Torture

Torture

A Story by AliciaB
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Warning: kind of long, and very bloody. But it reads pretty quickly (I think).

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“Wake up, beast.”

Khazuman opened his scarlet eyes slowly, blinking at the uncharacteristic amount of light that flooded his cell.  He turned his head to see a pair of human women standing in the doorway, illuminated from behind by the stark, fluorescent brilliance of the corridor.  Both were dressed in the navy blue uniforms and black combat boots of the Agency.  The woman on the right, the speaker, had curly, rust-colored hair and looked to be middle-aged.  Her counterpart had skin the color of chocolate and was a good three inches shorter, not to mention at least twenty years younger.  Khazuman took his time sitting up, his muscles somewhat stiff from sleeping on an unforgiving steel slab of a cot.  At least they hadn’t shackled him - that would have been comical indeed.  But the red-eyed creature had no doubt that a score of heavily armed agents had been posted outside his door, ready to blow him into oblivion should he try to escape.  As if they ever could.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?” Khazuman asked, tucking a long strand of jet-black hair behind his ear.  “You are not the hideous pig who ordinarily comes to feed me my morning slop.”

“We are here to bring you in for questioning,” the red-haired woman answered, her voice cold and even.

Khazuman smirked.  “You tried that when I first arrived,” he said.  “What good do you think will come from trying again?”

The woman did not blink.  “This time, it is different.”

“Ah,” the red-eyed creature chuckled, leaning forward and resting an elbow on his knee.  “I see.  The great Guardian Agency, defender of freedom and protector of all mankind, resorts to base torture to get what it wants.”

“The Agency utilizes augmented interrogation as a last-resort means of extracting information necessary for the protection of innocent lives,” the dark-skinned woman responded.

“Ah,” Khazuman sighed again.  “It sounds so pretty when you say it.”  He paused, his scarlet eyes flicking from one woman’s face to the next.  “I suppose I am to come with you now?”

“Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.”

 

Khazuman’s wrists were shackled as he exited his cell, though he smirked at how easily he could have broken the bonds if he tried.  As expected, the corridor outside was filled with uniformed agents, all carrying ridiculously powerful firearms and wearing helmets with darkened visors that obscured their eyes.  The agents surrounded the tall, dark-haired creature as he was escorted by his two chaperones down the hallway and further into the complex.  They passed other cell doors, some with armed guards stationed to either side of them.  The guards’ faces remained expressionless as the prisoner and his entourage passed by, but Khazuman could feel their eyes upon his back, burning with hatred and loathing.  The creature smiled at their abhorrence.  He reveled in the way his hard-heeled boots clicked loudly upon the tile floor, rising above the muffled clomps of the human agents’ footwear just as his black-haired head towered above their own.

Soon Khazuman and his escort reached a lone door at the end of the hallway, unadorned save for a small metal keypad in the wall to one side.  The red-haired agent punched an elaborate code into the pad, and the door slide silently aside and into the wall.  The armed guards remained in the corridor while the female agents led Khazuman into the room, the dark-skinned one unlocking his shackles as they went. 

This chamber was little bigger than Khazuman’s cell, but with bare walls the slate-gray color of cement, not painted white like those of the rest of the compound.  A small metal stool stood in one corner, and a long, empty table in another.  Khazuman raised his eyebrows in amusement at the drain occupying the center of the floor and the faint yet conspicuous stains trailing into it.  More ominous, perhaps, was the large chute in the wall to the left, whose metal cover bore the word “INCINERATOR” in bold, black letters.  A pair of steel shackles hung from the ceiling against the far wall, with two more at the wall’s foot directly beneath them, their chains embedded in the floor. 

The agents brought Khazuman directly before this wall and made him stop.  The younger one knelt down and roughly pulled off his boots and socks while the older brought over the stool from the corner of the room and placed it beside him.  The woman stepped up until her face was level with the prisoner’s and then stripped him to the waist, rudely tearing off his wine-red cloak and fine black tunic.  Then the agents turned Khazuman until his back was to the wall and shackled him again, first securing the metal cuffs around his bare ankles and then binding his wrists so that his arms were stretched out above his head.

“Such a pity,” the older woman said, gazing down at Khazuman’s smooth, finely-toned chest and stomach.  Her voice was cold and passionless. “You won’t look nearly so handsome once you’re covered in scars.  If only you had cooperated when you had the chance.”

Khazuman laughed.  “Is this part of the torture?” he asked as the dark-skinned agent dumped his clothing and boots down the incinerator chute.  “That was quite a fine cloak.”

“That depends on what you consider to be painful,” the young agent replied, turning to face him.  “As soon as you provide a satisfactory answer, the questioning will end.”

Khazuman smirked.  “And if I cannot provide a ‘satisfactory answer’?”

“The questioning will continue,” the red-haired agent replied.  “And you will not enjoy it.”

The older woman stepped down from the stool and returned it to its corner, coming back to stand beside her companion and face their bound prisoner.

“The questioner will be with you momentarily,” the dark-skinned agent said.  With that, the women turned and strode out of the chamber.

