– ORIS PRISON –
It had been a few days since Darrel had been arrested and brought to the prison mountain, two dozen guards had been brought in to secure his capture, iron cuffs imbued with magic-negating runes were wrapped around his arms and heavy iron cuffs were strapped onto his legs.
To top it off an executioners bag was used to cover his head before he was ushered into a solitary wing deep in the modified caverns of Oris.
Darrel struggled to find a comfortable posture in the cell with the weighted chains still strapped to his feet, the runic symbols etched inside the cell walls periodically glowed and brightened the entire cell for a moment before the light dissipated once more.
”Rune flux number 10… ” Darrel muttered. ”Day 4 in isolation begins. ”
On the day he was locked up, an array of symbols glowed in the dark circular cell walls, the threshold gave a snapping flash as the guards locked the door behind them. Hours later a similar event occurred and forced him awake, this was immediately followed by a dull meal which he assumed was his lunch, more time passed before another burst of light woke him.
[Bang! Bang!! Bang!!!]
A loud knock at the door dragged him back to reality, to cope with the isolating darkness Darrel would slip into a state of meditation where his body would seem to shut down, but his mind would continue to operate in a subconscious state. This was a good way to get away from the overwhelming reality he had suddenly been flung into, however, the technique was fragile and could easily be interrupted by external interference.
”Step back prisoner! ”
The voice came from the same guard who brought him his only source of sustenance each day. In all his former life Darrel had never been a picky eater, however, the food he was given to eat here had a taste of its own.
His first meal had taken him well over an hour to consume, and after all his efforts he could barely stomach the strange food. When he realized that no other meals came till the next day, he immediately swallowed his pride and his lunch and made sure to keep it down.
”Here you go! ”
The guard pushed up a miniature version of the cell door and proceeded to slip a bowl from beneath the open space, a broken loaf of dry bread immediately trailed behind it.
”Dry bread and a bowl of mystery soup, my favorite, ” Darrel commented sarcastically.
During his stay, Darrel had noticed that the prison guards in this world had a common trait with the ones in his former life, which was their tendency to throw food at the prisoners.
”After what you did to those men, you are lucky you are getting anything to eat at all. ” The guard grumbled as he walked away.
Darrel plucked the bread from the floor and dipped it in the mystery soup then he bit down on the crusty bread, this was a method he had come up with to counter the nauseating taste of the soup and the breads bland flavor.
As he chowed down on his unsavory meal, a small note fell out of the half-eaten loaf of bread and landed on the floor.
”A note? ”
His hand paused in mid-air before it could pick up the mysterious note from the ground, he pondered on who might have sent this note to him and their intentions. Darrels main concern, however, was the fact that whoever sent this note to him had enough power to influence one of the prison guards to do his bidding.
One of the knights perhaps, but then why would they bother sending me a secret note instead of summoning me? They seem to be the ones running this place. Darrel mediated on what it may all mean. But if it was one of the prisoners, then they must know about my being here.
He reached down and picked up the note from the floor then he unwrapped the note slowly, careful not to accidentally tear it. The shriveled-up paper was plastered with oil and barely readable in the dark windowless cell, but a bright idea came to his mind as he took another bite out of his bread.
• • •
A low humming sound was followed by a flickering of an array of lights as the runes in the walls started a magic influx, Darrel quickly rolled from his sleeping posture and opened the note.
”Okay, this is it… ”
Darrels eyes skimmed through the note making sure he did not miss a word, by using the light emitted from the magic symbols on the walls he was able to get a clear look at what was written on the note.
”Wait… What the hell is this? ” Darrel eyed the note dubiously as he tried to fathom what was written on the note.
The light slowly faded as the magic influx came finally ceased, Darrel sat at the far end of his resting place with the note shriveled up in his palm.
”Someone must have had the time of their life writing this. ” Darrel grinned bitterly.
If this had been a ploy by one of the guards, he probably should have heard them laughing about it from across the hall, but what had him still clinging onto hope was the fact that the note was written with drops of blood.
The next morning several guards approached Darrels cell while he was still asleep, a loud banging of the iron cage door was all it took to wake him from his hard-earned sleep.
”Wake up prisoner! ”
Darrel grumbled weakly as five guards entered his cell, two of the guards ceased his arms while another two clamped the same iron cuffs that were used to seal his magic when he had been captured a few days ago.
”Where are you taking me? ” Darrel protested.
The guards holding his arms hoisted him up and out of the cell since Darrel refused to move his feet.
A turtle formation was created with Darrel as its center, it seems rumors of his previous notoriety were still fresh in the air and the guards had acknowledged how dangerous he was, especially during his capture, and took extra careful measures as they escorted him from his cell.
Darrel had been keeping an oral diary from the time he of his imprisonment and after figuring out the cycle the magic influx took he had counted five days of confinement in the solitary cells.
