|Series||The Journey by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Previous||Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Eight|
|Next||Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Ten|
|← Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Eight||Chapter Chronology||Sparrow's Journey: Chapter Ten →|
Chapter Nine: Life as a Spire GuardEdit
Several hours later, Sparrow was standing in the Spire with ten other Crucible Champions, surrounded by Spire guards. The moment they had stepped off the boat, the guards immediately surrounded them as though they were criminals… though some of them probably were, like Sparrow.
'Just look at this place,' Bob said to Sparrow. He was one of the other Crucible Champions. For some reason, all the other Crucible Champions enjoyed talking to Sparrow, regardless of his cold nature. 'We did well casting in our lot with Lord Lucien.’
‘I doubt you’ll be saying that later on,’ Sparrow said quietly as he took in the Spire guards surrounding them.
‘Well, whatever he's planning, Lil and I will be set for life.'
'Get moving,' one of the guards ordered suddenly, pushing Sparrow roughly forward. It took all of Sparrow’s strength and Will power not to barbeque the guard. Instead, he gritted his teeth and walked forward with Bob going on about his wife.
'I've been with my Lil for thirteen years and have been faithful the whole time. If you could see her, you'd understand why. What is that noise? I don't just hear it… I can feel it. This place feels… wrong.'
'What is this place?' Dan asked in amazement.
'Six years I was a masons apprentice and I saw never saw any place like this,' said Adrian, also looking around in awe.
‘I would be surprised if you did,’ said Sparrow, making the other Champions look at him.
‘What do you mean?’ asked Adrian.
‘The Spire was first built back when the Archon was alive and was destroyed during the same time. Buildings like the Spire haven’t been seen since the destruction of the Old Kingdom.’
‘How do you know that?’ Bob inquired.
‘The Archon is one of my ancestors,’ Sparrow shrugged, stopping in front of a podium and glaring at the figure standing on it.
Lucien Fairfax stood before them so casually and importantly, that Sparrow wanted nothing more than to attack him now. He might not have any weapons on his person, but he still had his Will. However, something held him back. Something deep down told him not to attack.
Taking a deep breath, Sparrow tried to settle his rage and to focus on what Lucien was saying to the idiots around him.
'The world outside these marvellous walls is a corrupt, rotting husk,’ Lucien was saying. 'Reason is absent. Instead of order there is chaos. Chaos does not punish evil, or reward righteousness. Chaos cuts innocent lives short and we accept this as fate…'
‘Chaos isn't the only thing that cuts innocent lives short,’ Sparrow muttered darkly.
Lucien heard him.
'I beg to differ,' he continued while he examined Sparrow’s face with a slight frown. 'You stand in the centre of a great instrument of change. With it, I shall remake the world and my creation shall be unrecognisable, in its perfection. But my will alone is not efficient for such a momentous task. It is only through your toil, through your labours, through your conviction that Albion will be transformed. Don't fear the sound you hear in here; the throbbing beneath your feet. These sensations will soon be as familiar as your own heartbeat. And as long as your heart continues to beat, all I require from you is obedience. Now… sleep,’ he said in a strange voice, his eyes still focused on Sparrow.
All of a sudden, Sparrow began to feel drowsy and he automatically began to fight it, believing that Lucien had recognised him. However, when he noticed the men around him begin to fall to the ground in peaceful slumber and Lucien walking away, he knew it not to be true and reluctantly allowed the spell to take over him. As his world went black, he began to wonder if he would ever awaken again.
What felt like moments later, Sparrow became aware of his surrounds once again. He immediately realised that he was no longer at the Spire’s port. Instead, he was in what looked like a barracks, lying on an uncomfortable, ragged mattress. He then noticed that his attire had changed. He was now wearing a Spire Guard’s uniform and was wearing a collar with metal bits that were embedded into his neck. Sparrow was infuriated. It was as though he was some sort of animal! It was then that he noticed the most important thing… he could not draw upon his Will. He could not feel it. The collar had somehow removed his Will. Sparrow did not like this. It made him feel vulnerable. No Will, no sword, and no gun… great. This was definitely going to be harder than he had initially thought.
