his parents away afterwards, not even one of them sparing him a glance as he watched in terror from the confinement of his own chains. Both his mother and his father, broken. Transformed from mighty warriors into weapons for the Dawnbringers to use as they saw fit.

Many were dragged up and tortured after that, their flesh torn and bloody, their eyes devoid of hope and innocence. But nothing could be so terrifying as the moment they dragged his brother to the chains at the front, raised the whip above his back, and lashed it down with a hateful slice.

Not once had Lukas forgotten the agony in his brother's eyes as he was wounded, time and time again, the pain never stopping. And yet there had been a fiery defiance in his brother's eyes, a burning determination that they would not break him. For that, Lukas had both admired and hated his brother. He had been so brave, so strong... Somehow, that had made the ensuing silence even more unbearable after his brother slumped into his chains, his chest still and his eyes closed.

That night had been the worst. That night had been the cruellest. Because on that night, Lukas had lost everything.

And he still remembered his brother's eyes.

 

 

 

"NO!" The cry escaped his lips before he could stop it, the wail of horror as the pain rushed back. "No, no, please..."

He snapped from the nightmare to find tears streaming down his cheeks, dropping to the bloodied floor as he thrashed wildly against the chains, screaming his brother's name. All energy deserted him within seconds, and he was left to hang there, his ribs protruding from his bared chest and his frame slender and frail with famine. Soon, his voice was reduced to a mere croak, a faint word passed through cracked lips.

At some point, a guard charged into the room and struck him repeatedly, the wood bruising his sides without mercy as he spluttered weakly.

Hope. It was useless, meaningless, worthless. Lukas should subdue, as his parents had done before their masters had driven them to exhaustion and ultimately death. He shouldn't be holding the image of his brother in his mind, refusing to allow them victory. But he still did, no matter how many times they struck him again, asking him for submission. There was no hope - he should at least survive rather than remain in the chains simply to die and feel the terror rush through him each time a guard entered the cell. He'd been through this twice, now - once with the humans and now with the angels. Both wanted his servitude, both were craving the power he could supply them with. And if he would not allow them to use him, then they would take the power by force.

So why would he not give in?

Lukas felt the flames - yet another tool of inflicting pain - scorch his arm, and tried to focus on something else. The spiders, with their ghostly webs spiralling from the chains. The stench of decay, blood and waste - though Lukas had long since accustomed his senses to that. The taste of blood in his mouth was no comfort, so he decided instead of finding something within his mind.

What held no painful memories, no dark, spiteful secret? No pain for him to dwell on?

Almost instantly, Avalon and Ryuu came to mind. Ryuu, he cast aside instantly - the very thought of Ryuu reminded him of his brother, and that alone was enough to make Lukas remember. Think of the angel, he told himself. Avalon would laugh to see him like this, but Lukas told himself he didn't care. He pictured her eyes, like moonlight against the midnight blue of her elegant wings. Always had Lukas thought of the angels as a free, graceful race - Avalon was even more so.

"Answer me," a serpentine voice interrupted his thoughts, slicing through them with a hateful hiss. "Do you surrender?"

Somehow, Lukas found his voice, despite the scorched flesh blistering over his arm. If he weren't doomed to die, to rot and perish in this prison, the wound would heal - Guardians recovered more swiftly than any other. But he wouldn't be leaving. He'd be staying, because like his brother, Lukas wouldn't let them win.

"Never."

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