Tag Archives: detention camp

LfBH 12: Stitches – revisited

Do you guys remember Stitches?  It was the first flash fiction I wrote involving Phaedra and Tully.  A Letter from Count Malrais was the first, and together, they sparked Letters from Blackford Hill.   I had to add and alter a bit, but here’s Stitches, revisited.  Enjoy. <3


“You haven’t even flinched.”

Phaedra’s eyes flicked up to catch a dreamy smile on her friend’s lips, before glancing back down again. The gash on her forearm pinched together at the top when Tully pulled the thread taut, tying off the third in a series of stitches.

“Would you rather I were howling in pain?” asked Phaedra, her voice soft as it always was, though for once a light humor crept into her tone. The woman was always so severe, Tully couldn’t help but worry for her sometimes.

“Of course not,” replied Tully, pressing the point of the curved needle through the split flesh. Still, Phae didn’t react. “I just… admire your strength.”

She was still smiling. Phaedra gave her head a light shake. Tully baffled her sometimes. It was a long fight to get out of that colony, free from the fences and the locks, and rifles trained on them every second of every day; still, Tully smiled. Even when they were captured, bound and carted off to that awful place, Tully still managed to smile. Fiona was left at the edge of the woods, lifeless. Phae knew Tully was pushing back the pain that dwelt there; the pain that exploded from her love when Fiona took that bullet. There were tears, tantrums, fury from everyone else, dozens of others all desperate for answers….

Tully tried to stay on the bright side.

Phaedra wasn’t aware of any bright side.

Their lives had gone completely out of control, all because they had chosen to share an inn room while Phaedra helped Tully find a cure for that awful cough she’d had. Fortunately, the cough was alleviated, but they had hardly gotten their things packed to go back to work at the bakery, when the door came crashing off the hinges—

Phaedra shook her head and sighed. Going back to the bakery seemed useless now. Would they go so far as to wait for Phae and Tully where they worked?

The small town they’d stumbled across in their escape had no knowledge of the horrors of Blackford Hill. They knew only that the government had a compound there, but were left in the dark about what was held within it. The soldiers made it clear that they would shoot anyone on sight if they came snooping around. Now, huddled in yet another inn room, together, though this time accompanied by Silas and Felix—two married couples on holiday? Could they pull that off?—Phae submitted to Tully’s pleas to stitch the gash in her arm, and rub balm on the bruises and scrapes.

It killed Phae to see the blond’s arm wrapped up in blood-stained linen. Tully deserved so much better.

“Done.” Tully started packing up her first aid kit, and Phaedra lifted her arm to look over the other woman’s handy work. The stitches were clean, and the cut wasn’t even bleeding through the gaps.

“Thanks,” murmured Phaedra, and grabbed a strip of cloth that had been torn from Tully’s underskirt, starting to wrap the newly-sewn arm. Torn and used clothing was suddenly a luxury she’d never appreciated before. “Where did you learn to do that, anyway?”

A sad smile was cast over Tully’s shoulder as she tucked her things away. “I wasn’t always a baker, Phae. Somehow, I don’t expect you were, either.”

Their eyes met, and a silence passed between them, understanding and steadying. Something in that silence earned a smile from Tully, and Phaedra’s eyes fell to the fabric on her arm.

“No. Not always.”


Filed under Letters from Blackford Hill

LfBH – 10: Recruitment

Two minutes after midnight.  @_@  So close.  Also, if you’d like to catch up on the rest of LfBH, you can read parts 1 – 9.5 right here.

~  ~  ~  ~

Broken and filthy, Tully leaned heavily on the outer wall of the barracks. People milled about, walking in aimless circles, shells of the living, ghosts of who they might have been before Blackford Hill. For some, that was an improvement, of course; rapists, child molesters, the vicious and violent. Tully didn’t mourn those losses, but here it was sometimes hard to distinguish the innocent from the evil. Here, they were all savages on the edge of survival.

“No matter how long you stand there, you won’t get any further away.”

Tully snapped back to herself, the man now standing beside her was very suddenly a part of her reality. “Excuse me?”