A sudden movement to his left got his attention. A Spire Guard was walking towards him. Sparrow hurriedly got to his feet so he wouldn’t feel as vulnerable as he did on the ground.
'Morning, Maggot,' said the guard, stopping in front of him. 'Welcome to the Spire. I hope you like it ‘cause you're never leaving.'
That's what you think, Sparrow thought resentfully. No one told him what he couldn’t do.
'Right now you are in the barracks. You will eat and sleep here, but the rest of the time you will work, where ever the Commandant assigns you,' the guard continued. 'Your job is to keep the scum building this place in line and otherwise doing whatever the Commandant tells you without question. When you receive an order you will obey it, immediately. That brings me to the new piece of jewellery you've got. The collar is part of Lord Lucien's obedience program. The Commandant will explain it to you. The main this is, do what you're told and don't try taking the collar off, ‘cause you can't and the penalty for trying is death,' he added, as though he had read the Hero’s thoughts. 'And not the quick and painless kind either. Now, report to the Commandant.'
Sparrow didn’t move.
‘Are you deaf? Report to the Commandant!’
‘I would if I knew where he was,’ Sparrow said coldly. Why did people always assume that he was a mind reader?
‘Lose that tone, Maggot!’ the guard snarled. ‘You’ll find it won’t be appreciated around here, and it won’t get you far.’
Sparrow only gazed coolly into the guard’s eyes.
Seeing that he wasn’t going to get a reply any time soon, the guard growled and gave Sparrow directions to the Commandant.
Sparrow smiled coldly at the guard and headed off to meet the Commandant. On the way, he suddenly realised something; the Commandant had seen him when he tried to rescue Garth. That meant that there was a high possibility that the Commandant would recognise Sparrow, which would result in him being captured, taken to Lucien and no doubt killed painfully. Garth would remain a prisoner forever and rose would never be revenged. Sparrow was unable to see a positive.
As he entered one of the detention centres, a hundred cover stories ran through his head, and they were all lost when some guard yelled out at him, 'Hey! It's you! We arrived together, remember?'
Sparrow realised that the guard was Bob, the man who never shut up about his wife.
'How could I forget?' Sparrow said acerbically. Why was it that this man still wanted to talk to him when he had made it clear straight off that he wanted nothing to do with him or anyone else in this stinking place?
'Can you believe they put me on guard duty on my first day too?' Bob told Sparrow enthusiastically as they walked along the detention centre. 'I must have impressed someone.’
‘I doubt it,’ Sparrow said rudely. Surprisingly, Bob did not hear, or his choose to ignore it.
‘Ooh, if Lil could see me now.’ Sparrow groaned. They were back to this Lil again. ‘She's always loved a bloke in uniform, though I don't think she'd like the mask any more than I do. They look properly intimidating, but I can hardly breathe in that thing. Oh, and watch out for this fellow,' Bob add, coming to a halt at the end cell. Inside the cell was Garth.
That was easy, Sparrow thought as Bob rabbited on about Garth being dangerous. Now all I have to do is get rid of this collar, get some weapons, and free him.
Sparrow then stiffened up as a strange force entered his mind, before Garth’s voice spoke to him.
I don't know how you got here, but I know what you are, he said. It doesn't matter, though. Your power will do you little good as long as you wear that collar. Be patient.
Thanks for the advice, Sparrow mentally snapped before walking away, while Bob was going on about writing a letter to Lil.
How on earth did he know that I was a Hero and about my Will? Sparrow thought angrily as he headed for the Commandant. Unless…
Sparrow remembered back to the first time he had met Garth back at Fairfax Castle and the look he had given him.
He knew! Sparrow continued to think angrily. He knew what I was the night Rose died!
Eventually, Sparrow snapped out of his angry thoughts when he arrived outside the Commandant's chambers. The two guards outside, took one look at him and opened the door. Sparrow confidently stepped inside the chamber and looked around. It was a very ordinary chamber with the only interesting features being what looked like two inactive cullis gates and a large window that had a good view of the port. The Commandant was standing in front of that window, and he only turned around when Sparrow came to a halt at the bottom of the stairs, which led to the window.
'I am the Commandant -' he broke off and began to examine Sparrow’s face, who was preparing himself for a fight.
