Rolgan's Imprisonment

by Roy Johnston

      It was dark, very dark. It was not so dark though that person's eyes could not adjust to the lack of light if given enough time. Rolgan's could see in that dark. His eyes have had plenty time to adjust. The darkness did not matter to Rolgan. Night or day. Day or night. Rolgan did not know which it was for the perpetual darkness. That did matter since his plans depended on the night.

      He would have been gone by now if it weren't for that damn boy. Of course, it was Rolgan's fault. He should have left Peter with the Choneys. They were far more able to take care of a boy than he was. The Choneys are nomads and are not very well liked by the "settled communities." They are scavengers of a sort, searching for and collecting remains of the First World. They refurbish these items to resell to others. Their skill at refurbishing and the fact that they bring back to life the incredible devices of the First World make their goods very sought after. For this reason the settled must tolerate them. They are a good people. More importantly they always have food on the table which many cannot claim. They could have raised Peter very well. How had Peter convinced him to let the boy continue on the journey? He does not remember. All he knows is that he let his emotions get in the way and now he and Peter are paying for it.

      Rolgan hurt. His accommodations are far from comfortable. His small cell is made entirely of gray, rough granite. Across from him is a heavy wooden door. It is about a foot smaller than his full height. The faintest sliver of light shows at the bottom. The room is empty except for little various pieces of rubble, himself , and the iron clasps. The iron clasps are anchored close to the wall and hold Rolgan's hand outstretched above him. The clasps force him into a sitting position that wasn't quite right. His torso is angled out from the wall leaving his midsection unsupported by the corner of floor and wall. At the beginning it was very uncomfortable. As his body settled onto the bare rock, pain became a persistent companion. Just the fact of his stationary position caused him agony. As the days passed (has it been that long?) his muscles cramped at the lack of use. His joints became weak and protest every movement. Nerves are now constantly inflamed being pressed between stone and bone. In this condition Rolgan must constantly try to support his weight or let the iron clasps chafe and cut his wrists. Baylen never used outright torture. He doesn't need to. This iss far more economical.

      Yet Rolgan could escape his clasps. By accident he found that he could barley slip his right hand out of its clasp. In his youth, during his ascension training, he dislocated his thumb in a wrestling accident. Now he could dislocate his thumb at will if not without some pain. So his right hand was freed and that hand freed the other by using a rock to spring the clasp. Rolgan forsake his freedom most of the time. Shortly after their imprisonment, Baylen took Peter out of the cell. Until they brought Peter back, he would have to appear to be secured. The guard did not bother him much of the time but they did appear if only to bring him a so called meal. Rolgan did not know time in the dark cell so he could not anticipate the guard's visits. For this reason he kept his hand in the clasps for most of the time.

      During his periods of freedom, Rolgan investigated ways to escape. It was not long before he found that the clasps were meant to contain prisoners, not the walls. Although the walls were constructed of granite rock, the rock was held together with a loose sand mortar. With little effort the mortar could be flaked off with a sharp rock. This is what Rolgan did. It took him only three excavation periods to loosen enough rock to clear a man sized crawl hole. Where did the hole lead to? Rolgan did not know. By the briefest glance, Rolgan saw that the hole opened into closed stone passage way. Where the passageway led to he could only guess.

      With his escape etched out, there was nothing to do but wait for Peter to be brought back. Rolgan has been tempted more than once to escape now and look for the boy. That would be very dangerous though. It would be much safer and more sure to wait for the boy. He carefully replaced the stones and there were no clues that he has been out of his clasps. Escape would be dangerous enough without having to try to look for Peter. In the meanwhile Peter would be treated well. That's why they took him first. A boy would more likely spill secrets when given a warm bed and sweet deserts. Fortunately Rolgan had the foresight to keep his mouth closed around the boy and keeping him in the dark. Once Baylen was convinced that Peter knew nothing he would be returned to the cell. Rolgan just hoped they would have enough time to escape before he was fetched to be interrogated.

      Nothing to do now but wait. He could smell his stink, thick and heavy in the small cell. the only thing that occupied his time was his pain and his thoughts. He thought of all the events that led him to this cell: life on the farm, the massacre, the insane lust for revenge. He also thought much about one of his favorite places, the Academy. He though of his favorite mentors, Master Jacobs and Master Ren. Master Ren taught him the art of the shooter, a rare weapon fashioned from relics of the First World. Rolgan turned out to be such a good student he was awarded the title Marksmaster. This title is bestowed on few and the honored are given their own shooter. Shortly after the massacre, he sold the farm and with the money commissioned the fashioning of another shooter, identical to the first. Baylen now has both shooters.

      Master Jacobs was the Master of Histories and Lore. Rolgan loved all his histories but he especially loved Lore of the First World. This course dealt with the myths, legends and theories of the existence of the First World, a civilization that was supposed to have existed before known histories. Almost the entire population denies or is not aware of the possibility of First World. Master Jacobs very much believed in the existence of First World and believes it was a much richer, advanced civilization. The proliferation of artifacts scavenged by the Choneys proved the existence of First World in the eyes of Master Jacobs. Master Jacobs theorized that the end of First World was caused by some incredible catastrophe that transformed the world into what we know now.

      Time passes slowly in the darkness. Rolgan can no longer think. His thoughts go around in vicious circles until his mind gets too tired to think. Pain interrupts every thought. Nothing to do but wait. How much time has passed? An hour? A day? Five minutes? The only time in darkness is the time of his heart. Count heartbeats. Two minutes pass. Mind wanders. Looses count. Rolgan comes back. How many heartbeats? How much time? Voices. Noises. Thoughts calling to him. No not his thoughts. The voices come from outside his cell. Instantly Rolgan is alert and awake. The door opens. The light that floods the room is dim but nevertheless blinding. In the time it takes for Rolgan's eyes to adjust, a gruff voice speaks to him.

      "Rolgan wake up, I got a present for you."

      Rolgan saw a small shape silhouetted in the door frame. The small shape is pushed through the door and is followed by a much larger shape that must stoop to enter the cell. The guard brought Peter to a set of clasps and proceeded to secure the boy.

      "Baylen is done with your young friend," the guard spoke as he worked. "He'll be wantin' you t'morrow. You best be thinkin' of telling him what he wants to hear." With that the guard left. Rolgan waited until he was sure that the guard was out of earshot.

      "Peter, do you know where my shooters are?"

      "No, I never seen them but Baylen says he is going to kill you with those shooters."

      "Never mind what Baylen said. What time is it?"

      "It's about two hours before sunset."

      "Can you walk?"


      "Good. We leave tonight."

March 10, 1996

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