No Escape

”It is not as you have read in books and heard in tales, hopeful stranger!” the hooded man said. It was dark. The clouds covered both moon and stars. The camp was far away. There was no light in this small clearing in this old forest. Ironic to call it a “clearing” when everything was shrouded in darkness. The unknown man carried on,
“You do not “sell your soul”. There are no tricks, written with small letters in the contract you sign with your own blood. Nothing crazy like that. We both know that the real life differs from fireplace stories, do we not? You will not burn in Hell for eternity! You will not be my slave! I want you to be assured of that!”

Yes I already know that, you treacherous little scum! I wish to rip your heart out! If only I were there! Oh, how I wish I were there!

“So, you must wonder – if this is no tale. If this is no soul market – what in Hell’s name is this in for me, huh?” the cloaked man said with slight amusement in his anonymous voice. He took a step forward. The light was gone, but it was as if all sounds of the forest were removed as well. Trapped in darkness. Trapped in silence.

No shadows to hide you know, you bastard! If only it were not too late!

The voice turned colder. More distant. “Well, I will not lie to you, young one. The power you will receive – it will not be eternal. You must –

The dream flashed ahead, drowning the man’s words.

***

NO!

The sword was painted red with the young mother’s blood. He dropped it on the cold stone floor. It made a loud noise throughout the hall. He looked at her lifeless body. She had not screamed as he had stabbed her. The life simply left her body as soon as his sword had inflicted the mortal wound. An instant death. He knelt down beside her and looked at her face. He could not stand her beautiful, but now lifeless green eyes. They pierced his eyes. He closed them. The two emeralds penetrated his heart; he could feel it skip a beat. The green eyes slashed his soul; he could do nothing but cry.

I am so sorry

The dream faded with a white light. A new moment was brought back to his sleeping mind.

***

“Arbiter!” the voice called through the blackness. “Pull yourself together!”

Do not call me that!

“Yes. I must do it” was the reply from his weak and trembling lips.
“Indeed you must! It is for the greater good, Arbiter!”

The Greater Good? It hardly feels worth it now.

Blood, coldness and sorrow flew across his eyes. A new moment was revealed in his dream.

***

“The work on the Tower goes on better than planned, milord!” the happy citizen said, joyfully. The man, who received the information smiled, although he could smell the blood he had spilled to make this happen.

Better than planned. Better than planned.

A subtle hiss appeared in his mind: “Better than planned!”

***
He woke up. His face was bathed in sweat. He grabbed the dagger next to his bed and affirmed it with his other hand. The entire motion had been so fast. There was no time for doubt. No time for thought. He slowly moved the tip towards his pounding heart. No more greater good from me! He could hear the distant hiss once more, but it was drowned by another sound. A child’s voice. His own child’s voice. It spoke merrily: “Do not let its plan succeed, daddy. Please!”. He let the dagger fall beside his bed as his eyes remained fixed on the ceiling. His heart was beating faster and faster. Both child and snake were gone. He could hear the dagger clang the same way his sword had done next to the woman’s corpse. He cried to the night: “YOUR PLAN WILL NEVER SUCEED! NEVER!”

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