40 The Dark Gaze of a Monster*
The definition of Jailhouse for Cordon was certainly different to that of a city such as Toulle. In a city Jailhouse, as many as four hundred individuals could be imprisoned, in Cordon, they would be lucky to fit five people in the single basement cell. Needless to say it was a good thing crime rates were so low in Cordon, else they would have had to share their cell with the boy who had massacred so many only the night before.
The underground room was dark and cold. There were no windows, only torches that lined the walls and what little light travelled down the staircase from the main level. Jane, the little girl who'd awakened the wind element the previous night, didn't hesitate to go down the stairs. Though Arita could tell she was scared of what lay beneath. When Arita's feet hit the stone floor of the basement, she only had to take two steps to get a decent view of the chained boy.
He was kneeling on the stone ground, and while nothing held his lower body in place, the Anthrite Chains wrapped around his upper torso and spiralled up his arms and neck. On his face Arita could see a pure metal mask, the silver of the metal contrasting greatly with his dark hair and pale skin. Both of his wrists were cuffed and in turn chained to opposite sides of the cell. Despite how uncomfortable it looked, the boy seemed content. He was so still, that the only way Arita could tell he was still alive was by his small periodic breaths that made no noise and barely any movement.
It took a moment before anyone said anything, all of them just seemed to be taking in the sight of the boy there. They all seemed to be thinking the same thing. How could something so small and helpless looking cause such slaughter? How could it generate such fear from the populace? Arita had to admit she wasn't sure she wanted to know. But this was what she'd been sent for.
Jane stepped forward, clutching the bars as she too knelt down in an attempt to meet the boy's downcast eyes.
His eyes lifted with a snap at the call of his name, and they locked right onto Jane. Everyone backed away at his gaze. It was so hostile, angry. But Jane just kept watching him.
"It's okay. I'm alright," she said softly.
His eyes seemed to rove over her, checking for injuries, he glimpsed the life lines peaking out of her collar and paused for a moment, then his gaze softened ever so slightly.
"Are...are you okay?"
Is he okay? What kind of question was that?
Rassa simply stared back, the mask preventing him from making any sort of reply. After a moment, his gaze turned to those in the shadows behind Jane. Jane turned to see what he was looking at then stood, pointing at Arita.
"Ah, this is Grandmaster Arita Jekani. She's a Light Magician. She's going to help," Jane said, trying to give him a soft smile.
Rassa's dark eyes met Arita's and despite not knowing anything about the boy, Arita knew exactly what he wanted to tell her.
'You cannot help me. This is what I am'.
His gaze was so expressive. Such that in a way, Arita regretted stepping back when she had first seen it. His eyes had not been hostile towards them, rather, he'd been angry at himself. Frustrated. If he was truly a monster as the entire village seemed to believe, at the very least he was one with a conscience.
"Your Life Lines..." Arita stated, the boy tensed. He hadn't been given a shirt, so they were still visible, "May I see them?"
The boy's gaze looked surprised, like nobody had ever asked before, they'd just taken. Arita felt quite disturbed at that. Life Lines were sacred things, even if they were different, they shouldn't be messed with. The only reason she had not asked Jane was because the child had just awakened. If the stories were to be believed, this boy had had his Life Lines for over 3 years.
It took a moment, but then the boy nodded.
"Open the door," Arita ordered.
"Are you insane?" asked the Baron, "He'll kill you".
"He's chained to two walls and has a mask over his face, I'd like to see him try," Arita snapped back.
The Baron looked bristled to be spoken to in such a manner, but moved forward with the keys and unlocked the door.
Arita rolled her eyes and stepped forward to enter, but not before Jane, who rushed inside and threw her arms around the boy.
"I'm sorry," Jane said softly.
Arita stood in the doorway a moment, and was quite moved to see tears form in the boys eyes. They never fell, but the experienced Magician could tell that he was very sorry to be in this position. That it was not something he had desired.
Arita waited another moment, then walked around the outside of the cell to view the boy's back. Jane, sensing her movement, pulled away and watched Arita with cautious eyes.
Arita never moved forward to touch the black lines that covered Rassa's back. From the boy's reaction he clearly disliked anyone going near them. Instead, Arita stood a distance away and attempted to read them as she had Jane's earlier.
But she could read nothing. The lines were random, clashing with one another and tearing each other apart. There was no distinguishable pattern or symbol, it was just...a mess.
"Have your lines always been so...chaotic?"
The boy looked over his shoulder, his eyes showed confusion.
'You cannot read them?'
It was what he appeared to ask her, and Arita shook her head, "I've never seen anything like it. There are no distinguishable patterns or happenings. I...I don't even know what you are".
"Last night," the Baron piped up, "Last night the Knight that was left alive said that the boy had stated he was a Vampire".
Arita frowned, "I've never heard of it before".
She moved back towards the door, "I think...I need to contact my superiors about this. I'm not sure I can deal with it alone".
"Does he not just need an exorcism?" asked the Baron.
"An exorcism?" Arita scoffed, "He has Life Lines. Those who are possessed don't get Life Lines".
"Then...what do you expect us to do with him?"
Arita looked from the Baron to where Jane still sat beside the chained boy.
She gritted her teeth in thought for a moment, then turned back to the Baron, "I'm taking him back to my Laboratory in Toulle. Hopefully we can find some answers there".
"And if not?" asked the Baron.
"Why do you care? Once he leaves here, he is not longer your problem".
Arita knew that was exactly what the Baron wanted anyway.