This story is by Everett L. R. Asher and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
That heavenly sound of Thrym’s bindings opening filled his heart with evermore joy. He waited fourteen years to hear that sound, all those laborious hours he spent whetting the stone at his feet, picking it up with his feet, grabbing the pick from his stretched feet, and once and for all, unlocking his bindings. Relief washed over him as sweat from his concentration trickled down his brow and his nose.
Thrym eased in his chains, his exhausted muscles relaxing in the metal that bound his movements. He dared not move a muscle as he had no desire to get a worse sentence for attempting to escape. The warden would arrive any minute with Thrym’s food, the less suspicious he could make his warden the better.
The prisoner dropped the stone pick from his fingers and it clattered as it hit the ground. Echoing off its brethren and then fell silent. That familiar cold silence that reminded Thrym of the silence of winter, so quiet that it felt quite unnatural.
If these walls could speak they would sound like razor blades gliding against stone. Sharpened pebbles falling to the ground, leaving leaf thin scars that marred the flesh of stone. They would sound like the disheveled ramblings of mad prophets foretelling of dark days ahead. They would sound like whispered temptations, dark desires that should never see the light of day. They would sound like the final breath of a man taken forever from this world. These were deeds and actions that were not unfamiliar to Thrym, he partook in his fair share of depraved crimes yet the sweetest upon his tongue had to be larceny. Always had been.
Yet of all these maddening tales of criminals remarkably vile, it warmed Thrym’s heart that he had to be the ultimate of the vile stories locked within the stones. How sweet it felt to steal the weapon of a god, but not die because of getting caught. Left to the hands of all those that he had slighted, they had said. To be locked away with no sunlight and to hear the whispers and curses of all those that he had wronged. But Thrym could care less for atonement.
He blinked away his boredom, being left alone to his maddening thoughts once more in the approximately eight foot by eight foot room. It had been comfortless, more destitute than he anticipated thirty four life sentences to be. Most days he pissed and shit himself while counting the number of stones it took to build the room. One thousand nine hundred and forty he estimated. His mind had preoccupied itself in his maddening isolation. But he felt overjoyed that his imprisonment drew to its end, mere moments away from inflicting seventeen beatings in one for all of the pain and misery Benegar had caused him.
The drafty wind felt cold, whistling as it passed through the crack in the thick stone walls. If he listened, he could hear the sound of crashing waves against a soft sandy beach. What he would give to see the waves of the ocean again, to see the wide blue sky. Not to say he would change his actions that brought him to prison, but to nonetheless see it again would be a blessing of the gods.
The stone door skulked in the shadows, sliding open to allow lances of sunlight to pierce the darkness of Thrym’s prison. From the light walked a familiar face. There stood Benegar, right on time.
He had a messy red mop for hair with a thin moustache and beard to match. His dark brown eyes appeared black to Thrym, the prisoner only knew they were brown from the occasional time that he would arrive during the day -which had not been often-. Benegar towered above Thrym and was roundly built. From his physical appearance alone Thrym commented he would make a rather good baker, Benegar did not agree since that marked the first of many beatings for Thrym. It felt like a lifetime ago when he met Benegar, time surely does fly.
Thrym said, “Benegar, Ben, Benny my boy! What decadent cuisine have you brought for me today?”
“Bread and broth.” Said Benegar as he stepped closer with Thrym’s food in hand. Thrym smiled, clenching his dry hands waiting for Benegar to approach. Anticipation cooled Thrym’s tired muscles, his moment of vengeance and escape drew ever closer, he could all but taste the sweet sweet caramel of freedom.
Thrym said, “How’s the wife and kids Benny?”
Benegar said, “Shut your gob Thrym!”
Benegar stepped closer, bending down to set the food down.
Faster than the warden could anticipate, Thrym slid his hands from the board that bound his wrists, grabbed the wood with his eager hands and swung it from his side. Guiding it, Thrym smashed the edge of the board against Benegar’s temple. Blood flew through the air and found purchase upon the stone floor in sync as the blood and Benegar both fell to the ground.
Standing tall, Thrym dropped the board and said, “I do love bread and broth.”
One more breath taken away in that room, one more story for the stones.
Thrym stripped Benegar of his clothes, they were loose but they would have to do, which consisted of a simple grey burlap shirt and dark brown linen trousers.
The freed larcenist wrapped Benegar’s belt around himself, which consisted of a shortsword, a ring of keys, and a small pouch that held thirty three silver pieces. His veins pumped with so much joy, his hands fumbled as they looped his new belt. He would hear the siren call of the ocean, begging him to find Benegar’s transport and find land once more so he could disappear without a trace. He could taste the freedom.
His back tensed as he felt a sharp point press against it. A sharp voice said, “Don’t move.”
He peered over his shoulder, Benegar had been the only one that ever visited his island prison, who else knew of this place?
“Turn around,” The voice said.
Thrym turned and saw a medium sized figure in dark leather armor, a red sash along their upper arm. This indicated their affiliation to the Red Band Syndicate. His own guild of thieves.
They pulled down their hood and revealed a familiar face; Malyn Rosehilt. He recognized those soft porcelain features anywhere. Her crimson red hair cascaded over her shoulders. The one rogue he had wished he left alone. The one member of his guild that wanted him dead because of what he did to her. Because of the life he took so she could be a member of the Red Band Syndicate. She had to have learned of it, which would explain the steel against his throat.
Her sword still pointed at Thrym as he said, “Look if there’s-”
He felt a hot sting glide across his throat. He clutched at the wound and felt his hands and legs going numb.
Before his vision went dark and he returned to the oblivion of silence, he heard Malyn as she said, “Bound by nothing, forever free.”
If these walls could speak, they would talk about a thief’s death.