Part Four: Thought In Prison
THOUGHT IN PRISON
Drake and Krish were led down a damp charcoal corridor and several flights of stairs to a torch-lit dungeon, where they were to stay until their first task was assigned. Drake’s developed senses were picking up every detail of the room: it was a dry and musty cell, the walls coated in layers of grit, while the bars were clean and maintained. There was a sort of mould covering the right side of the ceiling, but stopped abruptly when it hit the middle.
The two boys were thrown inside – literally — and the door slammed shut behind them. Krish picked himself off the ground, groaning loudly. ‘Fat lot of good you’ve done us,’ he moaned.
Drake, still pensively sitting cross-legged on the floor, replied calmly: ‘Please explain to me why any of this is my fault.’
Krish faltered, then scowled. ‘It just is. I don’t need a reason.’
He glanced around at their spacious cell. ‘How’re we going to get out, then? I think that weirdo Certrain said Elf-boy is locked away on floor six. If we could break out of the cell, we could find floor six and break him out, and he could get us out of here.’
Drake nodded. ‘Perhaps’. Then, ‘His name’s Selebriar. The Elf. And he isn’t a boy. He’s thousands of years old.’
Krish ignored him, and started examining their prison. Drake sat, and examined it in his own way. He shut his eyes, and used his nose. The stench of the mould loomed over all other smells: it smelled of wet, and rot, and age. Drake knew how age smelled. If he was asked to describe it, he would say that it was the smell of musty old books and forgotten attics.
There was the smell of sweat. There was the smell of smoke from the torches on the walls. There was Krish’s smell, which was like oily hair, and Drake’s smell, which was like wet grass. There was the smell of Orcs from upstairs (their cell had been left unguarded). There was another smell — so faint that it was barely noticeable and that seemed to be coming from a long way away — that vaguely reminded Drake of moonlight, although how moonlight had a smell he did not know.
Then he used his ears. He could hear the noisome Orcs. He could hear rats scuttling around within the walls. He could hear Krish’s breathing and occasional muttering as he prowled the surfaces of their cell. If he strained his ears further, he could hear distant screams coming from overhead. To his mild relief, none of them sounded familiarly Elvish.
Krish wandered over and plopped down beside him. ‘It’s no use’, he moaned. ‘Only a wizard would be able to escape a prison like this.’ Drake nodded. ‘So we’ll just have to play along with Certrain and fight his monsters. Maybe when we’re let out we’ll find an escape route.’
Krish sighed, and shuffled over to the corner of the room, where he sat hugging his knees with his head against the wall, a faraway look in his eyes. Drake remained seated in the middle of the cell, the same space at which he had been thrown several minutes ago, and thought. He thought about his shield, and where it was at the moment, and how it was the main reason they had gotten stuck: if Krish hadn’t thrown it at the rock, the Orcs would never had found them. He thought about his father, how he might never see him again. Strangely, he didn’t feel homesick at this thought.
He thought about Selebriar, and wondered if he was alright, and why he let himself be captured by the Orcs. Drake felt that the Elf could easily have beaten them. He thought about the smell of moonlight, and decided that it smelt like polished silver, clean linen and living wood. He wondered where the smell was coming from, whether there was anyone else trapped in a cell like them. He wondered how long they — if there was anybody — had been fighting.
Eventually, he grew bored of thinking and fell asleep, curled up on the cold stone floor.