01 – The Blight
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Smolensk - March 1332

 

"TELL ME! How many are troops gathered under Nassau!"
"A few dragons, a bucketload of foot-soldiers, some cavalry and the rest of the usual jizz."
"NOT WHAT! HOW MANY?"
"Why would I tell YOU that? Those brigands you call the 'Sacred Alliance' knowing just how fucked they are, would go against all my efforts of the past decade, wouldn't it? And besides, don’t you have better ways to find this out?"
"You don't seem to understand your situation Gabriella. If you are not going to talk than this lovely companion in black over there will make you talk!"
"Uh, getting kinky? I like that!"

Mike was exhausted, after having travelled with the most obnoxious prisoner he ever encountered for almost a week, Duke Koslov could not be persuaded to not congratulate him for his exploits over a long lunch. No, no, the food was good and did a long way to recharging the batteries of the companions. But somehow it felt like every other person in town insisted on thanking them personally. So, what if they just captured the Lich Queen that plagued this world for just under a decade? Can a spy not have some time off in a cosy inn in a dark, narrow alleyway? But no, now he also was tasked with organizing the interrogation of someone with no know soft spots.

And the limelight he was dragged into. With a face that was well know by now, sneaking into an enemy meeting or even a town was basically impossible. Being on the job-market at this age was not easy, though not impossible. Well at least an opportunity of a safe place behind stacks of paper waves now, the secret service was notoriously undermanned including the backrow.

Having ordered a dinner at his temporary home, he sat in a corner of the dining room quietly munching and watching the few people in the small room. With nothing happening he ordered a strong bottle of liquor; sometimes desperate measures were required to relax. Drowsy, both from day and bottle, he did not notice a familiar face approaching the table.

"Hello Mike."
"Hmmph?"
"You don't have to spit your whisky all over your shirt, just because you are happy to see me."
"Emely? What are you doing here? I thought being seen in a place like this would ruin your career."
"I need to talk to you. The Duke isn't exactly known for patience and will probably demand a report on his desk by tomorrow evening."
"WHAT?"
"I worked with Gabriella Schmidt for almost half a century, and well I doubt that you will have any form of success by the end of tomorrow, or even any at all."
"What do you mean, you barely saw her throughout your time in Oxon."
"Yes, but I know her enough to be able to say that you have nothing to put her under pressure."
"And another one who decides to ruin my day."
"What do you mean? Didn't you just enjoy the best lunch of your life"
"Stop laughing! Thanks to that tasty lunch my face will be known across all three continents by tomorrow. A spy can't work like that."
"I could always use another assistant in my studies."
"Heh. That wouldn't be too bad."
"Yeah, but you would be relegated to minor tasks like sorting documents, cleaning and generally keeping order."
"Better than nothing. ... Is there anything else you want?"
"Can't I just visit an old friend for the sake of visiting them?"
"If you insist."
"Yes, I insist that you don't drown yourself so deep in the bottle, Gimmie that!"
"Hey, you could have just asked for a glass."

After less sleep than he wished for (Emely be damned), Mike made way his way towards the castle and its prison.
"Well guess who's back? Our poster-boy of the hour! You kept me waiting long enough in this cold, dark dungeon. And the servants here, I must say, I have never seen rude rot of id..."
"SILENCE!" The torture broke her off with a crack of his whip. Which did shut her up, but also elicited a decisively not pained moan. Mike turned toward the black hooded torturer and asked: "You're the expert here, so do your thing?"
"Aren't you strong enough to punish me yourself Master? Pathetic!"
Another crack of the whip, another moan.
"HARDER PLEASE!"
"You are only permitted to open your mouth when we tell you to! And now go on give her the full program."
"Uhh, what comes next after dirty talk, abandonment play and whipping? Choking?"
The torturer having decided that a whip was not strong enough, delivered a kick to Gabriella's surprisingly sturdy shin. Of course, the torturer could under no circumstances show that his foot was now broken. He ordered a subordinate to treat Gabriella to a nice round of waterboarding while he visited a healer.

When he came back mad laughter could be heard. Which caused him to lose all the motivation he got from grabbing some other - fun - tools. Straightening his shoulders before opening the cell-door the torturer prepared himself for a long day.

Bracing himself Mike walked to the dreaded Duke's door and knocked.
"Come in! Ah Mr Mike I was waiting for you. So, what did the vile serpent spill?"
Behind the gaudy desk, in this unnecessary gaudy office of this unnecessary gaudy building, sat a wide man, which was not surprising. However, that his friend Emely stood in front of the desk was. Looking at the piles of document on the desk he tried to make his report quick:
"It is useless, Gabriella just shrugs everything of, no she even seems to enjoy some of it."
"We NEED information, and she knows a lot. Think of Something!"
Mike braced himself for the coming tirade. "But our entire repertoire is already used up. The only thing I can think of is putting a knife on the throat of a loved one, but we don't even know if she has any emotion beyond bloodlust."
"Are you an imbecile or what? Then d.."
"YOUR SERENITY. You do not know Schmidt personally. Mike cannot be blamed for not making her talk. A few decades ago, I had the 'pleasure' of working with Schmidt at the Oxon University. And even back then she was not entirely sane, which is not that abnormal for professors there, but she stood out."
"Nonsense! Everyone talks eventually under the whip."
"Yeah, that is assuming they view the whip as a torture device, not as a sex toy."
"Mike, watch your tongue."
"Well if you are to incompetent to make her sing than I'll just have to call a mind diver."
"Yes, your serenity, that could work but considering Schmidt's messed state of mind and her magical prowess the mind diving will take time."
Taking Time? Yeah waiting for a powerful enough Mind Diver to beast that monstrosity takes time. And they also had to be insane enough to do it.
“I’ll have a mind diver called. In the meantime, having someone competent take a look at Miss Schmidt would be nice. Like you Nöther. Okay?” Judging by the pleading look he got from Emely she was not okay with this.

“Why does he think I will be able to get any information out of Gabriella? I’m a mathematician not torturer!” Emely spat the last word out after they rounded a few corners. “I was sent to this icy wasteland to assist the war as a staff officer, but somehow ended up as an assistant for this incompetence of a local lord”
“Calm down. You can just quietly stand in a corner of the cell for a few minutes and then excuse yourself.”
“No! Why do they even bother with torture? Isn’t every single word gained from it worthless?”
“Well no, you see …”
“Listen here! People will say anything which they think their tormentor wants to hear! Truth and lie don’t matter there.” Sighing she adds: “I think I’ll make preparations for the diving. The mind diver whose misfortune will unfold here will thank me for anything.”

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