Khazuman gave one last smirk.  “I’m quivering with anticipation,” he called.  But the women gave no response, and the door slid closed behind them, leaving Khazuman alone in the stark, fluorescent light that filled the room.

He did not have long to wait.  Within minutes, the door opened again, revealing a tall, severe-looking man dressed in the uniform of an Agency commander.  The man appeared to be in his early fifties, with short, steel gray hair and a close-cropped moustache and beard that accentuated the rigid angles of his jaw.  His eyes were pale blue and cold, his brow locked into an expression of perpetual austerity.  The man strode briskly across the chamber as the door slid closed behind him, stopping several feet before the prisoner and folding his black-gloved hands behind his back.  He fixed the tall creature with a frigid glare.

“Khazuman of Malinaria,” the man said.  “My name is Commander Aaron Daiphus.”

“Yes, I’ve heard all about you,” Khazuman interjected.  “Commander Daiphus, esteemed director of the United States branch of the Guardian Agency.  But I must admit I am surprised, Commander.  I had thought you would send one of your lesser thugs to perform such dirty work.  Your presence flatters me.”

“I wanted to perform this operation personally,” Commander Daiphus replied.  He reached into a leather holster on his hip and pulled forth a short, black rod.  The commander pressed a button on the instrument’s side and flicked his wrist, and a long, thin whip snaked out of the handle and snapped sharply through the air.  Commander Daiphus brought the device before his face so that it gleamed in the chamber’s harsh white light.  One of the whip’s sides was set with hundreds of tiny, razor-sharp blades, positioned end to end to create a continuous slicing edge.

“I have many reasons for wishing to interrogate you myself,” the commander explained, advancing slowly, methodically, towards his prisoner.  “The attack on London.”  Step.  “The burning of the church in Nicaragua.” Step. “The massacre in San Francisco.” Step.  The man stood directly before Khazuman now, and while he was still a good ten inches shorter than the prisoner, he met the creature’s scarlet eyes with a gaze of unblinking hatred.  “And the murder of one of the finest agents this organization has ever known,” the commander hissed.

Khazuman grinned.  “Ah, yes,” he replied.  “’One of your finest agents,’ indeed.  She was your niece, wasn’t she?” Daiphus flinched and took a step back, his eyes widening with shock.  “I heard she was your last tie to your late sister, whom she resembled so much.  Her death must have been quite painful for you.  ‘Angelica,’ was it not?”

“How dare you speak her name!” the commander roared, his face contorting wildly with rage.  He snapped the whip viciously before him, and Khazuman flinched.  A thin line of crimson appeared across his abdomen, and blood began to flow freely down his stomach.  But the dark-haired creature merely chuckled.

“It would seem I hit a nerve,” he remarked.  “To be fair, I believe you severed quite a few.”

“This is not about Angelica,” Daiphus hissed, his breathing coming in ragged gasps.  After a moment, he composed himself, his face becoming stern and merciless again.  “I want to know where you have hidden your army.  Tell me, and the interrogation will cease.”

Khazuman laughed.  “Is this the truth, Commander?” he asked, his tone dripping with mock incredulity.  “All your resources, all your eyes and ears in places even your government does not know, and you cannot find an army of creatures my size?”

The commander snapped the razor-edged whip again, drawing another vivid red line across his victim’s chest.  “I have no pity for creatures like you,” he said, his tone devoid of emotion.  “You are a liar, and a murderer, and a monstrosity.  You will tell me where your army is hidden, or your suffering will continue.”

Khazuman smirked once again.  “You are a human being, Commander.  You cannot kill me.”

“No,” Daiphus replied, raising the whip again.  “But I can make you wish that I could.”

 

The lashings came on quickly and relentlessly, tracing crisscrossing lines of fire across Khazuman’s skin.  At first, the creature met each blow with a self-assured chuckle, but soon his attention became focused on remaining still so as to deprive the commander of the satisfaction of seeing him flinch.  Again and again the torturer whipped him, repeating his question of the location of Khazuman’s army.  But the red-eyed creature gave no response, and finally, Daiphus lowered his whip and stepped back.  He pressed another button in the device’s handle, and the razor-edged cord retracted, flicking blood over the commander’s clothing as it slid back into the rod.

“Is that all, Commander?” Khazuman asked, raising his eyebrows in feigned surprise.  He had a cut across one cheekbone from when the end of the whip had flown unexpectedly high.

“No,” the man answered, returning the device to his belt.  “We are just getting started.”

The next instrument the commander brought forth was a long, narrow steel rod, shaped like a cooking skewer but with a tip as thin and sharp as a needle’s point.  The man began pricking his prisoner rapidly and repeatedly, focusing on the most sensitive areas of Khazuman’s body.  His palms, his lips, the front of his neck, the delicate skin just inside the corners of his eyes… the jabs were not deep, and few drew any blood, but it was the quickness and unpredictability with which they were dealt that finally began to wear at the prisoner’s smug façade.  Khazuman found himself cringing against the rapid volley of stings, never sure of where the next tiny point of fire would flare.  The commander was too quick with his movements, too deft, too precise.  His cold blue eyes never left Khazuman’s as he administered his barrage of pricks.

