Mreelana awoke with a start as two armed guards marched past her small, grimy cell and down the hall into the darkness. A single lantern weakly cast light into the cell from a distance. She guessed that night blanketed the surface world, but she was beginning to lose track of the time that had passed since her capture.
Even so, Mreelana believed that her first week in the Prison Mines of Isger, hosted by the ever hostile Hellknight Order of the Brand, was almost over. The injuries she sustained at the hands of Paralictor Rourke, though still visible, were healing. The ones she had sustained over the past week had not.
Rourke had been mysteriously absent since he personally cast her battered and bruised body into the cell nearly a week ago. Her once beautiful long, deep green gown was now torn, tattered and caked with dirt. While most would find such a circumstance unpleasant, Mreelana welcomed the sqaulid conditions of her cell. The guards marveled as she wallowed in the dirt, seemingly bathing herself in its blackness.
Yet now even Mreelana desired a warm bath, as she had not been permitted to bathe since the beginning of her stay. Forced to labor sixteen hours a day in the vast kitchens and mess halls that fed Hellknights and prisoners alike, the grime she had acquired made her feel absolutely filthy.
Beyond her cell, the prison mines were nothing but unpleasant. Mreelana quickly learned that responses other than “yes, sir” or “no, sir” resulted in violence, though to utter those words caused her to bristle internally. Usually, she was fortunate, angering Hellknights who would merely smack her. Those without such a sense of chivalry thought nothing of punching a woman in the throat or breaking a wooden chair over her back. Of course, she knew full well that dumping a Hellknight’s first hot meal in a week into his lap, even after he fondles your breasts, often leads to retribution.
The pain and chastisement, however, failed to break Mreelana’s contemptuous spirit or stay her sharp tongue. Being held in an earthen womb and given the ability to feel the earth against her skin soothed and rejuvenated her. She also amused herself by convincingly blaming her domestic shortcomings on others, reveling in watching someone else suffer when the whip was meant for her back.
Suddenly, three rats dropped out of a hole in the ceiling at the corner of Mreelana’s cell. The ragtag band visited her often, stealing any scraps of food she left unprotected. She quickly scanned her cell for anything to throw at the rats as they skirted the shadows.
“Fucking RATS!,“ she bellowed. Failing to find a suitable projectile and irritated by her unwelcome guests, she scowled and pretended to throw an imaginary rock at the lead rat. To her great surprise, a small orb of acid sprung from her hand and struck it, scalding it to death. Its frightened companions hurriedly scaled the back wall and retreated through the hole in the ceiling.
Mreelana looked to her hand, then to the steaming rat carcass and finally back to her hand. It was at the moment that Mreelana, though still shocked at the event, sensed a new power coursing through her. She smiled deviously.
“Oh, Paralictor Rourke, you unfortunate bastard,” Mreelana cooed. “This does not bode well for you.”
At that moment, two Hellknights stomped down the hallway towards Mreelana’s cell. She swiftly kicked the rat carcass into a shadowy corner, dropped to the ground and feigned sleep just seconds before the Hellknights arrived.
“Wake up, love,” sneered one of the men, an older, grizzled Hellknight veteran. “Paralictor Rourke requests the pleasure of your company.”
“The Paralictor is not equipped for that pleasure anymore,” snapped Mreelana as she rose to her feet and icily studied the men.
“Maybe so,” answered the veteran with a devious smile of his own, “but we are. It’s time our little firebrand took her first bath. And the gracious Paralictor has ordered that my company gets to watch.”
The men laughed heartily, but Mreelana’s stomach churned and flames erupted in her emerald eyes. After a few moments, she composed herself, realizing that a bath was bath, spectators or no. She unlatched her gown and let it drop to the floor, revealing her long, lean naked body. Her smooth, milky white skin almost glowed as the Hellknights stood in awe of her flawless physical form.
“So be it,” Mreelana said calmly.
The list of unfortunate bastards was steadily growing.