William practiced a few more lines in dwarven before he felt his stomach tightening and twisting. He jumped to his feet… then found himself flopping over. He stood again, slowly and shakily, “Oh… how long was I out?”
Chris gathered some water to write on the floor, “A month. Ish.”
William staggered his way to the kitchen, though he straightened himself up before knocking. One of the cooks came out. “Oh! My king, uh… We don’t have much ready besides gruel for the prisoners. We’ll start something right away!”
William waved his hand. “Gruel will be fine… though maybe add a pinch of salt or something to mine?”
“Er… of course! It will be out momentarily.”
“I’ll be in the dining room.” Though William called it that, it was a mess hall. While functionally they were the same, it wasn’t nearly so formal. It wasn’t a big area either. It was mostly for guards who worked at the jail, and they didn’t normally need many of those. It currently wasn’t meal time, so William found himself alone.
Soon enough a bowl of gruel arrived before William. The server, a young gevai woman, placed it before him nervously, “It’s not really fit for a king but… umm… we can make something better if you’d wait a bit…”
William shook his head, “This is what I asked for. Just return to your normal duties and don’t concern yourself.”
William sipped some of the gruel, finding it rather thin but flavored with a bit of honey. He nodded slightly, and felt the server relax slightly before bowing to leave. The gruel was very thin, but even so William almost felt like it was too much. Well, that was what happened after a month without eating anything. He hoped he hadn’t messed his body up too much. The lack of training wasn’t as important as the muscle degradation that would come from starving, though William knew he’d also had some fat reserves. Not a lot, but he hadn’t restricted his eating habits when there were sufficient amounts of fine food. Having no fat at all wasn’t healthy anyway.
Kengrer Bonemaker hung in his cell. There wasn’t much else he could do besides that and think about death. Occasionally he would be brought meals, but other than that there was little else. He was waiting for the torture to start. Maybe it already had, but in that case it was the most slow torture he had ever considered.
On the other hand, what counted as food was perhaps torture itself. A thin gruel, even several times per day, left him perpetually starting. Well, perhaps not starving… but hungry. There were few things worse to a dwarf than being hungry, except perhaps an unkempt beard. Maybe these demons were actually just really good at torture. So good they made it seem like they weren’t even trying.
Then he came and Kengrer knew it was time for the real torture. He couldn’t really remember but there was just a feeling of great pain that he could barely comprehend. “Do your worst, demon,” the captain muttered steeled himself for what was to come… but he wasn’t prepared for what actually happened.
“Why have the dwarves decided to attack us?”
Kengrer Bonemaker stuttered for a moment, surprised by the demon speaking his people’s tongue. “I-I won’t answer any of your questions, foul demon! Just kill me!”
The demon shook his head and exposed his teeth. “Now now, you don’t have to be like that. It’s not like I’ve asked national secrets. Besides, we already have your ship.” Kengrer clenched his teeth. “Don’t even think about biting your tongue off. You know it wouldn’t kill you that easily, and then I’d just have to question one of your men.”
The captain paled. “You fiend! Leave my men alone!”
“Sure, that’s easy. They won’t know anything important you don’t anyway. You just have to answer my questions. Let’s start with something easy. What’s your name?”
“Ah, I see. We’re doing this already, are we?” The demon scratched his chin. “So, what do you think is an appropriate punishment to one of your men for your lie, Kengrer Bonemaker? Strictly speaking, I don’t need to cut off one of their fingers. I’ll get my answers from your thoughts anyway… but I’d prefer if you say it. It makes the whole thing better.” The black skinned demon grinned maliciously.
“I told you to leave my men out of this!” the restrained captain yelled.
“And I told you to answer my questions. That means truthfully. I’ll give you another chance here though. I’m too lazy to go cut off someone’s fingers unless I have to. As long as you don’t lie anymore- or refuse to answer- I won’t have to cut off any fingers. However, the first lie will have to result in two. I’m generous, but not that generous. So then, how many men were in your crew? Keep in mind I’ll get the answer from your thoughts anyway.”
“… Three dozen. Plus myself.”
The demon clapped slowly, “Good job! That’s the first honest answer. If we get through this whole thing, nobody has to lose any fingers. That’s two and a half gross worth of fingers. I don’t have that many questions but I’m sure I have enough for everyone to lose a finger. Just so you feel better, we do have your entire crew captive so it’s not like I didn’t already know the answer. Now then, how many steamboats do the dwarves have ready to attack?”
“… Four dozen.”
The demon nodded, “I see.” He got up and walked to the entrance of the cell, closing and locking it behind him, “I’ll just have to go get the answers from your men, since you won’t talk.”
“Get back here, you bastard demon!” the captain yelled, but to no effect. He just had to sit in silence, waiting. He couldn’t tell what was happening, which in some ways was worse than knowing. His mind was running wild thinking of what the black-skinned demon might do.