Authors Note: Rowan Character Illustration.
A flash of light….
So much pain….
Make it stop!
Make it stop, please… I will do anything.
Stop killing me!
Rowan woke in a giddy daze, his head felt as if it was placed on an anvil, and an over-enthusiastic blacksmith was going at it for the better part of an hour.
A burst of phantasmal pain brushed across his spine, memories of depravity and sickness choked his throat, and for a horrifying moment, he could not breathe, and then like a flash of lightning, the sensation passed and the memory faded.
He thought he heard the distant sound of music and laughter, and if he was not mistaken, the baying of horses. Weird, there was no way, horses were near his worksite or his home.
His body felt crushed, as if he was under ten stacks of weighted blankets, and he could not breathe properly, oddly he found it comforting for at least it brought a little distraction from his pounding head.
He had a history of migraines, so he found the pain a little familiar, nevertheless, this was up there for the most painful experiences he had in his life, and working as a miner from the ripe age of nine, he understood the pain—a considerable chunk of his life was filled with them.
Put 'em in the list, just put 'em in the list.
Rowan mentally cajoled himself. It was a little trick he learned growing up, he always had a great memory, and most time it was a comfort and yet, it kept his pains fresh. At the edge of his mind, ever ready to serve him a healthy dose of remembrance.
He called the list: My list of glass. Don't ask him why.
His eyes were still closed, and he attempted to open them to no avail.
He fidgeted and struggled to bring his hands up to his face. Hands that felt like pieces of dead logs. He struggled to lift them to his face, and in what felt like forever he succeeded.
"How much did I drink last night? Feels like I have been poisoned, and the bastard did not do a good enough job." He muttered to himself.
He had struck gold on his latest dig, well, literally it was a diamond. Even after all the illegal cuts and fees he had to pay to the corrupt foreman, he was still left with a nice lump of change, enough to sink into a river of booze and cheap women for months and to test how much damage he could do to his body, both physically and mentally before it quit on him.
He internally cheered himself for the minor milestone of lifting his hands to his face.
Bracing himself, he raised his fingers to claw at his closed orbs. Going by the sensation of touch, he found his face filled with muck that had dried out, he gently scrapped away at his face, paying close attention to his eyes, and wincing slightly when he pulled out lashes as he attempted to free his vision.
Did he fall into a mud–pit? There were such death traps around the abandoned mining area. In his drunken stupor, did he wander into those desolate areas? If he did, he was in trouble for he would hardly receive help here.
In what felt like forever, he was finally able to free his eye sockets.
"By the sweet cheeks of Ares, this headache is killing me." Rowan groaned aloud. His dry throat turning it into a long-drawn-out cough, he spat out some unknown sticky mass from his mouth and sucked in air that tasted of overripe fruits and subtle decay.
He found a burst of focus from deep within and pushed through, so he could observe the surroundings where he found himself.
He was sprawled on the floor, laid on his back, and so he attempted to move, and he could not, he observed that he was inside a room. It was dimly lit by candles on bronze stands that were in the shape of Mermaids.
The Mermaids sported three pairs of arms that were raised upward. Each of the hands was clasped together, and candles were placed between the locking digits.
His eyes caught three of the same stands, each holding three lit candles, he noted that the candles were black, and seemed to pour an excessive amount of smoke from the flames, yet this minor oddity caught his attention only for a while before it was drawn to the stands itself.
"wow, the details on these candle stands are exquisite." He was rendered speechless by the workmanship, the mermaids were made with an excruciating eye for details, and they almost seemed alive.
He swore he saw a statue blink, but it should just be a trick of shadows and the flickering flames, right?
"Yeah, I certainly drank too much. Where am I?"
Not seeing any present danger, but still holding a slight trace of uneasiness, he calmed down and distracted himself by tracing each scale on the Mermaids with his eyes, admiring the superb craftsmanship.
" Phew... this must cost a pretty penny." Rowan tried to run a number mentally and grimaced at another burst of pain. The light from the candle bounced back from the mermaid scales in a greenish-purple hue, that made him suspect it was made from gold, that same light poured across the room to his questing eyes and his chest locked up, and a burst of panic seized his throat.
The room was covered in sprays of red, a red that was unmistakable blood. Blood varied in every shade, splashed on every wall, and the floors were covered with mysterious bumps!
lightsΝοvεl ƈοmIt took a moment for his mind to wrap around what it was seeing.
Rowan's pupils narrowed, and an unconscious cry of horror came from his mouth, it came out in a high-pitched squeal.
"No, this cannot be real. I am dreaming, snap out of it, Rowan, snap out of it!"
The floors were covered with dead bodies.
They had been brutally hacked apart, faces contorted in a nightmarish grimace that told of untold suffering before their passage from the mortal coil. Limbs were bent in nightmarish proportions, they had been twisted into that unnatural form.
With a strength that came from panic and madness, he tried to push himself up, disregarding the loud thrum of pain from his head, neck, and shoulders that felt as stiff as cinder blocks, he managed to leverage his head upward and saw why he could not move.
He was buried under bodies!