“Where is your army located?” Daiphus asked.  The pain hit Khazuman’s left arm, his navel, the skin just beneath his ear.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” the creature replied.  The pricks came again, to his nostrils, his collarbone, the space between his eyes.  That last jab was harder than the others, and Khazuman felt warm blood begin to trickle down the bridge of his nose.  The worst part, perhaps, was the fact that he could do nothing to defend himself - with his arms chained above his head, his body presented a large and totally unprotected target for the commander’s assault.

“I had hoped that we could finish this easily,” Commander Daiphus said, taking a step back.  “But then again, perhaps I did not.”  He lunged forward and stabbed the rod through Khazuman’s pants into his thigh, and the scarlet-eyed creature gasped in surprise and pain.  He gritted his teeth and groaned as the commander twisted the device in a circle, driving its sharp point deeper and deeper into his victim’s flesh.  Finally, Daiphus removed the rod with a jerk and stepped back again.  Blood began to soak the black fabric against Khazuman’s leg.

“Stubbornness does not become you,” the commander said, returning the steel rod to his belt while Khazuman sucked in several ragged, heaving breaths.  The man advanced towards the prisoner again, adjusting his black gloves he did so, and swung a sudden, vicious punch at Khazuman’s face.  The creature’s head snapped sharply back, the chains above him rattling as he reeled from the force of the blow.  The commander struck him again and again, on the face and on the torso, where the punches landed cruelly on his already-ravaged flesh and reopened cuts that had just begun to seal.  Khazuman groaned and gasped, no longer able to restrain himself, and Commander Daiphus hit him in the face, once, twice, thrice.  The man landed one more savage punch on Khazuman’s bloodied stomach and then reached into his pocket, pulling forth a small packet of tiny, white crystals.  Daiphus opened the packet and emptied it into his palm, and then, his face twisted into a mask of bitter hatred, flung the contents against Khazuman’s torn body.

Khazuman inhaled sharply through gritted teeth as the crystals touched his wounds, filling each of the bleeding gashes with stinging fire.  “And what devilish concoction might this be?” he hissed.

“It is salt,” Commander Daiphus replied.  He watched as Khazuman squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his fists, twisting in his shackles and groaning against the pain.  When Khazuman finally opened his eyes again, the commander had taken a few steps back.  In his hand was yet another implement of torture.  This one looked somewhat like a tuning fork, with a black handle and a pair of metal prongs spaced several inches apart.  The commander raised the device and pressed a button on the side of the handle.  The prongs began to glow.

“This will be the last time that I ask this,” Commander Daiphus said, advancing slowly towards his prisoner.  “Where is your army located?”

Despite the agony wracking his body, despite the cuts in his lips from where the commander’s punches had split them open, Khazuman smiled in reply.  “I am glad to see that you are giving up, Commander,” he said.  “Stubbornness does not become you either.”

Daiphus fixed the prisoner with a frigid glare.  “I am not giving up.”  With that, the commander pressed the glowing prongs to Khazuman’s arm, and the red-eyed creature screamed in agony.  The searing metal scorched his pale skin, leaving it fiery red and covered with blisters.  The room filled with the sickening stench of burning flesh.  Yet as soon as Commander Daiphus pulled the device away, Khazuman laughed.  The commander burned him on the other arm and then on the stomach, but amidst his anguished shrieks, the prisoner continued to chuckle with amusement.

“How kind of you to cauterize my wounds, Commander,” Khazuman said, coughing up blood and grinning with reddened lips.  Commander Daiphus ignored him, focusing his eyes instead upon his work.  Khazuman knew that, somehow, the austere man had become unsettled by his prisoner’s continued bravado, and he reveled in the opportunity to get under his torturer’s skin.

“You would have been so proud of darling Angelica, Commander,” the creature purred.  “She fought valiantly to the end, as I am sure you trained her to do.”  Khazuman’s grin twisted wickedly, blood trickling down his chin, and his tone filled with devilish mockery.  “She was repaid in full for her efforts, rest assured.  You should have heard her screams of agony.  Quite pitiful, in fact.”  Commander Daiphus’ jaw tightened, and the burning strikes fell faster, left arm, right arm, stomach, neck, chest.  Khazuman chuckled and continued his taunting amidst grimaces of pain.  “How hard it must be for you, knowing that she suffered so in her final moments, and that you refused to send in reinforcements to aid her mission.  What justification did you give, I wonder?  That it was too late?  That there was no hope left for her?”  Faster and faster, chest, neck, shoulders, neck again.  “And, yet, no matter how you may try to convince yourself, you know that you abandoned her to die.”

The glowing prongs flew towards Khazuman’s face and stopped inches from his scarlet eyes, so close that the creature could feel the heat radiating from their tips.  Commander Daiphus stood with his knuckles white as he clenched the instrument’s handle, his face contorted with rage and grief, ready to drive the device home.  Sweat beaded upon his brow, and his entire frame shook with exertion.  But he did not move.  Khazuman stood there without flinching, smirking as he stared down into his tormentor’s wide blue eyes.

