There was a time— (CH-2)

“Ugh…this stench is unbearable, how do you even stand it, Fulna” groaned Ictan, one of the Lord Victas most trusted accountants and personal assistants.


He was a mild mannered looking person,that is to say, someone who carried himself like a person who was use to everything happily falling into their proper place. Needless to say, lurking around in the rotting halls of the Tullianum prison was very out of place for him. He carefully tip toed his way across the slippery stone floors, occasionally sliding on some loose moss that had collected on the floors. Each time he began to slip he reflexively would reach out to grip the walls for support, but would quickly retract his arms to his side in order to avoid dirtying his hands on the roots and filth that had collected on the shoddy bricked walls.


“How do I stand it? Easy. I simply don’t come down here-None of us come down here except to feed them. Whats the point otherwise? Have some tea with them or some such, maybe strike up a conversation?” Fulna erupted into a loud laugh, which echoed down the long hallway of locked cells. An encore of several weak moans, and other various noises could be heard in response to the laughter. All of which made Fulna and Ictan cringe. “Lets just move along and be done with this, eh?”


Ictan quickly took out his ledger and nodded his head up and down, “Yes, lets. The sooner your business is concluded with my master the better. Where is the roster for this floor?”


Fulna glanced over to one of the guards waiting by the door, who simply returned Fulna’s glance with a confused look. The two merely stared at each other in silence before Fulna scolded loudly “Get the roster you, oaf!” The guard quickly jumped to a haphazard position of attention then ran off, quickly down the stairs. Only a few moments later he returned breathing heavily with nothing to show for his work. “Well?!” barked Fulna.


“Sir, um…The rosters and records for this wing–erm…remember that “accident” that occurred two winters ago?”


Fulna paused a moment, tapping a pudgy finger one of his several chins. “Oh yes-yes. I remember, the fire–“


“Fire?” Interrupted, Ictan inquisitively tilting his head to the side.


“Yes, there was a fire a couple years back, maybe three I’m not quite sure a small accident nothing too big. We’ve apparently lost the records for this wing though, as well as some of the records of our inventories. Caused -quite- a mess for our book keeping when the royal appraisers had to come by.” Fulna gave a coy smirk to Ictan, who simply rolled his eyes and gave a nod.


“So…you are telling me you can hardly tell me what these people’s names are, more or less -why- or how -long- they have or will be here?” Ictan was losing his patience, while he was mostly appalled he couldn’t help but think the whole operation that was occurring was ingenious.


Fulna stuttered a moment, stalling to collect the right words then finally spitting out, “Well most tend to die in five years anyway, from sickness or just…die. So it would not have been a big problem anyway. Some of them have already been replaced, so I’m sure we can figure out -some- of their names. But really, who cares, most of our prisoners are put here for a reason, and most of them are hardly ever granted pardon.”


“We can’t very well sort them as Lord Victas has commanded if we don’t know who they are or what their offense was!” Spoke Ictan, his usual collected speech now slowly filling with the aggravation of profits potentially being lost. “There are over fifty cells that could be used to house the prisoners we have under guard, do you -know- how much gold that is in ransom!”


“Calm yourself, Sir. Calm” Fulna slowly walked his way over to Ictan and put his arm around his shoulder giving him a light pat. He then slowly walked him to one of the cells and then gestured for him to look through the small slit in the wooden oak door to see inside. “Look inside there, tell me what you see?”


Ictan slowly leaned forward peering through the cast iron bars, to see the small cell, not much bigger then a horse drawn cart. Water was slowly running down the black bricked walls and a small amount of hay laid at the corner of the room next to a large bucket. The other corner of the room was several carved rocks to resemble figurines and man laying in a loin cloth curled in the corner, blue tattoos covered an entire side of his body which looked frail and thin.


“I’ll tell you what I see, Ictan. I see a bunch of weak, and broken men…Who, -if- they even remembered what crime they committed ,would never forget why they were put here. Thats assuming they survive whatever distance they have to make to get to their homeland, and assuming they don’t vanish along the way.”


Ictan’s only response was a slow nod, while he watched the form on the ground slowly stur.


“You know what I also see, Ictan?….” whispered Fulna.”I see fifty souls who simply need to be released, to make way for our profit” Fulna then smirked and gave Ictan an encouraging pat on the back and then stepped back away from the door. The form in the cell slowly crawled its way forward, laying a hand against the door and slowly ran its dirty nails against the wood, scratching it loudly.


Ictan stared ahead a moment and without turning replied.


“See them feed, they will be pardoned and released. Give them names, and assign them crimes against property in the ledger. I’ll expect the prisoners of war to be in these cells, as soon as each one is able to walk under their own power.” Ictan quickly turned away from the cell and then made his way towards the door to the stairwell, “Lets move on Fulna, we have many more floors to tend to.”

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