Okay so current word count is: 1,907. And, as promised, I have a bit of the alternate beginning ready and waiting for you. So, I won't make you wait and just get right to it. Gotta love it!
The cool stone floor pressed into Black Rose's cheek. His mouth was dry from being unable to breathe through his nose. He could no longer taste blood, he supposed that was a good sign. After taking a mental note of all his aches and pains, he opened his eyes. It took a moment or two of blinking to realize he wasn't blind, darkness pressed in on him.
So Quagha Li'endrin must have tossed him down into the darkest, dirtiest pit he could find. Not to mention the stench. He could taste the foul air on his tongue since his sense of smell had been compromised.
Rose didn't want to move. Pain made him selfish as did his current surroundings. He knew he would have to sit up eventually, but for the moment the cool, damp surface felt good. Made him ache that much more, but that is how he knew he still lived. He hurt like all hells.
He closed his eyes and the past few days began to replay in his mind, like a dream that refused to let go of the waking world. At first, he could see his garden. The soil had just been turned, it lay waiting and ready for him to plant the seeds that would grow under his nurturing care. His conversation with Fizanu, the goddess of Justice. Rose had been chosen to be her Champion. She had chosen him out of all the hundreds of thousands of mortals on this world. There were times, only times mind you, he wished she hadn't. He wouldn't change his life now for anything. Okay, well maybe he would change his location at the current moment, but that was just geography.
He breathed in slowly, his ribs protesting at the expansion required to fill his lungs with air. Fizanu had told him to travel to the small kingdom of Jenlakai. The king and queen were being held against their will until they produced their only daughter to Quagha Li'endrin, king of Relavia. Quagha wanted to unite the two kingdoms in marriage; the daughter of Jenlakai to his old, ailing cousin simply for the sake of forcing them to be allies. Not exactly a faerie tale romance.
Footsteps sounded off to the right. Rose kept his eyes closed and his breathing slow and even. Perhaps if they thought him still asleep, they'd either leave him alone or say something they wouldn't otherwise say in his waking presence. Whoever approached didn't stop. The footsteps retreated, echoing off of the stone walls and fading off to his left. Must have just been a guard walking his rounds, Rose thought to himself.
Time in a place like this was difficult to figure out. Was it daytime? Nighttime? What day was this? Rose wouldn't be able to figure it out and had already seen his fair share of men who had gone mad trying to do so. His current situation reminded him of several different occasions he had been held in similar cells, just not so far underground. Exhaustion finally took over and he closed his eyes, not having to fake sleep this time.
When Rose woke, it took a moment or two to realize his surroundings yet again. He blinked, wondering what had just jarred him awake. He sat up and saw bright torchlight and squinted against the pain in his eyes.
“Ah, I see you are finally awake,” Quagha Li'endrin handed a sword back to the guard standing behind him. “I've been waiting to speak to you. You sleep like the dead. I'm thankful to the gods that you are still among the living, I wouldn't want them to spoil my fun.” Quagha's lip curled into a grotesque smile.
Rose sat, propped up on his elbows, the hard floor digging into his skin. He could barely see the Relavian king with the torch flickering behind him. Something brushed Rose's forehead and he automatically thought his hair had fallen into his face and tried to brush it out of the way. Quagha found this highly amusing and began to chuckle. Rose forgot that they had shaved his head before dragging him back to Relavia in chains.
“I'm quickly losing interest in keeping you down here in the pit, as the other guards like to call it. I merely wanted to inform you that I will soon be putting you out of your misery. In two days time, we'll be having a grand celebration here in Relavia. The main event will be your execution.”