A severe cramp in his left leg called Andrew back to consciousness. He was lying facedown on something hard and cold and a musty odour assaulted his nose, making it run. Worse yet, his head was aching terribly. He groaned and tried to wriggle his leg only to find that he was well and truly trussed up. He struggled against his bonds briefly but stopped as the movement caused the wire securing his wrists and ankle to cut into him. He cursed loudly and opened his eyes to see a grey stone floor through an inadequate covering of mouldy straw.
“Ah, you’re finally awake,” Jayden Emms said from behind him. “I never imagined it would take so long. It doesn’t usually.” Andrew cursed again and tried to look at him. The way he was tied up made it impossible to turn over, so he had to be content with twisting his neck uncomfortably to look over at him. At least it saved him from having his nose stuck in the straw.
Emms was leaning against the wall, eating an apple. He was dressed in odd-looking robes made from what appeared to be some sort of honey coloured leather painted with strange patterns – he hesitated to call them symbols – in a red dye.
â€œAh, you noticed. Do you like them?â€
“You look ridiculous,” Andrew said. “Where’s Kimi?”
“You have no idea what these are,” Emms said calmly. “And she’s well enough. I need you alive so I can’t exactly hurt her, can I?”
â€œI won’t help you!â€ Andrew said defiantly.
“I don’t need you to help me, Andrew,” Emms replied. “Cooperation would certainly be easier for you but I don’t actually need it. I was just trying to be kind by getting your help, but now you’ve decided to think for yourself for the first time in your life. Sucks to be you, I’m afraid. I guess I should have known your parents wouldn’t let you keep being so dumb forever. I am annoyed your mother removed my programming, though. It would have made this easier on you.”
“What do you mean?” Andrew asked.
Emms gave a snort. “I can’t believe he never suspected that I’d realised who he really was. It was fairly obvious that he was lying through his teeth about something when I thought about it. And that story about our kind keeping normal people repressed? I mean, really. You’d have to be really gullible to believe that.” He walked over to Andrew, placed one foot under his stomach and flipped him over on to his back, then stood looking down at him. “Fortunately for me, a lot of what your father calls wilds are desperately gullible.”
“You mean you know that it’s not true that everyone has powers?” Andrew asked in shock.
“Of course I do.” Emms frowned. “It’s not fair. So I’m going to fix that.”
“You’re what?” Andrew stared at him blankly. “If they naturally don’t have powers-”
“Nature be damned!” Emms snarled. “Nature is wrong and I’m going to fix it.” He scowled at Andrew.
â€œWhat?â€ Andrew asked, then added as his leg spasmed, â€œI have cramp and I need to pee.â€
Emms regarded him for a moment then nodded. â€œYes, I suppose that you do. It would be unkind to expect you sit there in your own waste, wouldn’t it.â€ He went to the door of the cell and jerked his head at the two humans standing there.Â â€œUntie his legs and get him up.â€
â€œYes, sir,â€ they said in unison. One of them knelt down by Andrew and began to untie his ankles while the other pulled him in to a sitting position. The eyes of both young men were strangely dilated and they seemed to be in a trance. As the dragged Andrew to his feet he heard Emms chuckling.
â€œBut of course. I can’t have them hearing me calling them gullible after all,â€ Emms said. He must have been listening to Andrew’s thoughts. He turned his attention back to the two young men. â€œTake him to the toilet, then bring him to the throne room. I’m going to check with the technicians about dealing with his physical needs. It had slipped my mind, so it might have slipped theirs.â€ He strode from the room before Andrew could ask what he meant by that. He had a horrible feeling that he wouldn’t like the answer, anyway.