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Intro chapter is here for your pleasure…
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I’ve been brought to the pit. He’s to fight for me again. When the next piece of flesh thrown down there is dead, he’ll have me. He’s seen me. Smelled me. Tasted me. Only one thing remains.
My sanity fled weeks ago. I pass the time with nothing other than the number of moments I’m forced to stand by this pit.
Screams echo in the dark cavern and reverberate deep in my chest. I’m forced to listen. Forced to stay. Forced to endure this endless torment.
Me, standing by this pit.
Me, listening to the screams.
This is how I measure time.
In the days before these brutal fights, he paces the confines of our cell, growling promises of what he’ll visit on me. Of course, he can’t touch me. Not yet. Such privileges must be earned, like the final violation he seeks.
In the dankness of that pit, he will put another life to a brutal end. Your life.
Once each week—I think it’s a week? Sometimes the space between then and now feels spread out along an endless eternity. Where was I? Oh, right. They bring us here. Him and me. Lowering him down to fight while forcing me to listen. And You. They bring you. He needs someone to kill.
You arrive to meet your opponent. Those gathered hush with your arrival. The clanking of your chains drags my attention from the dankness of the pit to the rough walls of stone, and the one source of light in the room.
In the space between light and darkness, shadows dance over the hardened planes of your rough cut muscle. Bipedal, you’re humanoid, but your face is buried in the dark. Your strength is undeniable, but it won’t be enough. And if it is, I will begin this dance from the beginning. Your victories bringing the sight, smell, taste, and touch of me to your depredations. Or worse…that is, if you win.
You’re a mystery. In this foul place, they anticipate your fear-stench, hunger for it even. They will lap up your terror, devour it, and revel in the power it brings them.
Even if you win, one day you will turn from victor to loser. It’s inevitable.
I wonder if you wouldn’t prefer the quicker death? I would join you on that journey, except they keep their precious prize alive with a religious devotion.
And there you are, magnificent and proud, but no more than a passing glimpse before the Deep Dark swallows you with one step from darkness, to light, and back into shadow.
Tall. Powerful. A ferocity coils within you. Even I can sense that. And while I have my own questions, these monsters have but one.
Will he die? Will he win? Will we feast upon his fear?
And I shudder, wondering the same. My gaze locks on the glowing amber of your eyes. Not human. You are another monster.
The shaking in my limbs intensifies making the chains dangling from my shackles rattle in the hushed silence. The sound is shrill in my ears and accelerates my fear.
I don’t mean to wish you harm, but the thought does cross my mind. A moment’s glimpse reveals your broad shoulders before they block the light.
Why couldn’t you be frail and weak? It would be easier on you. Your features bring forth images of lethal power, dominant strength, feral lust, and imminent death.
Your alien body vibrates the very air, filling it with fury and rage. Mine answers, a weak response, fluttering outward before dissipating in the rankness of the air. I barely exist. You see, I know defeat.
Whether you win down there or not, you will soon know it too.
Fear spikes through me, but I force myself to calm, unwilling to feed our captors’ hunger more than I already have. I do not belong to you. Not yet. That privilege must be earned.
The beast down there? He’s not sane. This place does that to a person. It breaks apart a mind, feeding fears until it cracks. I’m barely sane, and that thing in the pit? He’s killed four others, and knows what he earns with this fifth, and final victory. Your death.
My dear warrior, I fear you, but I fear him more.
Kill him. Kill him, for me.
I ask that you live.
We’ll begin another game, and I’ll dance around the cracks in my mind. This place is hell. There is no escape, but I’d rather face hell with you than with him.
The Deep Dark closes around the gathering, shrouding us in nothingness. For me, I accept the lack of light. I’ve long since abandoned hope. I embrace my fate, or at least what my mind whispers into the deepening cracks in my sanity.
It begins now.
You’re nothing but a twisting bulk of muscle, breathing hard as our captors maneuver you over the pit. Beneath your feet He waits to rip and rend. None of his bouts last more than a few of my strangled breaths. Each brings him one step closer to his prize, one I will not survive. His rut will be my ruin.
The platform sways beneath your feet, boards creaking and groaning with your weight. Your chains clang, and your breath rattles the air. Long, ponderous pulls of life giving oxygen—a substance you won’t need much longer—are wasted on you.
Will they hand you the key? They don’t always. It’s a tease. They enjoy playing with their toys. Not that you have time to free yourself. That desire for freedom is nourishment they suck into their lungs as you cling to a desperate hope.
But what do I care? I already count you among the dead.
Why waste breath on you at all?
Except, even if you are as bad as him, a win today grants me a reprieve. You earn a glimpse of me, your future prize. I gain something much more valuable.
Four more opportunities to pray another monster will take your place and reset the clock to my ruin.
A guttural laugh signals the beginning of the end. From the rustling, I deduce they’ve given you the key. Now it’s up to you. Unlock your chains or brace for your fall.
Beside me, Ranckor’s breath fills the air. His foul stench rolls over me, making me gag.
“This one is-s-s…s-s-strong,” he hisses into my ear. “Icknor gave him the wrong key. What do you think will happen when he drops-s-s?”
My conditioning keeps my revulsion in check. I’d once been a warrior, if you can believe that. I was not always this pathetic thing.
Ranckor would fuck me if he could, but his body is incompatible with my physiology. They aren’t here for that. Ranckor. Icknor. All of them. They get off on my fight for survival. My fear feeds them. Yours, too. That surge of adrenaline in your body? It is a feast to them. You have no idea how you nourish our captors. But you will learn.
With a slurp of his forked tongue, Ranckor yanks on the chain which releases you into the pit. You drop into dark depths. There you will battle for life, and I will pray for death.
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