The Price of Sin: The Condemned

Prologue

“Next!” The line of bodies shuffled forward on command, a parade of misery that walked slowly to the rhythm of chains. The Bookman looked at the face of his next prisoner, then at the serial number wrought upon the collar of his shackles. “Le’see har’… numba’ tree’tousan’ furty’-two… le’see… Ah! Har ya’ ar’ ya’ wort’less stain. Mister Hemipen is it? Yar’ in fur tryin’ ta’ steal a loaf O’ bread, ay? Shame on ya’ and yar’ tainted blud’ ‘Xile, it says har. Well inta’ the Elavatar’ which ya!” The Bookman checked of a box in his leather book, and wrote a few notes down. “Next!” He yelled out in his hoarse, raspy voice. “Next, I say!” The lined moved forward a bit more, as the guard brought up a young girl, dragging her by the pit of her arm across the marble pavement. The sunlight glared off her shackles, forcing the Bookman squinted to read her collar. “Meledi.” He mumbled, after searching through the pages of his book once more. “Daughter o’ a whore, it says har’ and o’ rape to add.” He shook his finger at her from behind his book. “Got bad blud’ in ya,’ ya’ do. Don’ wan’ya’ growin’ up and doin’ ya’ mums work in ‘or proud city, now, don’ we, ya lil whore? Ya’ wanna ride in the Elevatar, Meledi?” The girl shook her head, her eyes somber and dark behind her long black hair. “No? Well to bad it ain’ ya’ choice, eh girly? Elevatar!” The Bookman gave a raspy chorus of laughter as he motioned her away. “Next!” There was a shout as the guards brought up the next prisoner, followed by a cry of pain as a gauntlet flashed in the sunlight. Blood flowed over her lips as she was dragged forward, staining them crimson. Her eyes burned fiercely behind her bangs, her entire being engulfed in blind rage as she struggled once more against her captors. One of them raised his arm to strike her, but she was too fast. Leaping up, she slipped her teeth into the depths of his helm, were she bit down into his ear, tearing it off as she clawed violently at his face, drawing long rivers of blood down his cheek. A pair of guards managed to pull her off, as the other swore violently, his hands clutching the side of his face, as his helm filled with his own bodily crimsons. The Bookman mumbled a curse to him self and unsheathed his knife. Standing, he stepped forward and press its edge against the woman’s’ throat. “Now listen har’ an’ ya listen gut.” He snarled at her. “If ya’ don’ behave yar’self, I’ll be forced ta’ cut ya.’ Or…” A smile split the Bookmans as he motioned at the guard face, revealing bone white teeth. “I might fin’ me’self cuttin’ a wing O’ two off yar’ lil’ friend here, ey?” He chuckled, the fat beneath his chin bouncing as a member of the guard brought forth a bird, hooded and bound in leather. The woman gritted her teeth and glared at the Bookman, then she gave in, her rage lost as her weight sagged into the arms of the guard as she submitted to their judgment. “A’right then. Bring ‘er here!” They dragged her over, over the marble tiles. Grabbing her by the chin, the Bookman forced her head up to examine her collar. He dropped her back down to open his book. They crackled like the flames of a fire as he scoured through their dry pages. “Ah-a! Here ya’ ar.’ Relyte is it? A wile-child’ it says here, and a haf‘bred too. Try to mug a coupla’ innocent sightseers, eh?” He returned to his book, and read out loud. “O’tempted murder o’ a citizen, robbery, und yar’ O’ filthy blood too. Says har’ ya’ got life in ‘xile.” He closed the book, and reached forward. Lifting her head up, he brushed her hair off her eyes. “Too bad, yar’ a cute one. ‘Ould’n mind haven’ ya’ in my bed me’self.” He let go off her face as laughter over came him and he motioned for her to be taken away. They dragged her, silently across the city square, to load her into the elevator, which stood in the center of the square, a giant birdcage wrought of black iron. It hung over a hole of darkness, a pit of despair that burrowed endlessly down, into the very heart of the mountain. A massive link of iron chain groaned like a dying beast as the elevator swayed in the wind. It was the middle of winter, but they loaded her into the cage with nothing more than her prison tunic. She wrapped her arms around her bird, which was struggled to preen through its bindings, and started pushing her way through the cage, towards the edge. Sitting down, she hung her legs over the side of the elevator, and then turned her hands to the bird, removing its hood and bindings. “You can go if you want, you know.” Her voice was clear and sharp, like a bell made of ice, but sadness echoed within its melody. “You don’t have to come with me, and they wouldn’t be able to catch you.” The bird turned it head to the side and stared back at her for a few seconds, its bright amber eyes reflecting her solemn face. It pushed its head forward, rubbing it beaks and feathers against her face, as it offered a soft ‘peep’ in condolences. She nuzzled it back, and kissed the bird upon its beak. “Alright, but you can say I didn’t let you go.” The bird peeped again in response and nipped her finger. Stroking her hand through its feathers, she began to sing, her voice rising up and beyond the air.

Sin and sorrow Pain till the end of days Bone and marrow Lying lifeless in the grave

Ill the wind blows Churning the faces Of the clouds that hide The sea

Nowhere and nevermore Twisted lies and memories Darkness consumes me As I cry my melody

Of sin and sorrow Of pain till the end of days

The wind began to pick up again, a cold stream of air that howled between the jagged mountains, and along the alleyways and streets of the city. It carried her voice even further into the sky, as her hair danced like black ribbons. It blew back, revealing pointed ears. The guard shoved in one last prisoner as the Bookman shouted, “A’right, it’s full! Let ‘em down!” The elevator jerked as the chain let loose, and it disappeared into darkness.

Sin and sorrow Paint till the end of days

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