“You stand here and watch them, hoping the longer you stare, the easier it will be to imagine yourself elsewhere. Maybe there’s some grass over there,” he gestured vaguely toward the mud pit. “Maybe a pub where the overseer’s office is.”

She stared at him, unblinking, the dark circles under her eyes giving her a pained, hollow look. “I’m Tully,” she spoke after several moments, her eyes returning to the wandering people.

“Felix.” He gave a weak snort of laughter, and adjusted his makeshift sling. “I’m a Count, you know. Could you believe that?”

“Not in here, you’re not,” she stated flatly, unfazed by the claim.

“No,” his eyes fell, and he nudged a pebble with his foot. “Not out there, either, I expect. Not anymore. What did you do to get in here?”

“Nothing. I shared an inn room with a woman.” She paused. “As it happens, I am in love with her, but at the time, we hadn’t done anything wrong.”

“She’s here too?”

“Yes, so if you’re thinking of doing anyth—.”

“No! No, it’s nothing like that. I’m here for the same reason.” Felix made a face, and glanced to Tully, swaying a bit on his feet. “If you don’t count the temple full of Satrean priests I burned alive, I suppose. They had it coming.”

Tully’s flat gaze turned to him, a mild question into his sanity behind her eyes. “You are quite the charmer, Count Felix.”

“I just… meant that I was in love with the wrong person. ‘Wrong’ according to them, anyway. The priests killed him. I punished them for murder and for Dacian’s memory. My father though he was being merciful, denying me a hanging and dumping me off here like one more dirty secret.”

“Are you a lonely man, Count?”

Felix’s gaze faltered a little, and he paused. “I suppose I am. Why?”

“I just can’t fathom why you’re telling me all of this.” Again, she turned to the muddy grounds of Blackford Hill, pulling her bottom lip into her mouth, biting idly.

Heaving a sigh, the former Count nodded and gave his good arm a small shrug. “You looked as lonely as I am, standing over here. Where’s your lady friend?”

The silence that rested between them was heavy, but Tully fought not to sag beneath the weight of her uncertainty. “She was taken to the overseer house ago.” She drew a quaking breath. “I haven’t seen her since, though… others… say she was dragged out… alive and cursing.” Her eyes clamped shut, and her arms folded across her chest, hugging herself tightly. “No one has seen her since then.”

Felix let his eyes look over the beaten down blond beside him, and he shook his head. The guards here didn’t appear to be treating the women with any special gentleness. She was covered in scuffs and bruises, and he could have sworn there was a faint redness around her neck… like a fabric burn. It was a crime, the things they did to people.

“My friend is missing too. He has been since this morning.” Felix confided quietly, having tried so desperately to keep from facing that he cared for Silas. The other man had been taken for treatment, and hadn’t returned; that always meant he’d come back needing at least a day in bed before he could even move. The bruises, the lashings, the scrapes—it killed Felix to see him like that. Silas was a crass man, but he was also warm and caring…. it was a combination one didn’t see in the upper class.

Taking a deep breath, Tully steadied herself, and glanced to him. “I hope they return him soon, then,” she noted, trying to be cordial, though she wasn’t exactly in the best state of mind for pleasantries.

Once again in a deep, awkward silence, Felix fidgeted a little, and turned with a start as he came face to face with a guard. The man was huge, but… most of them were, and he took a few steps back. “Excuse me.” he said.

“What’s going on here?” asked the guard, big bushy brows furrowed, his eyes centered on Felix.

“Nothing. We were talking.” Tully stated, and looked to Felix, and back to the guard. “Your sort aren’t exactly quality conversation, if you don’t mind me saying.”

The bull of a man brought the back of his hand across Tully’s mouth, and her head jerked to the side. In seconds, blood welled in the split, and trickled down her chin. Felix’s eyes were wide, and took her by the shoulders, looking at the cut.

“What the hell did you do that for?” he snapped at the guard, spinning around to face him, seething. “You can’t make it in the world? Can’t read or write? Can’t follow simple commands? So what? Get a job slapping around girls half your size? It’s lumbering morons like you that belong in here, not us!” He shouted, but instead of striking… the guard only laughed.

That was unsettling.

Tully stood behind Felix, shaking a bit, not giving her ground.

