The Colopatiron Series 2:
The Fading Light
By: Stacy L.
CATEGORY: Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Vingette
WARNINGS: Dark, Disturbing Imagery
TABLE FIC PROMPT: #055 No
COMPLETED: November 2006
AUTHOR’S NOTES: This story serves as response to a table fic prompt from the 50_darkfics LiveJournal challenge community.
* * * *
Neither of them spoke as they continued further back into the dungeon, as they progressed what little light had been in the first section all but dwindled and Jack’s fear for his friend increased. He became anxious and unnerved as they journeyed deep into what appeared to be an endless night.
When light all but disappeared Jack halted softly saying, “Jacob…Jacob!”
“What? What Jack?”
“Can you see anything?”
“Very little, shapes and shadows…”
“Are there people down here?”
Silence filtered in stretching before Jacob broke it as he replied, “These are Mada’s favored ones.”
“To be a favored of Mada’s has little benefit…these are those who continue to resist, to fight against him and his guards. These are the ones who suffer always. They speak when they are told to be silent. They dare to look upon Mada’s chosen. They refuse to surrender all…”
“Resides among them…”
Gazing about him Jack shuddered noting how little light dared to even touch this section. The area smelled dank and musky, worse than the first section of cells and quiet, disturbingly quiet. He shook his head asking, “Why is it so silent back here?”
“Some have been muted, others are too severely injured to do more than lay upon the floor and still others are on the very verge of death itself. Sometimes an eerie silence falls about this area but not always. More often than not their screams can be heard, the only real indication that there is anyone down here at all. Come we must continue for Daniel’s cell is much further back.”
“He resides further back. We’re not yet to his cell.”
“How do you know?”
Jacob swallowed hard before stoically informing, “Because there is still some light here.”
“Where he resides all light has been extinguished.”
With that said Jacob moved again unwilling and unable to speak of it further. Jack felt ill, as if he had just been punched in the gut. He swallowed hard now beginning to wonder if any of his friend still remained.
They continued on in silence, the darkness growing sinister and more malevolent. The further they journeyed the less he could see until they entered into nothing but inky blackness. He gazed around attempting to see, unable to, and reached out relieved as his hand found Jacob.
Jacob turned noting he could barely even see Jack’s face and softly informed, “We go no further.”
“Are we there?”
“No. Now we must wait for Setana. She will guide us the rest of the way.”
“Jacob I don’t think there’s anything or anyone down here. I mean how could there be? We can’t see anything.”
“We are surrounded by Mada’s cursed ones, Jack. Their cells stretch for miles.”
“But I don’t hear anything. I don’t see…”
He fell silent as a single light flickered soft and gentle, casting an eerie glow about them, a small light that shed much light and as it drew closer Jack swallowed hard gazing about him as the endless cells Jacob had been referring to became visible. As he peered in one cell and saw someone chained to the wall all he could manage was a soft, “Oh God…”
He stared intently into the cell, so focused on the prisoner secured within that he screamed in surprise as a hand touched him and he was ordered to be quiet. As he turned and focused he noticed a young woman had joined them with hair that shined golden against the flickering candle contained within the small confines of the lantern she held in her fingers. She reminded him eerily of the young Nox woman Daniel held in high esteem.
She smiled softly before speaking in hushed tones, “Please do not disturb those who have finally found rest.”
“Yes. Mada’s favored now sleep. Come, your friend is this way. He has little time.”
“He…you mean Daniel?”
She guided them deeper into the dungeons into an area that reminded Jack of catacombs. He shivered, stopping as she drew to a halt pulling first one key then a second out. Jack gazed at her several moments before turning to peer into the cell they now stood before questioning, “This…he’s here?”
She nodded watching as he again peered in the cell before sadly announcing, “I don’t see anyone.”
“Oh he is there.”
Jack again peered in but all he saw was walls, walls with manacles imbedded in them, manacles that made him shudder but still he saw no one residing within the cell. Becoming angry he demanded, “Where is he?”
“But I don’t…”
He fell silent as she unlocked the cell door informing, “Because you do not look hard enough,” before entering and lowering to her knees softly speaking words of comfort as she turned to focus to her right. She glanced over her shoulder informing, “He has been kept chained in place for many weeks. He will have difficulty moving about, for his body, his muscles have grown stiff and weak from lack of use. I have been massaging his limbs and stretching them, moving them for him to keep the muscles from degenerating, but it pains him much, for he has been kept as such for far too long.”
Jack approached peering cautiously over her shoulder gasping as he caught sight of a pale figure stretched out before her face down, his wrists chained above his head to manacles that appeared to be imbedded in the floor. His first reaction was to deny what was right before him, “That’s not Daniel.”
Jacob’s voice pierced the silence as he snapped at Jack before saying, “Do not sound so certain. We have found him and…”
“And that’s not him!”
As Setana unlocked the wrist manacles the person before her released a loud pain laced scream that was all too familiar to Jack.
Setana reacted quickly hushing the man before her softly informing, “You are all right, Daniel. Your friends have come for you.”
