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Ever since Gaian had been taken from his cell Bevern had been feeling nervous. He dreaded to think about what they were doing to Gaian, and what they might to do him next.

He wanted to find a way to escape, but he couldn’t think of anything, and he was quickly losing all hope of Sianna being able to free herself from her gag to cast a spell to get them out of this.

But then he started to think about what they would do if they were able to get out of here. The world outside was ending. OK, they had their quest given to them by Lisa, but how could they expect to succeed with that? The Empire were also after the Crystals. What hope did his little party have of finding the last two Crystals with the Imperial Guard running about the place?

Then he realised that their quest had already ended in failure, the Empire had captured them, and now the world was doomed. It would be better if they just ended everything now...

He wasn't overly fond of Tyght’s company, and he still didn’t trust him. Part of him felt that he had somehow led them to this airship intentionally. He wasn’t sure if he bought his story about his night vision, and suspected that he knew the airship was there all along and he was just putting on a show to fool them when they were creeping about the streets of Port Klempt. And getting himself locked up here was also part of the show.

But what did it matter whether he was a friend or a foe. Their quest was over, and they had failed.

“Stop that,” he heard Tyght say. He suddenly realised that he was noisily rocking back and forth.

“Sorry...” He had always wondered what he would feel like if he ever knew that his death was imminent, but being prepared for it wasn’t making him any calmer. “Sianna, are you awake?” There was one clang. “Any chance of getting that gag off?” Two clangs.

It was the waiting that was the worst part. He knew that at any moment the soldiers could open the door to take him away to be tortured and killed. But it could be in an hour’s time, or in two hours, or in the next five minutes. He was in two minds about this. Part of him wanted the wait to be as long as possible. Maybe in that time someone would come to their rescue. But there was another part of him that just wanted it over and done with. However, if he were to decide which of these two were to be the better option it would make no difference. They would come for him once they were ready. No sooner, no later.

He lay back, and somehow found that he was able to fall asleep. He started to dream that he and Gaian were working in a field together, somewhere near Eliviston before the catastrophe. The sky was blue without a cloud in it, the air was warm but not oppressing, and there was a light breeze blowing. There wasn’t really much happening in the dream, they were just working in the field together, and were happy. There was nothing there to bother them.

Then, suddenly, the sky turned red, and fire started to rain down on the landscape. Balls of fire were landing in the fields all around them, setting them alight. He looked up, only to see one of these fireballs heading straight for him. It hit him with incredible force...

...He was suddenly woken up by a soldier dragging him up to his feet. The bag was roughly placed over his head again, and within seconds he was being dragged out of the prison.

He could feel that he was being pulled along by two soldiers, and they were going at such a speed that he crashed into various things along the way.

After about five minutes of this they entered a room, and he was lifted up onto a cold metal table. He tried to sit up, but he was forced to lie down. They took off his shoes and socks, rolled up his trousers, and then they strapped his legs to the table. Simultaneously, his sleeves were rolled up and his arms were also strapped to the table. Then the bag was removed from his head.

He was in a featureless room, with a light shining down from above them. The soldiers that had secured him to the table quickly left the room, shutting the door behind them. And then everything went silent.

The room was cold, and Bevern’s heart was thumping. He didn’t know exactly what was going to happen next, only that it wasn’t going to be pleasant.

It felt as though he had been laying there for an hour when he finally heard a voice. “Sorry to have kept you.” It was General Catrix, but he was nowhere to be seen in the small room. “I am not in the room with you, but I can see you. This is Imperial technology, you see. Now, I want you to tell me how we can get back to the Fire Crystal, and how we can reach the Water Crystal.”

“Why should I tell you anything?”

“That’s a very good question. Why should you? There’s nothing in it for you, is there? You’re fighting for your Republic, and if you tell me what I want to know, the Empire will be able to complete its domination of the world. Of course, what you don’t realise is that I have the ability to make you tell me anything that I want to know.”

“I won’t tell you anything!” Bevern wasn’t about to give everything up. Gaian had told him not to, no matter what, and he wasn't about to let him down. He felt there was nothing the General could say or do that would make him talk. He had to do all that he could to save what little of the world that was left.

“Oh, but you will. Now, I need that information from you, and I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to obtain it. But I am a fair man. The means that I have to make you talk are most unpleasant. So I will give you the chance to speak freely. If you choose not to take that chance, then you will only have yourself to blame for the suffering that you will subsequently experience. I’m going to go away now and give you some time to consider. I will be back in thirty minutes. Think carefully about what you decide to do.”

He then fell silent, and the light in the room suddenly went out, putting everything into total darkness.

Bevern realised that his heart was racing. During the conversation he kept expecting something bad to happen to him, but he wasn't expecting this. He had to admit to himself that he was scared. What was the General going to do to him if he didn’t speak?

He thought back to what Tyght had said, that the Empire would undoubtedly use torture on them. If he didn’t speak, he knew that he was going to feel pain of some description.

But what exactly could he tell the General, even if he wanted to talk? He wasn’t entirely sure how to get back to the Fire Crystal, and he had no idea how Tyght had reached the Water Crystal, or even how they had reached that cave system.

However, he knew that they had reached the caves after falling into the Maelstrom. If the Empire has succeeded in building this airship, then they might be able to find a way to pass though the Maelstrom, and then find the door and find a way through it to reach the Crystal. He also suspected that the Empire didn’t know about Lisa, and it would probably be better if they didn’t know about her.

He didn’t know exactly what the Emperor’s plans were, but he was certain that they would be bad for the world. He decided that no matter what pain he was forced to endure, he wouldn’t give up what he knew. He was but one man, and there was a whole world at risk. He felt that his enduring what was to come would somehow help to protect that world.

The time passed by quickly, and then the light came back on. He could then hear the General’s voice again, “So, are you going to tell me what I want to know?”

“Go to hell!”

“Foolish man! I gave you your chance to avoid this. Now see what Imperial technology can do to make you talk.”

A great pain shot through Bevern’s body, which was accompanied by a buzzing noise. He cried out, but soon his breath was gone and he couldn’t breathe in, and so his voice fell silent, but the pain still passed through him.

Then, just as suddenly, it stopped, and he could breathe again. The General said, “And that was one of the lower settings, it can go much, much higher than that. If you refuse to tell me what I want to know, that will feel like a pin-prick compared to the highest setting. That is, if you survive that long. Now, are you going to tell me what I want to know?

“Never!” Bevern was determined not to give up the information that he knew. If he was going to die, he was going to go down fighting.

“I thought you’d say that. Very well...”

The pain came back, only this time it was much stronger. Bevern could feel it the most around his wrists and his ankles, where he was tied down to the table.

After a brief moment it went away again. The General said, “TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO KNOW!”

Bevern struggled to find his voice, but eventually he shouted out, “NO!!!”

Immediately the pain came back, much more intense than before, far worse than anything that he had been expecting. And this time it seemed to go on for twice as long.

When it stopped the General shouted out, “TELL ME!” But this time Bevern failed to find his voice to shout his defiance, and the pain came back stronger still.

This time it seemed to go on for an eternity. When it eventually went away his wrists and ankles felt like they were on fire. The General said, “We’re only half way through the settings. How much more of this are you prepared to take?”

Without even waiting for his answer the pain returned, feeling twice as intense as before. He lost all sensation of how long it went on for, but it seemed like hours. He couldn't carry on...

When the pain went away and he could speak again, he said as loudly as he could, which was barely more than a whisper, “Alright... Alright... I’ll tell you what you want to know...”

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