When I wake, the collar is gone. Almost immediately, I stumble to my feet, and scramble across the room to Kane’s side. The floor is rough against my bare feet. They must have taken my shoes. My shoes. Why would something small like that matter?
I quickly forget that as I reach Kane. I drop to my knees next to him, and study his face. He looks terrible. Blood runs from the corner of his mouth, and his face is pale and bruised. He’s been beaten- I can tell.
“Oh Kane…” I whisper. I pull his head up into my lap, stroking his blond hair out of his face. “I’m so sorry, Kane. I’m so sorry, what have they done to you? I’m so sorry, please, Kane, wake up.”
There’s no answer from him, other than a soft groan. I can’t even imagine how much pain he’s in.
“Kane,” I murmur again. “You are not dying on me. You are mine, Kane. And you’re not going to die on me. I love you. I love you. I won’t let you die, Kane. I won’t. You’re staying alive. And when you wake up, I’m going to explain everything to you. I promise. I never meant to hurt you, Kane. I’d never hurt you.” I stroke his hair gently. “It’s okay, Kane, I’m here now.”
I almost laugh at my own words. What difference does it make that I am here? What will my presence change? I am as much a captive as he is. What can I do to help him?
However, even though it doesn’t really matter. At least he has a friend here. At least… at least I have a friend here.
A friend. My mind instantly goes to Tallima. Tallima, who was my friend. Tallima, who went against everything she knew to help me. Tallima, who took the enchantress’s first attack for me. Tallima- who could now be dead, because she came with me. Because I walked us into a trap.
Tears slip down my cheeks, cold against my skin. They splash across Kane’s face, and he stirs slightly. I reach down, feeling his forehead, then wince at how hot it feels. He’s obviously feverish.
I wince in sympathy. I wish there is something I could do to help him- but I am in a prison. There is nothing I can do. And even if I was elsewhere, I have been trained to kill people, not to aid them.
There is a loud clunk, and I look up in time to see a bucket being lowered. It hangs nearby, and appears to be full of water. I stand, and warily walk towards it. Water. It is water. I smile with gratitude, and take the bucket. Even as I pull at it, the rope jerks back, splashing some of the water onto the floor.
“Fine!” I yell up towards the ceiling. Slowly, I untie the rope from the bucket. Almost instantly, the rope jerks up, out of my reach. I sigh, and take the water back towards Kane. Eventually, I tear off a small bit of his already ragged shirt, and soak it in the water. The water is cold as it drips down my hand, onto Kane’s face. I place the wet scrap of cloth on his face, then pull his head into my lap again. I then cup some of the water in my hands, and pour it into his mouth. He coughs and splutters, and I do it again. This time he swallows it. I sigh with relief, then drink some of the water myself.
Time passes. I’m not sure how much. Eventually, I hear footsteps. I turn to see the enchantress Aliana Vallerus herself approaching us. I don’t move. Instead, I simply cradle Kane’s head with as much tenderness as I can. I will not allow this enchantress to touch him. Not without getting through me, at least.
I curse her under my breath. Magic is the one thing I have no defense against. As an enchantress, her magic is lesser, but she has more magic than I do. And I cannot defend against her.
I grit my teeth, turning to face her.
“Calm down, little Devia,” she smirks. “I am here to open your mind, and the inventor’s mind. And to break each of you in turn. Believe me when I say this is preferable to physical torture.”
I laugh harshly. “You’re ‘just’ here to break our minds, huh? With what?”
“The drug you consumed,” she replies evenly. “That and what little magic I possess.”
I stare at her in disbelief. “What- the water- you-”
“Drugged,” she agrees. “Hallucination inducing. Very strong. You’ll be put under in a few minutes. And then I will begin my work. Just relax. It’ll go smoother that way. If you fight, it will only make it worse.”
I begin to stand, but she is ready for this. Two men step out of the shadows behind her. Before I can even rise fully, one of them drives his fist into my gut. I choke, collapsing to the ground. The other one grabs my arms and pulls me upright to face the enchantress, who smiles at me.
“See, love? No point resisting. You’re weak as it is. Just go quietly. Things will be so much simpler.”
I snarl at her, but the world grows distorted before my eyes. The stone walls warp, and vines burst from the floor around me. They wind upwards, to where I am held still. My eyes widen as they grow up my legs and over my arms. Then they close over my head, and the world goes dark. The last thing I feel is the stone floor- and my hand closing around Kane’s arm.