‘Have we met?’ the Commandant asked suddenly.
‘I don’t think so, sir,’ Sparrow replied, pretending to be polite and well-mannered.
‘Hmm… As I was saying, I am the Commandant,’ he said, looking at Sparrow suspiciously. 'You are Recruit Two Seven Three. That number is not random. It was assigned to you for I have broken two hundred and seventy-two recruits before you. You are nothing more than the next link in the chain. You have been brought here to see the reconstruction of the Tattered Spire. And to serve Lucien as he seems fit. My job is to ensure the obedience of guards like you. You will do everything I tell you without question. Failure to obey will cause the device around your neck to activate.’
‘What do you mean by activate, sir?’ Sparrow need to find out more about this collar in order to remove it.
‘When it is activated, it will destroy all your memories and your experience will be drained away. This will continue, until you submit.’
‘I understand, sir.’
‘Do you? Well, let us see how well you have learned.' The Commandant walked confidently towards Sparrow, who did his best not to tense up. 'I am going to hit you, and you are going to thank me… because I tell you too.'
Sparrow’s body tensed right up as he stared disbelievingly at the Commandant.
Next minute, the Commandant drew his cutlass and hit Sparrow on his left arm, drawing blood. Sparrow did not make a sound, though he did grimace slightly. He did not want to give the Commandant the satisfaction of knowing that he had hurt him.
‘Thank you for hitting me, sir,’ Sparrow said through clenched teeth.
The Commandant regarded him silently. Sparrow could see that he was impressed by something, though he didn’t know what. Then, without warning, the Commandant sliced his stomach. Having not expected it, Sparrow let out a pained gasp. Nevertheless, he somehow managed to say, with minimum insolence and venom in his voice, ‘Thank you for hitting me, sir.’
'Excellent,' the Commandant sounded pleased. 'Now – beg. Beg me to show mercy.'
Sparrow’s eyes flashed with anger. This did not go unnoticed by the Commandant. Sparrow sighed, swallowing his pride, and fell to his knees and did as the Commandant asked. Theresa would have been so proud of him, for swallowing his pride and doing what was necessary. Sparrow had never been so humiliated in his life. He was grateful that no one else was there to witness his indignity.
'Good you learn quickly,’ said the Commandant. ‘That will be all.'
Sparrow nodded his head and left immediately, not wanting to be with the creep any longer. Besides, he had more important things to do, such as figuring out how he and Garth would get out of this hell hole alive. Sparrow planned to stay in this prison no longer than a month. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. Firstly, Sparrow was yet to figure out how to take the collar off. He had seen what it did to disobedient soldiers and he did not want that happening to him when he tried to escape. This linked into the second problem… weapons. Sparrow was yet to be granted a cutlass, knife, and gun, and because of the collar, he was unable to draw upon his Will, making him highly vulnerable in a fight. Finally, there was the actual task of freeing Garth. The Mage’s cell was under constant watch. Then, even if Sparrow managed to break out of his cell, they would have to find a way out of the Spire which Sparrow was yet to discover.
Many weeks had gone by and Sparrow was slowly becoming accustomed to life at the Spire. He found that he actually liked it there, apart from the collar, uniform and orders. He was always kept busy which meant that he didn’t brood very much anymore. He also found that his nightmares rarely gave him trouble too. This meant that he was finally getting a good night’s sleep ever night. However, over the past thirty-eight weeks that Sparrow had been there for, it became obvious that he wasn’t the only one that had changed. It was particularly obvious with Bob.
'The Commandant made me torture a recruit this morning,' Bob told Sparrow. They were standing in the detention centre that held Garth.
‘So? I’m always torturing recruits,’ Sparrow said indifferently. ‘What did he do?’
‘He said that he missed his family to another guard. Unfortunately for him, the Commandant walked past and overheard him,’ replied Bob. ‘I'm glad I don't have a family.'
'What about Lil?'
‘You’re kidding me, right? When you got here you never shut up about her. You cannot have forgotten her so soon.’
Bob just looked confused, before he frowned and grabbed his head.
‘You alright?’ asked Sparrow.
