The chains that bound my arms together were heavy and dirtied with dry mud. My shoulders ached from the weight of them and my wrists had dried blood mixed with fresh juice that ran down the sides of my hands and dripped on the floor. Two guards next to my brother and me stood stoically. Looking over at Jeremiah, seeing his once muscular body now just bones made me sadder for him than myself. They starved him–nearly to death. The guilt flowed through my veins like hot lava coursing down the mountainside. Recognizing it was I that did this to him; which made me shudder at my own thoughts. If I had not run away from home, he would not have followed me to take me back. Thus, he would not be here with me in this hellhole of a place.
“I am sor…” I tried to whisper to Jeremiah, but my voice was dry and hoarse. I attempted to clear it, but I had no means to do so. I must be in no better shape than he. As I glanced down at my arms, it shocked me to see bones protruding. When did this transpire? Confused, I looked at my younger brother again and back at myself. I have been so worried about Jeremiah, I did not realize I had been starving myself along with him, passing my food to him through the iron bars of our prison. I had no regret in doing this as I have always taken care of him, and he needs his nourishment.
Jeremiah stared at me through heavy eyelids, his eyelashes caked with dry muck, his eyes red with infection. “Mary, this is not your fault. You are not killing us–they are. Remember that. I do not put blame on thee.”
The guard next to my brother laid a substantial blow to Jeremiah’s gut expelling what little air he carried in his lungs to explode out of his mouth with a weak “Oomph.”
The villagers crowded into the cave causing little noise; filtering in, taking their places as close to the pool as they dared to get.
“I am sorry Jeremiah. I should have married the king. We would be free instead of…” I let my voice drop off, as I did not have the strength or courage to say the word sacrificed. The barbaric life these savages live is still beyond what my mind could even fathom; still–even after being kept captive here a year in their village and observing what they are capable of doing. The king entered the room. Two guards immediately took Jeremiah to him at the foot of the pool where water splashed on his body. Jeremiah glanced up at me, winked, and smiled, enjoying the wetness on his body. The king took his sword as he stared straight into my soul