CHAPTER 7: AWAKENING
He didn’t know how long he had been there. It seemed like an entire millennium since he had last seen daylight. His mouth and throat felt like someone had poured sand down into his mouth and had let it dry out in order to prevent him from getting any sort of liquid in his body. He had not slept for days either. For one thing, the chains gnawed into his skin, particularly the one
around his neck. If anything, Elrod would give everything for water and rest, even if only a teaspoon of water or five minutes of rest. His body, his soul, his entire essence was weakened. Weakened from the lack of sleep, lack of water and nourishment, and weakened from the endless torture.
It had all become a painful routine. His tormentor would appear the same way like he always did. Always in a dark cloud of stinking black smoke that would threaten to burn Elrod’s lungs, nostrils and throat. Syphon would only laugh and taunt him about mortal’s weaknesses when it came to need of oxygen, slapping Elrod across his face, *always* making sure his claws were out so they would create large deep scratches.
Then he would begin the torturing.
In the beginning, all Syphon had done was provoking him. He would send flashes of what was happening at home… how David had returned home…. Kathy’s pregnancy…. the Pastmaster’s seeking a way to stop all this… but slowly the flashing images had turned worse… David was slowly fading away… Kathy was having psychotic nightmares that threatened to drive her insane….
Then Syphon had stopped with the sightings and went over to direct, unmerciless pain.
The MareKat used his claws as his preferred torture device, slashing and scratching with coldblooded hate glowing in his piercing black eyes. He would always start with ripping and tearing in Elrod’s body, ripping off enormous patches of fur and skin, sometimes parts of muscles and sinew….but Syphon’s most preferred kind was to directly slam his hands, with claws
outstretched, into Elrod’s body, gripping a random organ, and tearing it out along with a piercing scream of agony from the chained kat. This would continue for what seemed centuries.
Then the MareKat would disappear the same way he had come, leaving a what seemed dead kat dangling from his chains. But, Elrod was far from dead, no matter how much he wished he was.
Every night (or what he assumed as night), several imps and demons came crawling out from the shadows in the cell. They would gather up the organs ripped out from the kat’s body, carefully restore them if they had gotten any bad damages, then replace them inside Elrod’s body. They would either use spells or regular needles and thread to get the enormous gaps in the kat’s gut and stomach closed up once more. Whatever method they used, it was always painful, and the demons and imps always chittered and laughed in their own disgusting language when a cry of pain and agony escaped Elrod’s lips.
Once their work was done, they would take off back into the shadows, only to return the next night, and the next one again. It was a endless circle of death, torture, misery and pain. And, Elrod wished deeply that it would all end. But, no matter what gods or godesses he prayed to, it was no use. None of them seemed to hear him, or they just simply ignored him. What difference would it make if another of the mortals was dying or being killed by a vengeful nightmare-creature?
Day had returned once more, Elrod groaning as the stitches the imps had done were stinging badly around where they had sewn him. He weakly looked up as the door to his cell opened, two guards walking in. One of them unchained Elrod, the other grabbed him roughly as he almost collapsed. Neither of them said anything as they dragged him off, out of the cell and down the corridor. Elrod didn’t bother to ask either. His throat was far too raw from hours of screaming in agony, too raw for him to let out as much as a squeak. He looked up weakly as the guards dragged him into a room that was undoubtably a torture-chamber. Chains with spikes were hanging from the ceiling, an Iron-Maiden stood up the wall, opened so you could see the rotten leftovers of a former unlucky prisonor who had felt the Iron-Maiden’s deadly embrace.
“Wh-..what i-is going on?” the weakened kat managed to croak out as the guards chained him up against a wall, his front facing the wall and his back exposed to the guards.
“Lord Syphon has other business to attend to. So he told us to do his work,” one of the guards growled, laughing roughly along with his comrade. They both went over to a door, and, managing to turn his head far enough, Elrod saw the door open into a room filled with all kinds of devices. The spanish cape, whips, morning-stars, the wooden horse…he shuddered at the thought of how these devices would be used on him.
