?

Log in

No account? Create an account
July 2018   01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
stargate, DanielJackson

Week 3 Prompt: In Another Castle, Title: Behind these walls

Posted on 2014.03.30 at 15:58
Tags: ,
Elziah enters the grand palatial castle, indifferent to those jostling him as they stride by, amused by those looking down their nose at him. Some wonder why he is even allowed here at all, he pays them no mind. He aims his gaze at the royal family, considering them.

They play at being king and queen and yet are king and queen all the same. None of these lords and ladies would suspect that the real king lives in another castle. A small, run-down fortress in the middle of nowhere, its walls weathered and bricks cracked, but the master of that castle is the one pulling all the strings. This is the way Elziah likes it: moving through the shadows, his machinations manipulating with subtle precision, a seeming nobody, secretly holding all the control. He enjoys the envious looks from others at court as the king directs him towards a line of slaves; a reward for a job well done.  


“Please, pick a gift for yourself,” the king says.

“Thank you my liege,” Elziah replies, slowly walking down the line, contemplating who might be useful.

*

Tom manages to stand very still, staring at the wall, despite the pervading pain from last night’s punishment. He’s trying to be the perfect facsimile of the slaves by his side. For once he doesn’t want to draw attention, after all he has heard rumours of this minor lord (saying the man on a whim occasionally orders the killing of dozens of slaves) and has no desire to be chosen by him. Tom clenches his jaw as the lord stops in front of him, and carefully maintains his gaze, refusing to show fear. Fingers are on his chin, moving his head from side to side, inspecting. All he can do is silently hope he isn’t what the man is looking for.

“This one.”

His heart sinks. He takes a breath. Another day, another master, it’s all the same in the end. This is what Tom tells himself.

*

They’re barely within the walls of the tattered castle when the questioning begins. Tom gets the feeling that if Lord Elziah isn’t happy with his answers he will be swiftly joining those rumoured massacred slaves. His body is rigid as he stands before his master.

“Do you enjoy following orders?” asks Lord Elziah.

“I enjoy whatever my master wishes me to enjoy,” Tom answers simply.

“No, no, no,” his master says dismissively, “where is that defiance? I know the king doesn’t punish trivialities and from your stance I can see you’ve been punished recently.”

“I made a mistake, I was punished so that I could learn to do better next time.”

Lord Elziah scowls, “Well you’re lying at least, that’s a start. It wasn’t a mistake and whatever it was you don’t regret it.”

Tom’s mind spins, he has to think, has to figure out what answers his master wants. The stock slave answers were clearly undesirable, which made his gut clench, the stock answers were always the safest. It could be that his master wanted him to show defiance so he could tear him back down, break him. That was a game many masters liked.

“Do you enjoy following orders,” his master repeats.

He’d have to get it right this time, clearly the lord wanted a truthful response, but also a thoughtful one, hesitantly he answers,

“I’ve learned to take satisfaction from it at times, it’s the only way to survive.”

Tom feels a rush of relief as his master smirks in reply, he chastises himself, as much as pleasing his master is a good thing- this is likely all part of a big trap.

“So what big bad thing did you do that caused your punishment.”

“I gave some of my food to another slave,” he states confidently with remorseless defiance. If this is a game, he might as well play it his way, it will end the same.

“You are an intriguing one,” Elziah says, with an amused smile, the lord begins to circle him, assessing predatorily, he continues, “Have you ever refused to obey a direct order?”

Tom’s insides feel like they’ve been shredded at the words and all that remains is coldness. There is no way out but the truth and possibly it’s this truth that his new master is waiting for. The truth that he is a miscreant, a disgrace to slaves, deserving of whatever cruel punishments may befall him; that’s what his masters all seem to think anyway. Fear, unrestrained now, crushes every other thought, but he makes effort to remain immobile, through force of will doesn’t tremble, and whispers,

“Yes.”

