Exclusive Excerpt from The Lowest Realm
by Amy-Alex Campbell
Nika was woken abruptly with a kick to the stomach. Several torches lit up the dark room, the bright light burning his eyes, and a sword was pointed in his face. He and Freyne were surrounded by soldiers, wearing bronze chest plates over red doublets, and bronze pointed helms. Nika realised they were the soldiers he had seen leaving Rybor three weeks ago.
A large soldier with a long black moustache and beard, with slightly darker skin pushed his way into the room, eyeing Nika and Freyne laying together, topless, and he spat on Nika’s face.
“Disgusting abomination,” he snarled, turning to his men. “Take them!”
Nika and Freyne were roughly pulled to their feet, and their hands tied behind their backs. Someone punched Nika in his mouth, making him see stars and taste blood. He felt Freyne struggle next to him, and someone hit him hard over the head, knocking him unconscious to the ground.
Nika was dragged from the room and into the corridor, where Ur’Shad and Iryna stood under guard, swords held to their necks and their hands also bound. Blood was trickling from Ur’Shad’s nose, and he swayed slightly, dazed. Iryna looked terrified.
Chardi and Lana were shoved into the hall from their room, a large cut bleeding across Chardi’s bare chest; Lana was sobbing and shaking.
“Move it out,” someone barked, and Nika was shoved roughly forward towards the stairs. He tried to look over his shoulder to see where Freyne was, but his captor hit him again, almost making him fall.
They were marched in single file through the ship and down the gang plank, and Nika managed to catch a glimpse of Freyne being carried by two of the soldiers. They were met by more soldiers on the dock, and the captain’s voice floated to Nika on the wind.
“Take them to the lowest level of the dungeon, we’ll leave them there to rot. As for those two filthy dogs, we’ll schedule them for public castration and dismemberment on charges of sodomy. That should send a clear message to anyone else who may be considering such putrid behaviour. But the princess is not to be harmed, take her to my office above the dungeons and lock her in there, until the ship is ready to sail. There is a lord who will pay quite handsomely for her.”
An order was passed along the line, and Nika was roughly shoved forward. His heart pounded in his chest and he felt sick to his stomach. He hardly felt his hangover. He walked in silence, following Chardi and the soldiers, and they left the docks.
The sun had still not risen; they marched by torch light along the docks. Sailors and deck hands gave the soldiers a wide berth, scrambling out of the way and eyeing the prisoners wearily.
They marched up a small steep hill towards a large menacing stone building which overlooked the dock. The soldier pushed Nika and his friends inside, and dragged them through a maze of passageways.