The Key

by: Isil Elensar

(chapter 1)

The room was almost always dark, save for the little bit of torch light coming through the grate in the ceiling. She wasn't sure how long she had been in the room. She shifted around to find a more comfortable position. It was a challenge to do so. Her hands were bound together in iron shackles which were chained to the wall. She had just enough slack to move from laying down to sitting up, but that was all. She was barely able to eat the bread and water they gave her for meals. She ate it though. It kept her alive. Her anger against her captivity and her captors kept her sane. One day, she'd find a way to free herself. She kept that bit of hope close to her.

Suddenly, a bright light filled the room. It was so bright, she had to shield her eyes from it. She had long grown accustomed to the darkness and any more light than what emanated from the torch stabbed at her eyes as if with daggers. She heard the sounds of the door opening, of the plate and cup that had to be her meal, and the door closing again. She felt, rather than saw, the light return to normal and she uncovered her eyes. It took a moment to readjust her eyesight, and once done, she saw she had been right about the sounds. Just within reach was a plate with the customary bread and cup of water.

She ate quickly, and was just about finished with the water when she heard what had to be laughter. It came softly, and it was menacing, but it was definitely laughter. 'He must have entered when they brought me my food,' she thought. She fought the urge to throw up. She would not show him any weakness. She felt nothing but hatred toward him, and he knew it. She heard footsteps, and then saw him before her. He seemed to enjoy looking down on her.

On this visit, he was wearing a cloak with the hood pulled forward so that one could not see his face. Why he chose to wear it in here was a mystery to her. She had seen his face before, while in her room. What she remembered most, and would remember the rest of her days, was his eyes. They were white. In the darkness of her room it seemed his eyes would glow. His hair was as black as night without moon or stars. His face was rather long, and was always set with a malicious look. When he smiled, it was always with scorn and hatred. It didn't take long to anger him. He was an evil man and she loathed his presence.

He turned away from her and sat in his customary place. Once seated, he removed his hood in what he thought must've been a grand flourish. He had this penchant for dramatics, which she found absolutely nauseating. His eyes latched onto her and once again he laughed.

"Did you enjoy your meal?" he asked, feigning concern.

"Even more so than the one before," she replied sarcastically. She had long since given up on staying silent or giving one-word answers. If she didn't answer for a while, he would backhand her across the face.

"Good. Maybe now you'll answer my questions."

"Unless they are different questions, I have already answered them."

He laughed again. "What is your name?"

She was silent for a moment. 'So we begin again,' she thought.

"I have already told you my name."

"You told me your name was Morniel. I've learned that means 'daughter of the dark.' Somehow, I don't think that's your name."

"It is the only name I have. It is the only name you will receive."

"Alright, you are Morniel. Next question, where are you from?"

"Must I tell you again? Your henchmen found me in Brethil. I do not remember why I was there, nor even how I came to be here."

"Again, I find myself skeptical about your answer."

"Believe what you want, but I tell you I was in Brethil when your henchmen found me."

"Do you know why you're here?" he asked. This was a new question! He had never asked this before. Warning flags went up in her mind, but she ignored them for the moment. She didn't begin to think that he'd honestly tell her, but it was something she wanted to know. Keeping her face schooled in an indifferent look, she shrugged her shoulders.

"No. Why am I here?"

"I'm intrigued by your beauty and admire the fire that burns in your eyes. There's a strength in you that I find ... arousing. But that isn't the reason you're here. My Master told me to find the one who holds the 'key.' He gave me your description, and by happy chance, we found you in Brethil. He did not disclose to me anything more."

"I have no 'key.' I do not know what you are speaking of."

"Neither do I, my lady, but I follow the orders of my Master without question."

"And who is your master?"

"My dear Morniel, that's the one thing I will not tell you." He laughed again as he got up to leave. In another of his 'flourishes,' he draped the cloak about him and pulled the hood over his face. She heard him take a few steps, then was assailed by the bright light again. Shielding her eyes, she heard the plate and cup being picked up, and the door opening and shutting. As before, she felt the light return to normal. Sighing, she shifted to find yet another position to be comfortable in. She was left with her thoughts until he chose to come again.