~*Scars*~

It all felt so wrong. Everything; the people, the walls, the very air. I resisted the urge to wrap my arms around my shivering body. Bob had kindly asked me if I was cold, and I vaguely shook my head. I could tell he understood.

I saw Lucien standing there at the top of the small staircase. "Welcome," he had said, his eloquent voice resonating through the Spire. I felt a cold surge of anger as it swelled in my chest, asking, begging me to take his life. No, not yet…the image of Garth flashed into my mind, and I locked the traitorous thoughts deep into my conscious, for surely they would get me killed and ruin the chances of a rescue.

When Lucien had ceased talking, he lifted a gloved hand. "Now…sleep." Without a chance to react a wave of extreme drowsiness overtook me, and I felt my body thud to the floor, as did all of the others. In an almost dreamlike sense I could feel the guards take hold of me, Lucien's voice echoing as he told them to take me to the barracks.

When I awoke, my hair had been shaved, my clothes replaced…and the accursed collar wrapped tightly around my neck. It frightened me, but I managed to not shiver in fear. A week had gone by and I found myself faced with a burly guard, explaining to me the workings of the collar, and the penalty should I attempt to take it off. When he told me of the Commandant's orderings, I nodded blankly and left. On my way I met Bob, and he told me of his guarding duties. He was a kind fellow, and I smiled, albeit the grim thoughts plaguing my mind, wondering if either of us would make it out alive.

Then I saw the Will-user Garth. I heard his voice in my head, and he told me to be patient. His voice was strong and steady, and I placed my trust in him. Bob had been rambling during that time, and I could barely catch him say, "…he doesn't give me any trouble at all, do you?" Garth looked slightly amused, but Bob didn't notice. I continued to the Commandant, wondering if he was grown impatient.

When I finally arrived, the Commandant turned to face me, and I felt disgust shivering up my spine. To think Lucien could create such a being… "I am the Commandant," he said, in a twisted, garbled voice. He called me recruit '273' and explained to me my role in the construction of the Tattered Spire, and his role as a disciplinary. He asked me for nothing less than complete obedience, or else that collar around my neck would activate. The threat was blunt, yet I didn't say a word.

Then he asked me, "Is your honor really that important to you?"

I didn't answer.

He asked me to come forth, and I silently obeyed. When I came close, I suddenly felt the collar come to life, and sent shocks of electricity over my body. While it didn't cause pain, I felt like I was being pricked with thousands of tiny needles. Pleased with my obedience, he told me to look outside the opening in the wall. Moving as little as possible, I looked.

Lucien had been building the Spire for ten years, he told me. It wasn't a miracle, he said. It was all the work of simple obedience. I could feel his eyes on me as he spoke, filled with malicious intent. "Now," he spoke. "I am going to hit you, and you are going to thank me for it." Without time to brace myself, the Commandant swung his longsword and cut deep into my chest. I gasped in pain and stumbled back a few steps, but managed to keep standing. "Now, thank me," he ordered. My sense of pride overwhelmed my logic, and I gritted my teeth, mumbling a curse underneath my breath. I could feel the anger radiating from the Commandant, but before he could say anything to me, the collar suddenly activated.

It was nothing like I've ever felt before. I could suddenly feel every crushing emotion, I've ever had in my life, anger, guilt, fear, and multiplied times ten. Screams of pain flew past my lips. The weight was crushing me, electricity coursing through my veins. Obey... I heard Lucien's voice echoing through my mind. Submit to my will... he whispered. When it had finally ended, I felt completely drained of energy.

The Commandant was pleased. "Now I am going to hit you, and you shall thank me for it." Just like before, he slashed at me before I had time to brace myself. My back collided with the wall, and I slumped down against, breathing deeply and eyes shut tight. This time I remained completely silent, trying to restore my lost energy. Before too long, however, the collar reactivated.

The experience was even worse the second time round, feeling like my mind was being pulled apart by its roots. Obey...! The voice was more forceful this time. You do not have a choice…!

I stood there, gasping for breath as I tried to see past the vision of pain. This time I didn't hear the Commandant's words and for the third time his sword sliced into me. My pride feebly called out once again, telling me to defy anything he said. This time though, my reasoning told me to bow down and submit, knowing I couldn't remain conscious if the collar reactivated again.

"Good," the Commandant said, a sick grin on his mangled face. "Now, you are going to get on your knees and beg for mercy. Beg." I could feel my hair stand up on my neck as he asked for complete submission. The collar, however, felt unbearably tight around my neck, and pain tingled up and down my arms.

Without effort, I slumped down on my knees to the floor, my vision swimming before my eyes. I could feel the Commandant was pleased. "You learn fast." He dismissed me.

As I slowly walked back to the barracks, struggling to resist the crushing blackness drawing me to my feet, I could still feel the lingering effects of my punishment, as if warning me about the traitorous thoughts circling my head.

