This has been going on for weeks, and I don’t know if I can take any more.

               The cold stone floor bites through my clothes, and I grit my teeth, tears of exhaustion pouring down my face.

               I do not know when my captor will come back, though I am praying to the gods that I have a reprieve.

               The size of my cell is tiny, barely enough room for me to lie down. In the corner there is a dirty metal plate, a chamber pot, and a pail of dirty water that is beginning to smell.

               There are no windows, so I have no way of keeping track of the time. My days have all bled together, a blur of violence and nightmares. My memories of life before this existence as a prisoner are few and far between.

               I am broken from my thoughts by the deafening screech of a door swinging on rusty hinges. I scramble into a sitting position, putting my back against the wall. The cold, heavy manacles around my wrists and ankles have rubbed my skin raw, and I bite back a cry of agony.

               The sound of slow, sure footsteps echoes throughout the cavernous chamber, and I find myself wishing that I had the company of the rats and insects that live in this hovel.

               If only I could rip out his eyes… The thought brings me a burst of dark, unexpected pleasure.

               After all, there’s not much else to do but dream up ways to revenge, in my position.

               After what seems like a whole eternity, my captor finally shows himself, standing in front of my cell door.

In the weak torchlight, he looks sallow, washed out, his eyes like tiny black pebbles in his face. His red, bulbous nose is swollen, and when I look closer, his eyes are bloodshot. There are food and sweat stains on his fine silk coat, and it’s all I can do not to let my disgust show on my face.

“Have you given any consideration to my offer, my dear?” He asks me, his words slurring.

“What does it matter? My answer is the same, always. No.”

At this, his mask of a fine courtier slips, and his lips curl. He spits, and I barely manage to dodge it.

“I believe I’ve been quite generous, considering your… situation. But fine. If you wish to rot in your cell for the rest of your days, that is your human right.”

Despite myself, despite aching for every bit of control I have, I laugh. The sound edges on hysterical, and I can feel my power coiling like a snake in my chest, calling upon the rats and the bugs and everything hiding under the flagstones. I don’t have much left; I’ve had very little sustenance.

“But know this, my love. You’re not the only one who suffers from your choices.”

I know who he is referring to. My family, outside of the palace.

Heat builds in my chest, and I murmur a command under my breath, disguised as a prayer to the Father Earth and Mother Sky.

The creatures within this prison hear my call, and heed it. The rats and flies descend on him in a black cloud, enveloping him until there is naught but dust. His screams echo off of the walls, but they are as music to me.

In his place, there lays a shining metal key, and I just barely manage to reach through the bars and snatch it. My hands are shaking so badly I almost drop it.

But my power has won me my freedom. It is finished.