They whipped her.
Tried to torture her for information she didn’t even have.
All because of me.
The thoughts haunted Necronim, tracing his steps as he and Kalya made their way from the cell where she’d been held like wolves stalking their prey. He could almost feel them breathing down his neck, ready to strike, to bring him down like that first thought of being responsible for killing the girl had.
Even now he was walking on the knife edge, having just barely managed to force himself past the terror that the Deeps brought forth in him. The only thing that had really enabled him to come in after the girl was that he didn’t want to see her die there for his mistake. She didn’t deserve to suffer that fate.
And delving ever deeper, towards the cell where he himself had wallowed for days until his own escape, was making his nervousness all the worse.
Gritting his teeth, Necronim forcefully shoved the thought aside and focused on the task ahead. He was here to get her out, not to lose himself to memories. Them crowding in constantly on his thoughts just proved Kwaaku’s words all too right and that he couldn’t avoid facing the past forever.
He had to deal with the things he’d done.
As Kalya made a pained noise behind him, Necronim turned his head to look back at her and frowned at the look of concentration on her face. “Are you alright?” he asked softly, as if the walls themselves might hear him. Of course, given the nature of those who were generally held at the depths they were at, it was very likely that there could be some magic engrained into the walls to keep an eye on it’s inhabitants.
“I’m fine,” she replied but he could hear her breathing stutter, just the tiniest pain induced gasp. As he started to slow down, she pressed a hand against his back. “Necronim!”
“Taking a short break isn’t going to hurt us at the moment,” he assured. Jerking his chin upwards slightly, he continued, “Even from down here we’d hear the alarm bells signaling an escape, so we aren’t caught yet. Now rest. You’re going to need all the energy you can get once we reach our exit.”
Kalya sighed then nodded, slowly sinking down to sit on the floor of the corridor. As she let out a little sigh of relief, Necronim smiled thinly before taking a few steps away to lean against the wall where he could keep a good eye and ear out for any signs of pursuit. After a moment, he heard her shift and flicked his eyes back towards her.
She was watching him intently, her chin rested in the palm of one hand as one finger tapped against a dirty cheek. For a moment he watched the digit before looking away as he asked, “What?”
“Just thinking,” came the answer.
“Oh? Thinking about what?”
Kalya tilted her head slightly before replying, “Trying to figure you out. Mostly how you’re so familiar with these dungeons.”
Scowling, Necronim gruffly answered, “I was a member of the Guild. Leave it at that.”
“Yet, so far as I’ve heard, the Guild doesn’t have anything to do with prisoners. It’s made up of mostly thieves and assassins, right?” He watched her eyebrows furrow, the blue eyes underneath them sparking with curiosity. “And you said you just killed people, which made you an assassin.”
Leave it, girl, he begged silently. Leave it alone.
Out loud, he said, “I was. And the Guild does have members who come into the dungeons for interrogations but they aren’t…” He clenched his teeth, recalling the sight of her back. “They aren’t torturers. We interrogate for information and you get little real information by hurting a person. They’re much more apt to tell you what you want to know if you’re kind.”
“Oh. That still doesn’t explain…”
He could feel himself slip on that imaginary knife edge, one foot dangling perilously over the yawning precipice, and snapped, “Enough.” There was a wounded look on her face in the wake of his anger and Necronim closed his eyes wearily, aware of the fact that his hands were suddenly shaking. He clenched his hands to stop it, bone digging hard into his palms even through the leather of his gloves.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I don’t…it’s personal.”
There was a long pause then she quoted quietly, “Intimately acquainted.” Then Kalya said, “You were here. Imprisoned.”
It wasn’t a question but he answered it like it had been.
As if summoned by the answer, the alarm bells began to go off from somewhere above them. Necronim could clearly picture them even though it had been years since he’d seen the brass bells high in the tall tower that rose from Sykashil. Their peal would ring out across the countryside for miles, alerting all within hearing that something had happened, and only a select few would be decipher the specific tones to know it was an escaped prisoner.
He was running, the brass call of the bells seeming to follow him. And, closer than them, he could hear the distinct sound of raised voices and the baying of hounds.
Snarling, his eyes flew open as the aged terror tore through him, his chest suddenly heaving. With one frantic glance upwards, Necronim shoved himself away from the wall and stalked towards Kalya to pull her up from the floor. He was a little more rough than he meant to be, his fingers closing around her wrist with a bruising grip that made her flinch.
An apology was on his lips but the only word that came out was, “Run.”
To her credit, she put up her heels and ran with him down the dank corridors of the Deeps, fleeing from the bells and those who might follow them into the dungeons. As they ran, he closed his eyes and actually dared pray to whichever of the gods might listen that they would make it out.
Despite his current existence, he still wasn’t ready to die.