Adam was transferred under heavy guard to the castle, which was closer than he had expected. Though he made no effort to escape, though he worked hard to give them not even the slightest impression that he wanted to escape, the guards watched him like a hawk, and one of them kept the strange glowing tube trained on him at all times. He certainly had no wish to subject himself to that again, and he assured them many times that he bore them no ill will – that he had joined the opposing army merely for pay, and for a chance to test his power. It didn’t matter what he said. In fact, he may have made them even more nervous, they treated him with suspicion. And he was certain that nothing he could say would change that.
They had bound his hands in thick cotton bandages, so that he couldn’t even move his fingers. He could have told them that he didn’t need his hands to do magic. It was all done in his mind and the pointing finger when he had destroyed the cage lock was just for dramatic purposes. But he didn’t want to scare them any more than he already had.
The march back to the castle took only half a day. He drew some stares as he was marched through the city, but he ignored them.
He was shuffled immediately down to a bare stone cell with a solid wood door and left alone for a very long time. The cell had no windows, and he wasn’t sure whether it was hours or days before anyone came for him.
He was expecting to be taken directly to the king, but instead he was sat in a small room on the other side of a desk from a man in guards’ livery. An older man, hair greying at his temples, but still from his appearance fit and lively. A sword was stuck through his belt that glowed with a crimson radiance. What was with all the glowing things? A book lay on the table in front of him and a pen and inkwell stood ready nearby. Thankfully, neither of them glowed.
Adam assumed that the man was the captain of the castle guard. He would have offered his hand to shake, but his hands were still bandaged – they were by now chafing and itching, and he didn’t want to know how they would smell when he finally took the bandages off.
The only other person in the room was another guard, who now had the paralysing tube. The man with the glowing sword began the interrogation.
“Well, it starts with me in prison,” Adam said in response to the Captain’s first question.
“In prison? Here in the castle?”
“No, in the watch house in town,” Adam replied.
“Why didn’t you escape?”
Adam looked up at the guard with the tube. It was pointing directly at him. “I couldn’t do that yet,” he said as he dropped his eyes.
“There was this guy in prison with me. He’d been there a while, because he’d been scraping at the mortar between the bricks, and he’d made a groove. But suddenly he stopped and looked up at me. I think I’ve broken through, he said. But just then the floor collapsed and pitched us both into a dark hole.”
“Really? The floor of the cell fell into a hole?”
“Yes, that’s what happened.”
The Captain made a brief note in the book in front of him and returned the pen to the inkwell. It made a tiny tink sound as the metal nib hit the base of the bottle. It was the only sound in the room.
“And then what?” the Captain continued.
“Well, I fell into this… sort of… cave. Turns out the other guy from the cell fell on his head, because he wasn’t moving. The floor was covered in bones, and in the middle of the cave was this… uh… well, it was kind of a crystal, glowing bright green. The whole cavern was being lit by this thing. And it was floating, over a pit.”
The Captain looked skeptical, but he didn’t say anything.
“It’s true!” Adam said. “I swear by my father’s trousers, it’s true.”
The captain sighed, evidently not placing much store in Adam’s father’s trousers, and took up his pen again.
“I knew I had to touch it,” said Adam.
The Captain tossed the pen back to the table. “Look, mister,” he said. “I’m not sure you realise how much trouble you’re in.”
“I knew I had to touch it,” Adam repeated, “and it’s when I touched it that it all happened.”
“When all what happened?”
“This! Everything! Magic!”
“If you’re not going to take this seriously…”
“I am taking this seriously!” Adam leaned forward and looked directly into the Captain’s eyes. “I am taking this seriously. Write it down. I… had… to… touch it.”
The Captain reluctantly took up his pen and started writing. “And did you?” he asked without looking up.
“And what happened then?”
“Well, that’s when the demon attacked me.”