Coming here was a mistake. I’m lucky to be alive, though the sensation of “living” will never quite be the same.
I knew when I set out to study and catalog all magic of the world that I would have to one day face the City of Leeches. But I should have left it alone. I tremble now to recall my past four months, which will invade my dreams for the rest of my life. I know it to the true. There is no forgetting the Leeches.
My ambition and my stubbornness led me down a dark path, but I was confident in the skills I had learned. The techniques so many magical cultures had taught me. Having survived all I have survived, I thought I could handle the City. But I was no more powerful than any of the millions of slaves the Leeches had control over.
To infiltrate the city, I foolishly assumed the best method would be to give myself over to the roaming slavers, and so I did. I was chained by my wrists and ankles to a dozen other unfortunate souls. Even then, I was not afraid. My magic would save me, I thought. I had studied nearly a hundred magical cultures and practices. This one method wouldn’t be enough to truly enslave me.
Skill does not equate to wisdom.
The slaver wagon brought me straight to the City. Once the historical location of Arkezia before the Great Plague, now it is run by sorcerous monsters. Many of my distant family came from Arkezia. They are all dead now. At least, I pray that they died before the breeding programs went into effect.
The worst part was, everyone on the continent knew what the Leeches were capable of. Drawing life force from millions of men, women, and children as raw magical energy, but at the cost of causing pain, suffering, advanced aging, and general torture to those they drew from. But what was the solution? The Leeches were too powerful. To invade would cause them to sap their slaves to the death launching devastating magical strikes no current army is capable of withstanding. Soldiers would die from the sorcerous assaults, and countless slaves would be squeezed of life energy until they were dust. The casualties, innocent and otherwise, would be unfathomable. The only solution would be to obliterate the Leeches’ power source–which were the slaves themselves. To cause mass slaughter of innocent slaves, just to weaken the Leeches–no ruler would make that decision without the rest of the continent turning against him. Not that some haven’t tried, in secret. I saw the mass graves–not just for those drained by the Leeches, but those plagued by mad kings sending diseased slaves in an effort to cripple the Leeches with the genocide of their human sources of power.
All for nothing. The Leeches were still here. The number of slaves only grew. I personally saw shipments of hundreds sold as trade by wealthy kingdoms. In exchange for what, I could not know. But I’ve discovered that no ruler is innocent.
And that was just the beginning. The branding I was given–the mark of the Leech, which connected the Leeches, those evil men, to my life force–I can still see the teeth marks I left behind trying to chew it from my flesh. But the brand hooked straight into my soul. No loss of flesh would remove it.
I will attempt to describe the pain I felt each time a Leech used magic, though it causes me to feel physically weaker, not to mention nauseous, at the very thought. Whenever one of the overlords attempted a spell, great or small, he or she would empower that spell with the mass of slaves. I’ve been told that when the slave numbers were few, such as when the Leeches first conquered Arkezia, or just after a mass death, the pain was immeasurably worse. As such, the higher the slave numbers, the less the pain and the slower the deaths of each slave. But that was little comfort to the torture I felt dozens of times a day.
Imagine a burrowing vermin–a worm, or a rat, or a cockroach. Something capable of slicing through a barrier and crawling inside, chewing and slashing and skittering through makeshift tunnels. Yes, you see where I’m going with this. The pain I felt each and every time one of the rulers of the City used a spell was akin to having such vermin spawning in my heart and crawling, chewing, worming, skittering, snaking through every vein, every limb, every organ in my body, from my brain to my genitals. No physical damage was present, of course. But oh, did my spirit feel it.
Four months I was there. And I look a decade older.
Today’s three random prompt categories were, “A scholar,” “Distant relatives,” and, “The City of Leeches.”
I came up with the idea of the City of Leeches years ago, but never did anything with it. I like the idea of a scholar of magic willingly subjecting himself to it in order to study the magical effects. I really want to do more with this idea. Case in point: this is one of the few times I’ve written past the 15 minute mark. Yes, I cheated a little bit. But I definitely plan to keep going in the future.
I want to know how he escapes. Don’t you?