She smiled sadly as the one before her responded to her soft words by turning his head attempting to focus on her through slit eyelids. She began to tenderly stroke his hair gently crooning to him, allowing him time to return to full alertness. He responded by licking his lips and again closing his eyes seeming to settle into rest once more. She shook her head before saying, “No, Daniel, no. It is time for you to go.”
A soft barely spoken word came back, “Go…”
“Yes go. Your friends have come.”
Slowly shaking his head he managed, “Think I’m dead…no rescue…Janet says they’ll come though…”
Jack spoke for the first time since denying who he saw softly questioning, “Janet?”
“Yes. When one is trapped in endless darkness one survives by remembering those who have been important to them.”
“She is hope to him. He has told me of seeing her, of speaking with her…”
“Janet’s gone she…”
“Is in heaven now… He has spoken of her coming to him, visiting him here when he felt lost. He has spoken of several who he believes have visited him while he lay trapped…”
“The last to visit was…”
“Colopotiron…come to release me…” came Daniel’s soft, scratchy voice.
Jack questioned, “Colopotiron? Who is…?”
Jacob answered, “An angel, Jack, an angel who unlocks prison gates. One who grants freedom…”
Ignoring him Setana softly informed, “Daniel I am going to help you turn over now.”
“Yes it will hurt. Are you ready?”
The slight nod was all the indication she needed before carefully easing him onto his side. Daniel reacted by releasing a loud choked scream to the air as the move triggered pain not only along the length of his side but on the front of his body as well. He lay before her shivering so much his whole body violently shook and moisture leaked from the corners of his eyes. She addressed Jacob next, “Do you have a blanket for him?”
“Can I have it? Please, for he has been without clothing for some time.”
“He is unclothed, yes.”
She shook her head again turning to gaze at Daniel informing, “I have a blanket for you. I intend to wrap it around you, but it will pain you. Your body will be hypersensitive for some time and the texture of the blanket will greatly disturb you but not to fear for I had Jacob bring one of the softest and warmest he could find.”
As she draped the cover over him he moaned softly becoming fidgety and restless as the unfamiliar texture pressed against his skin. He attempted to shove it off but was too weak to move finding that he could barely tolerate it managing, “Off, off please…”
“No honey, no. This needs to remain. It is to cover you.”
Daniel moaned again hissing as he continued to squirm before managing, “Can’t, can’t do this…hurts, it hurts.”
“I know, honey, I know but that is simply because you are unaccustomed to it. Relax and calm. You can do this.”
Daniel continued to fidget and squirm for several more moments before managing to relax enough to at least tolerate the newest texture against his body. As warmth seemed to slowly begin to seep back into him he found his struggles quickly turning into attempts to draw the warmth tighter around him. As his nimble fingers found and managed to successfully grip the material he began to settle further and carefully, oh so carefully drew his knees to his chest crying out as pain answered the move. Immediately hands were on his leg, drawing the beginning warmth away before tenderly rubbing across it. Her worried voice came to him from above, “Have they been here, Daniel?”
Fighting against the lethargy pulling and tugging at him he managed, “Hmm…yes…”
“And what did they do this night?”
“Heard a loud crack, pain…then nothing…” sighing heavily he muttered, “Tired, hmm tired…”
She closed her eyes, squeezing them tightly shut tensing briefly upon feeling a warm hand on her shoulder. When she turned she saw Jacob and the questions he wanted to ask shining in his eyes. She nervously licked her lips, drawing in a calming breath before quietly informing, “They broke his leg again. I need to mend it before it’s too late.”
“Setana do we have time…”
“We will make time for a break could kill him Jacob. He is not well enough to cope with such an injury. He is weak. He is feverish. He is malnourished…a break…it could kill him.”
“Shock… You do not yet understand, nor comprehend how damaged he is. They tortured him, Jacob, and not just once or twice. They abused him daily.”
As she gazed upon him she noted his eyes were closed and his breathing even and deep, he had drifted asleep again. Blinking the moisture from her eyes she retrieved her hand device before centering it above Daniel’s leg, as she began the healing Daniel shuddered beneath her, beginning to toss his head ever so slightly from side to side. As she increased her focus intent on healing the break completely he began to pull away from her, away from the uncomfortable heat against his skin. Whispering gently she urged, “Hold still. This will not take long. You cannot resist the healing, Daniel. Please do not fight me again. Please.”
Again his eyes fluttered before opening a crack, when he saw the light of the device he released a harsh, “No,” and began to instinctively turn away, attempting to turn back onto his stomach. She gently pinned him forcing her voice to take on a sharper tone as she commanded. “Do not fight me.”