As they approached the exit of the catacomb cells that led back up to the upper-level cells, he could hear a roar of chanting and whistling from the exit.
”You two, make sure we have a clear path. ” One of the guards barked at the guards leading the formation.
The light was blinding for a moment, but the noise from all the prisoners making noise was deafening. Rolls of cells on either side of the straight path were filled with other individuals in similar circumstances, and for a moment the atmosphere grew silent and each prisoners gaze fell upon Darrel.
”Knight-Bane! ” One of the prisoners roared and shattered the silence and the whole level went into an uproar.
Some of the prisoners banged on the cell doors, while others voiced all sorts of complaints that had nothing to do with Darrel as he passed by and a few of the prisoners even tried to grasp at him, however, those that attempted this had their arms smacked ruthlessly with batons by the guards escorting Darrel.
This was not going as he had hoped, but with everyones eyes on him, this was perhaps his only opportunity to further spread rumors about himself.
Well here goes.
As Darrel walked between the file of cells wrapped with a blanket of guards on both sides, he suddenly stopped in his tracks.
”Keep moving prisoner! ”
One of the guards exclaimed nervously, but Darrel ignored the guards weak command and stood in a more poised manner. The sudden show of rebellion gained some of the prisoners attention and slowly the chants turned to murmurs and the hoarse shouting became mellow whispers.
”My name is Darrel, and I am a magic user! ” His voice wavered at first, he was not used to speaking out loud, but for his sake, he had to make this look as convincing as possible. ”I will blow a hole through this place! ”
One of the guards on Darrels side snorted at his proclamation as another nudged at him with his hand.
”Keep moving! ”
Darrel was led out of the prison mines and out into what appeared like a courtyard. On closer examination, Darrel noticed that it was merely the outside foot of the mountain surrounded by a few important-looking tents and structures.
The structures appeared to still be under construction, the barricades were arrayed further encompassing the camp in a short wall of spikes.
”Why am I out here? ” Darrel grumbled to the guards, but neither of them responded. ”Why did you bring me out here damn it?! ”
After exiting the prison mine the guards demeanor changed, they appeared more focused and barely batted an eye at Darrel. The guards moved in two files and stood in two parallel lines with Darrel at the center.
”So you must be Darrel? ” The voice came from inside one of the tents and by the sound of it, the individual may have been a giant.
The speaker waited for a response, but Darrel shrugged defenselessly and stood there waiting for the individual to continue speaking.
”When I first got your report I wondered what sort of mortal would be capable of not only going toe to toe with two squires but to defeat them too. ” The voice explained in marvel.
”Yeah, so what did you… ”
A different voice shot up from one of the other tents and Darrel was immediately compelled to shut up.
”You call yourself Dar-rel which is strange because no one has ever heard of you. ” The first voice resumed. ”Tell me, to which faction in the house of E.L do you belong? ”
Darrel appeared stunned, he had no idea that having the letters E.L at the end of his name was a crime. He turned to look at the guards, but none of them turned to meet his gaze.
”Respond, prisoner! ” One of the guards shoved Darrel forward that he stumbled and fell face down into the dirt.
”You bastard! ” Darrel lashed at the guard furiously, even after spending days in isolation his disdain for the word prisoner had yet to be quelled.
”Shut your mouth prisoner! ”
”NO! YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH! ” Darrel fumed.
”So you do respond to that word, just as Vedial stated. ” The individual behind the voice chuckled at his reaction.
”How dare you?! ” Darrel trembled with fury. ”Show yourself and I will show you who the real prisoner is, RAAAAAARGH! ”
Damn it I can stop myself, where is all this rage coming from? Is it because of being called a prisoner?
Darrel clenched his fist and gave a cynical grin, and a couple of the guards rushed to subdue him before he could cause another scene. One of the guards clutched him from behind, while another started chanting strangely.
”Clasps of iron, grips of steel bind my enemy and hold them still! ” The guard uttered whilst locking his fingers together.
”Wait is that an incantation? ” Darrel quickly realized what the guards were plotting. ”Let go of me! ”
When the guard finished his incarnation, he stretched his arms out towards Darrel and a round seal with magic symbols appeared underneath him, the guard that was holding Darrels arms quickly let him loose and backed away.
”[Magic Containment – Mana Bind!] ”
Alone within the magic seal, a green light began to emanate from the symbols. Darrel could feel his limbs going stiff as the chains on his arms grew heavier.
Tch! I can be trapped again. No, I will not be their prisoner!
Darrel knew this was his only opportunity to escape Oris, the guards did not seem like they could cause him much trouble, and the Knights from before were nowhere to be seen.
”I won let you hold me! ”
”You are too late! ” The guard using the binding spell exclaimed as he placed his palms together and tightened his fingers once more.