“I am surprised, Commander,” the creature finally said.  “To this point, you have done me no lasting damage.  No broken bones, no severed fingers… and now you have not even the strength to put out my eyes?  And here I had thought you famous for your fortitude.  What a shame.  It would seem that you have grown soft.”

The commander took a step back and lowered his arm.  The glowing instrument fell from his hand, hissing as its heated prongs struck the blood upon the floor.  “I am not like you,” Daiphus whispered, stepping backwards, continuing his slow retreat.  He passed over the drain in the middle of the room, where Khazuman’s blood freshened the stains of those who had suffered there before him.  “I am not cruel.”  The commander suddenly turned and strode quickly towards the exit.

“Indeed,” Khazuman mocked, looking down at his own mangled body.  “I myself would consider you a saint.”

Commander Daiphus froze before the door as it slid aside to let him pass.  He looked over his shoulder, his face an expressionless mask.  “The next questioner will be with you in a moment,” he said.  “I hope, for both your sakes, that you will be more cooperative with him.”  Daiphus turned around and exited the chamber.  The door slid closed behind him, and Khazuman, once again, was left alone.

 

 

“He’s all yours.”

Keidian stood bolt upright from his chair, hands pressed against the table, blue eyes wide as he watched Commander Daiphus enter the room.  The commander’s face was haggard and drawn, and his appearance shocked Keidian - never before had he seen the man so weary.  Diaphus had removed his suit and gloves and now wore only a plain white shirt above his navy pants.  Keidian stared searchingly into the commander’s eyes as the man paced slowly into the room and dropped his hands upon the back of a chair, leaning heavily on it for support.  The tall creature’s gaze traveled slowly over Daiphus’ body, across his heaving chest and down his arms to the fingers that trembled as they gripped the chair’s metal back.  And there, Keidian saw it.  A tiny spot of blood, deep crimson against the snowy white cuff of the commander’s sleeve.  It was a truly infinitesimal speck, nearly invisible to human eyes.  But Keidian was no human.

“What did you do to him?” the creature whispered, his rich blue eyes wide with horror.

Commander Daiphus raised his head, his face hardening as he regained his composure.  “I did that which was necessary,” he answered.  Daiphus let go of the chair and straightened, advancing slowly around the table towards Keidian.  “And if you do not wish your brother’s suffering to be in vain, I suggest that you complete your assignment and obtain the information we need.”

Keidian stared down into the commander’s eyes, fighting to keep his emotions from showing on his face.  “I will perform as directed,” he finally replied, his tone curt.

“You had better.”  Daiphus’ pale blue eyes met Keidian’s deep-hued ones, and though the creature was nearly a foot taller than the human commander, Keidian found himself frozen within the man’s icy gaze.  “And you know what is to be done if he does not comply.”

Keidian swallowed hard, his lips quivering.  “You do not know what you are asking me to do,” he whispered.

Daiphus’ voice was as frigid as his stare.  “Do I not?”

 

 

Khazuman opened his eyes at the sound of approaching footsteps from the corridor outside the chamber.  His entire body felt as if it were on fire - the wound in his thigh was particularly painful, throbbing acutely in time with his pulse.  But most of the cuts had stopped bleeding, and Khazuman knew that none of the damage would be permanent.  It was one of the extraordinary powers of his race - the ability to heal from seemingly horrible wounds.  The red-haired agent would be disappointed, for sure. No matter how brutal and painful his beating had been, Khazuman would walk away from the experience unscarred.

The chamber door opened to reveal a tall male figure dressed in a long-sleeved, dark green tunic and ebony pants, with leather boots that closely resembled the ones Khazuman had worn earlier.  The figure’s hair was a soft shade of brown, short and tousled in contrast to Khazuman’s sleek black locks.  His deep blue eyes were wide with shock as he advanced slowly into the room.

“Khazuman.”  Nothing, not his many long years as a Malinarian warrior nor the bitterness of Commander Daiphus’ words to him moments before, could have prepared Keidian for the sight of his brother’s tortured body.  Khazuman’s chest and stomach were in bloodied shreds, his arms and neck covered in horrid burns.  His face was bleeding from several places, including a wicked gash along one cheekbone and what looked to be a deep puncture wound between his eyes.  His raven hair was matted to his neck, and he seemed to be leaning heavily on his right leg.  The shackles around his wrists forced him to keep his arms above his head and the wounds upon his torso stretched wide.

Khazuman raised his head gingerly as Keidian approached.  Despite his own grisly appearance, the red-eyed creature chuckled.  “I had forgotten how much human weapons could hurt,” he said dryly.

“Khazuman,” Keidian repeated.  More than anything, he wanted to run to his younger brother, to tear off the shackles that held him so cruelly and to bind his wounds, protecting him from any further harm.  But he could not.  Keidian was on a mission to extract information, and he knew well the consequences of failure.

“So,” Khazuman said as Keidian came to a stop a few feet away.  “You are working for the Agency now, are you?  How intriguing.  I would never have thought they would trust a beast like one of us.”

