A piercing shriek shattered her oblivion. The grinding of stone against stone set her teeth on edge and the acrid smell of putrid smoke invaded her nostrils.
Blinking furiously, she tried to clear her vision of blackness. Nothing...she saw nothing. Her arms reached out, trying to feel something recognizable.
Touching a hard vertical surface, she followed the wall and slowly stood to her feet. She gasped as a wave of pain shot through her head. Groping through her hair, she discovered a swelling lump.
Memories flooded her mind. Hooded men coming at her carriage, shouts silenced in mid-scream, the horses charging and then slowing to a stop. The door opened and someone grabbed her nurse, pulling her to the ground. As a masked man entered, she was grabbed from behind and then...here she is now.
Becoming accustomed to the dark, she perceived a very dim light through an opening. Staggering towards it, with her arms outstretched to feel any obstacles, she could hear other sounds.
Murmured talk, moans and metal scraping on a hard surface floated intermittently to her ears. Footsteps drew near her door and she heard the rattle of keys.
She scurried backwards and braced herself against the wall. The torchlight blinded her momentarily, shrouding the invader from her view.
He yanked at her arm, pulled her out into a cavernous chamber and left her standing in the middle of the room. Adjusting to her new surroundings, she noticed she had come from a cell, one of many around the circular expanse.
At the opposite side loomed a large stone, from which wisps of smoke drifted forth making the air caustic.
Twisting around, the jailer snarled at her. “I’ll show you what fer, yer highness. You’ll see what ya’ll get if yer don’t behave.”
As he grabbed a chain pulley, the large stone started to move. The opening widened, emitting more and more smoke but also an eerie glow. Burning tar pits!
The jailer turned and went to another cell, pulling out a wizened beggar. Dragging him across the floor the jailer hurled curses at the poor man. The beggar pleaded for mercy to no avail. His body, picked up like a sack of potatoes, was hurled into the pit. His screaming ended shortly thereafter.
“Now,” the jailer threatened, “Yer next, unless ya wed my Master that brung ya here. None shall find ya for yer hidden far beneath the Great Mountin.”
“Threatening my Beloved, are you?” He had entered the chamber unbeknownst to her tormenter. “That’s no way to treat royalty.”
The jailer backed away from the confident power emanating menacingly from the tall, marred image of a man. His body whole on one side, the other bore an atrophied arm and droopy facial muscles. “Oh Sire, I was just statin’ the facts to the missus.’
Ignoring the hideous man, he turned to her. “Yes. Those are the facts. You must marry me to live. If that seems harsh or repulsive to you, too bad, but you have no other choice.”
She looked down at her barren brown arms where rings of fine silver embedded with precious stones once encircled. Her finery, that only a day ago (or was it this morning) pristine and pure, now torn, filthy and scented with dirt.
‘Ah… Either way, I live. I’m rescued or I die…I live. But, what he offers is Hades.’
All at once a sweet sensation of silken cloth fell about her shoulders reaching down to her fingertips. An illusion of beaded fringe crackled in response to her movements. A caressing of Glory had manifested Himself to her total being. She knew without a doubt that her deliverance was at hand.
Her jailer sneered as he strode towards her.
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