Not sure how long we had been stinking in the cell. I had grown accustomed to the malodorous urine and the numbness to my limbs.
There was little comfort from my thoughts, which were filled with barbed questions and troubled what-ifs. Why was I revived if my existence was for this? Maybe it was a karmic payment for wrong doings I had done in a past life.
Abrupt shifting of steel and a curt bang jarred my senses back to present reality. I squeezed my eyes against stinging daylight, which streamed into the cell. A cacophony of groans and sighs was released when the door creaked open.
"Come on, get up!" said a soldier wearing a red hard leather vest, black long sleeved shirt and long pants tucked into calf-length lace-up boots with a lion-head crest stamped onto the vamps.
He stepped further into our view, so we could see more of his uniform. I caught the bronze hilt of his sheathed short sword poking out near the top of his black leather belt. His hands were covered with black leather gloves and hair covered with a dark steel helmet. I was able to see his stone-cold grey eyes and stern face clearly.
Another man wearing the same uniform entered. Both of them started hauling us to our feet like cattle.
I cursed at the prickly ache I felt in my legs as I clumsily wobbled to my feet when it was my turn. Brutal hands hauled me out of the cell, so I was standing in a dank, stone corridor with all the other shivering kids. I rubbed the bruise on my arms better.
"Hey!" I yelped when my arms were yanked forward again and a heavy set of iron cuffs were snapped over my wrists to weigh them down.
I was prodded into a line behind a small girl who was hunched over, struggling against the heavy weight of the iron cuffs to her wrists. There was no mercy. Every time she drooped towards the ground, her back was whipped to bring it upright. My heart raced with rage and limbs spasm every time a whip was cracked and lash was administered.
Adults should not treat children this way. I may not have known my life before I was fished out of the river, but in my heart I felt this was a fact. It took a lot of my will to hold my tongue against the soldiers' cruelty to us children.
"Don't yah slouch." Was the crude words of comfort from a whipping soldier.
I braved a look into his unforgiving eyes and felt a black energy crawling along my skin. My feelings of animosity was replaced with an unpleasant sensation and fear.
Something was definitely unnatural with this situation. The crawling feeling intensified as I continued down the corridor, suffering the sounds of cracking whips and muffled cries from kids.
"Why yah fear?" I frowned at the unexpected question spoken with a old man's voice. Was this a memory resurfacing.
I groaned when my insistent desire to recall the memory returned black and white blobs of nothing. Cutting pain slashed the back of my shoulders and biceps. I involuntarily let out a curt cry filled as my arm spasm from the searing sensation.
Fierce icy winds blew through the dank corridor to cool down my arm. It whipped into a frenzy of mini tornadoes that was pushing us into each other and causing us to tumble about the stone ground as a tangled mess.
Marsilien! The winds cried out the name with vehemence and a stronger force to push us further back.
"UGH!" I screamed and found my voice instantly silenced like all the other kids and soldiers who cried out against the stormy onslaught.
"Gelditu Culcuth haizeek!" A deep and manly voice bellowed to challenge the wind.
The storm stopped instantly. Warmth returned to our skin. I found myself panting feverishly next to the unlikely blond beauty who was also struggling to recover her breath. Her feisty blue eyes showed a vulnerable expression of fear. I was relieved to see she was a normal girl after all.
"GET UP OR GET MORE LASHES!" A pot-belly soldier angrily shouted over us.
We are forced back into a line and down a different corridor that opened into what I gathered was a sewer tunnel with a small stream of foul stinking water trickling along our path towards a wrought iron grate at the tunnel's end.
Eventually, we saw glaring daylight as we entered a dirt clearing where a metal box-cart stood at the center. At a quick glance, I saw high stone walls surrounding us and nothing else.
The soldiers were herding the kid line up a metal ramp into the dark space of the cart.
"Oi! You betta mask this troublesome imp." A solider warned another who was manning the cart entrance.
I yelped when three soldiers surrounded me. I was cut out of the line and pushed down to the ground, so I forced to sit on my knees. Two soldiers held my shoulders down to stop my movements. I felt my bones creak with threats of breaking whenever I struggled to free myself.
"Marsilien, be strong." A reassuring breeze brushed against my ears.
My eyes widen with fear when I saw the inside of a iron mask moving towards me. There were strange symbols etched into the surface.
"No!" I struggled and threw out my voice with pain.
"Deabrua oraindik!" A voice boomed into my ears with splintering voice that stopped my movements. I felt paralysed.
My face was covered with the heavy mask. I felt my breath short and hot against my cheeks. I was hard to breathe.
"Oraindik tranpa." The same voice soothed the pain I felt, so I became groggy and almost numb to the world around me.
I was vaguely aware of my body being dragged and thrown into the cart with the rest of the kids who seemed scared to be next to me. I felt their fear as acutely as black energy tingling my skin.
My mind wandered into that blissful dream of peach coloured skies and a dazzling wonder of royally dressed men and women in navy-blue.
The last sounds of life I heard, before collapsing into unconsciousness, was a rhythmic clip – clopping.