“I should’ve never lied to my son…”
Guilt tied a rough and painful knot in Elrod’s chest and hot tears burned in his eyes. A sudden pain struck across his exposed back and a strangled cry of pain and surprise escaped from his mouth. Rough laughter from the guards sounded behind him and another surge of pain went over his back. Turning his head, he saw the guards standing with whips. One of them swung the whip in a way that almost made Elrod lose his eye had he not turned away in time.
The guards talked about various things in their own gurgling language as their whips danced over the kat’s back, Elrod
screaming and writhering in torment from each time one of them striked. Hours passed by. The worst hours in Elrod’s entire excistance. Sweat streamed down his face and entire body, the salty drops stinging in the whip-wounds that were crisscrossing over his back and neck. His breath seemed to crawl in and out of his lungs in what was at the edge of what trouble an asthmatic person had, whenever said person had not gotten a suck from his inhilator.
“One more round and we call it a day,” one of the guards chuckled darkly.
The other one snickered and went off, returning with a metal bucket a few minutes later. Grabbing down into it, the other guard retreived a sort of white powder. Elrod didn’t register what was going on and nor did he care. All he wished for was that the Gods…ANY god…would hear his prayers and end his torment with the sweet and merciful embrace of death.
A bloodcurling screech was torn from his throat as one of the guards threw the powder onto his wounded back. Salt! His tormentors were throwing salt in his wounds!! Tears of pain and torment streamed down Elrod’s cheeks as he screamed in his torment, the guards either throwing salt onto his wounds or slashing across his back with the whips. Finally, he was unable to take anymore and collapsed in his chains, dangling like a broken marionette.
“He’s done for,” the first guard chuckled, lunging a kick into the kat’s back and only receiving a shuddering whimper in response.
The other guard nodded and unlocked the chains, his comrade grabbing one of the tortured kat’s arms, roughly pulling him to his feet. The other one grabbed his other arm, and they both dragged him back to his cell. When they reached it, they didn’t bother to chain him up again. All they did was throw him into the cell, then close and lock the door.
Elrod tumbled across the floor and opened his mouth in a silent painful cry of torment. The kat who had been so many things… a scientist, a criminal, a husband and a father…had been reduced to nothing but a tormented play-thing for a psychopathic nightmare-creature. A broken figure in the claws of a enemy that Dark Kat himself would never have the guts to face and fight.
He had given up everything, and all he could do now was wait for death to embrace him and free him from this horrible nightmare.
Samantha jerked awake, hearing the unmistakeable sound of the electrocardiograph going from its routine-like beep…beep…beep…” to its wailing “beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee….” as the green line on the black screen went flat.
Reacting quickly, she snapped out and pushed the alert-button that would call for a nurse, in order to prevent it.
About 15 minutes later, doctors and nurses where rushing around, Samantha watching through the glass-door in order to follow what was going on.
Someone shouted “CLEAR!” and the lifeless body of Elrod jerked in a weak spasm from the electro-shock he was receiving. A male nurse gave him CPR and mouth-to-mouth, then they tried electro-shock again.
A minute passed….3….5…..
The electrocardiograph started beeping again….then zoned out once more.
“Come on Elrod…” Samantha whispered, clenching a hand to her mouth. “Don’t give up on us! Not now…please…come back..come back…come
Elrod moaned as he opened his eyes. He was still in the cell, but instead of the pitch-black darkness that would usually surround him, a soft white light lit it up from an unknown source. A hand gently stroked back his hair from his eyes, and, looking up, he saw the gently wrinkled face of an old kat.
“Sh..Sharrak..kus…” Elrod croaked.
The elder kat hushed gently on him as he helped him to sit up. “Don’t speak child. Here, drink,” he muttered, handing Elrod a wooden mug with a greenish liquid.
Slowly putting the mug to his lips, Elrod carefully gulped down the liquid, grimacing at its harsh taste, feeling a tingling warm sensation softly stream out from his stomach and out in every fibre and vein in his body. He winced, feeling how the wounds from the whipping slowly closed, leaving slightly visible scars that looked like they had been healed for many years.
Sharrakus gently helped Elrod to stand, supporting him as he was still weakened from the torture.
“Wh..what is going on?” Elrod whispered, surprised about how Sharrakus despite his old and weaker looking body-structure, felt as strong and solid as a mountain under the other kat’s touch.
