Part Eight: Rescue Mission
The light in the cell twisted as Layleanel curbed it with elaborate hand motions. It curled and brightened, shifting hues, until it formed copies of the three prisoners, sleeping on the floor. The images glowed faintly, before asserting a solid resemblance to the real beings. ‘That is so creepy’, muttered Krish, and slipped out of the prison behind the others.
‘Where to first?’ whispered Jereah, glancing behind him at Drake.
‘Floor six’, Drake answered. Jereah nodded, and turned into a narrow side passage on their left. The walls were roughly hewn out of some grey stone, and it climbed steadily upward. The party emerged in a wide, straight corridor. The ancient iron panels in the walls were coated thickly and unevenly in rust, and the walls were lined with glass pod-like containers, each of them of variant sizes and widths. Most were over seven feet tall. There were iron chains hanging from the roof above each pod, the bottom halves dangling inside the case, the glass fused around them halfway. Most pods were empty, the unoccupied shackles hanging forlornly inside the glass hull. Some pods held corpses, hanging from the chains by their wrists. One pod was filled with a curling grey mist, the interior invisible.
‘The Orcs call it the Forgetting room’, explained Jereah. ‘They lock up any unwanted prisoners in one of the glass boxes, and then just…Forget about them, I suppose. The prison fills with mist, and they just hang there until they rot. The mist keeps them from suffocating somehow. When they’re dead, the mist drains away, and then you just get blasts of wind inside, to preserve the body, forming a sort of natural mummy.’
Krish shivered. ‘How jolly’, he mumbled.
Drake walked down the corridor towards the mist-filled pod. There was a gentle depression on the side of the pod, the size of a thumbprint. Drake pushed it. A vertical line slid down the front of the glass, and the pod cracked open. The mist spilled out into the corridor before dissipating. Selebriar coughed, and opened his eyes. He was hanging limply from rough iron chains, paler and thinner than usual. He looked up, and smiled apologetically. ‘Shouldn’t have let them capture us’, he murmured weakly. ‘Curiosity killed the cat, and now your father is going to kill me for this…’
Drake smiled, and glanced at Layle. She raised her hand, and focused on the shackles, which burned white for a moment before snapping apart. Selebriar half stepped, half fell out of the pod. He rubbed his wrists. His clothes were moist, his weapons gone. Drake could see, out of the corner of his eye, a giant wicker basket marked ‘Confiscate’. He headed towards it and lifted the lid. Inside were the belongings of the prisoners sentenced to be Forgotten. He rummaged around until he found Selebriar’s belongings, wrapped in a bundle with an old rag and labelled ‘That One Elf Guy’. Drake took them out of the basket and to Selebriar.
‘Thank you’, said the Elf, donning his weaponry. He was then introduced to the other members of the group. Jereah made him jump, but quickly reassured him that he was an “anti-neurovore”. Krish received a glare, which was returned with a hazy look of awe.
When Selebriar saw Layleanel, he hesitated, momentarily shocked. He then bowed low, voicing a greeting in Elvish. Layle smiled, and replied in the same language. There was a brief exchange, during which it was made obvious through tone and facial expression that Layleanel really was some kind of princess of the Elves. Drake suddenly wished he had demonstrated more submission; the people of Nalariel seemed to be pretty important. There was a final bow, and the two turned back towards the rest. ‘Well’, said Selebriar, ‘Do we have a plan?’