“You wait, boy. Tomorrow’s your day.” The guard said, laughing as he turned and walked away.

Tully stared after him a moment before touching Felix’s arm. “What did he mean by that? What’s tomorrow?”

“Another scheduled treatment. I’m willing to bet he plans on paying me back for this then….” He drew a breath. “We’re not waiting that long. We’re leaving tonight, and you’re coming with us.”

“What?” Tully’s jaw dropped and she tugged on Felix’s un-wrapped arm. “You don’t even know me. Why would you—.”

“Shh! We’re all victims here. Do you want in or not?”

Pausing, she drew a breath and gave a stout nod. “I’m taking Phae with me.”

“I wouldn’t ask you to come without her.” Felix patted Tully’s hand, and smiled. “Good. I’ll come back here at dusk. Be ready.” And with that, he walked away, leaving Tully, wide-eyed, staring after him.


Filed under Letters from Blackford Hill

LfBH 9.5 – Trials: Phaedra

Tully had told me to keep my head about me, but it was getting harder. Every time she came back inside, in pain, cold and naked—Every time I saw that look of terror on her face when they came in for her—Every time they came for her… I was just letting it happen. The treatments they gave me were different; I couldn’t even stand beside Tully, or with the other girls, young girls who didn’t do anything to deserve this madness.

“What to they do to you when they take you?” she asked one night, curled up in my bed with me. If we were being punished for being together, then we saw no reason to do something that determined we deserved it.

“The same things they do to you, I suppose.” I wondered if she felt me cringe at the question.

“They return you with similar injuries, but they never lead you toward the places they take us. It’s always the same routine… but they lead you toward the overseers office.” Those bright blue eyes turned up to me, and I tried to ignore the way they bore into me. Questioning. Insisting. “You’re lying, Phae. Why?”

I heaved a sigh, my body tight as I tried to keep the nonchalance as apparent as possible. “We’re in a detention camp, Tully…. What do you expect they’re doing to me?”

A pause, and finally she lowered her eyes. I relaxed as her head fell back on my chest. “It just seemed odd.”

I squeezed her gently—always gently—and twirled my fingers slowly through her hair. It was left at that, and I was grateful.


“Phaedra!” The bark startled me, and everyone else, from sleep, and I bolted upright in bed, eyes wide.

“It’s really too early for this,” I muttered, rubbing my bruised forehead as I swung my legs over the side of the bed. Tully clutched desperately at my shirt, the fabric pulled taut as I tugged away. I heard the faintest, muffled sob, and I knew she was crying into the pillow. It had become routine at this point. No matter how many times I heard her cry, it never hurt any less to know I had to ignore it.

“Get moving,” the guard seethed, his words a growl, lips pulled back over his teeth.

“The overseer’s dogs truly are out in full force today,” I flashed him a smile, “Commendable.” The stars that flashed before my eyes were expected, the chain mail gloves he was wearing were not. I could hear Tully’s screams… somewhere muffled in the back of my head… My vision blurred and the stars cleared, and I realized I was on the floor. Forcing myself to my knees, I looked for her, searching in a disoriented sweep of the room. She was on the bed, Fiona and three other girls pinning her to the wall as she slumped against them, giving in to the restraint.

“She’ll be fine,” Fiona whispered, but Tully’s hysterical sobs didn’t cease.

Hauled to my feet by an iron grip, I felt the world spin beneath me as I fought to gain my footing. Not that I was offered much of a chance to do so before I was shoved forward by that same mitt-like hand. As soon as it released me, the floor slipped from under me, and I went to my hands and knees, hissing at the pain. My knees were already bruised, and now the heels of my hands would match them. Pushing myself up without any help, I staggered onward until my head cleared and I could walk without incident. It was a small victory.

Trudging across the boards that were laid over the muddy ground, I followed the trail to the overseer’s office, a gun muzzle pressed into my back. These games were getting old. These power struggles and taunting, the guns and knives, the screaming residents of Blackford Hill….

No. Not residents, victims.

