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The Euranian Knights

The Euranian Knights, C4: Instrument of Pain

August 4, Present Day
AMCO, AMCONASIA
01:05:20 am EST/15:17 EUST

Gabe felt the plane’s engines slow down, bringing that distinctive, decreasing whine and causing the vibrations to slow down. He thought about getting up, looking around for some indication of where they were, but there were no windows and really nowhere to go. Also, Caleb had fallen asleep and moving would mean disturbing him unnecessarily, and Gabe didn’t want to do that. After a few minutes, the captives nearly rolled off the cot because the airplane landed so severely crooked that the entire frame shuddered, and Gabe thought they were in a severe crosswind.

“You two!” The guard in charge of them shouted, then pulled them to their feet and shackled their hands. Then, he pulled them down the open ramp and directly down into a dark, damp hallway. As they walked behind him, they could hear the crash of iron against iron, and rounding a corner, it became clear what had made that sound.

Two great mallets, each the size of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were held upon two great stakes. The mallets, when a switch on the wall was pressed — the kind of switch that you touch and it activates — would slam down together, making a tremendous noise and sending amazing shock waves through the ceiling. This was the noise the boys had heard, for as they came in, the mallets were being drawn back up.

The two friends could not see the tops of the staves, because the ceiling, far overhead, was shrouded in darkness. The only light came from the chandelier above the throne. On the throne sat King Jared.

“Well, well, well!” His voice was like a pigeon cooing, with such a tone as to taunt anyone at whom it was directing like a helpless little bird. “The boy king — in chains — in my torture chambers. And who is this… friend of yours?”

“His n—” Gabe started to say, but the king obviously had no interest in hearing the answer. He continued almost immediately.

“Can I truly believe my eyes, little princeling, and my ears, to see the King of Euraniah, and hear his voice, in my torture chamber? It’s almost too good to be true. But don’t worry, you won’t forget, either of you. Lord Casian, give these naughty naughty boys a — well, shall we call it — a souvenir.”

A guard with an evil smirk stepped out from beside the cruel, iron throne and drew his sword, Motion- ing to the man at the firepit. The first man took his sword and swung it down behind the two boys in turn. As he did, both of them jerked forward, and the knife sliced the backs of their shirts. Caleb did not move as far, and the soldier opened a bleeding wound on his back.

The man at the firepit lifted a branding-iron, and on the red-hot surface was this symbol:

The brander moved toward the boys, kindling their fear by advancing ever so slowly. Gabe immediately kneeled down and bowed his head.

August 4
AMCO, AMCONASIA
15:08 EUST

Father in heaven, I know that You can intervene in a dream if You want to. Please, if it is Your Will, now is certainly the time.

“I like a man who takes defeat with humility!” King Jared taunted.

Gabe looked up just in time to see the branding iron inches from Caleb’s bare shoulder. “Wait! Don’t hurt him, he isn’t your enemy!”

Caleb looked down at his friend with a tear in his eye. “It’s no use. They won’t listen to you. You’ll get yourself killed.”

Gabe would not accept defeat with humility. He sprang up off his knees, moving himself over in front of him. As he lost his balance with his hands shackled, he placed them on Caleb’s shoulder pushing him over and falling where he was. As his friend stared in disbelief, Gabe closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable searing pain as the brand struck his back.

August 4
Derrel VillageSouth of Summre Citie, Euraniah
14:47 EUST

“Gerin!, get in here!” Lieutenant Kintre said impatiently. He had suddenly gotten this mortal feeling that he could not afford to wait on any more intelligence.

“Yes Sir?”

“Alert the men and pilots. Move in the Jockeys now!”

AMCO, Amconasia
15:07 EUST

The Special Forces squadron shut off the engines and glided their Dolphins over the tower, which stood alone on the ground above the underground fortress.

The pilots opened their drop doors, which were in the middle of the cargo bays. Six men leapt out of their airplanes — through the floor — and deployed their parachutes, gliding noiselessly to the ground. Usually, this method of insertion was performed in the dark, but Kintre insisted they insert immediately, and since the new ground target stealth aircraft had not been developed yet, it really made a small difference, and so they prayed for the best.

The thirty-six men glided their chutes to a point in the shadow of the tower. Their leader, a very famous man in the Euranian Special Forces, gave them a quick, follow-up briefing to the one he had given earlier.

“Okay, I will lead you into the fortress. Everyone knows the signals. Keep quiet, keep low.”

The men began to make their way to the fortress. At one door, there was a Triple-Safety pin lock stolen from Euranian Intelligence. Captain Signman knew all three of the codes, and the door was opened without incident. Past this was a series of seven flights of stairs down to the fortress torture chambers. The captives hadn’t noticed this because the C-13 had landed underground, in a tunnel. Since the runway was not level at all, the pilot had to turn to land on it, and it caused the aircraft to lurch violently. This was why the aircraft had rocked so violently.

The rescue team was in the same tunnel where the captives had been led earlier. Rounding the corner, they saw Gabe on the ground in front of the massive throne, and Caleb was in front of him. Behind Gabe, the brander was staring in shock.

Captain Signman raised his gun, aimed carefully, and fired. He wasn’t aiming at the man. He shot the switch in the wall, the heat causing the switch to activate. The mallets began to swing downward. The brander heard the sharp ping! of metal bouncing off metal. He turned swiftly — just in time to see the two mallets slam together, not an inch from his face.

Six of the men rushed forward, and released Gabe and Caleb. Caleb joined the men, but Gabe put his hand on the rifle of a man aiming at King Jared.

“Don’t.” He pushed the muzzles down. “I believe in a God who does not favour killing in cold blood, or to see man taking revenge.

“But this is war. We have a ri—”

“This is an unarmed, unprotected man. If he comes, and is killed, in battle before my gate, then that is war. This that you will do is murder. As long as I am king and my God is in Heaven — and he obviously is, he answered my prayer instantly — This will not be done in Euraniah.”

Gabe walked up to King Jared, who was nervously watching during this siege of his chamber, and mounted the first two steps to his throne.

“I will give you your life, which my men have in their hands, because the Lord gave me mine out of the palm of your hand. But in return, you will release us, and allow us safe passage out of your airport.”

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