Is your honor worth so much, the voice in my head whispered, that you'd risk the lives of both you and Garth?

The voice sounded like Lucien.

The weeks past in a hazy blur, and followed a pattern of pain and death. I've never seen so many people die. Ever since the first week I had not disobeyed the Commandant of whatever he asked, the memory of punishment always fresh in my mind. Garth would communicate with me every day, telling me to be patient, his voice ringing with a steady confidence. It was the only thing that reminded me of why I would do these evil acts. I had to stay strong, if not for me at least for him.

My will was once again placed to the test one day, when a rambunctious soldier told me to keep an eye on some slaves while he went to go eat. Under no circumstances was I allowed to give them food, he told me, as he openly mocked their suffering. He left me with the pitiful cries and moans of the slaves as they begged me for food.

I remembered the days when I was a child, living on the streets with my sister, and begging for food from anyone who would listen. So much pain... I eyed the lever that controlled the dropping of food to the prisoners, the first rebellious thought in months creeping into my mind. Before I could even move, however, that hollow, whispering voice in my mind softly spoke, Is it really worth it?

My hands automatically went to the collar, fearing it had activated. However, the pain that had haunted my dreams was absent. I had begun to think I had just imagined it, when Lucien continued to whisper, They're all going to die anyway... why jeopardize everything for them?

"Please, we're starving," I turned my head to look at the slave that had spoken.

It made me sick to my stomach, but I realized that the voice was right.

The next morning I learned that those slaves were found dead in their cells, having died of starvation. I felt like vomiting.

It felt like years had gone by. Lucien's voice continued to resonate in my head, although I haven't reactivated the collar at all. The Commandant had grown pleased with my submission, often ordering me to do what he considered a high honor. It consisted of torturing unruly soldiers, and executing rebellious slaves. I did all of this without a word.

A solider told me to report to the Commandant's office one day. On my way there Garth once again spoke to me, as he always did. One of the guards was yelling at him, probably annoyed with the lack of suffering Garth showed. I could sense it though. He was growing weaker every day, his voice shaky. Stay strong, he said to me. I vaguely nodded, wondering if his words were in vain.

When I arrived to the Commandant, I noticed an unconscious solider lying down on the floor, pale with death. The Commandant told me he was pleased with me, and said he had a special job for me. He walked over to the soldier, and I wordlessly followed him. However, when I saw the scrap of flesh lying at my feet, muttering insane nothings, I grew deathly pale. Bob...?

"Those who cannot obey are useless," the Commandant told me. My heart thumped wildly in my chest when he held out the cutlass, ordering me to kill him. Without thought I took hold of the cutlass. No...He is my friend...

The collar activated. I wasn't prepared for it. My vision went black as I fell down to the ground in agony, the pain even worse than I could have remembered it.

Obey! Kill him! Lucien's voice was much more real this time, and much more forceful. I was going to die, I was sure of it. Make it stop! I begged silently.

As if heeding to by plead for mercy, the collar once again shut off, leaving me half dead on the floor with tears streaming down my cheeks. The Commandant looked displeased, but otherwise gestured towards the muttering Bob once again. I couldn't live through that... not again...

My feet led me to him, and I watched as he tried to sit up, begging for my mercy. There was a wild light in his eyes, something that had never been there before. I knew he was beyond my help. Without giving myself time to consider, I drove the sword into his chest.

The Commandant dismissed me.

So many years... so many years passed. My throat felt sore and dry, and my whole body felt limp. My skin seemed to grow paler and darker, as if though reflecting all the evil I've done while in the Spire. I didn't look human anymore... didn't even feel it.

Garth had ceased speaking with me. Whenever I saw him he was crouched down on his knees, looking like he had just run for miles, with a sickly glint to his face. If one were to look at it, they would consider him broken. The look in his eyes told me otherwise. He hadn't given up.

Which was more that could be said for me.

The Commandant sent me once more on another task, to search for a missing solider. More tired than I've ever been, I bowed slightly and managed to drag my feet out of the door. It was a setup, I learned later. Garth had finally gathered enough Will to free us both of our collars. It felt like I could finally breathe.

I don't quite remember the events that took place when both Garth and I finally escaped that accursed Spire. The pain of punishment had long since haunted me, as did the whispery echo of Lucien's voice. I knew it would never end, that I would forever hold the memories of the years spent in the Spire. It would haunt my dreams, my nightmares, and my waking moments.

I wasn't surprised.

Scars were permanent.

~*O*~

So much angst...I can't believe I pulled it off!

I was re-playing Fable 2 earlier today, and when I reached the Spire (doing everything evil, though it sucks really) I began to wonder what would be the reasoning my Hero would use when she did all this. I envision the Sparrow here to be female, but I didn't get to far deep for your guy's sake. I hope you've all enjoyed my rambling, I know I did! ^^

~DM-sama