Chapter 14 – Tartarus
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Lunella finds herself facing a jail cell in the basement of the guardhouse; it’s the town’s only jail. A group of five guards surround her and move her like a marionette into a set of heavy iron manacles chained to the walls and floor. They rip off the brand new cloak that Lunella had just recently received from Amara, sparking a fleeting expression on her face. It’s the first expression she’s made since she was taken into custody. Along with the cloak, they remove anything metal that could even remotely be used as a weapon.

Against the wall, hands cuffed above her head and legs shackled to the ground, Lunella gives nothing but a forlorn gaze. Upon checking that the locks are correctly in place, the guards retreat from the cell, locking it behind them. Two guards take a position in front of the cell door, and the room becomes silent. As the door to the main floor of the guardhouse is closed, the room is bathed in murky darkness, the only light coming from two small candles carried by the guards.

Lunella’s face is still, and her whole body lies slack. The demon sits, not resisting, not moving, just sitting. After some time, tears begin to well up in the girl’s eyes, but she cannot wipe them away. The guards listen to a soft whimper from the cell as their captive cries wordlessly. Trying not to think about it, they stand still, avoiding the girl’s problems.

After a nondescript amount of time, a light crawls down from the upper floor, and a familiar old man steps foot into the damp basement. The guard chief, Rengal, stands in front of the cell door and looks at the demon, her face covered in tears.

“Ahahaha, oh, this feels good. You enjoying yourself, demon?” Rengal says as he punches the bars, taunting the caged demon.

“…”

“Tsk—where’s the fun in that? Come on. Your kind is always so high strung; where’s all that energy now? Did you lose your will to fight?”

“Nothing to say to you,” Lunella whispers out an empty response.

“Ohoho, I will never forgive what you monsters did to my friends and me. But who needs forgiveness? After twenty-six years, three months, and thirteen days, I will finally have my revenge.”

Lunella snarls at the madman, “I don’t even know you, nor have I ever done anything to you; I’m innocent—”

Guilty, your whole race is. Playing the part of ‘oh woe is me, I’m just a peaceful demon’ won’t change anything.” Rengal mocks Lunella, mimicking what she had said when they first met. “Oh, I am going to enjoy myself so much.”

“Monster”

“Oh, I’m the monster? Let’s not forget how you deceived that innocent girl Amara.”

Upon invoking Amara’s name, Lunella’s body falls loose once more, and her resistance fades.

Rengal unlocks the cell door and walks in, standing over the chained Lunella. The demon girl closes her eyes, resigning herself to whatever fate awaits her. He bounces around a bit and makes a fist—his fist slams into Lunella’s jaw; she vocalizes briefly but does not scream out in pain. Again, the fist hits her jaw from the other side. Lunella’s face burns as though a thousand needles were being stabbed into it. Sharp pain is felt deep in her jaw, her breath is labored, but she remains silent.

Before she has a chance to catch her breath—a fist flies directly into her windpipe, leaving her making nothing but a wheezing sound, trying desperately to breathe. Unable to contain the pain anymore, her face contorts, and she tries to scream.

Rengal gives a sadistic smirk before responding. “Hmmm, what to do? Why don’t you cry for mercy?”

“M-mercy,” Lunella barely manages to cough out words.

“No, I don’t think so,” Rengal responds before punching her in the face again. “Beg for mercy!”

“M-mer…cy” Lunella barely holds on to her consciousness.

“Ahh, you’re disappointing. A mighty demon has broken so easily.” The monster takes out a knife and jabs it into Lunella’s thigh, prompting a howling scream. Rengal turns around and leaves the cell. Lunella is left alone with the knife still jutting out of her leg.

The pain doesn’t end; it just keeps burning. Her breathe alternates between hyperventilation and deep breaths as she tries to cope with the horrifying sight. Unable to overcome the unyielding pain, her head only has one thought. Please, no more.

The night passes slowly, but eventually, Lunella loses consciousness from the pain or perhaps blood loss.


Amara is awoken by dreadful pounding. Leaving her bed, she walks down the hallway, pausing for just a second at Lunella’s room. Making her way to the door, Amara hears the pounding grow even louder to the point where the whole inn seems like it’s going to fall apart. Finally reaching the front door, she swings it open, revealing a lanky man in a guard uniform.

“Amara,” The guard says with a lost expression.

Amara recognizes the man as the captain of the south gate. She quickly responds with an air of fear on her breath, “Lutz, what’s going on? Is it something about Lunella?”

“Who?”

“Err, the demon I turned in yesterday.”

“Oh, I didn’t realize it had a name—sorry no, I’m getting sidetracked.” Lutz stands there, and his expression changes several times, trying to start talking but then stopping. Finally, he manages to force out words. “It’s your mother. I am so, so sorry, Amara, your mother has been pronounced deceased.”

Amara stands up straight before quickly firing back. “No, that’s not possible; what do you mean she’s dead? She’s just going on a trip to the capital, that’s all.”

Lutz recalls the day the demon first appeared. He was at the South Gate where he logged Amara’s mother passing through aboard a carriage. Later that day, a demon appeared at the North Gate, and he was ordered to deliver a message to the capital. Upon requisitioning the supplies, he would need for the journey; he set out southbound. It was there that he met the carriage or what used to be the carriage.

The carriage was bloody, no, not bloody, covered in blood. It was as though a massacre had taken place. Several orc carcasses were scattered on the ground, but no human bodies were found; the site was awful. Upon reaching the next several towns, Lutz had each of them check their logbooks. Celes Cano was not recorded in any of them.

“No, it’s not possible; there isn’t a body. How can you pronounce her dead?” Amara pleads with the guard hoping that there is a possibility that her mother might still be out there.

“Please don’t make me say it, orcs take their victims back to their camp, and . . .” Lutz grimaces. “They eat them.”

“Get out of my house!” Amara yells at the guard, unsure of what to do. When the guard doesn’t immediately leave, her yell turns to a scream. “get out!”

Lutz gives a short bow and then leaves. Amara collapses on the ground and falls to her back. She lays on the rough wooden floorboards and stares at the oak ceiling.

“Lunella! I need you to make dinner today? You’ve gotten pretty good at—” Amara catches herself, and she reaches up to touch her face, tears. “Oh yeah, you turned out to be a demon, didn't you, and I’m the one who got rid of you . . .”

Amara feels the loneliness build up inside her. Her mother is gone; the person she thought was her friend turned out to be the very thing she seeks to destroy. It feels as though her world has begun to collapse, or rather it already has—past tense.

What am I going to do? With mom gone, what is there anymore? All my life, I’ve been nothing but the innkeeper’s daughter, but without her, what does that make me? Amara sighs. I guess it was all a dream, to go out and become a knight. Who am I kidding? I could never be a knight. I couldn’t even recognize that my new friend was a demon, even though It was so obvious.

Sitting on the rough floor, time passes. Though she is hungry, Amara doesn’t eat. Though she is cold, she dare not get a blanket. She is shackled by the invisible chains of grief, unable to process what just happened. The world continues to crack as she slowly attempts to process just what it means for her to be truly alone.

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