A thousand faces filled his mind of people trapped in Mada's dungeons. Jacob had said thousands were cast into Mada's dark pit to suffer and die. Thousands upon thousands, some prisoners of war, some with imperfections, some who challenged Mada and some who were just unfortunate enough to be captured and trapped here. No one had ever escaped and those who had rarely lived long enough to tell the tale, too gone where they from Mada's treatment, to close to the edge of madness. Thousands of people lost in a sea of endless misery, thousands of people suffering Mada's wrath, thousands of faces lost in a sea of despair...and Daniel was now among them...
"What I'd like to know is why it took you so long to come for him."
Jumping in surprise at the unexpected interruption Jack focused his attention on Jacob trying to recall what the man had just said and finally replying with, "We thought he was dead, Jacob."
"He may well be if he spends another minute in Mada's dungeon."
"Have you seen him?"
"No but Setana has."
"And she said he's not good."
"Not good meaning?"
"She was giving him water and nourishment. She was able to coax him before but now..."
"Now? Now what?"
"Now he won't respond...at all. She tries to wake him, but he is weak and has little strength remaining. He cannot remain much longer, Jack. He is becoming lost to us."
Jacob paused gazing intently at the huge black metal door before him. Jack shuffled nervously wondering what Jacob was thinking and finding he needed to know, "What? What is it Jacob?"
"We enter here."
"Yes. Daniel is this way, Jack."
Reaching for the door Jack said, "Then let's go..."
Jacob gently grasped his arm focusing intently on Jack, not speaking for the span of several moments before informing, "The dungeons are not pleasant."
"They never are."
"But this particular one... There are stories, Jack, stories of how poorly kept it is, of how dark and cold it is. Many, many stories and..."
"And let's go..."
"Jack, this place is not what you'd expect. It's filthy, Jack. It's dank, dark and very dirty. Mada does not place hospitality and cleanliness near the top of his list where his prisoners are concerned. They are his. They serve his needs when he commands. He believes they are his to do with as he pleases, and he chooses to keep them in darkness and filth."
"Then I say we get Daniel the hell out of here."
"Daniel belongs to him, Jack. He is one of Mada's cursed now. Retrieving him will not be easy."
Ignoring Jacob's words Jack pushed open the heavy metal door and stepped inside immediately clamping a hand over his mouth and nose as a fowl stench flooded his senses. He gazed at Jacob horrified by the unexpected and shocked by the unbelievably sickening odor that clung to the air making the simple act of breathing a veritable struggle.
A gentle reassuring hand squeezed his shoulder as Jacob softly said, "I warned you."
Jack nodded struggling for several more moments to regain his focus managing to successfully swallow back the bile presently climbing into his throat. He swallowed hard before removing his hand and asking, "How long did you say he's been here?"
"Way too long."
Shuddering as a terrible sound filled the air Jack harshly whispered, "What the hell is that?"
"Yes coming from lost souls."
Nodding Jacob continued, "Yes lost souls, Jack. There are so many down here, too many."
As he glanced around him he felt uncomfortable, cold and unsettled realizing that they had already traversed some of the dungeons and he hadn't noticed at all, too disturbed by the sounds, the stench and the faces. Face upon face peered at him through bars from the darkness, pale, almost horrifyingly so. He tried to look away but couldn't, finding that he had to gaze at every one. Some of those faces stared at him in avid fascination, some in fear, some in mistrust, some in terror and some were vacant, expressionless. Feeling his discomfort climb further he swallowed hard managing, "Will they reveal...?"
"Not likely. No, they're either too frightened or too scared...few dare to speak at all."
"Mada is very strict, very viscious and very brutal. Sometimes he enjoys hearing the screams of his victims and other times he prefers to see them silent and cowering in fear. They speak little and some not at all. The darkness it effects them, changes them and sometimes destroys them."
Speaking harshly Jack snapped, "Jacob!" and in that single word he heard the terror and fear Jack held for Daniel, Daniel Jackson, a man who was also trapped down here serving time in darkness. He mentally cursed himself for his stupidity only calming when Jack again prodded, "Are you sure he's down here?"
"Yes Jack. I'm sure."
"Then where is he?"
"Further back this way."
"Okay so when we find him how are we getting him out again?"
"Homing beacon... Remember Anise is tracking us from above."
"And tell me again why we didn't just beam in, in the first place?"
"The light Jack. Not only would it terrify those trapped down here and create a widespread panic that would surely draw Mada down upon us in a heartbeat, but it could traumatize Daniel too. You have to realize Jack they've been in darkness for so long, Daniel's been in darkness for so long. Light would not only hurt him severely, but it could panic him. We need to be careful, cautious...we need to think of Daniel."
Nodding they continued on a trek that seemed to take forever. The further they travelled the more disturbed those terrified, vacant faces made him. He shuddered internally as Jacob's earlier words echoed in his mind, "Lost souls, Jack...there are so many down here, too many..."
Lost souls is what he had called them, lost souls. Coldness encompassed him as he gazed into the vacant face of yet another young man and shivered as he asked himself if he had waited too long to save Daniel, asked himself if Daniel was now among those lost souls forever trapped in Mada's prison...
|Genres:||Angst, Dark, Drama, Vignette|
|Series:||The "Colopatiron" Series|
|Summary:||In a sea of faces one can easily become lost.|
Author's Chapter Notes:
This story contains references to the Hindu god Mada. Mada was the demonic monster god of drunkenness/intoxication, liquor and hunting. He was believed to be a monster powerful enough to swallow the universe and the heavens.