His master merely continues smiling and Tom wonders again whether Lord Elziah wishes to enjoy himself beating him into submission. However he’s already beginning to suspect it’s something else entirely.

“Would you kill if you were ordered to?” His master’s gaze burns as the man continues to circle.

“I have in battle,” he replies quickly, glad for the subject change despite its content.

“Hmm, how did that make you feel?”

Tom tries not to let his incredulousness show, sick of the pretence, “I did what I had to.”

“That doesn’t answer my question, think Tom, I need you to think, you can figure out what I want,” Elziah says, coming to a stop in front of Tom and peering into his eyes.

“Well, I didn’t like having to kill a bunch of slaves who were also just following their orders,” he says curtly, only just managing to keep from viciously spitting the words out. The questioning then dives along yet another surprising non-sequitur. 

“If I told you that you are allowed to refuse an order here, what would you think of that?”

Tom feels strung out, exhausted by whatever battle of wits Elziah thinks is taking place, decides to just go with his gut and do something that may be crazy but feels right, voice frustrated he shouts,

“This, whatever this is, you’re acting like it’s an even playing field when you know it’s not. You’re delusional if you think I can just raise myself to your equal. You have power over me, you always will. It doesn’t matter how capable of independent thought I am. It doesn’t matter how capable of defiance I am. And it doesn’t matter how smart I am. You will always win and your victory will always be a hollow one.”   

Tom keeps a bold expression on his face, despite shaking inside. His master’s mouth is still pulled into that awful amused smile, as the lord gestures for one of his other slaves to approach.

“Kill him,” his master orders.

He freezes. Nothing. He feels nothing. This is it then. He has screwed up for the last time. He feels the urge to laugh. He waits. No one moves and nothing slices into him. That’s when Tom realises he’s the one being handed the knife. He’s the one being ordered to kill the other slave.

The blade is heavy in his hand. His head is full of imagining what will be done to him if he disobeys, endless foodless, sleepless, beating-filled days, blood and torment and agony. He’s frozen on the spot. He has killed before, this wouldn’t be the first. If he doesn’t do it someone else will. It doesn’t make him feel better. Tom doesn’t even know if that’s what his master wants. It still feels as if he’s in the middle of an unpassable test. Sweat drips along his spine. He’s quivering now because he knows what he has to do. Tom closes his eyes, purses his lips, opens his eyes again and clears his throat. Forces the word out strongly,

“No.”

Lord Elziah’s smile transforms into a massive knowing grin, the knife is taken away- Tom doesn’t have the wits about him to see where it goes, he’s too disoriented. But somehow sends back a watery smile of his own because his gut tells him to. 

“I’m going to show you something,” Lord Elziah says, gesturing for him to follow, “I don’t usually do this so soon, but I think you’re a special one.”
Tom follows his master down a long series of stone steps, realising they are heading underground. Though still wary he feels far more relaxed, he has a sense that this is something important, something he’s being trusted with. So he decides to ask a question, surprised by how little he has to force the casual tone he wants to effect,

“Why would you share your secrets with a slave?”

“Because we all have secrets.” His master raises his sleeve and there is a mark, it has been burned away but Tom knows what had been there.

“You were a slave,” Tom says with astonishment, mind awhirl with the revelation.

“Yes.”

“How…”

“Someone helped me, like I’m going to help you. Now, let me show you the real castle.”

Tom asks nothing more despite wanting to, this isn’t the time. The longer they walk, the more there is to find. The underground tunnels wind long and wide, leading into vast chambers. They finally reach one of the doors, glancing inside he sees a large hall filled with armour and weaponry, the next doors open to similar halls. Tom sees people soldering armour and weapons, sparks flying as they stay intent on their work. Some rooms have groups sparring and others have walls and tables lined with maps, for people plotting out battle plans. He’s astounded by the sheer size of it all, the more he sees, the more amazed he becomes. The place must be filled with thousands of people. It occurs to Tom that these are the slaves who have been ‘killed’. Well, that’s one way to amass an army without anyone knowing.

