“By the Seven, what in the bloody hell are you smiling at?!” exclaimed Farzan as he dragged the wickedly curved blade along Grayne’s bare chest. The eighteen-year-old northerner simply smiled in response to his stomach and chest being slowly sliced open. Farzan grimaced in frustration as Grayne seemed to stare through him with a stupid grin. Farzan resisted the urge to plunge the knife into the young man’s heart and be done with it.
Farzan shouted an unintelligible, guttural sound and stormed away from the stone table. He flung the bloody knife to the floor with a hollow clang.
A cloaked and hooded figure scurried to the door behind the dour-faced torturer. A gentle pale hand reached out from the dark robes and kept the door from swinging closed.
Farzan ran his hand aggressively up his own pale face and pulled his black hair in frustration. “It has been almost a fortnight and still he does not break! Two weeks of painful torture and he continues to test me!” the hook-nosed Dorn said to the robed minion who followed him through the stone passageways. “How does he resist?”
“Master Farzan, may I suggest changing tactics?” said the feminine voice from deep within the robes that lapped at his heels.
“What are you going on about?” he said as he halted suddenly, causing the robed woman to step aside to avoid colliding with him.
“When a man becomes accustomed to pain, he becomes immune to it,” she said, avoiding his furious eyes. “Grayne’s body will give out before he yields.”
Farzan grabbed her wrists suddenly and pulled them painfully towards him. She gasped with pain as he demanded, “Never say his name! He will not say Croget’s name; he does not deserve a name of his own!”
“Master, he will die if you continue like this,” she pleaded. Her hood fell away as she struggled to pull her hands away. Curly black locks fell chaotically around her porcelain skin. “You have to give him time to heal.”
Farzan stared at her suspiciously and after a lifetime of his penetrating gaze said, “Yes, perhaps you’re right,” He cast her away and said, “If he will not be broken by physical torture…” Farzan murmured to himself as he walked away, leaving the cloaked assistant behind him. She pulled her hood up over her black curls, and her pale face sunk into the shadowy recesses of the cloak.
The torturer’s assistant returned to the room that contained the bloodied and beaten Grayne. The northern man was naked and lashed to a flat rack that leaned up against the far wall. His eyes were closed, but he breathed shallowly, letting her know that he yet lived.
She pulled a bucket of soapy water next to the rack and dipped a rag into the tepid water. She began to clean his wounds on his chest and face with great care. She took time to not only clean every horrible wound, but to also clean the dirt and sweat from his entire well-muscled body. Although he slept, he had a silly grin on his face. The woman tilted her head questioningly at the man and continued washing. As she cleaned his thighs he seemed to smile more, but when she reached his genitals his eyes shot open and his smile became a hard, stern line. Their eyes met and her hood fell away revealing her fair skin. Her curly black hair fell over her face and her dark eyes closed as her face flushed in embarrassment. She stood and dropped the cloth into the bucket.
Without looking at Grayne, she suggested, “If you do what he wishes…if you say what he wishes, I can convince him to spare your life.” She pulled her hood up, again and busied herself cleaning the torture equipment. “He will listen to me.”
Grayne spoke for the first time in a week. His voice was low and raspy as he said, “I don’t think he listens much to you. In fact, I know he has no respect for you.”
“You know nothing about him. He is a very powerful man, with many responsibilities!” she said as she wiped a long blade clean of Grayne’s skin and blood.
“I know you want him to notice you. You desperately want him to notice you,” Grayne said, finding sick amusement in the reversal of torturers. “However, his heart belongs to another. It belongs to a young man with a limp wrist and a poor sword arm, whom I killed,” he said with a smirk. “It’s impossible to compete with a corpse, isn’t it, my dear?”
“Shut up! Croget was a respected companion! You don’t know anything!” She screamed as she advanced upon the naked and injured form of Grayne.
“I’m sorry, m’lady,” said Grayne with a genuine smile. “I’d bow, if I could…” With a suggestive downward glance he concluded his emotional assault by saying, “Now, where were we?”