There were those who deserved their place here, certainly. Rapists, child molesters, those sorts of people. A woman cheating on her abusive husband may have been a moral threat, but how could those who sympathized let her be imprisoned? Was she not entitled to happiness? And the men and women like Tully and me, what moral threat did we pose? We don’t breed like rabbits. There’s no “man of the house” to keep we “silly women” in line. No dutiful wife to cook and clean in a household with two men. The reasoning was asinine, and frogs would rain from the sky before I let them take Tully from me.

“Phaedra Trowden, bastard daughter of Lord Adrian Trowden of Kersa.” The overseer’s voice rippled through me, and I thought my skin might slough off. The chair turned, and a woman in her early fifties stared back at me. The day I’d met the Overseer, I was stunned that it was a woman who could commit such atrocities against good people—I had wanted a fight that day. But she didn’t say a word to me.

‘Take care of her,’ was all she said to my guards. The thought they’d break me. They thought it would be that easy. Since then, every beating and interrogation had been worse than the last. Even lying perfectly still hurt like hell at this point. Though I never let them get the better of me, and when I looked at the overseer, chin tilted up, she glared at me and stood.

“You don’t deny this?”

“Should I? Adrian Trowden has no part in my life. But I was his accident, yes. What are you getting at?” My eyes narrowed, and she met them with equal force, the hatred bubbling between our gazes had even the soldiers shifting uncomfortably.

The overseer stood stiffly and tugged the hem of her jacket to straighten the front. “Let’s not play childish games, Ms. Trowden. You and I both know that you have no claim to any titles, and yet you still carry your father’s surname. There are two reasons a bastard child retains the family name of the father: to be sacrificed as penance to the clergy, or to be sent into the guard. We both know you hardly fit the bill for a life of piety.”

My eyes rolled themselves in an involuntary criticism of her stupidity, and my hands found my hips. “You’re implying I’m an agent in the city guard? I spent a short time in the capital while I was helping my companion recover—“

“You mean your lover.”

“I mean my companion. She was ill. We live above a bakery in Shand, we work for the man who owns it. I’ve never been in the city guard.”

“The King’s guard?”

“No. Nor the local guard, the reserves, or the Holy Order.” My glare never faltered. I didn’t have to know this woman to hate everything about her. Even her eyes were hard. “Whatever reason my father had in giving me his name are unknown to me. I’ve never met the man, and I don’t particularly care to.”

The overseer drew a breath, hands tucking together at the small of her back. “Take her to her knees.”

I knew what was coming, but I didn’t fight it. The butts of two rifles struck each of the back of my knees, and I hit the floor, refusing to go to my hands. It took all of my strength to hold in the moans of pain that welled within me, but she didn’t deserve the satisfaction.

She saw that. And grinned. “You seem well trained to handle interrogation.”

“Am I? And here I thought I was acting out of spite,” I returned, my voice quaking just slightly.

“I want to know who you are, Ms. Trowden. This is your last opportunity to offer the information freely.” She began pacing slowly around me; I watched her feet taking slow methodical steps.

“Go to hell.” I closed my eyes when I spotted a soldier stalking toward me, rifle raised.

Not her head!” The blow didn’t fall. “I want her conscious for this, imbecile!”

I relaxed just slightly, and let my eyes flick open. The soldier had fallen back to his position.

“Apologies, Madam.”

A laugh burst from me, and I lifted a hand to cover my mouth. “Madam? Honestly?” She stared flatly at me, and I dropped my eyes to the floor as I snickered. “A ‘madam’ is the woman who runs a whore house, am I wrong? It does seem fitting, given the nature of this place. How many whores are here, exactly?”

My laughter was not going over well. The woman made one motion before clasping her hands behind her again. The same soldier came behind me and caught me across the back with… I glanced back, coughing, gasping, spittle coating my lower lip. The object was a short wooden club like night patrolmen carried. Outstanding. This was going to be a long session.

“You say you work in a bakery. What do you tell your employer when you have to take long absences?” She leaned close to my face, despite the fact I was still choking while my lungs tried to remember their purpose.

“For what?” I wheezed. The club hit me again, striking my side and I doubled over, clutching my ribs.

“You know.” She smiled. “You know good and well.”

