It’s warmer than usual today. I’ve begun to tolerate it, but sometimes, the lingering smell of death becomes so intense, it’s suffocating. What’s more, no matter what time of day, the only light that I ever see is what the torches lining the dark corridors emit. Because of the constant state of darkness, I have no way to tell how long I’ve been here. I’m guessing a long time because the white dressing gown I was wearing the night I was taken has almost been turned to black. All I know for sure is that I get tired enough to sleep every once in awhile, and my captors decide to bring me some stale bread on occasion. I haven’t left this cell in so long, that I’m too weak to move anymore. This place is such a far cry from the opulent life I once lived, it’s a wonder to me I’m even alive right now.
My father, the great Captain Balint Dryton, always spoiled me as a child. With all of the money he made, selling his findings, we were able to afford the most expensive home in Dunstable. I lived a sheltered life, filled with lavish balls, tea parties, and, once I was older, entertaining possible suitors.
I was having trouble connecting with anyone. They were all the same: rich and insipid. Every single one of them wanted to give me the “Why You Should Marry Me” speech, over a nice cup of tea. Honestly, it was infuriating to be doing the same mundane things with the same boring people. One day, I told my father enough was enough, and it was time to take matters into my own hands. I was bored out of my mind, until three months later, when Ryn showed up at my doorstep.
It was a peaceful morning, and all I was planning to do was eat breakfast. My meal was late, however, so I went to the kitchen to investigate. Imagine my surprise when I entered to find a rather nice looking woman, with dark features and an athletic physique, talking to one of the scullery maids. My first instinct was to yell at her to get out, but then she introduced herself as Kathryn Stratton, but told me to call her Ryn. She was apparently passing through town, and wanted to meet the infamous Bethany Dryton. She told me to meet her at the stables in 10 minutes, as she grabbed an apple out of a nearby basket. I stood in the doorway for a few seconds, before rushing to get dressed, in spite of myself.
The horses were already saddled when I arrived. Ryn, like a gentlewoman, helped me onto my own horse, and we rode out through Dunstable’s scenic countryside. Throughout the ride, I learned more about her, than I learned about most people in years. She was a Seer, who grew up to have her very own ship. The newest member of her crew was the reason she stopped in Dunstable. She was leaving in three days. I couldn’t help but feel a little twinge pain at hearing this, despite having only known her for a few hours. I didn’t think I would ever see her again after that. After all, she operated out of Cytheria, which was about as far away from Alesk (Where I lived) as one could get. But, she surprised me by asking if I wanted to live a life of adventure with her on the Aoife. I said yes.
My father was none too pleased, but I left with Ryn, three days later, anyways. He’d never let me on a ship before, so my first day at sea was breathtaking. Ryn was more than happy to show me around the ship and introduce me to all of her crew. She also gave me the best fighting lessons I’d ever had (well the only ones actually). By the end of the first few months, I was as much a crew member as the rest of them.
In the final months before I was taken, Ryn grew more and more protective of me, but she wouldn’t say why. “I just want you to be safe,” was always her excuse. It got to the point where I couldn’t handle it anymore. I finally confronted her, and said that I was strong enough to take care of myself. I didn’t need another person like my father keeping me from living my life the way I wanted to. I’d never seen anyone look so hurt before. At the time, I thought she was as pathetic as all of the other people who’d had the audacity to call themselves my friends. She left me alone, however. So alone, that I felt like she was avoiding me. At that point, I started going back and forth between feeling guilty, and feeling deceived. The minute I caught myself wanting to apologize and have my best friend back, I would tell myself she was being manipulative and wanted me to do just that. So, I didn’t.
About a month after the incident, Ryn started having the nightmares. At first, the only sounds that would come from her quarters were a few loud thumps, when she fell out of her bed. I just let her deal with them herself. Afterall, nobody else was rushing to help. On the sixth night, though, I heard the most blood curdling scream come from her room. I was up in an instant, and I burst through her door. She was sitting on her bed, drenched in sweat, and crying, two things I never would’ve thought possible from Kathryn Stratton. I remember walking cautiously to the bed, and sitting next to her. I reached out slowly, beckoning for her to come closer. She hesitated at first, but then collapsed into my arms. I stroked her forehead gently, and told her everything was going to be alright. She just layed in my lap, clutching my nightgown so hard, it wrinkled. We must’ve been there for hours, but she eventually fell asleep. Being too exhausted to leave her room. I crawled into bed next to her and fell asleep myself.
We started to patch things up the next day. We eventually went right back to being glued at the hip, as if nothing had ever happened. Only, the nightmares were relentless. Every night, I would end up in Ryn’s room, stroking her forehead, while she held onto me for dear life. I never knew what was so terrifying to cause this kind of reaction from her, and I never asked. Everything was good, great actually, until my last night aboard the Aoife.
I was woken up to a hand over my mouth. Said hand was connected to a tall hooded figure. I grabbed the dagger off of my bedside table, and plunged it into his neck. Where most people would fall to the ground dead, this thing calmly reached up and pulled the dagger out. There was no blood, and it was most certainly not dead. It heaved me out of bed, over its shoulder, and carried me out of the room. I kicked and screamed as loud and as hard as I could, thinking Ryn would hear me. Nothing happened, and I found out why as soon as my captor and I got out onto the deck.
Ryn, along with every member of the crew, stood, held by a hooded figure, with swords to their necks. Upon seeing me, Ryn started struggling as hard as she could, but stopped when my captor set me down and put its own sword to my throat. They all stood there, helplessly, while my hands were bound, and a thick, black cloth was tied over my eyes. The next thing I remember was waking up in this cursed cell.
I’m yanked back to the present by footsteps coming down the corridor. I turn around, expecting one of the hooded figures, that frequently make visits. This one, unlike the others, stays hidden in the shadows.
“Daydreaming, were we?” asks a deep voice. I shake my head.
“You know, it’s unbecoming to lie. I thought dear old Dad would’ve raised you better,” an uneasy feeling grows in my chest as I start to realize who the man in the shadows might be.
“When I was around, at least, manners were essential in his house. That is of course, until he tried to kill me. Very impolite, if you ask me ,” I gasp, not believing my ears.
“Did you finally figure it out?” I scramble backwards, pressing my back up against the wall, “What? Did you think I was dead? That Father could actually kill me?” I just stare at shadow, eyes wide, “I had already mastered the art of drawing power from the well of death when we were 15,” he takes a few steps closer, while my expression turns to confusion, “Don’t you see? I can’t be killed, Beth. Death answers to me not the other way around.”
“What do you want?” I croak. My voice barely comes out a whisper.
He chuckles, “I want revenge on Father, and and I want you to help me do it.”
He steps into the light. He looks almost the same, other than aging a little, and having a huge scar across his left eye, from when my father tried to kill him. It’s still him, though. Even under all the darkness, it’s still him.
I look into those black eyes, defiantly, and shake my head, “Never,” he shrugs his shoulders.
“So be it,” My twin brother, Aiden, says, as he retreats through the black corridor.