*Link to Part 1 at bottom*

Early the next morning, the lock clicked open. Kenno woke immediately and shoved himself painfully up to a sitting position against the wall. Was Rayad back already? That was sooner than he’d returned the last time. Too soon. At least there was a chance he had brought some food, though that was a small comfort considering what else would happen while Rayad was there.

The door opened. It wasn’t Rayad.

Kenno shot the man from yesterday an angry look. If he wasn’t going to help, why wouldn’t he just stay away? Kenno didn’t need to watch freedom stand next to him and know he couldn’t have it.

“Can I…?” the man asked, reaching out to remove Kenno’s gag. Kenno stayed still in agreement, although it wasn’t as if he had a real choice.

“What are you doing here?” he demanded as soon as the cloth was removed.

“I’m trying to help you,” the man retorted. “Don’t you want help?”

Kenno clenched his jaw. “What are you even going to do?”

The man reached into his pocket and took out a small waterskin, though Kenno didn’t know what it contained. “I could start by making sure that doesn’t get infected,” the man said, gesturing toward Kenno’s leg.

Kenno glanced down at the gash along his calf, left by the sword of one of Rayad’s thugs the day they’d kidnapped him. He hadn’t realized the man had noticed it. “What if Rayad finds out?” Kenno said.

“He’s busy this morning,” the man said, “so he won’t find me here. I’ll be subtle about the cleaning so he doesn’t notice.”

Reluctantly, Kenno moved his leg toward the man so he could reach to clean the wound. The man took out a piece of cloth, poured the liquid on it, and began to dab at the cut. Kenno hissed at the sting. It definitely wasn’t water.

The man didn’t look at Kenno’s face, but after a moment, he said, “My name is Leyon.”

“Heialcha?” Kenno asked, referring to the culture he thought the name came from.

“Yes,” the man said with the echo of a smile on his face.

“My—” My daughter is learning the language, Kenno thought. But he couldn’t say that. As far as Rayad knew, he didn’t have a daughter, and Kenno had to keep it that way.

But Rayad already knew Kenno’s name. He could at least give Leyon that. “I’m Kenno,” he said.

Leyon nodded in acknowledgement. Neither of them offered a “nice to meet you.” The circumstances made it anything but that.

After a minute of silence, Kenno said, “It would be nice to know you’re not actually on his side.”

“Yes,” Leyon said. “But I don’t think there’s anything I could do to prove it to you.”

It was true. Kenno couldn’t get the information out of either Rayad or Leyon, because if they were really working together, they could lie about anything. And there was nothing Leyon could do to prove he was telling the truth.

“I have to act like you’re him,” Kenno said, with an almost pleading note in his voice that he wished wasn’t there.

“I know,” Leyon said quietly.

He continued dabbing at Kenno’s wound. When he finished, he closed the waterskin and put it back into his pocket along with the cloth.

“Let me see your hands,” he said.

Kenno didn’t understand why, but he turned his back to Leyon so his arms were visible. The man studied the rope holding Kenno’s hands together.

“I brought food,” Leyon said.

Kenno’s eyes widened slightly. He’d hardly eaten since he got captured. Rayad didn’t care about his condition as long as he was alive.

Leyon continued, “I’ll untie your hands so you can eat if you promise you won’t try to escape.”

Kenno scoffed. “A formality,” he said. “You can’t trust me not to do that. You just know I can’t take you on in this state.”

Leyon shrugged—it was true, then—and reached to untie Kenno’s hands. Kenno winced as the rope cut into his wrists. He reached out to take the food Leyon offered, and his shoulders screamed in protest. How long had it been since he’d really moved his arms?

Kenno bit into the food without saying thank you. He had to keep acting like Leyon was working for Rayad. Because he was. Kenno couldn’t allow hope for anything more.

Leyon sat down next to Kenno with his back against the wall. Kenno didn't look at him, instead continuing to devour the food.

“How long have you been here?” Leyon asked.

Kenno sighed, unwillingly remembering the events that had led him to this point. “Three days,” he said. Not long, yet forever.

“This must be what's occupied so much of Rayad’s time lately,” Leyon said.

Yes, because of course “occupying time” was what Rayad was doing when he tried to torture Kenno into agreeing to spellbind for him. Kenno tore a bite out of the bread with his teeth and didn’t answer.

They sat there in silence as Kenno finished the food. Finally Leyon said, “I’ll come back tomorrow.”

“Don’t,” Kenno said immediately. “You don’t need to.”

Leyon shot him a glance. Kenno knew what he must look like, tied and beaten and sitting on the dirty floor. He looked as if he needed help. But Leyon didn’t argue with him further.

“I have to tie you again now,” he said.

Kenno silently let him, trying not to show how much the bonds hurt. Then Leyon left. The door locked again, and it was back to the endless waiting until the next session of torment.


Thanks so much for reading!! You can check out the other parts with the links below, and stay tuned for Part 4 coming soon!

Read Part 1 here

Read Part 3 here