'Yeah… it’s just - I just had a strange - maybe it's the collar. Sometimes it's hard to think with these sounds. You know, I hardly notice them anymore. It's as familiar as my own heartbeat.'
‘I know what you mean,’ Sparrow said, looking at Bob thoughtfully.
It didn’t make any sense; his sudden memory loss about Lil, until he remembered what the Commandant said about the collar all guards wore destroying memories if they were disobedient. Sparrow wondered if that was the case with Bob.
Silence fell between the two guards as they looked down towards the Spire’s docks. A new load of recruits were coming in. As they watched the ecstatic new recruits coming off the boat, one of the senior guards stopped behind them.
‘You have orders to report to the barracks!’ the guard snapped at Bob, who jumped violently, having not noticed the guard’s presence.
‘I’m on my way, sir!’ Bob said quickly, before hurrying off.
The guard then turned to Sparrow.
‘Recruit Two Seven Three, report to the other detention centre!’
‘Yes, sir,’ replied Sparrow, heading off to the other detention centre.
On his way, he had to pass Garth’s cell. He stopped outside, bent down and pretended to be tying up his bootlace.
Be patient, Garth told Sparrow calmly. Time has no meaning here. This place is powerful, but it is only a shadow of what it is to become. Do you hear it? It is sucking our Will. I do not know when we will be able to speak again. The Commandant is planning on moving me to another part of the Spire.
Great. Just great, Sparrow thought bitterly as he continued to the detention centre. As if I didn’t have it tough enough as it is.
When Sparrow entered the detention centre, the first thing to meet his ears was the continuous begging for food of the prisoners – he had learnt that they were what Thag had been delivering to Lucien - Sparrow found it extremely pathetic and irritating.
Pretending as though he couldn’t hear their pleas and begging, Sparrow walked over to the older guard on duty.
'Ah, there you are,' he said, catching sight of Sparrow. 'Stand here and guard these maggots until I get back. They're not allowed any food, so don't touch the controls.'
'I'm going to get a bite to eat,’ he said, teasing the starving prisoners. ‘Mmm yum, food.'
He then walked off laughing horribly, while Sparrow went and lent against a nearby pillar.
The moment the guard had left, the prisoners turned their attention to Sparrow, though they would have been better off begging to a block of ice.
'Please feed us!'
'We haven't eaten in weeks!'
'I don't want to die here!
'Why are you doing this?'
‘I’m doing this because I have been ordered to,’ Sparrow said coldly.
‘You’re heartless!’ a prisoner sobbed.
‘Life is heartless,’ Sparrow growled. ‘Now shut it before I give you something to really complain about!’
The prisoners fell silent immediately, but they didn’t stop glaring at the unconcerned Sparrow, who just stood there leaning up against a pillar, looking at the port again. He could only just make out Lucien talking to the new recruits. If only he had a rifle…
For three minutes Sparrow stood there leaning against the pillar, lost in his own thoughts. He didn’t even notice the guard had returned until he spoke to him.
'Alright, I'll take it from here. They won't last another night. The Commandant will be pleased. How did you get them to shut up?’
‘Talent,’ Sparrow said simply, before walking off.
Two years had now passed, during which time Sparrow had done many terrible things. He had tortured disobedient recruits, and in some extreme cases, executed them too. Most of the other guards were now wary of Sparrow, and most of them avoided him, which didn’t bother Sparrow in the slightest. He didn’t want to be friends with them. All the guards soon discovered this…
Sparrow was standing in one of the detention centres when Adrian came over to him.
‘Sparrow,’ he greeted.
‘Adrian,’ Sparrow replied indifferently.
'I've got a message for you,' he said, coming to a halt in front of the Hero. 'The Commandant wants to see you.'
‘Let me guess, some idiot disobeyed him again?’
‘I don’t know, but he wanted you to go there as soon as you got the message.’
Sparrow walked off, without even saying goodbye, and took the familiar path to the Commandant.
Minutes later, Sparrow was standing in front of the Commandant with a bored expression on his face.
‘You sent for me,’ said Sparrow.
'Yes,' the Commandant replied. 'You have done well, so far. I have selected you for a special duty; I believe you know this man,' he added, motioning over to the corner of the room.
