Authors: J. J. Newman
“The kid was stealing without permission. He killed some of our men. I had to retaliate.” Pyron spoke fast, unwilling to lie to the dangerous men again.
You tortured him. You burned out his eye. A kid, Pyron. You did this to a kid.” Elias kicked Pyron in the ribs. Several ribs popped, but Pyron remained held in place by Tyrier. He screamed again.
Elias, he knew what he was doing. It’s not like he was a baby. He’s a thief, a killer. Why do you even care?” Pyron was sweating, and his voice was shaking from the pain.
The boy was a prospect, Pyron,” Elias said coldly.
Pyron began shaking even harder.
“I didn’t know,” he said in a small voice.
Elias bent forward and grabbed the man roughly by the
hair. “Why would we tell
Pyron? Why would we confide in a shitty little thief master? No kids, that’s the rules.” Elias let go of Pyron’s hair, and kicked him hard in the now-broken ribs.
And you burned out his eye.” Elias shook his head.
Elias walked over to the fireplace, and removed a fire poker. He placed it into the flames
and waited. The poker took a long time to heat up. Pyron’s eyes widened in terror as he began to understand what the men had in store for him, and he begged and pleaded for mercy. His pleas fell on deaf ears.
Elias removed the glowing hot poker from the fire. He walked back to Pyron and stood before him holding the poker loosely in his hand.
“Please. No,” Pyron begged. A puddle of urine began to pool at his knees.
What’s that old saying? An eye for an eye?” Elias asked.
No!” Pyron screamed.
Elias pushed the hot poker into Pyron’s eye. He pushed it in slowly, twisting it as it buried deeper into the
man’s head. Blood bubbled from the wound as it came in contact with the white hot steel. Pyron’s wail of agony echoed through the entire guild hall. Elias placed the poker on the floor after tearing the point from Pyron’s face, the thief’s melted and ruined eyeball sizzling on the tip. Pyron was still screaming and crying as Tyrier dropped him roughly to the floor. Elias stepped behind Pyron and grabbed the sides of his head. Blood continued to ooze from his empty eye socket.
An eye for an eye. But taking his eye wasn’t enough for you. You tried to kill him. You’re going to die now, Pyron. I want you to be very aware of that fact.” Elias waited a few long seconds to give the man time to contemplate what was about to happen, then produced a small sharp knife, and pushed in through Pyron’s neck, twisting it and grinding it deep into his jugular. The man gurgled and twitched violently for a long time before going still. Elias let go of his head, and it hit the floor with a loud thud. Several men entered the room and Elias turned to them.
Who’s in charge after Pyron?” He asked.
Rat Face raised his hand.
“You remember this. If any of you cross the line even one more time, we will burn you all to the ground. Do you understand?”
Rat Face nodded.
Elias and Tyrier left the guild hall. They didn’t even bother watching their backs, knowing that none of the thieves would be stupid enough to attack them. One did not anger the Third Eye Initiative twice.
The darkness faded away slowly and was replaced by pain. Tsaeris opened his eye. Something wasn’t right. Try as he might, his right eye refused to open. He raised his right arm, as his left was bound in some kind of sling, and poked a finger towards it and felt some sort of cloth covering his eye. The contact also caused an explosion of pain that vibrated through his head.
Waves of agony washed over him, and he began to retch violently. The retching caused his side to throb in pain, which caused him to retch even harder. The cycle continued for what felt like a long time, and left Tsaeris feeling exhausted. He lay staring at the ceiling, terrified to move.
Memories began to return. The hot poker, the knives, and the beatings. He began to scream and sob. His eye was gone forever. He was a cripple, his life was ruined, and he was in so much pain. Why would that man do this to him?
He didn’t recognize the room he was in, and decided that he must still be in the Thieves Guild’s hideout, and there was more torture to come. He tried to sit up in the bed, but he lacked the strength. He tried to control his sobbing. He didn’t want the torturers to know he was awake, fearful that they might decide it was time to continue their work.
managed to get his sobbing down to a tiny whimper. He took deep breathes between frightened squeaks. After a few moments he managed to get even the squeaks and whimpers under control.
There has to be a way out of here
. He knew he was lying to himself. He was in agony and could barely move. A plan formed in his mind. He would fake being unconscious when the torturers returned. They would get no pleasure hurting him if he wasn’t even awake. He would keep it up until his strength returned and he could escape.
He heard a sound. The door was opening! He closed his eye quickly, and lay very still. He heard somebody approaching him, but he dared not open his eye to look. Whoever it was stopped close to his bed. He heard no more movement.
“It’s no use, kid. I know when somebody is asleep and when they’re faking. Sleeping people breathe different than awake people,” the voice was deep and booming.
