The memories continued their assault.
Isellta pressed his hands against his eyes as if that could put an end to the images he was seeing in his mind. But doing so only sharpened them and made every ugly detail clearer.
The painful violet of a new bruise.
The ugly yellow-green of a healing bruise.
His pillow sitting on top of the dresser.
Mark Caten’s self-satisfied smirk.
Exposed. Naked. Alone. Used. Filthy. Hurting.
Isellta sobbed softly, “I don’t. I don’t want to think about it.”
His clothes lay on the floor. They had been tossed down there.
He clenched his teeth and mentally pushed back at those memories.
The bathroom was so far away and he was hurting. He was filthy.
“Stop it!” He curled his fingers into his bangs. “I don’t want to remember. I don’t want…” He hunched his back and drew his shoulders upwards. “I don’t…” A terrible tension built inside his chest. A tension that needed release.
The soap on his hands. The water trailing down his arms and legs.
Isellta couldn’t hold it back or keep it inside. He let it all loose in an agonizing scream.
Robin widened his eyes. His hair prickled all over his head. Fear and panic overwhelmed him and he yielded to both.
He struggled against his bonds, trying to twist, trying to push against them, trying to snap them. But they held him in place. He couldn’t break free.
He grunted as his stomach muscles clenched up on him again. But he kept struggling through the hunger, through the fear, and through the bonds’ immobility. He kept trying to move, trying to escape. He needed to escape. Needed to get away from whatever cursed ghost banshee was screaming up a ruckus.
Robin needed to escape before that wretched soul could come and find him.
But the muzzle’s mouthpiece was too close-fitted. His manacles were too tight. The metal collar around his neck pressed against his throat.
He kept trying.
With all of his might, he kept trying.
Isellta ended his scream in a pained, broken cry. “Filthy. So filthy. Stop. Just st—” He uncovered his eyes. “Stop? She can make it stop.” He lowered his hands to the floor.
Only then did he notice the poor lighting in the room.
He raised his head. It took him a few minutes to recognize his surroundings. He stood and looked down the staircase…all the way down to that particular prison cell.
The one that had smelled like tangerines.
Isellta rubbed his nose with the back of his hand and walked down the first two steps. He had one foot on the third step when the merged memories intensified.
Not only could Isellta see what Mark Caten had done to Preyuna, but he could also feel it on his skin. He could feel Mark Caten’s hands all over his body.
He could feel her touch as well.
Neither touch was kind nor loving.
“Oh! Oh…” Don’t! Don’t touch me! DON’T TOUCH ME! He turned quickly, nearly tripping over the step behind him, and ran up the stairs.
The screaming stopped, but Robin still felt the jittery need to flee. He kept fighting against the bonds.
A movement at the top of the stairs caught his attention. Someone rose from the floor of the top landing and stood.
Robin went still. ‘sellta?
The figure stood there for a moment.
He swallowed hard. ‘sellta? Is that you?
The figure walked down the first two steps.
Robin’s legs trembled. Oh, God. Oh, God! Please…Please let it be him. Let him come to me. Oh, please let my ‘sellta come to me. He sniffed the air, desperately trying to catch any sort of scent.
But there was none.
The figure hesitated.
‘sellta. Please. If it’s you, please come to me. I need to see you. He made a sound that was somewhere between a grunt and a groan as his hunger pangs seemed to hit him straight through his stomach and right into his spine.
The figure cried out — a small sound. A small, small “Oh!”
The figure turned around.
No! Don’t go!
It ran up the two stairs.
It ran out the door and closed the door behind it.