“Your body is dying, because your soul is giving up. Which must not happen,” Sharrakus responded in a dark tone.
Elrod sighed and looked away from the elder kat’s piercing stare.
“And, why not? It’s not like I have anything to stay strong for…” he muttered, managing to lean against the wall.
“You are wrong. You have your wife, and you have your son-”
“Who hates me because I lied to him and got me into this mess!!” Elrod snapped, managing to send a glare over his shoulder at the elder kat.
Sharrakus was unaffected by the glare and calmly continued: “He is dying.”
“Pulse is stabilizing. He’s coming back, sir!” amale nurse called out, keeping an eye on the electro-cadiograph.
Dr. Simon Matthews nodded and sighed in relief, seeing how the comatose patient had survived, his pulse stabilizing and getting a more normal and calm beating once more. If anything, this had been one of the closest calls Dr. Matthews had ever witnessed in his 4 year old career as a doctor. Looking up, he saw a gold-furred shekat with black hair, watching with angst in her expression as she looked through the window to the room. “Who’s that?” he absently asked a nurse. “Any relative? Friend?”
The nurse looked up a second, then returned to writing notes on her board. “That would be Dr. Purvis’ sister. She has been keeping an eye on him the past few days. She alerted us on the emergency. Perhaps we should tell her how everything
is under control?”
Dr. Matthews responded with a nod and walked out of the room. “Mrs. Purvis?”
The shekat looked up with a worried expression. “Yes?”
“I got some good news for you. We managed to get his heart to work again. He is going to be alright.”
She sighed visibly in relief. “Oh good…or else his wife would probably kill me!” she chuckled, brushing away a strand of black hair away from her eyes.
Matthews chuckled softly. “Well you won’t have to worry about that. You got us alerted just in time.”
She nodded with a smile. “Thankyou Doctor. I appreciate what you have done so far…. Can I…go see him?”
Matthews nodded. “You go right ahead, ma’am. It’s a good idea if someone keeps an eye on him, just to see if he
will awaken soon.”
Samantha nodded and headed back into the hospital room.
Nexus frowned as he picked out a scroll from a shelf. He carefully opened it and scanned briefly across the writings, then rolled the scroll up again and put it back from where he had taken it.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing!
Frustration drew a snarl over the Death-knight’s muzzle as he picked another scroll. He had to have gone through at least half the library by now! And, so far, he had found nothing about what was happening to him! A bolt of pain shot through his chest, causing him to break out into an almost hysterical coughing. Clenching one arm around his chest, he leaned against a nearby wall, his entire body shuddering as he coughed up green blood, both on his hand and onto the floor.
“Trouble with the clockwork?” a dark voice chuckled.
Looking up, Nexus found himself face to face with Syphon. “What’s it to you, MareKat?!” he managed to growl, wiping green blood away from his lips.
“Just making sure that *you* stay out of trouble, *knight*!” was the MareKat’s response.
Nexus fumed. “Well you can go back to whatever you were doing, ’cause I am well enough on my own.”
Syphon snorted in disdain. “Oh yeah, I can see *that*! Coughing blood up, weakening health… my dear sir knight, you seem quite ill to me!”
“Whatever. It’s none of your business,” Nexus growled, pushing his way past Syphon.
In only a matter of a second, Nexus found himself held tight by his throat up the wall. Syphon glared evilly at him with both eyes narrowed dangerously and fangs bared in a snarl. “Do not provoke me *knight*! You know well how short my temper is!”
Nexus bared his own fangs, glaring in deep loathing at the MareKat. “You think you scare me, *MareKat*!? Think again!”
Syphon hissed at him, then let go of him, causing Nexus to fall to the floor. “Next time, it will take more than just brave words from you, youngling!” And, with that, he angrily stomped off.
Nexus felt his breath wheeze in his lungs as he pulled himself up by supporting himself to the wall.
“I take it Syphon is jealous of your position, my dear Nexus?” a silk-like voice sounded behind him.
Spinning around, Nexus came face to face with Hei Ying, and bowed in greeting. “M’lady,” he muttered.
