Shed No Tears
It was dark. That surprised Bryna. She had never been inside the Temple of Mesardee, but she had always thought it would be a bright, golden, room. The dark stone walls with a few windows that greeted her reinforced the idea that Mesardee was more a devil than a god. A gentle hand on her back reminded her to walk forward. Her escorts stopped at the foot of a high staircase. It was Markus who attached her shackles to a large iron rod that stood in front of her.
"Like I'm going to run," Bryna thought to herself.
Bryna felt Hawke's hand on her shoulder and then her guards left. Their armored footfalls resounded through the chamber followed moments later by the metallic sound of the iron doors sealing her in.
Then she could hear nothing but her own heart as it beat widely against her ribs. She looked around but could not penetrate the absolute darkness that surrounded her. Bryna could feel eyes on her but no one spoke. Then slowly her eyes adjusted and she could see movement in the gloom around her. The blackness was moving. Finally, she made out the shape of cloaked figures, the Priests of Mesardee. That problem solved she turned her attention to the dais in front of her. Somewhere, up there, the High Priest was watching her. She was sure of it.
Time passed slowly or seemed to as the High Priest and Bryna faced off in silent competition. The young girl kept her eyes forward but let her mind drift back into the past. She smiled gently at the thought of her brother. That act brought soft snarl from above her. The next moment the dais came alive as one torch after another flared alive. Until the final one on top lit up the glowing mask of the High Priest.
Bryna studied the mask of the High Priest. It was not one that depicted anger instead it looked thoughtful. "At least the 'God' is not angry," Bryna thought to herself.
A movement from above brought her attention to another that stood beside the High Priest. The two exchanged a whispered conversation. Then the aide was dismissed.
"Where is your brother, child?" The voice of the High Priest seemed almost musical.
"I don't know, Lord High Priest. I haven't seen him since he went to work yesterday."
"I think you are lying."
"I'm not. I swear to you. What has my brother done to anger you and your god?"
"My god? Are you saying Mesardee is not your god as well?"
Bryna groaned silently. "Yes, of course he is . . . that wasn't what I meant, please excuse my slip of the tongue."
"Maybe we should remove the tongue to stop such slips." Bryna could hear the glee the thought of that act brought the crazy priest. "Then again, your whole family seems to be cursed with big mouths."
"Did my father stand before you too?" Bryna's hatred for the High Priest grew. "You could have least told my mother. Until her dying day she thought my father would return to her."
"I would have returned him to her, but it was kind of messy afterwards."
Inside Bryna shook with anger but kept her face expressionless. "If I am to be sentenced for my brother's crime, I demand to know what it was."
"You demand?" The High Priest laughed. "Child, you are past demanding for anything. You may beg for your life, if you wish."
"Never," Bryna growled. "I have made my peace. To die now would be a blessing, then to live another day under the rule of Mesardee."
That comment caused the High Priest to pause. Then he laughed again. "I have much enjoyed our little talk, but now I have more important things to do." The High Priest stood up and addressed the assemblage behind her. "In the charge of treason, I find you guilty."
"And my sentence?" Bryna demanded.
"Death would be a waste on such a spirited child. I think I would rather see you broken first. You shall be sold as a slave and remain one the rest of your life."
The dais went dark but Bryna was no longer paying attention. She was not going to die today after all. Slavery was a harsh punishment but at least as a slave she might have a chance to escape or at least see her brother again.
The iron doors opened once more and she was led back outside. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the blinding sunlight. At the base of the temple a small crowd had gathered. Bryna looked around but Hawke was gone, as was Commander Markus. In the crowd she saw Bartoff, the barkeeper of the Sailor's Rest and Quinn's boss. As she was led past, the older man quickly fastened a cloak around her shoulders. "It's from a mutual friend," he whispered. "Don't lose hope. Survive the night and you will be safe by tomorrow."
Bryna wondered what he was referring to. She was escorted to a stone building. She knew from others that this was where slaves were held until they could be sold. Her guards forced her into a line of other unlucky souls like her own. There they removed the shackles from her wrists. Bryna lifted the cloak's hood over her face. It was then that she noticed the clip. It was the seal of the House of Sharon. Bryna glanced down; the cloak fell slightly below her knees. It would have gone to the ground on a shorter person . . . a person like Mellar.
Bryna jumped and stared at the man in front of her. He sat with his head down, writing in a large book. "Name," he said again.
"Bryna" She could barely make her lips say the word. She watched him write it down. He wrote it B-R-I-A-N a common mistake. She went to correct him but he just instructed the guard to take her to the right cellblock.
The young girl behind her was sobbing. She managed to choke out her name. The bookkeeper wrote it down.
"Women to left," he told her.
"Women to the left . . ." Bryna whispered. She tried to tell her guard that a mistake had been made but he paid her no heed, shoving her into a cell. Her cloak tore as she fell. The door clang shut behind her but Bryna made no attempt to call back the guard. Her attention was on the fifty some men that were staring at her.
"Looks like we get a special treat tonight, gentlemen." A large burly man stood and advanced. His face and arms were scarred and burned.
Bryna watched as he neared and swore she could see drool dripping from his dirty unshaved lips. "Father, protect me," she whispered. Then there was no more time for thinking as the repulsive prisoner reached for her.