He felt the hands gripping his arms tighten and the men who had brought him, dragged him, stiffen.
"Bring him here!" he heard a woman say. He stumbled groggily up the dais.
"Who..." He began . A blow from behind knocked him to his knees, "Speak only when spoken to dog!" a sharp voice commanded.
"Remove the blindfold" The womans voice again . He felt the blindfold being removed and, blinked at the sudden light.
"Where..." he began... too late, he remembered. The blow knocked the wind from him.
"Enough!" The woman began again, " this is too much, how is he answer my questions if he cannot speak, report to the questioners at once."
He looked up, the voice belonged to a young woman full of confidence yet wary, as if she could not be sure of how to deal with him. He blinked, trying to see. His eyes, blinded by the sudden light, registered only blurry figures. He struggled to get up, he wouldnt give them the satisfaction of seeing him on his feet, he would stand and stare them in the eyes while they questioned him.
"What is your name?" The woman asked. When he didn't answer she gestured to one of the guards. He felt a chain being fitted around his neck. "Now"the woman started "I will ask you a question, you will answer, failure, on your part, to comply with these reasonable orders, will resultin the chain around your neck being tightened. Each act of disobedience on your part tightens the chain even more, until..." she made a cutting gesture across her throat.
"Now, Who Are You?" She stared at him, waiting, after a minute of silence, she gestured tothe man holding the other end of the chain. He felt the noose tighten around his neck.
"Wait" he croaked. The woman on the dais motioned to the man with the chain and he felt the presure on his chain relax. "Speak!" she commanded. "My Name, is Mat, Mat Cauthon." The Woman on the dais smiled, "Relax the chain." The chain loosened around his neck. She stepped down from the dais. "You see Mat Cauthon, co-operation brings rewards , disobedience brings Death. "
Mat licked his lips. "Who......Who are you? Where am I?"
She smiled. "Who am I? I am Tuon second in line to be empress, as for where you are , you are in my home... The Court of The Nine Moons in Seanchan" She cupped his chin in her hand and brought his eyes to meet hers, "And you are My prisoner".
Mat blinked, uncertain what to say next. "Seanchan" He mutterred, " Bloody seanchan, what trouble cant those bloody women get me into."
Tuon remained silent, her gaze fixed on him, what he say in those eyes made him wonder, for all the powerful exterior she showed she was afraid, terrified, or what or who he was not sure, but he was certain it was fear he saw in her eyes. Suddenly she whirled around and walked to her chair on the dais. She surveyed the room once before sitting down and then her gaze returned to him.
"Well Mat Cauthon, what have you to say for yourself?"
He opened his mouth , but paused before speaking. Nobles were always touchy about how you spoke to them, he would have to be careful.
"Well, Mistress" he began...was mistress right? too late to wonder than now, "I am uncertain what it is you want me to say. Am I on trial? Am I to be executed? Or is this your way of inviting me in for a cup of bloody tea?" He immediately regretted that last bit, but he couldn't help it. He was angry, angry at being a prisoner, angry at being captured, angry that he had not found Olver. He cursed softly, Olver. The boy was loose somewhere in Ebou dar, if the bloody seanchan hadn't killed him or captured him by now. He shook his head angrily, there was no telling what had happened to the boy or to those fool women, he hoped at least they had gotten out safely, he knew what the seanchan did to women who could channel, he would not wish that fate even on Nyneave. "One problem at a time, Mat." he muttered to himself, "One problem at a time." He would work on finding Olver as soon as he got himself out of this predicement, he only hoped it was soon enough.
Tuon's eyes opened wide, "No one...." she began, " No one has ever spoken to me in such a fashion." She smiled suddenly, "You will be an interesting subject I think Mat Cauthon. Someday you will tell me how you came to carry an Asheindrei, a weapon that is rare even here in Seanchan." She rose. " But now, I have business elsewhere".
She motioned to the guards. "Take him to a cell and feed him, he is to be punished for his disresepect but he is to be able to talk for tomorrow. "
With that she walked out of the chamber, with her guards, Ogier guards he noted, at her heels. He only had a second to wonder how the woman had gotten Ogier guards, they usually stayed out of human business, before a guard yanked at his chain roughly and began walking to the door, muttering about how he would make Mat beg for his death before the night was through.
Mat swallowed, he wasn't going to like this but he would live through it. He had promises to keep.
It flowed through the tall grass, listening, seeking. Its target was close, so close, so soon, so soon to feed, so soon to kill, so soon to feel warm blood running between its fingers again, it had been too long since its last kill.
Sounds drifted through the air, cries of despair, moans of pain, the sounds of boans cracking and blood flowing. The moonlight bounced off its liquid form, making it easily seen by any passing guard. It paused, this would require a change in its course of action, a detour was needed, but which way.
Each way had advantages and disadvantages, which way would benefit it, help rather than hinder its purpose? It lay there for quite a while, timing was everything, perhaps it should retreat, come back another day, the hunt could wait, survival was everything. After a short time it set off in a new diretion, the hunt was still on.
It flowed slowly throught the dungeon halls, savouring the fear of the prisoners, sensing the anger, their pain, their despair, it stopped for a while, savouring the emotions which flowed through it. Something drew its attention away from the pain of the prisoners, its prey! ... it was close, so close, so very very close. Soon the killing, soon the slaughter, soon the feast, the excitement was enough to make it forget the emotions of the Inmates.
To go onward as a pool of liquid would be foolish, the area would be populated, heavily guarded, a more physical form would be needed. Slowly, the puddle bulged upwards, taking shape as it grew, a body took shape, arms appeared, fingers, legs, toes, and finally the face was moulded into the body. Where a puddle of liquid had been, now stood a man, naked as the day he was ... or would have been ... born. It needed clothes.
It went to one of the cells, the clothing off the backs of one of these maggots would suffice for the moment, until mopre suitable arrangments could be made. it looked inside the cell, and its eyes grew wide with shock. Without giving a thought to clothes or guards, it walked quickly out of the dungeon and into a hall. What it had seen there had shaken it, a being able to capture one who could harm it?? Its prey was a formidable thing indeed, nevertheless it decided the hunt was still on.
Clearing its mind of all distractions , the gholam smiled, the name of its prey running through its head. It whispered the name, caressing it, savouring it. "Tuon". As it left the dungeons it made a mental note to return here after the kill, it had some unfinished business to take care of in one of the cells.