“I work… in a bakery…”

“For an old man who doesn’t know which end is up most times, yes, Ms. Trowden, I know. I’ve done my research. I’ve been giving you the opportunity to be honest with me. And I also know the only reason you’re allowing these treatments—“


“—is to avoid giving us motive to harm your—what did you call her? Companion?”

My stomach sank. It was only a matter of time before they would use Tully against me, I knew that. I was just hoping I could stall a little longer. They would hurt her. I knew they would. And not like they hurt me. Tully was disposable, but they had dug up enough dirt on me to make me interesting. If I was interesting to them, then I was worth torturing an innocent person over. Not that that was anything new.

“I’ll tell you everything.” My voice felt disconnected from my mouth. “But not yet. I want Tully’s injuries taken care of by a real doctor…. And I want three days to recover.”

An exasperated sigh sounded above me, but I knew she was contemplating it. “You’re in no position to be making demands, Ms. Trowden. Do you think this is a game?”

“Isn’t it? I’m not asking for much…. Full disclosure in exchange for three days and a doctor. You’re interested… because you know what I’m tied to…. you just need to hear me say it.” I shakily forced myself to stand, knees weak and wobbling, one arm protecting my ribs. When I was finally at her height again, I saw the amusement in her face, and the satisfaction that I was backed into a corner. “Kill anyone you want. I’m not saying a word without those three days and that doctor.”

She laughed. I wanted to vomit. “Fine. Take her back to her barracks and summon a doctor. Your friend will be tended. You have no right to the doctor’s services, so I hope you can recover enough in three days to speak. Once you’ve disclosed your little story… I reserve the right to beat that girl to a pulp if it doesn’t satisfy me. Understood.”

“Yes… Madam.” Still I afforded a grin…. and her smile disappeared as she gestured the soldiers to drag me out.


Filed under Letters from Blackford Hill

LfBH 9.4 – Trials: Silas

Incredibly late this week (it seems to be a trend, I know), but Monday’s will be on time.

I tried to give Silas’ narrative the air that he’s intelligent, he just speaks like a hick.  He’s not stupid, but he doesn’t articulate well verbally.  Mentally, he’s pretty freakin’ sharp.  Enjoy.


You need to be alive to help me crush my father.”

Felix made it clear to me that he had no intention of giving in to the ‘treatment’ these jackasses were shoving down our throats. It was getting to me. I thought I could weather it, but day after day… beating after beating… they were going to break me, and I knew it wouldn’t take long.

Felix wasn’t a strong man. Ambitious, but not strong. For some reason, I felt like I had to protect him from them. How could I when they were getting to me?

Sliding along the office building wall, I trudged through the mud as silently as the schlucking of my bare feet in the sludge would let me. Thankfully, the cold water treatments the guards liked to give the girls was offering plenty of screams and hysterical crying. I don’t think I’ll ever getting over the guilt of being grateful for that. My stomach was in my throat, and my hands were shaking; out of fear or hunger? I didn’t know, but it didn’t seem to matter. My hand, shaking or not, was sliding up to the window as I raised one foot to hoist myself up on the ledge. Quaking, I peered through the window, heart racing–

Empty. Just like Felix said it would be.

Heaving a sigh, I shoved up the window, and pulled myself over the ledge. Funny how we got bare wooden pallets with thin straw mattresses to sleep on, lucky for a blanket that was more blanket than holes… Just in this bastard’s office, he had cushy chairs, gold plated fountain pens, furs… Furs! We’re freezing to death, half of our barracks had pneumonia that no one bothered to treat, and this son of a bitch had furs and a whole stack of fire wood!

Shoving my anger down to smolder, I set to the task that Felix gave me. He said “Look for maps of the camp. Maps with marks.” Hell if I can read… I started rummaging as quickly as I could, my feet leaving mud-smears on the carpet.

He had carpet! Augh.

Yanking down one of the curtains, I started throwing papers, and rolled up things that looked like maps, and a bottle of wine from the whole gods be damned rack that the overseer had onto the curtain. Gathering up the corners, I dragged it the window and hopped out, yanking it down with me.

The girls were still screaming… I hated that I was relieved. They didn’t deserve that. Drawing a steadying breath, I trudged along, trying to move quickly, but without being noticed–

“You, there!”

