“Scarlet, ye know why I have brought you to me home, do ye not?” the Sorceress said the evening of her capture.
“Nay,” Scarlet replied solemnly. For the second time in her life, she was a prisoner without any chance of escape. This time, instead of her father, another man in her life must come to her aid.
“I have brought you here because you have something I want. Now, ye can give it to me peacefully, or ye can die trying to escape. ‘Tis yer choice and yers alone!”
“Ye do not leave me much of a choice, eh?” Scarlet tried to make light of the subject at hand.
“Do not toy with me, whore! ‘Tis what you are, ye know. Naught but me brother’s whore!” she countered, her words piercing through Scarlet’s ears.
“I will ne’er give you what ye wish! Unless you tell me for what purpose ye have for it!”
“And why should I tell you what me purpose be! ‘Tis for me to know and me alone! Consider yer precious ‘quest’ over, Scarlet!”
“How can it be over? The answers be here, within these walls!”
“Aye, that they are!” Melinda commented. “And I will make you an offer that ye may not wish to refuse!”
“What be this offer?” Scarlet challenged, defiantly.
“If you give me yer amulet, I will gladly give you the scrolls. That is what you wish for, is it not?” the Sorceress glared at her.
“I will not give you me amulet! ‘Tis an heirloom that has been in me family for generations!” Scarlet shouted back.
“Ye will be sorry you have made the wrong choice!” Melinda spat.
“ Ye cannot hurt me!” Scarlet challenged.
“I can make ye suffer more than you have ever suffered before!”
“I have been put through more pain than anyone could ever wish upon someone else!”
“Ye have lost loved ones, aye, but the pain you will suffer now will overpower that pain tenfold!”
Scarlet could challenge the Sorceress no longer. Instead of using her mouth as her defense, this time she needed to use her head. She could not rely on Algernon to save her-she did not even know if he knew she was gone. At that moment, he was also dead to her. For the fourth time in her life, she was completely on her own.
“I see you favor silence over argument, Scarlet. ‘Twould be a pity, for I would love to hear yer screams!” Melinda mused.
“You will hear naught from me, least of all me screams!”
“Suit yerself! But I will still get yer precious heirloom and you will still be dead!”
Melinda laughed loudly and pivoted around on her heels. Scarlet was left down in the dungeons, until someone would come to her rescue, or until Melinda decided to kill her. And yet, the pain she felt in her heart ran deeper than any scar Melinda could cut. Her Algernon was lost to her and she barely knew if he knew if she was still alive.
* * * *
“Byron, please!” Britney begged from behind the bars of her cell that evening.
“I will not let you go, if that be what ye ask of me!” Byron said sternly.
“Nay, I do not wish to be let free!”
“What? Whyever would ye not want to be free?!” Byron asked, quite confused.
“Even if I be let free, I would still be dead,” Britney concluded.
“Whatever do you mean by these words?”
“Ye ask me what it is that I wish, aye?” she questioned.
“Aye, that I do.”
“I wish for you to admit ye love!” she proclaimed.
“What?!” he exclaimed, the shock clearly expressed on his face.
“Admit to me that ye have loved more than life itself!” Britney shouted, the beginning of tears falling from the corners of her eyes.
“I-I admit naught,” Byron said, turning away from her hurt stare.
“Fine!” she concluded, trying to remain calm. “Then ye have sentenced me to death! Even if I be freed from this prison, me heart will grow cold and I will ne’er love again, for I have been betrayed! I thought ye loved me but I be wrong! Ye have betrayed everything we have shared together since that first tournament day!”
“Ye remember?” Byron asked, turning to look at her. Britney had sat herself down and had buried her head in her hands.
“Of course I remember!” she sobbed. “I gave you me handkerchief!”
“Nay! Ye gave me Eric’s token of his love for you!” Byron accused.
“Ye still insist that it be his trinket, yet I tell you the truth! It be mine and mine alone!”
“I am truly sorry I do not believe yer lies!” he mocked.
“Just leave!” she shouted.
“Leave me be! Let me die if I must, but let me die alone!” Britney turned her back on him and wept.
Without saying a word, Byron left the dungeon-room, the sound of Britney’s tears behind him. He ne’er stopped when Algernon called his name from the great hall; he ne’er stopped even when Connor called his name down one of the corridors. He did not stop until he had reached his own bedchamber, locked the door, and collapsed onto his bed, tears falling from his eyes.