Chapter 8: Sorry, Second Punch

Cassis Perspective

Damn the Agriche.. 

Cassis moved the liquid around in his mouth before quickly darting his tongue outward, hawking the entire mixture of phlegm and blood. He was tormented once more by the jailer. It was the second time he was tied up and whipped in an uncomfortable position. He was being punished because it was amusing. There were no indications that he was being interrogated. Instead, everyone in this place seemed to take great pleasure in making him hurt.

He felt he had been imprisoned here for a very long time. He had once been referred to among the other nobles as the “Blue Scion.” He had a reputation for being the heir to his father’s title and the leader of the next generation of Pedelians. In addition to being whipped, drugged, and hosed down with hot water, he had also been cursed with a terrible spell that caused his internal organs to writhe as violently as the skin on his back. Yes, on occasion, the skin fragments that had been torn from his flesh would flutter in the wind. 

Cassis had grown accustomed to the Agriche employees’ brutality and sadistic tendencies during his four days in captivity.

He was still perplexed as to why he had been captured. The Agriche and Pedelians would commence a war after his death. What justification did the Black Crests have for trespassing on his father’s property? What right did they have to kidnap the Pedelian heir and bring him back as a prisoner to their lair?

Cassis started to get angry instead of whimpering from the sharp bruises on his body. He desired to kill Lant Agriche and depart from this prison for good. Escape for now was not possible. He was still partially blind.

The iron bars in front of him caught his ire. Even though his vision was still fuzzy, he could make out a dim, flickering torchlight outside of his cage. Much better than yesterday. His eyesight was progressively improving, as the girl had mentioned.

His cell’s door shook and popped open. As he heard soft footsteps approach him, Cassis forced himself to hold his breath.

It wasn’t the cruel guard. He could hear the skirt of a dress swish. It was that girl again, the one who visited him twice before. 

“Still healing,” she mumbled. Disappointed, she sighed.

He was suddenly aware of a seductive aroma and the warmth of another person approaching him.

“Don’t touch me,” Cassis sternly said.

She murmured, “Stay still. I only want to check if your injuries have become severe.”

As the girl’s hand delicately removed his torn short away from his torso, his body tensed. He struggled to escape the girl’s touch but eventually gave up.

He tried to interpret her expression as he looked for her face. He was frustrated because he could only make out her body’s outline, as if she were merely a shadow. He frowned.

She said, grimly satisfied “There seems to be no infection. Since I visited you last, you have received more injuries. Should I bring painkillers?”

“No need,” he said.

The gentle lilt in her voice unnerved Cassis. Her voice was soft, clear, and young-sounding. He recalled the sound of his mother’s jade pearls gently tinkling as they jingled in his palms. As a kid, he used to play with them frequently, switching out the beads for marbles. It was almost as if he were under some sort of spell as his ears focused on every syllable the girl murmured. When he was by himself and in the dark, he would remember her voice again.

“If you want to feel better, eat this,” she said.

His lips were being smashed against something round and velvety. The thing had a faint smell of wild grass.

Cassis immediately recognised the pill. It was a typical meal substitute for soldiers that included enough calories and nutrients to keep a man alive for three days. In the field, no additional supplements were required. The last time Cassis consumed one of these pills was just before leaving his house to scout the border.

The caretaker’s pitiful lunch must have been visible to the girl. Before the guard placed the bowl on the ground, the food already had a rotting smell. The guard had made fun of him and remarked that Cassis could use his tongue to lick the contents out of his mouth if he ever decided to lower his head like a dog. Even when he resisted eating, his meal was supplied every day. It appeared that the Lord of this house didn’t want him dead yet. 

Even though he was slowly starving to death, Cassis had turned down every meal offered to him since his kidnapping. It wasn’t because his food smelled awful or because he was too blind to thoroughly view his meal. He had no desire to consume anything presented to him by an Agriche, not even the greatest delicacies of the Dead Sea.

He felt similarly about the girl. In this wretched place, he had no faith in either her or anybody else.  Of course, The girl had not been a threat to him so far, and she had admitted that she wanted him alive…

No, he continued to refuse anything she offered him.  And He didn’t even know who she was.

After a brief period of silence, the girl finally spoke in response to his stubbornness.

“It’s inevitable,” she said.

Cassis felt his instincts sharpen.He hurriedly opened his mouth. “Wait—.”

He gasped for air as a small fist punched his gut. He groaned, feeling a sharp, throbbing pain on his abs. She had struck him in the same spot as yesterday. This time, he did not immediately pass out. His condition had gotten better. The hex was losing its power.  

The girl said, a little ashamed, “I was too soft.”

“You don’t mean—“

“Sorry, let me try again.” She cut him off

The second punch was harder and seemed to rearrange his insides.

That shameless…Cassis fell unconscious in the middle of his thought.