I froze and my knees went weak. Venturing a glance over my shoulder, my heart thundering in my ears, I almost dropped the makeshift sack. I saw a girl running, pale and naked, crying…. in the opposite direction. They were chasing her.

“Fuck.” I drew a breath and hurried through the mud, only to burst into my barracks and toss the curtain to the floor.

Felix bounded to his feet and– hugged me. Blinking in surprise, I hugged him back. “I think I got them.”

“You’re alright?”

“More or less.” I laughed. It wasn’t funny, but after all that stress, I felt like I deserved it.

Felix nodded, and we awkwardly stood there… averting our eyes, shifting… and, finally, Felix dove into the curtain, tugging out the mess that I’d thrown in there. It was his turn to laugh when he pulled out the bottle.


I grinned. “I did a damn good job, and I wanted to celebrate.”

“You’re going to get us caught.” I was lucky that he was still laughing as he thrust the bottle at me, only to return to the rolls of paper. When he opened them up, he smiled and nodded. “Perfect. What’s the rest of this?”

“I dunno. They had seals on ’em. I though they looked important.”

“Great. Great job, Silas, honestly. Burn the fabric. Hide the bottle… Well, when we’re done with it.” He rose and I stared at him as he grabbed the tin cups from the crate under the leak in the roof. He emptied the murky water onto the floor, and held them out to me. “I think this calls for a toast.”

Damn right it did. I dug the cork out with a bit of broken metal we’d been using for a knife, and poured us each a cup of the fragrant red liquid.

“You’re supposed to let it breathe,” he scolded.

“If I’m not allowed time to breathe, then I think the wine will get over it.”

We shared a grin, and Felix raised his cup, and I tapped the rim of mine to his. “To not dying here.”

“Morbid,” I muttered, “but I’ll take it.”


Filed under Letters from Blackford Hill

LfBH 9.2 – Trials: Felix

I deserved it. Everything they did. I wanted it; the beatings, the water torture, the shackles…. It reminded me of Dacian. Every time they came to take me, I could hear Silas fighting, our bunk-mates struggling to keep him back. Each time was worse than the last, yet I remembered less and less. Silas nursed my wounds, though I could never fathom why. All my life, I lacked in true friends… it was ironic that I would find one here. He fought hard for me, and every time they came, I let them have me.

“Dacian is dead, Felix,” muttered Silas one evening as he set my broken forearm with a heart-stopping crack.

A howl burst from my throat, thunking my forehead against the table with a sob.

“G-Go to hell….”

“Not saying it won’t make it less true.” His words mirrored the ache in my arm, though he was oddly tender as he wrapped and splinted my swollen limb. “I understand that you loved him—”

Love him, Silas. Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean my love died with him.”

“Fine. But it’s beside the fucking point.” His eyes burned, even as I worked not to look at him. I knew he was locked on me. “Dying here won’t bring him back.”

I knew that. But wasn’t it my greed for a formal marriage that got him killed? At least before I sought that formality we had each other.

“We deserved it.” I tried to clear the hoarseness from my throat, but the screaming had all but done it in. As it cracked around those words, I wondered if it really was hoarse, or if it was tears. My face had been beaten numb, so it really could have been either.

“Fuck off! You didn’t deserve any of this shit!” Silas snapped, snatching our tin rain-collecting cup and hurling it against the wall.

I cringed.

“I meant a wedding, jackass… We deserved a wedding,” I muttered after the shock of his outburst wore off. Rubbing my eyes with my good hand, I slumped back on the bed and cradled my arm.

“Oh.” Silas blinked owlishly at me, settling back on his crate. “Well. Right. Yes. You did deserve that. S’what I was telling you before. But really, though, Felix… Fight back a little.”


“You fight when they come for me.

“You’re different.”

“Bullshit.” He plopped on the bed and laid beside me, both of us sideways, our legs hanging over the edge. “Your face is bleeding a little.”

“It always seems to be lately.” Glancing over, I watched him. Silas, an uncultured orphan from the streets of my father’s city. My only friend in the world now.

“They’ll be back tomorrow. Promise me you won’t just let them do whatever they want to you….”

