THIRTY-THREE TALES OF WAR XXXII: THE JAILER
Civil war rages in the black-blooded nation of Kandrisev. Its citizens grow restless. They demand their voices be heard. These are their stories laid out in thirty-three tales of war.
The Jailer spun a wooden chair around and plopped down on it, elbows resting on his knees, hands clasped, and head lowered to glower at the woman in the tiny stone cell before him. The prisoner had only just arrived, but her mere presence made his blood seethe with rage. He ran his tongue along the inside of his cheek, nodding his head ever-so-slightly.
“You deserve this,” he finally said, nodding more assuredly now. “You and all them caste whores for what you’ve done to our federation, our traditions, our lives. But you—” The Jailer wagged his finger at her. “You especially. You’ll die for it, and good bleeding riddance. You aren’t worth the rope they’ll hang you with.”
The prisoner said nothing. She was skeletally thin, with chapped lips, frayed nails, and a thick layer of filth and grime caking together her once-silvery hair.
If the Jailer didn’t know any better, he would think she was just some street urchin carried in from Misgrad for pilfering crusts of bread. “Ain’t you got something to say?”
When she didn’t answer, the Jailer sprung up, knocking the chair aside, and rattled the portcullis bars. “Speak!” Spitting and swearing, he lifted the chair by its backrest and broke it against the bars. He jabbed the splintered end of a leg at the prisoner. She recoiled, wincing when he managed to dig in hard enough to draw blood. He grinned and yanked the chair leg back.
“I hope they torture you,” he chuckled. “I hope they drive hot iron under your nails and chop off your hair. I hope they break your kneecaps and brand your cheeks. I hope they rip out your teeth one by one and shear off your skin until you’re nothing but a pile of bloody flesh. Then, when you’re good and ready, I hope they hang your corpse from the redoubt walls in case any more caste whores forget their place.”
Finally, the prisoner looked him in the eye and murmured something he couldn’t quite hear. He thrust the chair leg at her again. She raised her strained voice and asked, “Why are you so angry?”
The Jailer’s stomach dropped, but he sneered at her and scraped her arm. “Why am I so angry?” he asked, jabbing her again. “That’s none of your damn business, you dumb bitch.”