Note: This is a short chapter, I know, but I'm still working with many of the things that I'm going to have to write. And this part really did deserve its own chapter.
I floated in a void of interminable blackness, where there was no light or even sound. I was all alone, and I felt an unbearable twisting fear in my heart. There was nothing but emptiness surrounding me, a void of terrible emptiness. There was pain, horrible pain and an icy cold that bit into my body, convulsing me although I could not see or move my limbs. I was nothing. I struggled to cry out, and was suddenly aware that the light was growing, and a faint sound was coming to my ears.
Then, with a sudden shock, I woke, and found that the sound was my own voice, rasping as I tried to scream. I cleared my throat again, and tried to cry out, but my voice was gone, doubtless from screaming the entire night. Screaming from the minute the Grolims had cut my mother's heart out...
My heart wrenched, and tears poured out of my eyes and down my cheeks, my entire body shuddering with soundless sobs. Mother was dead. Father was dead. Mother would never tell me stories in her beautiful voice, or embrace me, or smile at me. She would never be there again, a warm presence that I could tell was there even in my sleep, comforting and soothing me as I drifted in oblivion. Mother, with her will of steel and her eyes of fire, was dead.
And Father had been killed as well. Father, my brave father of the two personalities, the Outside as smooth and quiet as rustling silk, calm and self-effacing. And the Inside, hard as steel, defiant as towering waves on a storm-tossed sea...
Slowly my sobs calmed, and through the haze of pain a cold awareness descended on me. Mother and Father were dead. And the Grolims had killed them. Killed them? No, murdered. I stood up suddenly, straightening from the small cot in my cell. The Grolims had murdered Mother and Father. And now they would pay. They would pay, they and their cruel god, evil Torak. Maybe not now. I was not strong enough, and I did not have a weapon. But one day, they would pay.
The tapping of shoes on a steel floor penetrated through my thoughts, and I turned to face the door, waiting for doom to befall me.
A scarred face appeared as the iron door of my cell was opened, and an icy rage rushed through me. The Grolim. Perhaps he would be the first to pay the price.
The black-robed man stepped into the chamber. "Well, boy? Have you realized the folly of your resistance now?"
I looked coldly at him, without speaking.
"Very well. Do not speak. But now I shall take you to Torak, for he has summoned you. He will bend you to his will, and you shall be one of us."
A sudden icy certainty rushed through me. He was right. Torak was a god. I could not think to match his crushing will with my own. And so there was only one solution: never to meet him at all.
The Grolim came forward, and I watched him impassively, coiled like a spring. Thoughts flashed through my mind. If I dodged past him, he would raise the alarm, and I would not get far.
The Grolim knelt, and as he unlocked the iron on my leg, I suddenly realized I had been shackled to the bed. So even they did not trust me. Wise choice. But now he wasn't being so intelligent.
As the shackle fell off my ankle, I kicked the Grolim in the face.
With a strangled sound, he fell backward, red seeping from his nose. Quickly, I kicked him in the stomach to wind him, and he doubled over, gasping for breath. Ripping his over-robe open, I found a long curved knife at his belt, and pressed the steel edge to his throat.
Red seeped from a thin line where the dagger cut into his skin. Should I kill him? He was a man, after all.
No. He was not a man. He was a Grolim. And he had killed my parents. My heart turned to ice, and I cut the Grolim's throat.
I had very little time. I wiped the dagger on the black robes, stuck it in my belt, and ran to the door, open a crack. Peering outside, I saw the hall was empty. So, he had thought he could handle me himself. His misconceptions were his doom. I took one last look back at the still figure on the floor of my cell. Blood was pouring from his throat, and for a moment I swayed, but then the wall of ice slammed in place around me. They had murdered Mother and Father.
Then I turned and dashed down the dark halls of the temple.
I was in a haze of darkness and ice, and all I knew was that I was running, desperately trying to find a way out of the shadowed halls. It was like a nightmare, running through an endless maze, never able to get out, as something nameless pursued me.
Through the cold that had seized my body, I was acutely aware of the direction of the temple, and the direction of the being I most hated. Above all costs I had to get away from it, stay as far away as possible.
Suddenly I emerged into a wider hall, lined with side hallways, the vaulted ceiling stretching up in the gloom. There was flickering light at the end of its vast distance, and my limbs froze. As I got control of them, the cold calculation of my brain told me that running would make me inconspicuous, and the halls were not completely empty. So I crept down the hallways, my nerves tingling, my hand on my dagger.
Somewhere in the warren of hallways I heard footsteps begin, tapping ominously throughout the halls, echoing from a dozen different places. I looked around wildly, searching for the source, but it could have come from any hallway. Panicking, I began to run, my feet thudding into the stone floor in a headlong dash toward the flickering light. The footsteps were getting louder.
I wasn't going to make it to the end of the hall. Taking a chance, I darted down of the side hallways, and ran down it. To either side black doors lined the corridor. I could still hear the footsteps, and they seemed to be following me. I hesitated for a single moment, then I dove for one of the doors. I yanked it open and slipped into darkness. Closing the door, I stood absolutely still, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the lack of light and listening for both the footsteps and for any occupant of the room.
There was no sound in the room, but the footsteps were slowly and gradually fading away. I waited until I could not hear them, and then cautiously opened the door, allowing a sliver of light to fall within.
It was a very small room, and it was, indeed, empty, of any sign of inhabitation. There was only a straw mattress on a frame with no blankets on it, and a small table. There was a bracket on the wall, probably for a torch, but it was unoccupied now.
As I looked around, an idea came to me. A few minutes ago, I had been running headlong down the maze of halls, searching for a way out. But why did I want to get out? A snarl curled my lips. What I wanted was right here: revenge. Unseen, an invisible enemy within the temple, I could kill off Grolims one by one, and no one would know who or what had done it.
I prowled around the room. Obviously, each of the Grolims had sleeping quarters. It wouldn't be too hard to get into their rooms while they were asleep, and if they were up and down this hall, I could get to them easily.
One by one, they would die. One by one, they would pay for the death of my mother and father.