I wanted to curse at him and go to sleep like I always did. Who was he to be making demands of me? It wasn’t that long ago that my fate had been the gallows, and I welcomed it. I could see no reason my life should be spared in favor of this hell.

“Believe it or not, you stupid bastard, people actually give a shit what happens to you.”

People? Or you?”

He rolled his eyes and rolled himself to his feet, crossing the room without a word. Effective means of dodging the question. Silas had as many bruises and bandages as I did, it was baffling how he could move so easily.

“Fine, you win. I’ll fight while they’re beating me next time. Because we all know how far protesting gets you.” I tossed a bread crust from the table at him, bouncing it off the top of his head.

Unfazed, he turned toward me, eyes dark and hollow, more somber than I’d ever seen him. “Just do me this and pretend, for once, that you want to be alive….”

My mouth dropped open, I could feel it as I stared dumbly at him. I could only nod. In the short few weeks I’d been here, Silas had tended my wounds, coaxed me to laugh, and stayed beside me in the dark. Selfish, spoiled man that I am, I felt all this time that he was doing it for me. In that moment, I felt stupid and cruel. I wasn’t the only one in the dark.

“I do want to live.” Using my good arm, I shoved myself up, every bruise and muscle screaming in agony. “I let the helplessness control me. I’m sorry.” I still don’t know if I actually was sorry. I just knew that Silas needed to hear it. Taking his hand, I gave it a weak squeeze.

“I don’t want to die here, Felix…” He let his head drop back against the window, rattling the pane.

“You won’t. We won’t. You’re as stubborn as a gods be damned goat, Silas. You’ll live through this whether you want to or not.” Nudging him with my elbow, I was pleased to earn a small smile.

“That so?” He lifted his head and gave a laugh, tears running down his cheeks.

“That is so. You need to be alive to help me crush my father and take his estate.” Those words left me and I hadn’t the faintest idea where they came from.

“What?” Silas stared, and I grinned at his surprise.

“You’ll help me, won’t you? We’ll split the profit.” The idea hadn’t even come to me until just then, after it left my lips. But it was brilliant.

“You’re going to get yourself killed.” He glared, but only for a moment. My grin must have been infectious, because in seconds, I watched the same one grow on Silas’ face.

“Well?” I asked, squeezing his hand one more time.

Glancing down to our clasped hands, his eyes flickered once again to mine.

“I’m in.”


Filed under Letters from Blackford Hill

LfBH – 7: The Cure

I know it’s been awhile.  I wanted to write something a little less unpleasant with this piece.  I like Felix and he deserved a break.  So, not as action-packed, probably boring, but Felix needed this moment.  He was making me sad.  Enjoy.


Silas drew a breath, deep and soothing, the scent of the fire flooding his lungs. The fact he’d even managed to purloin some wood was a miracle in itself. Rain pelted the tin roof, the sound an odd cross between a ring and a roar, making sleep no more than wishful thinking, and warmth even further from attainability. The fire was absolutely a blessing. Silas pitied those in the barracks without it. It would be a long, cold night.

A sharp cough broke the trance the flames had lulled him into, and he pushed the brazier lightly with a cloth-clad foot. The fresh meat they brought in on that wagon was in the bed beside Silas, on his side and looking more like an eggplant than a person. It didn’t stop him from stirring, though. How he could even move was beyond Silas. That man was beaten to a pulp before he was dumped just inside the door, left unattended in a heap. No one bothered with a name, or to take care of him. What did they care if he died? Silas tugged him onto his bed, and tried to keep him warm and stanch the bleeding from medley of head wounds. Whether he would live still remained to be seen, but it looked grim.

Silas’ patient’s arms flew up suddenly, blocking invisible blows in the stillness of the cabin. The other occupants stared at him for a moment, but all went back to what they were doing without another glance. Silas settled on the bed beside him, and grabbed his wrists lightly, trying to still him.

“Hey! Hey, it’s alright! It’s alright…” he pressed, letting him go gently, and grabbing the rag from the basin of rainwater he’d been collecting and started gently mopping up any new blood that made have dried on his face. “Just hold still, you’re real banged up.”

