This serial-based story is one that I have been writing across a series of blog posts. You can read the first part here. Thanks for reading and enjoy!
“I don’t agree with my father,” Dorian was saying bitterly. “I don’t want hundreds of people to suffer for one man’s actions, but he’s past reason.”
“You’re still his son,” Linyeve said, coming to stand in front of him. “Whether he’s denounced you or not, you’re his son. Doesn’t that mean anything?” Dorian looked a little surprised at her courage. He took a few deep breaths, seeming to calm himself.
“Not anymore,” he muttered, and then straightened up. “It’s time we got you out of here,” he added. “My father will be sending guards to check on you.” He gave her a sly smile and pushed open the door of the nearest prison cell.
Linyeve tried not to look at the man pinned to the wall as she followed Dorian inside. She wanted to ask what his crime had been; what could he have done to warrant being abandoned down here in the dark? She kept her mouth shut, though; after everything that she had heard and seen, she decided that it was better not to know the truth.
Dorian was bent down low, brushing away a thick layer of dust that coated the stone floor. Then he seemed to reach down in between two stones, pulling up a small, metal handle. With a deafening creak, a trapdoor swung open.
“In you go,” he smirked.
Linyeve stared at him, her heart racing.
“What’s down there?”
Dorian laughed, pushing his long hair out of his face.
“I don’t want to kill you, Linyeve. I think I’ve just explained that. This passage will lead you right outside the Kingdom. Don’t try to go back to the villages. That’s no use, but you can try your best to make your way in a city. Westbreen might be best – where we were before – people don’t ask too many questions there.” He made a strange movement in the air and then, from nowhere, produced a rickety lantern with a small flame flickering inside. “You’ll need this,” he added, handing it to her. She clutched it in her good hand, still not confident about using the one which had been burnt at Wrenstead.
Then she swallowed, and nodded. It was no use thinking of what could be lurking in that passage; if she stayed in the Kingdom, she was going to be murdered.
She shifted herself over the hole and began to lower herself down, but then she stopped, looking at Dorian.
“You’re still the prince,” she said. “Even if your father won’t listen to you, the people might. They have no idea what their King has been doing in the villages, but they could do, and it would terrify them. No one wants a king like that ruling them.”
Dorian stared at her blankly. It looked as though he wanted to say something more, but Linyeve couldn’t hold herself up anymore. Her arms gave way and she spiralled into the darkness beyond, watching the square of light, partially concealed by Dorian’s face, grow smaller and fainter. Then, with a splash, she hit water.
There was a clunking sound, and then the square of light was gone: Dorian had closed the trapdoor.
She gasped, kicking her legs furiously and holding her lantern high above her. She didn’t want to think about what would happen if her one source of light went out. There wasn’t enough light as there was: all she could feel was a pressing darkness and numbing cold from the water. She kicked harder, pushing herself forwards, and then hit a bank. She scrambled up, breathing rather heavily. She was cold, drenched and thoroughly confused, but to her relief, the lantern was still lit. She held it up.
There were more bodies down here – lots of them.
Some were floating eerily in the water, their eyes fixed blankly above them, whilst others had been stacked against the banks, their arms flayed out in every direction.
Linyeve had to cover her nose and mouth, retching as she picked a direction and ran. The flies were everywhere, swarming about her and tangling in her hair, but she kept on running. She didn’t care where she ended up anymore; she just couldn’t bear to see just how many people had been cast down here to rot. Not a single one of them seemed to have been buried, and there were hundreds of them – maybe even thousands – Linyeve had no idea how far the passage stretched.
Just as she was thinking that she would never escape the tunnels, however, she saw that the darkness in front of her was beginning to lessen. She charged onwards, and then, quite suddenly, she was outside again.
She fell to her knees, her head spinning wildly. She tried to stand up again, but then she keeled over and was violently sick on the grass. She didn’t think that she would ever be able to clear the image of that passage from her memory – what remained of the King’s victims would stay with her forever.
Thank you so much for reading! Click this link for the final part of “Pryon”!