“I am not working for them,” Keidian replied.  “I am merely their ally.”  He gazed into his brother’s scarlet eyes, struggling to keep the pain from showing on his face.

“Ah.  I see.  You are the questioner who is to succeed where Daiphus failed,” Khazuman said with a grin.  “Pray tell what lovely toys you have brought to loosen my tongue.”

Keidian put a hand to his belt and pulled forth a small dagger.  “They allowed me only this.”  At the sight of the blade, Khazuman’s smirk slipped into a grimace, and something else - fear? - flickered behind his confident façade.  The dagger itself was quite unimpressive, barely more than five inches long.  Its blade was shaped like a diamond, with the far end narrowed and greatly elongated to create a two-edged point.  But it was the weapon’s realm of origin that elicited Khazuman’s shudder.  The dagger was from Malinaria, the brothers’ home domain.  And unlike human implements, which could do him little lasting damage, the Malinarian weapon could leave him horribly scarred.  And worse.

Keidian came closer to his brother, holding the dagger gingerly before him.  “Please, Khazuman,” he begged.  “It does not have to be this way.  Tell me where your army is.  You will not have to suffer more pain.”

Khazuman gave a low chuckle.  “You’re going to have to try harder than that, brother.

Keidian’s deep blue eyes were full of anguish.  “I do not want to do this,” he said softly.  “But I do not have a choice.”  With that, he pressed the dagger’s tip to Khazuman’s left wrist and began to draw it slowly down his arm.  Khazuman hissed and writhed in the shackles, his bloody face contorted in agony.  The dagger burned with a horrid, freezing fire, sending explosions of pain roiling through his entire body.  But Khazuman opened his eyes once Keidian pulled away, fixing his older brother with a glare of bitter hatred, and did not speak.

“Please, brother,” Keidian begged.  When Khazuman’s expression did not change, Keidian put the dagger to his right wrist and began to make another wicked gash.  As the savage blade slid slowly through Khazuman’s flesh, overwhelming him with unbearable agony, the red-eyed creature finally lost control and left forth a horrifying scream.  The sound seemed to go on forever, formless, ear-splitting, animalistic, infused with all of the brutality the prisoner had suffered during his interrogation.  Keidian’s eyes filled with tears as the anguished shriek gripped his heart.  He tightened his hold on the dagger, never slowing as he pulled it down Khazuman’s arm.  But it was the nature of the weapon itself, the intimacy brought on by the blade’s shortness and the proximity it necessitated between Keidian and his victim, that finally broke the blue-eyed creature’s nerve.  With a gasp of revulsion, Keidian tore the dagger away from Khazuman’s body.  His younger brother collapsed against the shackles, crying out again as the cruel chains yanked his wounded arms.  He hung there for a moment, shaking, his breath coming in shallow gasps.  But then, incredibly, Khazuman planted his feet on the floor beneath him and straightened, raising his head to meet Keidian’s eyes.

“I will never tell you,” the prisoner whispered.

“Why?” Keidian cried, his voice desperate.  “Do you not see?  They do not need you to tell them!  They will scour the Earth until they find the army - the only thing your words will do is help them locate it more quickly.  But in the end, it will be the same.  You suffer needlessly!”

“Really?” Khazuman asked.  “They do not need me?  A bold statement indeed - perhaps one you were not intended to divulge.”  The creature grinned.  “And it would seem, from what you say, that I am dispensable.  Therefore…”  Khazuman’s smile twisted wickedly as realization flashed within his eyes.  “Therefore, if I do not cooperate, you have been ordered to dispose of me.”

“What?  No!” Keidian gasped, taking a step back as his eyes widened with horror.

“You have always been a terrible liar, brother.”

“Please, Khazuman,” Keidian pleaded, advancing again so that his face nearly touched that of his brother.  “They have promised to let me bring you back to Malinaria if you comply with their demands.  You can come home, and you can be healed.”  Keidian gazed sadly into the scarlet of Khazuman’s irises.  “From everything.”

Khazuman raised one eyebrow.  “’Healed’?” he echoed.  “What an interesting choice of words.  But I beg to differ.”  Suddenly, the red-eyed creature spat in Keidian’s face, his saliva tinged crimson with blood.  Keidian flinched and backed away reflexively, bringing his arm up to wipe the repulsive fluid from his lips.  But as he did so, he looked down and saw, to his horror, that the sleeve to which he touched his mouth was also soaked with red.

Khazuman grinned wickedly at Keidian’s appalled expression.  “Drinking blood now, are we, brother?” he mocked.  “Do you wish to become like me?  To join the army you so desperately desire to locate?”

Keidian tore his arm away from his mouth and spat violently on the floor.  “This is madness!” he exclaimed.  “Why have you done this to yourself?  What possessed you to become as you now are, to attack a world of innocent beings who have done you no wrong?”

Khazuman snorted.  “The humans?  They are hardly innocent,” he replied.  “But you know the answer to your own question.  It is what drives all who are like me, is it not?  Ego, blind ambition, an insatiable lust for power…”  Khazuman’s smirk matched the dripping sarcasm in his voice.

“What drives them all?” Keidian repeated.  “Then you know that each one falls to those same desires.”