“The hell am I?” he asked hoarsely, trying to focus his right eye on him, the only one that wasn’t swelled completely shut.

“Blackford Hill,” answered Silas, setting the rag aside, and using the cover of the blanket to dry his face as gently as he could. “What’s your name?”

“Oh. That… right… I remember.” He sighed, and tried to sit up, but only grimaced as he gave in and lay back.

“Broke a few ribs. You didn’t answer me though.”

Felix looked at him sidelong, wondering how he wound up in this person’s care. “Felix. Count… Felix Malrais.”

Silas lofted a brow. “I guess money can’t buy you out of this hellhole anymore.” He sighed, and glanced around at the six others sharing a tiny room with three beds. “Looks like you outrank us.” He joked.

“Ha ha.” Felix muttered dryly. “Lot of good that’s doing me, isn’t it?” He pushed himself up, this time fighting the agony in his ribs, and leaned back against the wall. “What sort of detention camp is this?”

Silas scooted back on the wall, laying perpendicular on the bed. “Bunters, pedophiles, mandrakes, rapists… even adulterers. Can’t get away with nothing these days.”


“Yeah. You lie with your own ilk, you’re like to get tossed in here, anyone finds out about it. Got the girls, too. More men than women, though.”

“Fuck.” Felix knocked his already aching head back against the wall and closed his eyes with a hiss of pain.

“That’s you, then, huh? Me, too. That one there,” he pointed across the room at a dark, bearded fellow. “Got a ten year old wife. That one? Fucking his half-sister. And that one there had a roll in the hay with his father’s goat.”

“Fuck off, Silas,” was the weak response he got from the man who had lain with his sister. The rest seemed to ignore him. Silas had a loud mouth, and they were all growing tired of reacting to it.

“Can you believe it? We fuck a few men here and there, and we get lumped in with that lot. Piss poor situation, yeah?” Silas shook his head and glanced to Felix, feeling genuinely bad for him. The only ones who ever got beat up so bad were the ones who rebelled or the ones who panicked. Silas would put money on Felix being the latter. “Anyway, they bring you here to cure you of your ‘maladies’.”

Felix shook his head. “Fantastic, but I’m not sick.” He snapped.

“Me, neither. But you just gotta let them do their thing. Try to be good. I never seen them let anyone out, but it’s the only hope we got.”

“So, we pretend to be ‘getting better’ so they can keep us here and make us miserable? I don’t think so.” Felix touched his face, and grimaced. He must have looked like an elephant went through a meat grinder.

“Stop poking at it.” Silas smacked his hand, and Felix attempted a glare, but the swelling wouldn’t let his face do much of anything.

“I murdered a temple full of priests and burnt it to the ground. I shouldn’t even be here,” he noted and closed his eyes. “I’d rather face the noose.”

Silas’ jaw dropped. “What the fuck? Why would you do that?”

“They murdered someone important to me. For a stupid reason…. I wanted to marry him and I went to the priests to request it be allowed. They said no. Didn’t shout or act angry….. Next thing I know, my servants village is being raided and they drag Dacien out, injuring many of my servants in the process. We found him in the pond behind the temple.” He shook his head, his voice suddenly very solemn. “I suppose I just snapped.”

Silence filled the room, and Silas just stared, stunned. “Unbelievable. They deserved it. Fuck them, you were completely justified.”

Felix cracked a weak smile. “Thank you. Doesn’t bring Dacien back, though.”

“No… I guess it doesn’t.”

“Thank you…” Felix muttered.

“What for?”

“It was you, wasn’t it? Who put me here? Made sure I didn’t drown in my own blood? I know it was you, because we’ve been talking for at least twenty minutes now, and not one of those men have bothered to interject. They don’t seem the type to rise against authority.”

“I do?” Silas laughed.

“You do.”

“Well. You’re welcome. Now I’m going to sleep. Don’t die tonight. I don’t know if I want to wake up in the same bed as a corpse.” He jostled himself into a horizontal position at the other end of the bed, his feet up by Felix’s head.

“You’re fucking charming, you know that.” Felix slid back down and ducked under the blanket, miserable, but at least there wasn’t a gun in his face.


Filed under Letters from Blackford Hill, Writing