You are cursed to forever tell the truth no matter what. Every powerful group in the land is hunting you down because, under moments of great pain, you reflexively speak truths beyond your own knowledge and faculties.”
I felt the cold stone underneath my bare feet. The irons wrapped around my wrist, ankles, and neck chained me to the wooden chair I sat in. The smell of blood and moisture filled my nostrils as well as my own sweat. My vision was mostly black due to the burlap sack over my head. I tasted iron. I was pretty sure that was my own blood.
Then I heard the sound of footsteps approaching me. I jolted up and the chains tightened. My breathing immediately got heavy and the my heart raced.
A door behind me opened and several people entered.
“Remove the bag,” I heard an older gentleman say.
The burlap was tore from my head and I was blinded by the candlelight.
“So that’s the demon I’ve been hearing about,” The same man said.
My vision was blurry, but came back slowly. I noticed that there were about a dozen people standing around me in a large, circular room made from stone. I sat in the middle of it on a circular, stone pedestal. Chained in several spots from my wrists and ankles to iron locks on the floor.
I looked up at the people dressed in similar, crimson robes. Some carried candlesticks while others held burning incense, wooden bowls, and books.
Then there was one more man. The man who spoke. He wore a blue and silver robe and was holding some kind of sword. It shined in the candlelight.
I let out a series of coughs.
“Please, let me go,” I said, my body weak.
“You have no sway here, demon,” The man in the blue robe said. “You will not be escaping here. We’ve spent too much time, money, and manpower for you to slip through our fingertips now.”
“What do you want?” I asked.
“You have been given knowledge. Knowledge that no being should know. You will tell me all of it,” He said.
A creepy grin emerged across his face.
“Please, let me go,” I tried again.
I could only beg for my life. I could not lie my way out of it because I cannot lie. I always speak the truth. Even when I was a child, I told only the truth. The other kids hated me. I would spill all their secrets and rat them out to authorities. Whenever someone asked me something, I would blurt out the truth, most of the time to others detriment. This lead to kids beating me, attacking me with sticks, or throwing rocks at me. It was at these moments of great pain where I would speak the truth. The real truth. Nothing based on my knowledge, but things that I could not possibly know. It was like the universe was whispering me its secrets and I was blurting them out to everyone.
I exposed many members of the town of being associated with a smuggling ring that sold children off to be sex slaves. The town’s mayor, religious leaders, the shop keep, and several teachers were all arrested and hung for their crimes. My parents tried to comfort me, not understanding my curse, saying that I saved children. But the town was resentful. They feared me and my abilities. Who’s secrets would I spill next? Who’s skeletons would I expose? They ran me and my parents out of town. We traveled, but the tales of the boy who could tell only truths spread. We were outcasts in every town we came to. Never welcomed. I think this was too much for my parents. They tried to be supportive, but even they seemed afraid of what I could do. I think it broke them. They lost their will to live. Both of them passed away from exhaustion and dehydration within a two week period.
Then I was an orphan. An outcast. Just some boy could speak nothing but the truth. Someone no one wanted. Or so I thought. Some people saw what I could do as a gift. Something they could use. They wanted the knowledge I could speak. The only problem was that I could not do it on command. It had a cost.
The man grabbed my face.
“Now. Now. Don’t you be passing out on me,” He said squeezing my face. “Not before you talk.”
He then lifted the sword and pointed the blade straight down at the ground.
“Please don’t,” I began to weep.
He plunged the blade straight down into my left foot.
I let out a scream of pain as the blade pierced me and blood began to pour from the wound. I struggled to move my hands and feet. My body jerked around in the chair as my chains rattled.
“Tell me what you know, demon,” He whispered into my ear. “Spill your secrets or I’ll spill more of your blood.”
Some of the robed figures began to chant in low murmurs. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but it was in unison. They rocked the incense back and forth as the smoke began to cover the stone ground.
“I’m just a boy. Please let me go. I don’t want any harm. I’ll just go live in the woods. I won’t harm anyone. Just let me go,” I said.
He lifted the blade out of my foot, but the pain continued. He motioned for two other robbed figures to approach. They did and then began pouring the bowl’s contents onto my head. It seemed to be water. Just water.
It splashed down and drenched my hair and my clothes. It tasted salty against my lips but that could have been because of the blood or the sweat.
“Not a demon, huh? That is surprising. But no matter, I know that you don’t tell lies. You can only speak the truth. Isn’t that right?”
I felt my body strain and my tongue numb.
“Yes,” I said through clenched teeth.
The man smiled again.
“That’s what I thought.”
He suddenly plunged the sword downwards into the other foot.
Again I let out a scream of pain.
“Have I loosened your tongue enough or should I go on to other body parts? Maybe start removing fingers. See how many I have to cut off before you start talking.”
The man pulled the blade from my right foot.
I lurched forward as I felt bile rise to the back of my throat, but the chains kept me from getting too far.
“Do you want to keep your fingers?” He asked me.
“Yes,” I said.
“Then will you cooperate?”
“I…I don’t want to,” I managed holding back the vomit.
He smiled once again.
“We all do things that we don’t want to,” He said. “For instance, I don’t want to torture you.”
I looked up and met his eyes.
“You’re lying. You find this fun. You like this,” I said.
The murmurs got quiet.
He slapped me across the face as hard as he could and my face slammed into the wooden chair. I felt something snap in my jaw and the taste of iron filled my mouth.
I spat as best as I could. Blood and saliva ran down from my lip to my chin before dripping onto my torn up clothes.
“You will speak when spoken to,” The man said.
I slumped forward but he grabbed my head and slammed it into the back of the chair.
“You will be respectful or I won’t stop cutting and slicing you up. Even when you beg for it,” He said.
He let go and stepped back into the circle of cloaked figure. He spent a moment talking to another person, but I could not make out the words. My vision was still a little blurry and my hearing in my right ear was muffled.
The man in the blue and silver robe then came back holding a long knife. Not something a hunter would use to skin the animal he caught. No. This was more well made. Not chiseled or scratched in anyway. Something more ceremonial.
“Like it?” He showed it to me. It was silver like the sword and shimmered in the same way.
“It’s quite beautiful,” I said even though I wanted to say no.
“Yes it is,” He nodded.
“It’s an ancient artifact endued with magical powers. See it never dulls, no matter how many time it’s used. It always cuts like it was just freshly sharpened. This blade here is hundreds of years old, but it’s enchantment keeps it looking beautiful,” He explained. “No matter how many cuts I make with it, it stays sharp.”
He pressed the blade against my cheek and I felt small pinpricks of pain. Small droplets of blood emerged from my cheek.
“In other words, you are going to break before this blade will,” He said pressing the blade further into my face.
Tears began running down my face again.
“Please. Please stop. Please I’m begging you. Please don’t do this.”
“Tell me what I want to know,” He said again pressing the blade even more.
“What…what do you want to know?”
He leaned in close once again and whispered into my ear.
“I want to know how to become a god.”
Header Photo Credit to JoseAlvesSilva on DeviantArt
Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/Googlesnarks