Writing prompt #5 – Captive
Ezras paced around the small tower room. He went to the door and tried it, but it remained locked. He kicked the door a few times but it remained stubbornly intact and the only thing he did was bruise his foot.
He resumed his pacing. How long had he been trapped in this tower? A year? Five years? Ten years? He growled, flexing his fingers. Once again he attempted to cast a spell to blast through everything to get to the stairs. The bindings on his wrists and the chain between them glowed and pain shot through his hands and arms. The spell faltered and died.
Ezras looked down. The scars from all of his previous attempts had protected him from serious harm, though there were the usual blisters forming. He shook his hands, listening to the chain clank, and resumed his pacing.
He went to the narrow window, barely more than an arrow slit in the gray stone wall, and prayed to the gods in what little he could see of the sky. He begged them to curse his sister and her line for the cruelties they’d heaped upon him at the death of his father, the rightful king of Praetoria. Ezras was the heir chosen by their father, but Efrosyni had other plans. No sooner was their father entombed with the rest of the sorcerer-kings of his line when she and her Bloodmancer husband wrested control of the grieving kingdom from Ezras.
Ezras was confined in the tower with only the barest of necessities and a handful of books as company. He’d been sealed inside and left to rot while Efrosyni and her husband polluted the land, murdered the common folk to fuel their power, and destroyed the thousand year legacy of peace and prosperity their ancestors had fought to protect.
Ezras started pacing again, noticing for the first time the smoothness of the wood where he’d worn down the floor from his footsteps. His circuit of the room brought him near the door. To his surprise, he heard voices – unfamiliar ones – outside on the stairs.
He stepped back to the center of the room and waited. He heard a key turn in the lock and the scraping of a heavy metal bar. The door swung open and he found himself face to face with a group of men and women in mage robes, but of a design he’d never seen before.
One of them – a woman who appeared to be in the latter years of her life – gasped. “Prince Ezras?” she asked.
“I am,” he said. “Who are you? How long have I been in this accursed tower? What has happened to my demon spawn sister and that inhuman beast she married?”
The woman smiled sadly. “I’m not surprised you don’t recognize me, Your Highness. The last time you saw me I was only a few years older than you. I am High Magus Sung-Hyun, though when you knew me I was just a Journeywoman.”
Ezras narrowed his eyes as he thought. “Yes, I remember you,” he said. “You were the precocious elementalist with the rare talent for combining two opposing elements.”
Sung-Hyun smiled. “Yes, and that ability – which you encouraged me to explore and embrace rather than hide – earned me my place in the Mage Council, where I’ve been for the past ten years.” Her smile faded. “Your Highness, I don’t know how to say this gently, so I will be blunt. Efrosyni sealed you in here with a mixture of time and blood magic. While you may not have recognized the full passage of time, it’s been sixty years since you were deposed.”
Ezras leaned against the door frame. “Sixty…years?” he asked weakly.
“Yes, Your Highness,” Sung-Hyun said. “Efrosyni, her husband, and her entire line were eradicated only five years after your imprisonment, but even at the end no one would tell us where you were. This tower was invisible to us until a few days ago, when the most recent mage storm tore the last of the old palace down.”
Ezras put his shackled hands to his chest. This was becoming more and more disturbing. One of the other mages motioned to a soldier with them. The soldier struck the chains from Ezras’ wrists. “Sung-Hyun, what are mage storms? The old palace? What’s happened?”
“Come back with us to the council hall and I’ll explain,” Sung-Hyun said, holding out her hand.
“High Magus,” one of the younger mages said, a look of contempt for the disheveled prince. “You have better things to do with your time than to talk to a prince from a bloodline we’re better off without.”
“My time is best spent comforting an old friend and helping him adjust to a world that would never have been if his sister hadn’t destroyed the natural balance of things with her madness,” Sung-Hyun snapped. She turned that same, sad smile she’d worn a moment before back on Ezras. “Please, Your Highness.”
Ezras took her hand, though his heart was heavy. He knew he was trading one prison for another. His sister’s chains were broken, but the bonds of the past and his own blood would weigh him down for eternity.