Being a prisoner had its perks. Arun sat unattended in the middle of a rotting hut, sturdy enough to shield him from the rain, thunder, and cold winds that plagued the longlight months. He twiddled his naked thumbs on a creaking wooden chair, mindful that his captors had taken his gloves along with his books and pocket scope. His scope would have once peered into the sun and the stars—mythical bodies hidden beyond the clouds. It was now resigned to spotting rival scavengers from afar; not much use in a windowless hut.
A door stood closed, straight ahead, only brought to light by dim rays spread through the hut from the slits high in the slatted walls. To Arun’s right: a mountain of unlit candles, symmetrically arranged. To his left: a bed. It’d been years since he’d last seen one, let alone lay in one. His ears could only capture the same sound he’d heard since waking—rain pattering against the hut and dripping through a crack in the corner. He was surely far from any town and anyone he knew.
Arun couldn’t remember a single face from his last moments as a free man wandering the fields. There were no chains nor rope around him, but scavengers would always bind, so the hut must have belonged to reclusive Hillfolk or fearless Hunters—bone-crunching cannibals that strayed in and out of town. Either way, it wouldn’t be a fair fight, and a wry smile lifted on one side of Arun’s face.
Knock, knock, knock—and the peace was shattered.
Arun’s thoughts dispersed. Three knocks broke the spitting rain, echoing through the hut with no time in between. Showtime. He crunched his knuckles and fingers back and readied himself for yet another fight.