            “Not this time.”

            “Enough of this!” Keidian shouted, raising the dagger again and pointing it at Khazuman’s face.  “This is a diversion, and it is folly.  Tell me where your army is!”

            “I don’t think I want to,” Khazuman replied.  “I would much rather learn where you are going to stick me next.”

            In response, Keidian flicked his wrist, making a tiny cut just below Khazuman’s left eyebrow.  The wound was not deep, but it bled profusely, and Khazuman blinked and grimaced as the warm fluid dribbled into his eye and obscured his vision.  Crimson tears began to trickle down his cheek, as if the red of his iris were being washed away with the pain.  Staring at his younger brother’s face, Keidian wished such a thing were possible.  Khazuman’s eyes had been blue once, an even deeper and richer hue than Keidian’s own.  Keidian remembered the jealousy that used to twist within his heart whenever Khazuman was praised for their color, whenever the females of their race would fawn over the handsome younger brother and leave Keidian, half-forgotten, alone.  It was a foolish thing to think about, Keidian knew; and yet, gazing upon the tortured, fiendish creature his brother had become, he could not help but wish for those times to return.

            Keidian swallowed hard as he brought the dagger before Khazuman’s face again.  It tortured him to continue his brother’s suffering, but he knew that the sooner he could get Khazuman to take him seriously, the sooner the torment would end.  Keidian clenched his jaw, his blue eyes hardening.  “No more games, Khazuman,” he said.  “Tell me where your army is.”

            “No more games?” Khazuman replied.  “But the fun is just getting started, brother.”

            “Enough!” Keidian roared.  In desperation, he pressed the dagger to the side of Khazuman’s neck.  “Cease this foolishness!  Give up these destructive delusions, and come home.  You belong in Malinaria!”

            Khazuman’s face became suddenly serious. His scarlet eyes glowed eerily, and his voice fell to a hoarse, fiendish whisper.  “I belong… in Hell,” he hissed.  And suddenly, before Keidian could react, Khazuman bared his teeth and lunged for his brother’s face.

            “No!” Keidian screamed.  The chamber door burst open, and a dozen guards flooded into the room, weapons at the ready.  But the damage was already done.  For Khazuman had twisted his head as he jerked towards Keidian, causing the dagger Keidian had been holding to make a long, wicked gash across the side of his brother’s neck.  The wound had severed a major artery and was bleeding freely, compounding the massive blood loss the creature had already sustained throughout his ordeal.  Keidian had ripped the shackles around Khazuman’s wrists from the ceiling and now knelt on the bloodied floor, cradling his younger brother’s head in his arms with one hand pressing the sleeve of his tunic against the gash in Khazuman’s neck.  Tears welled within his deep blue eyes as he gazed upon his brother’s battered face.

            “Khazuman, you fool,” Keidian whispered, his voice breaking.

            Khazuman laughed, though the sound quickly degenerated into a choking, watery cough.  “You are quite gullible, brother,” he said.  “Did you honestly believe I was going to bite you?”

            “No - but I… I… ”  Keidian blinked and shook his head, swallowing as he forced back his tears.  “Just hold on, Khazuman.”

            “It’s too late,” Khazuman whispered, his voice becoming softer as he faded in and out of consciousness.  “You picked the losing side, brothe- …”

            “Stay awake, Khazuman!” Keidian exclaimed in desperation.  “Stay awake!”

            “It’s too late…”  Suddenly, Khazuman’s eyes flew open, his expression twisting into one of absolute terror.  His breathing came in deep, heaving rasps as he beheld some vision his brother could not see.  “Keidi - Keidian…” the scarlet-eyed creature gasped.  Suddenly, Khazuman’s body went limp, and his breathing became shallow as he lost consciousness.

            “No!” Keidian shouted.  “Stay with me, Khazuman!”  He pressed his sleeve harder against his brother’s neck, trying to stem the streaming crimson flood.  Suddenly, the sound of rapidly-approaching footsteps filled the room.  Keidian looked up to see Commander Daiphus standing before him, his face devoid of expression as he stared at the creature bleeding out in Keidian’s arms.

            “Please!” Keidian begged.  “There is still time!  Send for a medical team!”

            Daiphus said nothing in reply, but continued to stare at Khazuman’s mangled form.  Suddenly, his face still emotionless, the commander raised his foot and kicked the creature’s chin cruelly upward, batting aside Keidian’s hand as he did so.  Khazuman’s body shuddered, and blood began to spurt from his neck even more violently as the wound was stretched open wide.

            “What are you doing!?!”  Keidian shrieked.  He smacked the commander’s foot away and pressed his hand to Khazuman’s neck once again.  But it was too late.  Keidian knelt there, powerless, as his brother’s pulse slowed and then stopped.  A final gasp escaped the creature’s bloodied lips, and the light faded from his vacant, scarlet eyes.  Khazuman was gone.

            No,” Keidian whispered in denial.  “Khazuman… please… wake up…. Khazuman…” Gently, Keidian stroked his brother’s face, searching in vain for some sign of life.  But there was no response.  Slowly, the blue-eyed creature raised his head, tears now streaming freely down his cheeks.  He stared at Commander Daiphus.  “Why did you do that?” Keidian whispered.  His voice was small and broken.

