Home > Chained (Brides of the Kindred #9)

Chained (Brides of the Kindred #9)
Evangeline Anderson

Prologue

In the Dungeons of Yonnie Six

Hell. I’m in Hell—one of the Seven Hells, but which one?

He tried to think, concentrating on holding the thought in his head. But the thirst was too great—it drove out everything else. His throat was parched, his mouth dry as a desert and his tongue was swollen in his mouth, desperate for even a drop of the life-giving water which was so tantalizingly close.

The soft rippling sound filled his ears, filled his entire consciousness. The little brook that ran right in front of him was both a torment and a desire so strong he could barely stand it. Sometimes he thought the mocking chatter of the crystal clear water as it ran over the stones at his feet would drive him mad. Sometimes he was sure he already was mad.

Which Hell? Which of the Seven Hells? He tried to push his mind away from the thirst and the water at his feet again. The Hell reserved for murderers, maybe? For he was a murderer—many times over. And just because most of his kills had happened within the arenas of the Blood Circuit didn’t absolve him of his crimes. He had been known simply as Korexiroth—The Demon—there and he had enjoyed some of those deaths—especially the last one. The death of his old master, Phenras. It had been a pleasure to wrap his fingers around that fat neck and squeeze and squeeze until he saw the life fading from his master’s dull brown eyes.

A pleasure that had landed him in Hell.

The Hell of Thirst. Is there such a place?

There had to be because he was in it. How many kills did he have? How many years would he be damned for them? Aside from the ones in the arena and the murder of his master, he’d been told that he had killed two guards assigned to escort him to Yonnie Six. But those kills he barely remembered—they had given him some kind of drug that maddened him. Still, he supposed it made no difference. The guards were still dead and their blood was on his hands.

He changed his position and the chains binding his arms behind his back clinked. The pain collar around his neck shifted with the movement, sending an agonizing jolt of electric current through his entire body.

The prisoner gave a stifled groan. That bitch, Pope’nose, had set the damn thing on the most sensitive setting so that the slightest motion on his part resulted in a horrific burst of pain. It was excruciating—unbearable.

Rather than subduing him, however, the painful shock seemed to galvanize him into action. He growled low in his throat—a deep, animalistic sound—and thrashed recklessly against the chains that bound him.

Jolt after jolt of agony struck him but still he thrashed, fighting the thing around his neck. He swore to himself if he ever got it off he would make his new mistress pay. He would give her pain for pain until she regretted her foolish decision to buy him in the first place.

But even a male as big and strong as he was couldn’t keep this up forever. At last the prisoner fell to his knees, panting. He would have hung his head if the damn collar would have allowed it. As it was, the best he could do was to close his eyes and let his shoulders sag. Around his neck he felt the pain collar readying itself for the next jolt. Under it, as always, was the dull burn of another collar—the inhibitor band he had worn since the age of six cycles. But that was an old pain—one he barely even noticed anymore.

Now that he was down on his knees, the sound of the brook was maddeningly close. How he wished he could have just one mouthful of that cool, clear water! His entire body cried out for moisture and it was so close…so close.

Slowly, ignoring the stabbing shocks delivered by the collar, the prisoner bent down. His hands were chained behind his back but he had some slack, enough to lower his face to the surface of the brook. He knew it was no use but he couldn’t help himself—he had to try again.

Taking a deep breath, he pushed his face into the clear, cold surface of the water. And he felt it—felt the chilly wetness caress his cheeks and eyelids, felt the blessed moisture at his parched lips.

But while the water caressed his mouth, it could not pass his lips. He stuck out his tongue, attempting to lap at the water like an animal dying of thirst, but not a single molecule of the life saving liquid touched his flesh.

The prisoner gave a low, hoarse moan. He pressed his face deeper into the bubbling, chattering brook but though he felt the cool chill of the water caressing his skin, not a drop of it actually touched him. It was as if there was a barrier—a thin but impenetrable membrane between himself and the moisture he so desperately needed.

The dust. It’s the dust.

He knew it was true. The fine, silvery gray dust that coated his entire body, even his hair and eyelids, was the culprit. It formed a barrier between him and the water and until that barrier was breached, he would go on thirsting forever.

He sat up again, ignoring the horrible shocks of the pain collar, and leaned away from the brook. It was the worst kind of torture to be right beside the brook, to be able to actually put his face in the water, without being able to drink any of it.

Hell, he thought again. I’m definitely in Hell.

He closed his eyes, wishing for release, desperate for a respite, however brief, from this horrible agony. Sometimes he managed to sleep, though only in snatches. The moment his head started to nod the pain collar activated and jolted him awake. But in those brief moments of peace he had seen something…no, someone. He couldn’t see her entire face—she wore a strange apparatus of glass and metal which covered her eyes. A cyborg then, maybe, with mechanical oculars. If so, she was a very pretty one. And why anyone would bother to build a cyborg with tousled, honey-blonde curls and full, curving hips, the prisoner couldn’t guess.

Still, the sight of her, however brief, soothed him. When he saw her, he forgot his torment and agony, forgot even the thirst. He knew she was only a dream but still, maybe if he kept his eyes closed he would see her. He would stare into her face and finally find the secret color of her eyes…if she had any.

He would—

* * * * *

See me. Oh my God, he can see me!

Maggie Jordan sat straight up in bed—and promptly banged her forehead against the bottom of the bunk directly over her.

“Ouch!” She rubbed at the spot on her forehead which was probably going to swell. But even the knock on the head couldn’t dispel the awful dream she’d been having.

It was the man again—the prisoner who was chained in place. He was in terrible agony and thirsty…so thirsty.

If only I could save him…ease his pain…give him a drink…

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