He should probably find the whole thing troubling, but he doesn’t. He thinks he knows what this is before the words come.

“Welcome to the slave rebellion.”

Comments:


Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
bleodswean
bleodswean at 2014-03-30 15:33 (UTC) (Link)
A rejoice-ful piece! And isn't that a nice twist? :) I enjoyed the interior glimpse into your "slave". Well done.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-30 15:36 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked it :)
penpusher
penpusher at 2014-03-30 16:50 (UTC) (Link)
Fantastic, brilliantly layered with the tension so palpable throughout.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-30 16:57 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked the layers :)
basric
basric at 2014-03-30 17:48 (UTC) (Link)
You charged the piece with emotion and anticipation then twisted it quite wonderfully.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-30 17:55 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked :)
Silver
i_love_freddie at 2014-03-30 19:55 (UTC) (Link)
Nice twist!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-30 19:58 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks :)
i_will_not_say
i_will_not_say at 2014-03-30 20:04 (UTC) (Link)
Nice twist! I enjoyed this story a lot. :)
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-30 20:31 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you enjoyed :)
ViolaConspiracy
violaconspiracy at 2014-03-31 20:55 (UTC) (Link)
Nice work!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-04-01 06:18 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you :)
waltzmatildah
waltzmatildah at 2014-04-01 06:41 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, what an original entry. I'm in awe, to be honest!!

Great work.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-04-01 07:41 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, thank you, that's such a great compliment, so glad you liked it :)
Teo Says
eternal_ot at 2014-04-01 13:28 (UTC) (Link)
Gripping plot...and kept me engaged or rather on the edge till the end..and finished off with a twist...exactly my fav cup of genre! Well done!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-04-01 14:14 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you found it so gripping :)
Es'ka
eska818 at 2014-04-02 01:06 (UTC) (Link)
I kept expecting this to lead to something horrible and awful, but you surprised me. I very much liked this story. :)
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-04-02 07:49 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked it :)
n3m3sis43
n3m3sis43 at 2014-04-02 01:18 (UTC) (Link)
I really liked the direction you took with this piece.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-04-02 07:49 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked :)
A Crimson Plum
crimsonplum at 2014-04-02 04:14 (UTC) (Link)
The suspense and the imagery...spectacular. I may or may not have said "F$&# YEAH" out loud at the end. :)
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-04-02 07:50 (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, thanks, so glad I provoked a reaction :)
darkdreams1222
dreamsofspike at 2014-04-02 05:17 (UTC) (Link)
Ooooooh!!!

This is AMAZING!! I want a whole long story in this universe!! Awesome!!! :)

PLEASE write more in this verse!! :)
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-04-02 07:54 (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, thank you so much, it's so lovely to hear that you found it awesome and want more :).

Actually this was kind of based on a novel idea I had for nanowrimo that never came to fruition. But I do as a consequence have many ideas for this verse that could be made into shorter pieces. So, no promises, but I might ;).
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors
halfshellvenus at 2014-04-02 05:43 (UTC) (Link)
Oooh, interesting!

a seeming nobody, secretly holding all the control.
Perhaps the most dangerous enemy of all.

I'm interested to see where this goes. :)
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-04-02 07:57 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much, it's always great to hear people would like to know where it goes from there :)

Yep, it's always the ones you least expect.
Vice Captain of the Universe
sweeny_todd at 2014-04-02 07:56 (UTC) (Link)
Ooohhhhhh!!!

I liked that. I liked that something that seemed like it was a black end ended up so positive! Viva la Rebellion!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-04-02 07:58 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked that twist :)

Yes, Viva la Rebellion! ;)
Jemima Pauler
jem0000000 at 2014-04-02 23:16 (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad this turned out good for him. :)
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-04-03 06:14 (UTC) (Link)
It is nice to have a happy ending, thank you :)
Previous Entry  Next Entry