Tsaeris kept his eye closed. The torturer could be bluffing.
He felt something, an unpleasant sensation in his foot. The bastard was tickling him! He gave it a valiant effort, but despite the impending torture he was unable to keep still. He squirmed.
Hah! I knew it, you little liar!” The voice sounded pleased with itself.
Tsaeris opened his eye. His vision was blurry, but he could make out the form of a large
man and the shadow of a long beard on his face.
Please. Please don’t hurt me anymore. I’ll die.” He knew how pathetic he sounded, but he didn’t care at this point.
I’m not going to hurt you, boy.” The man paused as if rethinking what he had just said. “Alright, I’m probably going to hurt you. But it will be the kind of hurting you that makes you better. The good kind of hurt.”
Tsaeris didn’t know what to say. He knew the torturer was mocking him. He hated himself when he began sobbing again.
“Easy there, kid. I’m a doctor. You’re in my clinic. You’re safe.”
A trick. It had to be. Why would his torturers bring him to a clinic? Maybe they wanted him fixed up so he could withstand more torture.
“Look, I won’t steal no more. I’m sorry for the dead men. I just want to go home, or even die. Just don’t hurt me anymore.” He was still crying.
They messed you up bad, didn’t they? Tsaeris, the man who did this to you is dead. You’re with friends now. You need to relax. Stress will only make things worse for you.”
Tsaeris wanted so badly to believe the man. He wanted to get better, and he certainly didn’t want to die. Yet he was so afraid, and so depressed that he simply could not believe that anything good could be happening.
The big man leaned forward, and squirted some liquid into Tsaeris’ good eye. Tsaeris cried out. Acid! The bastard poured acid in his eye! He knew it was a trick! He screamed in rage and pain.
Damn it, boy! It’s only water. There’s a film on your eye. This should clear your vision.”
Tsaeris stopped yelling. The liquid didn’t really hurt, now that he thought about it. And his vision was clearing with every blink. After a few more moments, he could see the man clearly. The man seemed familiar to him. Suddenly he remembered.
“You were at the Arms Fair. You won the fisticuffs match,” Tsaeris said weakly.
That’s right. See? I’m not with the men who did this to you.”
Tsaeris shook his head.
“That doesn’t mean anything. You could still be one of them.”
We know each other, kid. In fact, we’re old friends.” The man smiled.
“We’ve met lots of times, Tsaeris.” The Doctor began. “I treated you all the time when you were at the orphanage. Remember?”
Tsaeris did. Suddenly he realized why the man had seemed so familiar to him at the fair. This was
Doctor! The one he had liked. The only person he had really liked back then. The fear vanished, and suddenly he was a small boy again. He began to cry one last time, but these tears were different. They were the tears of a child who had finally found safety. He reached out his little hand, and the Doctor took it gently. Tsaeris felt ashamed for a moment, but one look into the Doctor’s eyes and the shame was gone. There was understanding in those eyes, and there was no judgment. The tears stopped after only a few seconds, and Tsaeris took his hand back. He felt better.
Like I said, you’re safe now. I’m Tyrier by the way, in case you forgot my name.”
I only ever knew you as the Doctor,” Tsaeris said.
Well now you know.”
I don’t feel well, Doc. How bad is it?”
I’m going to be honest with you, Tsaeris. Your right eye is gone. We’ll do what we can to repair the socket, but I wanted you to regain some strength before those surgeries. They won’t be pleasant. But if we don’t do it, there’s a good chance the wound will reinfect when you’re out on your own, and you’ll probably die. So you’re going to have to be strong, alright?”
You’re not giving me much choice there, Doc. When do you start?”
“Like I said. You need to be stronger. A week or so of rest and good food should do the trick.”
As soon as Tyrier mentioned food, Tsaeris realized how hungry he was. Tyrier seemed to recognize the look.
“I’ll bring you some broth and some water,” the big man said.
That’s it? I’m starving,” Tsaeris whined.
You haven’t eaten anything solid in a while, boy. We need to ease you back into the heavier food.”
Tsaeris found the statement odd.
“Wait, what? How long have I been out?” he asked.
Almost two weeks. I’ll go get your food,” Tyrier answered. He walked out of the room.
Two weeks! Tsaeris was stunned. He had no concept of time passing. One moment he was being tortured, the next he woke up h
ere. No wonder he felt so weak, he had been lying in this bed for so long. The Doctor returned with the promised broth and water. He propped Tsaeris up into a sitting position with a pillow, and placed the food tray on his lap. Tsaeris cringed slightly at the pain of movement, but it didn’t seem nearly as intense as it had when he had first awakened.