“Stand up, Nexus. What are you searching for here in the library of Ch’thulthru? When you should be alongside your brothers who are out there, predicting the end of the world?” the black-winged goddess asked, her golden eyes shining in a gentle amber-like color.
“I seek wisdom, majesty. Wisdom about the illness I have. Without knowing what is wrong with me properly, I can do nothing but fail in your service. And, I have no wish for that.”
Hei Ying chuckled, folding her wings around her shoulders like a cape. “One of the most loyal knights I have had in my time.” One black wing extended and gently rested around Nexus with the softness of a feather. “And I appreciate that.”
“I only live to serve you, Queen of Darkness.”
Hei Ying smiled, her form changing slowly but surely. The Death-knight blinked in slight confusion as he witnessed the goddess transform from her all black form to a beautiful she-kat with fur as white as the purest snow, raven black hair long enough to fall around her elegant feet in gentle waves. Her body was clad in a dress as black as the darkest night, her eyes with amber iris’, with slit-like pupils. Her crimson lips parted in a smile.
“Indeed you have been worthy in your loyalty, my knight of Death,” Hei Ying purred, one elegant white-furred paw stroking Nexus over his cheek.
A warmness slowly crept from Nexus’ chest and down into his stomach along with his cheeks.
“My queen, what…?” he was silenced as two fingers were placed on his lips to silence him.
“Shhh…you have for long deserved an award for your loyalty, Nexus…” the goddess whispered as the library around them disappeared and turned into a large bed-chamber, the bed covered with black furs and satin. “….and along with your reward, you shall find answers to your questions…” she continued, pulling Nexus along with her to the bed. “And, I always reward my most loyal servants with what they desire most….let my warmth and embrace inspire you to victories in what challenges that may come in the future….”
And, with that, she kissed him.
A warm sunray gently caressed Elrod’s face as he lay in the hospital bed. With a quiet moan, he slowly opened his eyes, squinting against the sunlight. Looking around, he saw he was not in the dark cell anymore, but in a white hospital room, everything around him having that speciel clean and medical scent there always is to find in a hospital. A soft sigh made him turn his head, and a soft smile passed his lips as he saw his sister, Samantha, sleeping in an armchair next to the bed. Slowly, he managed to reach out and placed a hand on her lower arm.
Another soft sigh escaped her lips, and she slowly woke up, blinking tiredly. “Mmmm…hmmm?”
“Morning.” Elrod smiled.
Samantha’s eyes widened, looking at him. Then she smiled back too. “Morning yourself. And, welcome back…” She got out of the chair. “How are you feeling?”
“Nice and clean compared to what I have been through. I’ll explain that later, but, for now, perhaps you should alert a nurse or a doctor or something?”
Samantha chuckled. “Of course. I’ll be right back! And then, I’ll call Kathy and the others. We’ve all been worried ya’ know… You almost died.”
“I know,” Elrod responded softly, a steel-like look in his eyes. “But, I am back. And, I intend to strike first this time!”
Samantha sent him a confused look, but his expression made her reconsider asking him what he was talking about.
Elrod looked down at his hands as his sister had left the room. Slowly, he clenched one, then clenched the other, narrowing
his eyes. He remembered Sharrakus’ words before he had finally awaken from his coma.
“Your son has gotten his heart parted. The good part is the child you know. But, it is not much who is of the good. The chemical that turned him into what you were many years ago gave Hei Ying an advantage. With the help of a ceremony known as N’mhraa, she split your son into two. A good side and a bad side. But, good can not exist without evil, and the same goes for the opposite. They are both slowly, but surely, dying.”
“But, how can this be stopped!? Can it be stopped at all!!??” Elrod had asked desperately. “I don’t want my son to die!”
“I know you don’t,” the elder kat had responded softly. “In order to return everything to as it should be, you *must* lead the two parts together. If that is not done in for the next twenty-four hours…” he fell silent.
Elrod stared at him. “What will happen?! Please, tell me!!”
Sharrakus looked up at him sadly. “The balance will be broken. Everything will perish. There will be nothing left.”
Elrod unclenched his hands and bit his lower lip.
“Nothing will be left…”
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