Sunday, 4 March 2012

019 - Answers

Nelya was not quite sure what to expect from this. There would be questions asked, and she would be expected to answer them. This much was clear. But she was certain she could have no answers to give, and if forced no-one would understand her. Her language was rarely taught to outsiders.

When the inquisitor entered, she recoiled from... it. Tall and wrapped in bulky cloth, she was uncertain whether they were male or female. But it was the face that sparked alarm in her. Not a human face, at all, but the face of some kind of wicked spirit or demon. It took a few moments for her to realise it was a mask. She watched them in silence, holding her body tense.

"I would like to have a pleasant talk with you, please."

"There's nothing I can tell you." Nelya said, shrugging slightly.

The inquisitor leaned over her to light a candle. It filled the room with the sweetly savoury smell of rosemary.

"Then we'll just talk about nothing."

She blinked against the smoke getting into her eyes and making them water. The thickness and smell of it made her tired. It had been a long time since she'd slept properly. More than a month. Her head swam, and she closed her eyes against the strange, shifting light in the cell. She didn't like the red it painted over her hands and arms.

There was an argument, raised voices, with her as the subject, and she slammed her hands over her ears to shut it out. She didn't want to hear it again, not ever. Someone asked her a familiar question, and once again she gave her explanation.The last time she'd said it cool and calm, but it was different now. She knew the risks and she didn't want to be sent away again. But no matter how she explained the necessity, no matter how she begged, they made the same decision, every time. As she would, if she had the chance again.

In her head, over and over again, she went into a house at night and did the worst and best thing she'd ever done.

"Separate the person and the act. It's hard, but it can be done." someone said. It sounded like her voice, but that wasn't right.

"Just don't hurt my new friends. They don't know what I did." she called out.

"Tell us about them, just so we don't make a mistake."

She told them everything she knew. It wasn't much, but hopefully it would be enough to protect people who had been kind to her. Kindness should be rewarded.

Then they killed her. Not the body, which was just so much walking meat, but the important bits. They force-fed her certain herbs, and she lay on the floor and retched, as miserable as she'd ever been. Words were said, things were done, and she felt the girl that had been... pull out of her, leave her, everything draining away until all that was left was a body... and a thing inside it. Her head was pounding, her heart beating so fast she thought it may burst.

"I don't feel like a dead thing." she said to the people standing around her. Priest, mother and husband. Except not any more.

"In time you will. You'll forget everything you were." None of them would look at her.

"It doesn't happen that way. I've given it a month, how much longer am I supposed to wait?" But they were gone and she was alone on the road again. Or in Fairfield, watching Jacob taking a shining thing from a dying man.

"Tell me about that." said her husband, his arm around her shoulders "And perhaps you can come home."

Once more, she told everything she knew. And more, there were so many things she wanted to say, but the whole thing was so confused. She didn't feel dead, she didn't feel cold. Perhaps it had all been wrong. She was still the girl that was, and not just a dead thing with memories that didn't belong. Sometimes she thought of never going home, and the lack, the emptiness of it made her wish they'd just killed her.

"I want to go home." She repeated it, over and over again as her head pounded like it had when they stripped away her life, and her stomach churned. She stared at the floor as it shifted again, and became rough, grey stone. The place smelled awful, the wholesome herbal scent now acrid and mixed with the acid smell of vomit. She'd been sick.

She had no idea what she'd said out loud, and all it would take was a clever person to piece her story together and find out everything she'd done. The only thing that was any comfort was that she was sure she'd spoken in her native language the whole time.

The inquisitor watched her through the slits in the mask.

“Interesting reaction.” he said, in a language he shouldn't have known.

Shock made her limbs weak, and she hugged them to herself. She looked up at the inquisitor with dry eyes.

"I am going to kill you for that." she said, but the inquisitor just laughed and left the room.

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