Eat it slow,” the Doctor advised.
You mean drink it slow,” Tsaeris said bitterly. He was still unimpressed by the food.
I don’t care what you call it. Just pour it down your throat and stop complaining, you ungrateful...” Tsaeris didn’t catch the end of the sentence as Tyrier walked to the other side of the room, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t a compliment.
Tyrier returned with a small pot, a vial of some kind of paste and some bandages. He began unwrapping the bandage around
Do you have to do that while I eat?” Tsaeris complained.
Tyrier stopped, and glared at the boy.
“Is this how it’s going to be? Are you going to complain about absolutely everything? How about being happy that you’re alive and able to eat broth, and that I care enough to change the bloody bandage.”
“Alright, alright. I’ll stop.” A thought struck him. “How did I get here? I mean after they did these things to me?” Tsaeris went to reach for the bowl of broth with his left arm, when he remembered that it was in a sling. He grabbed the bowl with his right hand instead.
A friend found you lying in an alley, almost naked, save for that.” Tyrier pointed to something on a hook across the room. It was Tsaeris’ thin green dress scarf. The one he had liked, and purchased for himself. It looked ratty now, stained and with a few tears in it, and the green seemed even darker than before.
“He brought you here. You’re one lucky kid. Keeping you alive was no small feat.” Tyrier finished removing the cloth bandage and Tsaeris could smell the wound. It almost ruined his appetite. Almost.
We’ll let the wound get some air while you eat before I put the salve and bandage on,” Tyrier said.
Tsaeris didn’t like the feeling of the exposed eye socket, but he forced himself to ignore it.
“I guess I should thank you for saving me,” he said between mouthfuls of broth.
Seems like the decent thing to do,” Tyrier replied.
Thanks. And tell your friend I said thanks as well.”
His name’s Elias and you can tell him yourself. He’ll probably be by to see you soon enough.” Tyrier began laying out the bandage.
Why? Why would he even care at this point? He got me to you. I’d just go on my way if it were me.” Tsaeris finished his broth, and drank his cup of water.
Well, not everyone’s a selfish little ass like you. He went through a lot of trouble to help you. He wants to know it was worth the effort.” Tyrier began gently applying a salve to the eye wound. It hurt, but not as much as it had when Tsaeris had poked the eye himself when he first woke up. In fact, after a few seconds it was actually kind of soothing.
I’m not selfish,” Tsaeris retorted. Tyrier answered with a cool stare. “Alright, I’m selfish. But as a street kid you kind of have to be.”
If you say so.” Tyrier wrapped the bandage around Tsaeris’ eye. “There you go. Now get some rest. We can talk later.” He gently removed the pillow from behind Tsaeris, and lowered him gently onto his back.
I’m not tired. I want to...” Tsaeris yawned. “I want to talk now.” His eyes felt suddenly heavy.
Later,” a voice said from somewhere in the room. Tsaeris was only vaguely aware of it, and sleep claimed him quickly.
The next week was difficult for Tsaeris. The Doctor had begun working on his damaged eye, and the operations were painful. Doctor Sydarin had explained that he needed to close the wound as much as possible to avoid infection, and that the work was mostly trial and error. As much as the operations hurt, there was something much worse going on with Tsaeris. Depression.
The reality of losing one of his eyes began to take
its toll. The lack of depth perception made him dizzy, and he was very aware of the large blind spot. He felt vulnerable with only half his vision. He feared the idea of being attacked from his blind side and not even knowing he was in danger before it was too late. His thieving days were over, of course. If he attempted to take a purse or pick a pocket, how could he be sure that he wasn’t being watched from his blind side? His only source of income was denied him now, and he had no idea what he would do.
self-image was badly damaged as well. He felt the scars made him ugly, and he didn’t like the idea of an eye patch. He was a disabled freak now, and would probably die quickly on the dangerous streets of the City. None of this was fair. He didn’t deserve this.
Doctor Sydarin would force Tsaeris out of bed for a few hours each day. At first it was difficult. His muscles were weakened from lack of use, and the disorientation of only having half of his vision made walking even harder. Each day did get easier, however, and the Doctor encouraged Tsaeris, and told him he was adapting already.
Adaption. The Doctor talked about it a lot. He assured Tsaeris that he would get used to having only one eye, and it wouldn’t always be this bad. Sometimes Tsaeris believed him. The Doctor had a way of making Tsaeris feel confident.
He began reintroducing solid food the first day Tsaeris had gotten out of bed. It upset his stomach at first, and he could only eat a small amount. It didn’t take long for the youthful appetite to grow in strength again, however, and soon he was eating like any boy his age. Ravenously.