Sparrow looked over to where the Commandant gestured to. Bob was lying on the ground muttering to himself about being obedient.
‘Huh, I wondered why he hadn’t annoyed me today,’ Sparrow muttered uninterestedly.
'Then this will be a real treat - Guard Two Six Eight, I order you to be quiet!’ the Commandant snapped, finally losing his patience with Bob’s muttering. ‘Two Six Eight, shut your mouth.'
Bob ignored him and continued to mumble. This annoyed the Commandant even more.
'Those who don't obey can be made to,’ the Commandant stated, turning his attention back to Sparrow. ‘But those who cannot obey are useless. Take this sword.' He handed the twenty year old his own cutlass. 'Now kill him.'
With the cutlass in hand, Sparrow walked calmly over to Bob, ready to take his life.
'No. I'll obey. I'll work harder,' Bob pleaded, trying to sit up.
Sparrow paused briefly encase the Commandant had changed his mind. He didn’t, so Sparrow went and stood above Bob, sword ready to be driven through the older man’s chest.
Sparrow hesitated for the briefest of moments, an unknown emotion flickering in his eyes, before he plunged the sword through the older man’s chest.
Bob gasped before he stopped breathing.
Sparrow handed the Commandant back his sword.
'You will make an excellent soldier,' the Commandant said happily.
‘Thank you, sir.’
'You are dismissed.'
Sparrow nodded his head and left the room.
Eight years had passed since Bob's death and many things had changed. Each day the great black walls grew taller, blocking the dawn in their shadow and Sparrow’s deeds became darker still. He had been promoted to an officer and was one of the most respected and feared Spire officers. Everyone now knew that Sparrow’s heart was like a black hole and they avoided him at all costs.
Due to his rank, Sparrow was not given trivial duties to perform. No, he was called upon by the Commandant to do important tasks seeing as he was the only one the Commandant trusted, which was quiet ironic.
As the years rolled by, Sparrow began to believe that he would spend the rest of his life in the dark Spire and would never get the chance to revenge Rose. In a way, he had mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, he wanted to continue his quest, but on the other hand, he wasn’t bother by his life in the Spire. He enjoyed having a routine in his life. Plus, due to everything going on around him, he never got the chance to brood on his past.
Most days Sparrow stood leaning against a pillar, calmly watching the construction of the Spire, waiting for orders, and today was no different, though it soon turned out to be.
Sparrow watched as Adrian warily approached him.
‘Let me guess, the Commandant wants to see me,’ Sparrow said before the guard could open his mouth.
Adrian nodded silently.
‘Go back to whatever you were doing,’ Sparrow ordered, before walking off to the Commandant’s quarters.
As Sparrow arrived outside the Commandant's door, the guards guarding it quickly opened it and saluted to him nervously. Most guards acted as though he was going to kill them the moment they looked into his ice-cold eyes.
When he entered the room, the Commandant was standing in front of the large window with his back turned to Sparrow. The Hero stopped at the base of the steps leading to the said window. The Commandant began to speak without turning around.
'Construction of the upper tier begins tomorrow. The man guarding the site is overdue for reporting in.’
‘Which guard, sir?’
‘Two Six Nine,’ replied the Commandant, turning around to face Sparrow.
‘Odd, he’s usually quite dependable.’
‘Indeed. I need someone dependable to check the site. If you find the man in eradication of duty escort him to the torture chamber and await further orders.'
Sparrow immediately headed to the construction site, faintly amused as guards, officers, labourers, and prisoners alike scrambled out of his way. When he arrived at the construction site, there was no one in sight. This annoyed Sparrow greatly. He didn’t appreciate wasting time by going looking for guards who wished to play hide-and-seek. When he found that guard he would show him exactly why he was feared.
Sparrow continued to look everywhere for the guard and he soon found him dead. He cautiously approached the body and saw he had died from severe burns. This made Sparrow even more suspicious as he looked around; there was nothing around that could have caused such injuries. Nothing except…
'We meet again, Hero.'
Sparrow whipped around and saw Garth stepping out of the shadows.
'You came to rescue me, but you're no good to either of us with that collar on.’
Before Sparrow could react, Garth sent a blast of electricity at him, hitting the collar. Sparrow cried out in pain as the collar was slowly released from his neck and fell to the ground.