            Daiphus’ face remained frigid and composed.  “It was too late.  There was no hope left for him,” he said curtly.  The commander turned on his heel and strode slowly towards the chamber door, passing between the guards who stood motionless to either side.  “Put the body down the incinerator chute,” he ordered without looking back.

            Keidian’s gaze had returned to his brother’s lifeless face, but his head shot up again at Daiphus’ words, his expression one of incredulous horror.  For a moment, he could find no words to respond.  “You… you monster,” Keidian finally choked.  “How can you be so cruel?”

            At the final word, Commander Daiphus froze.  He stood motionless for a moment, then half-turned towards Keidian.  The commander’s eyes were cold, but his lips trembled, a tiny outward sign of some internal battle.  “Very well,” he finally said.  “You may bury him on the perimeter of the compound.  That is all I will allow.”

            “Please,” Keidian begged, his eyes wide and desperate.  “Let me take him back to Malinaria.  Let our parents…” Keidian took in a deep, shaking breath before continuing, his voice reduced to a tearful whisper.  “Let our parents say goodbye.”

            Commander Daiphus swallowed hard, steeling himself against the grief in Keidian’s voice.  “The Blood Drinker army is still at large, and we need every resource we have working to locate it,” he stated.  “We can afford no delays.  You will bury your brother on the edge of the compound, and that is final.”  The commander turned and resumed his march towards the door, though he blinked hard when his back was turned and Keidian could not see his face.  His final words were a whisper, but one that the blue-eyed creature heard clearly.  “Be grateful that there was anything left to bury.”

            The other agents filed out behind Commander Daiphus, and the door slid closed behind them, leaving Keidian alone in the room with the body of his brother.  Gently, Keidian lifted his hand and closed Khazuman’s eyes.  With that action came a sense of finality; Khazuman, the brother who had been his best friend since they were children, the brother who had fought beside him countless times - the brother he had come so far to rescue - was dead.  Keidian squeezed his eyes shut, his face contorted with grief.  Slowly, he leaned down until his forehead pressed against Khazuman’s own.  Keidian had known death before.  He had fought in many battles and witnessed the falls of many warriors, some of whom were among his closest friends.  But none of those losses could compare to the paralyzing anguish he now felt.  Nothing had ever hurt so much.

            Keidian knew that his brother had been wrong.  He knew that Khazuman’s actions had been wicked, and that the remainder of the Blood Drinker army had to be found and stopped.  He knew that it was his duty to do so.  But in that moment, cradling the beaten, lifeless body of his younger brother, all Keidian could think of was the playful light that used to shine within Khazuman’s cerulean eyes, and the laughter that once rang through the crisp, pure air as the brothers chased each other through the forests of Malinaria.  A tiny, anguished noise escaped Keidian’s lips.  Khazuman was gone, and Keidian was powerless to save him.  There was nothing he could do to bring him back.

Alone and sobbing, the blue-eyed creature leaned over his brother’s bloodied face, washing away the scarlet with his tears.

© 2016 AliciaB


Author's Note

AliciaB
Well... I must first say, if you made it all the way through this story and actually paid attention to it - thank you so much for doing so! I know it was long, and I greatly appreciate your taking the time to read it. And if you're willing to stick around a little longer, I would love some honest, in-depth reviews on it. This story was an exercise in character development for me. So... how was the character development? As in, how well did I portray the various characters' attributes, since there wasn't all that much time for them to "grow" during such a short piece? How were the interactions and the dialogue? With whom did your sympathies lie? And finally... who do you think was actually being "tortured" in this story? (There's a high school literature analysis essay question for you! XD) No right or wrong answer - I'd just like to hear your thoughts. If you do take the time to write an at least modestly thorough review, I will gladly do the same for a longer work of yours. Just leave me the title and/or link below or send me a message with it, and I will get to it as soon as I can. Once again, thank you very much!

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Featured Review

I had no trouble making it all the way through your story, darlin'. I found it gripping, and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. I loved the names you chose because they are different, and the country the beasts were from. I think the character development is phenomenal. My sympathies are with the older brother. To me, he is the one who was actually being tortured to have to do what he did to his younger brother. He knew he had to be destroyed and what he was, but it did not stop his love for him. This is a well written piece. You are an outstanding writer. I enjoyed it to the hilt. Write on, darlin'! :)

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

AliciaB

7 Years Ago

Thank you very, very much!
SJ Mullins

7 Years Ago

You are very, very welcome. :)



Reviews

I had no trouble making it all the way through your story, darlin'. I found it gripping, and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. I loved the names you chose because they are different, and the country the beasts were from. I think the character development is phenomenal. My sympathies are with the older brother. To me, he is the one who was actually being tortured to have to do what he did to his younger brother. He knew he had to be destroyed and what he was, but it did not stop his love for him. This is a well written piece. You are an outstanding writer. I enjoyed it to the hilt. Write on, darlin'! :)

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

AliciaB

7 Years Ago

Thank you very, very much!
SJ Mullins

7 Years Ago

You are very, very welcome. :)
Okay.
I've been meaning to read this for a while. I postponed it, but eventually I got down to it. I read it all in one go, as it is proper when reading a short story.

