SEVEN

LOST

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Behnam was unwell. Worse than unwell. Unwell was an understatement. He’d been drifting in and out of consciousness for…? Days? How long had he been in this place now? And he’d not been able to move his arms or legs the whole time. If he didn’t get some proper circulation going soon his limbs would begin dying.

A thick fog filled his brain and he found himself drifting off again. He shook his head to stay awake. Pain exploded in his temples, but it woke him up. He needed to stay conscious, to think. Escape was paramount. The longer he remained captive the harder it would become to block access to his mind.

“Well?” spoke the voice in the darkness.

Behnam started, lashing out with his one good leg, but it didn’t connect with anything. He was a bag of nerves, but he mustn’t crack. Stay calm.

Silence. The thrashing had exacerbated his head. He winced and slumped back against the wall, already defeated. Feet shuffled in the darkness. There were others there too. How many? And what were they doing there?

“What do you want from me?” Behnam said at last.

“I want to know if you felt it.” It was the same rasping corpse-like voice as before.

“Felt what?” He coughed. “All I feel is pain.”

“You felt it,” said the voice. “You and the brotherhood all felt it.”

“Felt…”

“The fluctuation. The ripple that swept through the fabric of our realm.”

“I don’t understand.” Behnam leant his head back against the wall and took a shallow breath.

“It’s the girl. She’s come back. I felt it. And I know you and the brotherhood felt it too.”

Behnam’s head was swimming again. Jumbled visions were populating his mind’s eye, coming and going in rapid succession.

“Enough!” he shouted. He forced all thoughts from his head. It was a struggle but somehow he managed it.

“Still fighting me?” There was a pause. “You’re strong, Master Baktash, but what little strength you have left is waning and your time is running out. No matter though, my men will find her.”

“What girl? Who is she?”

“The one who almost killed me, who cut off my arm. I thought I’d destroyed her last time. This time I’ll do it properly, before she can fulfil her destiny. And you will help me, Master Baktash. You’ll help, or those you hold dear will perish.”

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