Panting slightly, Sparrow picked up the now useless collar and put it in his pocket. He then turned to Garth.
‘It took me years to remove our collars and destroy that guard,’ said Garth. ‘I have nothing left. If anything happens, it's up to you.’
‘How did you use Will to break your collar?’ Sparrow demanded. ‘Wouldn’t the collar have drained all your Will away like it did mine?’
‘I was somehow able to by-past it.’
‘Maybe it’s because you’re a Hero of Will,’ Sparrow muttered thoughtfully as he stole the guards cutlass and pistol – for some reason, he had never been given any weapons – and a couple of health potions.
‘What are you talking about?’
‘You’ll find out later,’ Sparrow said dismissingly. ‘Do you know how we get out of here?’
‘Yes. The only way out of here is through the Commandant's chamber.'
‘Figures,’ Sparrow said darkly. ‘Alright, stay behind me and –‘
He broke off when three guards ran around the corner and their eyes fell upon Garth.
'What in -?' one of them said as he realised that neither of the Heroes were wearing collars. ‘Go sound the alarm!’ he ordered to one of the other guards.
A guard immediately ran off and moments later, the Spire alarms sounded.
‘There is no escape for you, make no mistake about that!’ the second guard growled as the two remaining guards approached the calm Heroes.
‘Here’s a fun fact for you… on one tells me what I can and can’t do,’ Sparrow said coldly, before raising his sword and going to kill the guards.
‘Follow me,’ Sparrow told Garth, once the two guards laid dead on the cold stone.
By the time the Heroes arrived at the Commandant’s chambers, a trail of dead bodies could be found from the construction site to the said chambers. They were the dead bodies of guards and soldiers stupid enough to challenge Sparrow. He showed no mercy. He’d been trapped in the Spire for ten years… he wasn’t going to stay there any longer than he had to.
‘Now what do we do?’ Sparrow asked the older Hero as he closed the door behind them. ‘Neither of us have enough Will to activate the cullis gates.’
‘We wait. We're not leaving until the Commandant is dead,’ Garth said firmly, as he gazed outside the large window.
‘Listen, I’m all for killing him, but now’s not the best time to get revenge. We’re at a disadvantage and vulnerable –‘
‘It’s not revenge that I’m after. Revenge is just a fortunate by product,' Garth interrupted. 'Look, a new load of recruits are being brought in.'
‘Uh huh,’ said Sparrow, uninterestedly, before jumping as the door went flying open. The Commandant stood there fuming, flanked by a dozen guards.
‘I remember you now,’ he snarled. ‘You’re that adventurer who tried to stop me taking Garth back in Brightwood.’
‘Took you long enough,’ Sparrow said coolly. ‘I bet Lucien won’t be too happy with you.’
'Lord Lucien will kill me for failing to keep order, but I am obedient and before he does, I will eliminate you.' The Commandant drew his sword.
‘You will try,’ Sparrow said, drawing his sword, ‘but you will find that I’m not the obedient puppet you thought I was.’
The Commandant proved to be a worthy opponent for Sparrow, but he wasn’t good enough. When it seemed that Sparrow was winning, the guards who were with the Commandant hurried to his side.
‘What’s wrong, Commandant? Afraid you’re going to lose to me?’ Sparrow growled, dodging several attacks.
‘No one is allowed to leave the Spire!’ the Commandant declared.
‘No one tells me what I can and can’t do!’
Fifteen minutes later, the guards laid dead at Sparrow and the Commandant’s feet. The Commandant shortly followed his dead servants.
As he fell to the ground, Sparrow watched as all his life drained from his body and Garth suddenly floated up into the air surrounded by green light. When the light disappeared, Garth stood confidently, covered in blue Will lines.
‘I won’t ask,’ Sparrow muttered as Garth activated one of the cullis gates. Somehow the Commandant’s life energy reimbursed Garth’s Will.
‘Let’s go!’ Garth said urgently, before disappearing through the cullis gate. Sparrow quickly followed.
Once on the docks, the Heroes fought off all the guards blocking their way. They made their way to a ship, got the new recruits, and sailed back to Albion. Finally free once more.