Impressions:
This is the best thing you wrote. Not because it transcends all that you have posted here prior to this, but because of the difficulty of creating it. This is a much bigger challange then a poem could ever be. In my opinion. And it is amazing. I've enjoyed reading this. This was not a chore. You continously apologize for the length of this, but it was not a punishment. I did not want it to end.

Things that were great:

1. The relationship between the Focal Character and his brother, captive and world.
Khazuman is a tanatlizingly addictive character. He shows grit, defiance and downright insanity. Yet he does it in a way that not only provoke the reader, but it provokes his enviroment. It 'triggers' them. Be it the solemn and cold Commander having his buttons pushed, the young redhead soldier who can't help but be attracted to him, and his brother who aches for his soul.

Is it odd that we felt sexual tension between the female character and the MC? Perhaps. But the fact that it was there without you blatantly slamming it in our face is another sign of your excellent writing.

2. The Background
You really created something spectacular here. The World is captivating, and it is close enough to our own world to not send us reeling away. There's a United States. There's a Guardian Angel Agency. And there's this fictional land occupied by something -other- then humans. Who apperently are all handsome, super powerful and very, very dangerous.

3. Your writing.
Staggeringly powerful. Your vocabulary absolutly exploded here. It detonated into a masterpiece in terms of analogies and expressions. Your writing was immensly vivid and captivating.


Things I want to see improved;

1. The paragraph in which Khazuman was placed in the questioning cell was simply too long. I had to read it twice, too much was happening at once. Yet all of them were quite simple actions. He was led to a place. Chained. Sat down. Brought up. Chained. I mean, it's really a blunder to me still. Too many short, basic actions follow one another. Never blame the reader dear Alicia, I think that a few spacebars could really make it easier to digest.

2. Some of the torture methods
The one with the needle was just... Weird. Well it wasn't quite a needle. But a torture method to stab in odd places without drawing blood? The lips? The soft skin at the corner of the eyes? Under the ears..? It's far too delicate and percise to properly convey the brutality of torture. It appears as though you wanted to be original and unique, which you clearly were! but, I was more focused on trying to understand this elaborate method of weird torture to experience the suffering.

3. The punching by the Commander

''The man advanced towards the prisoner again, adjusting his black gloves he did so, and swung a sudden, vicious punch at Khazuman’s face. The creature’s head snapped sharply back, the chains above him rattling as he reeled from the force of the blow. ''

This is a great example on how to do it properly. I -feel- the punch. It is given the proper pedestal, it sends me reeling along with Khazuman.

But at some points, be it the stabbing strikes, some of the punching or the dagger strikes you go something along the lines of ' Left, right, belly, shoulder, lips, face' Now that is a good and proper way to describe a fight. A trading of blows. But in the case of one man torturing another I think it serves better to amplify the brutality by slowing the pace down.


I hope I was helpful.

This is without a doubt your best. (So far.)
I really want you to continue this. I know it is an exercise, but you really struck something good.
Keep up the amazing work Alicia.


Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

AliciaB

7 Years Ago

Wow! Thank you so, so much for such an incredibly detailed review. I truly appreciate it!
.. read more
This was a pretty long story but I managed to go through it in one go. That was because it was beautifully written and kept me interested right till the end.
The way you have described the characters is awesome. You hardly left anything to the imagination.
Is Khazuman the hero or the villain? It depends on whose side you are. What may be a rebel and terrorist for you might be a freedom fighter and only hope for me.
The way he stood for his principles and beliefs and died for them is truly commendable.
His resistance and pain was torture for his elder brother.
I just wonder how you could dream up all these weapons of torture?
All in all, a wonderful story. You are very talented indeed.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

AliciaB

7 Years Ago

Thank you so, so much! I greatly appreciate your taking the time to read it and to give such a grea.. read more
Hi There Alicia

It took me a while with a few interruptions but I managed to get through your story. Not that it was hard I found it gripping, phenomenally well written and ever so creative. Your word choice was professional and even though the subject matter was rather grim you kept me captivated. I am interested to read what is going to happen next. You are a very very talented writer. Well done! I am highly impressed my friend.

Blessings

El

Posible edits:
interrogation as a last-resort means of extracting (not sure if you need means)
his body prevented a large and totally unprotected target for the commander’s assault. (prevented should it be provided)
The will scour the Earth until they find the army (The should maybe be They)

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

AliciaB

7 Years Ago

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this! And thanks for the edits - having read throug.. read more
Elmarie

7 Years Ago

My absolute pleasure Alicia you have been a very awesome friend to me by reviewing my work. I also .. read more

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Added on July 3, 2016
Last Updated on July 6, 2016

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AliciaB
AliciaB

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I love running, drawing, reading, and writing (obviously). I am an absolute nerd and a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. I am Roman Catholic, I have three younger sisters, and I am reall.. more..

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Battle Song Battle Song

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