He tensed beneath her lightly restraining hand and she could feel the muscles beneath her harden and become rigid as he stiffened in response to the harshness in her voice. She hated using that slight edge to gain his compliance but it was necessary to keep him still as she healed his body and a stern voice stilled him faster than soft pleas for cooperation. She gazed at him holding her breath as she waited for him to make a decision. He would either cooperate or he would continue to fight, his movements becoming more coordinated as he prepared to resist. This is how she knew that he had not yet been completely broken, for he still became obstinate and sometimes would even swing at her when she took on the more assertive tone. She listened to him hearing the harsh breath he was pulling in as he fought an internal battle with himself over whether to comply or resist. She continued to run the healing device across the break in his leg while keeping one eye on him. She was ready for him when his fighting response kicked in. He lashed out, attempting to grab at her, thrown somewhat off balance when he found his hand didn’t come to an abrupt halt as the short length of his chain was reached. For several tense moments there was silence, complete and utter stillness as he gazed in wonder at his now freed wrist. It was long enough for her to complete the healing. As she shifted back Daniel’s attention was quickly drawn and riveted on her. He was threat assessing. She could see it immediately. He was trying to make sense of who she was, where he was and if she was a danger to him. He watched her intently fighting back the constant lure of exhaustion that hounded him. For several moments that was how they remained and to her relief neither Jacob nor his friend attempted to intervene perhaps sensing, knowing instinctively what was happening. She waited for him to decide if she was a threat or not knowing instantly the moment he had determined she was not there to hurt him. She watched him as he held her gaze only a moment longer before slowly lowering back to the floor most likely intent on succumbing to the exhaustion now stalking him. She moved cautiously, aware that though he was extremely weak and extremely battered to move too quickly around him could send him back into defense mode, making him so highly agitated that he would no longer remain still. She had been through this with him so many times that she knew exactly what to do and what not to do. She raised her hand in the air slowly reaching for him noting how quickly he snapped his eyes open, staring at her prepared to fight again should she pose a threat. He watched her like a caged animal, leery, uncertain, drained of all energy but forcing himself to remain on alert, mentally preparing to strike out if necessary. She spoke then calmly, soothingly, “Relax. You know I will not hurt you. We have been through this before. You know that I will not harm you.”
He continued to watch her, his gaze only faltering when the lull of sleep continued to tug at him, attempting to drag him down. He resisted its call, focusing on her for several more moments before settling further. He slowly lowered his head refusing to look away from her, assessing her yet again. As he settled in place she watched him grip the edge of the cover Jacob had brought in trembling fingers, slowly drawing it tighter against him before the battle with sleep was lost and he succumbed. As his eyes slid shut she placed a hand against his cheek, carefully drawing her thumb across the edge of his cheekbone before whispering, “Thank you.”
She then turned to focus on Jack and Jacob continuing, “He resists the healing often. He is leery and afraid. He no longer trusts easily.”
“You…you’ve helped him before, haven’t you? I mean you had to, to…to know how he’d…”
“Yes. We must move him. He cannot stay here much longer, for the longer we remain the more time will run against him.”
Nodding his head in agreement Jack quickly approached his sleeping friend unable to speak as his eyes took in the sight of one he had thought was forever lost to him. Blinking the moisture from his own eyes he gently touched his friend feeling the quivering in his friend, aware that it was due most likely to weakness, hoping it was only due to the coldness of the cell. He turned to Jacob and said, “Should we contact Anise? Have her beam us out of here?”
Jacob glanced at Setana waiting for her response for he knew how a sudden bright flash in the pitch blackness could not only frighten but terrify the other inhabitants trapped beside him. She gazed at him before softly inquiring, “Is there no other way?”
“Short of waking him and making him walk? No.”
“Can one of you not carry him?”
“Between the two of us yes, but where can we go that will get us out quickly and not terrorize the others trapped here?”
Nibbling on her bottom lip as she thought out their options she nodded before saying, “Please allow me time to check on those that reside within this section of the cells. If most are asleep they may be unaware of the sudden brightness.”
Nodding Jacob and Jack waited on edge for Setana to return. It was several minutes before she again approached and nodded. Jacob took her cue and quickly radioed Anise, in a flash of light the three of them were beamed quickly aboard the ship orbiting above the planet.
As they rematerialized aboard the ship neither were prepared for the sudden movement of their slumbering friend. He was moaning softly as if in pain attempting to shift onto his stomach, much to Jack’s displeasure. He tried speaking to Daniel but nothing broke through to him. He gazed helplessly at Jacob before Daniel’s hoarse whisper filtered in. Having difficulty understanding him Jack lowered closer to his friend hearing one word filter in. Turning he informed, “The light Jacob…it’s the light. Can we dim them?”
The moment she dimmed the lights Daniel seemed to settle back into a calm rest.
Pursing his lips Jack drew in a deep breath as he forced himself to really look at Daniel’s face. What he saw there infuriated him. His friend was extremely pale, his face flushed almost white with nasty black, blue and fading green bruises painted across it standing out starkly against the unhealthy pallor. Several of those bruises disturbed him greatly, especially those that surrounded his mouth as if they were created by someone who had recently been pressing a hand way too harsh against it. He swallowed hard forcing his anger to abate as he continued to scan his friend’s frail frame. More bruises dipped from the hollow of his throat down below the cover now clenched tightly in his too pale hand. Dirt seemed to cling to his face and hair…and Jack became aware that Daniel had apparently even been denied the simple pleasure of showering or bathing.
DANCING IN SHADOWS
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