This is the final part of the prequel for my trilogy, The Waterlord. To get the rest of the story, which takes place five years later, check out the first book, available at Extasy Books, Amazon, or wherever Ebooks are sold. Links are below as well.
“What’s going on?!” Tom whispered.
“I said quiet!” Nathan knelt near him, and Tom noticed ugly bruises on his face before Nathan gasped and pulled away. “Damn, Tom, your arms… Nevermind, let me get them untied…shit. This’ll hurt.”
Tom bit his lip, but Nathan never got the chance to touch the ropes before the door slammed behind him, making him jump.
“Hm. So you have an accomplice?” Tom didn’t recognize the older woman, undoubtedly an official of some sort.
“Back off!” Nathan warned. “He hasn’t done anything wrong. I’m letting him go.” He raised a hand, and the woman stumbled, as if hit with a wall of…what? Air!
“You’re an airmage!” Tom shouted in shock.
“Shush!” Nathan hissed back at him. He suddenly fell to one knee, holding his head. “Damnit…”
“Not a very strong one, apparently.” The woman was back on her feet, drawing a sword. She stayed a distance away, though, balanced carefully.
Nathan stumbled to his feet. Tom wondered how long it had been since he had helped the other boy back to his room. He wished he could help, but with the way he was tied he couldn’t get his feet under him. If he really did have magic, he didn’t know how to use it.
The door opened again with a bang, and before Tom could react Nathan was knocked to the floor by an invisible force. He rolled and didn’t get up. Tom gasped, his friend unconscious about six feet away.
“You should control your students, Archibald.” The woman sheathed her sword. “He had the gall to attack me.”
“He has spirit, that’s all. I don’t want to beat it out of him just yet.” Archibald crossed the room to where Nathan lay, prodding him with his foot. “Used up his power without rest. I’m surprised he had anything left in him.” He gave him a forceful kick, but Nathan didn’t wake.
“Leave him alone!” Tom yelled from his place on the floor. His blood ran cold when Archibald faced him.
“Ah, you. The source of all the trouble. What a shame. I would have liked teaching you.” He shook his head before turning back to the woman. “Help me drag him out of here.” He motioned to Nathan.
As the woman complied, Archibald turned back to Tom. “I guess I was wrong. You won’t have any subordinates after all, if Ruthen’s lad finds ill of you.” He smirked and followed the woman out, who had managed to pick up Nathan. The door closed, and Tom dreaded it opening again.
No one came for what seemed like days. The pain in his arms grew worse, and hunger and thirst cramped his stomach. Finally, the fear gave way to sleep. When he woke, his arms hurt even more. It wasn’t as bad as his thirst, though.
“How long has he been here?” A deep voice brought him to awareness. Someone was sitting near him.
“A-A day and a half.”
“Why didn’t you give him water!?” The same voice shouted.
“W-We were frightened…He’s a water mage, isn’t he?”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” the man said, and then someone was tapping him. “Wake up, boy.” Tom opened his eyes to slits, staring at the person before him. He had red hair, and deep green eyes.
“Drink.” Water poured over Tom’s lips, the best thing he could imagine. He drank all he could before the man put the flask away.
“Okay, now can you answer some questions for me?” the man said in a silky voice.
“Who are you?” Tom whispered.
The man laughed. “I’m Jacob Ruthen, apprentice to Lord Ruthen. Now, will you answer my questions?” Tom nodded. Something in him told him to run, but the instinct was faint.
“Can you control water?” Jacob asked. Tom just stared at him, so he elaborated. “Like, make it rain, or make waves without touching water?”
Tom thought back to the tank in the doctor’s office. Did that count? He didn’t think so. But he did like water, and he had sensed rain. “I can sense rain.”
Jacob frowned. Tom wanted to sleep again. “What about…breathing underwater?”
Tom’s eyes widened. He could do that! But should he tell him? Suddenly the fog and exhaustion from days without food and water began to lift. He realized he was in danger, depending on his answers.
“Can you?” Jacob pressed.
“Um…” If he lied, and said he couldn’t, maybe he would be let go. But if he told the truth, maybe Ruthen would let him help. Maybe this was good! He decided to take the risk. “Yes…”
Ruthen raised his eyebrows and smiled. “Really?”
Tom elaborated, relaxing a little. “Yeah. It was scary at first, because I thought I’d drown, but then I could breathe almost normally.” Tom smiled a little. Maybe things would be okay!
“Oh well. It appears you are nothing but a problem.” Ruthen’s smile vanished, and suddenly Tom realized he had made a grievous error. Ruthen removed his gloves, and fear filled Tom. He looked over Ruthen’s shoulder, but there was only the same woman who had been so cruel to Nathan before.
That was it. Tom ignored the pain in his arms and tried to break the ropes, the burned skin rubbing raw against them. He tried to get to his feet, but Ruthen held him down.
“One last test.” His voice wasn’t friendly anymore. He held two fingers up near Tom’s face, and Tom saw a spark before Ruthen drew them across his eye. It burned.
Tom screamed, throwing his head back as Ruthen let him go. He rolled on the floor, blood from the burn in his eye and his face.
“Get rid of him. I don’t know how this happened, but make sure he dies.” Tom heard footsteps leaving over his own screaming, and then the floorboards shifted.
“This is for your own good. I’m sorry, kid.” He was struck on the head, and then heard nothing.
Water struck his face. He opened his one eye, and was amazed at how the rain drops soothed the burn on the other. They helped his arm, too. It was dark, and the rain made it peaceful outside. Then he realized he was being held aloft...over the side of the ship.
He couldn’t scream in time. He fell, and hit the water with a smack, cold water soothing burns. Darkness came over him, and as he sank, the last thing he saw clearly was Jacob Ruthen’s stern face.