The symbols in the magic circle suddenly shattered together with the runes on Darrels chains, the shackles around his arms crumbled away, and the chains that were wrapped around his feet dropped to the ground.
I am free!
Darrel picked up the chain and swung it at the bewildered guards face and sent him sprawling to the ground. The rest of the guards backed away and encircled Darrel at a distance.
”Yeah thats right, be very afraid! ” Darrel exclaimed haughtily.
Feigning arrogance was one way of displaying his superiority, but he knew his lie would not last long if it had no substance to back it up, especially now that the guards were starting to recover from the sudden fright.
One of the guards drew his mace and began to steadily approach Darrel and instead of rushing him like how the knights had done, this particular guard was wary of him as he slowly placed one steel-booted foot after the other.
This guy… He was the same guy that grabbed me from behind earlier. Darrel recalled. He seems stronger than the rest of them.
A couple of the other guards gained some courage and started to draw close as well, Darrel knew that if he did not make a move now, then getting caught would not only be inevitable, but the loss of his fearful reputation would make him a laughing stock and a target in this place.
Especially after my bold proclamation earlier, Darrel mused. Wait, maybe I can use this to my advantage…
A diabolical idea came to his mind, he shot his glance at the ground below the guard and grinned expectantly.
”Come any closer and you go, ye-bye buddy! ”
The guard froze.
”I did not see you cast any spell, ” The guard stated anxiously, without moving an inch.
Having expected a similar response Darrel smirked and poised himself to give an unquestionable explanation of how he had done it.
”Then how did I manage to break out from the chains earlier? ”
The guard blinked cluelessly, it was a simple way of admitting that he thought himself better than his colleague.
”Don underestimate me, I am far stronger than any of you, ” Darrel warned the group. ”You might think you are stronger, but I would advise against it. ”
The guard croaked.
It had taken a couple of lies, but in the end, the stalemate lasted, Darrel had gained his chance to figure out a way to counterattack and escape before any backup could arrive.
If only there was a way for me to compare their strengths to my own, then I could see if I stand a chance against this mob. Darrel pondered deeply. His stats, profession, and level are all that matter.
”I guess I could do it the old-fashioned way, ” Darrel muttered. ”Prison Guard, if I could guess hes a few levels above the others… probably level 17, hes carrying an iron mace, cheap but effective. Of course, his armor is plated with steel in the shoulders and abdomen, but the joints and sides are covered with a more flexible leather. ”
Even with several patches in his deduction, Darrels analysis was now complete. The magic in his body had welled up, but he still had no idea how to use it and of course, he had no spells to cast in the first place.
If only I could charge up the same burst of mana as I did a few days ago, but how? His thoughts were all over the place, and he was now struggling to keep himself calm.
”Now I fathom your predicament, Dar-rel. ”
”Its that same voice again, I thought it was a communications spell or something… ” Darrel whispered under his breath.
”You do not have any knowledge of spells do you? ”
Whoever was speaking had a clear picture of Darrels abilities and was unfazed by his recent threats. The guard in the steel armor peered at Darrel closely, then shuffled his foot forward till it was on the exact spot that he was about to step.
”Of course I do, ” Darrel noticed the guards starting to gain a sort of confidence as each one started moving towards him. ”I know a thousand spells! ”
”Oh? Then why not use one of them? ” The individual uttered scornfully.
Darrel had feared what would happen if his falsity had been discovered and everyone knew he was a stat-less weakling, his glances shot side to side as the guards murmured in a new light, he could see it in their eyes that their fear was no more.
”How dare you? One without any power to stand against the sacred guardians of this land, even the Greyhearts were not this foolish? ”
As he finished uttering these words, a mild breeze abashed one of the tents and the opening danced about and for an instant, it revealed a man clothed in gold seated on a large armed chair. His chin rested on the back of his hand, while in the other hand, he held a scroll.
”You are the… ”
The opening in the tent slowly came down, the mnas lush green eyes gave a simmering glow before Darrel was knocked unconscious by one of the guards.
• • •
When his eyes opened, he saw a large ceiling and a larger cell still when sat up, it appeared as though he had been transferred from the solitary cells to the more crowded dwellings as Darrel noted the company.
Hopefully, they don bite.
Darrel looked around and saw a huge burly shadow in the far left corner of the cell, a slender figure with pointed ears sulked alone on the top of the bunk bed.
”Well well, would you look at what the cat dragged in… ” The burly voice rumbled from the back of the cell.
Darrel froze at the sound of it, he could barely see who it was in the low light, however, he could tell how large the person was just from looking at their figure, he slowly backed away from the figure but immediately bumped into another person behind him.
”Hey, Darrel! Long time no see. Did you get my message? ”
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