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Corruption, Part 5: Breaking

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(Read the previous entry here or refer to the Fiction Index for a full listing.)

Corrigan sat in his cell, shocked by what he just heard. This woman, this Warlock asking for his forgiveness? Baring her soul as if some sort of kindred spirit?

She was responsible for his capture. Leave forgiveness for the Priests. Paladins deal in Retribution.

His mind seemingly made up, Corrigan tried to get some rest. Normally, Corrigan could capture a few fitful hours of sleep. Tonight, even that was denied him. He was constantly awakened mere seconds after drifting off. He could not remember the nightmares, but the terror stayed with him. After several nightmares, he no longer wished to rest.

So Corrigan waited. They would be coming for him.

In time, after what Corrigan assumed would be daybreak, he was given a breakfast of bread crusts. Was it Sylphine? She did not speak, so he had no way of knowing. Were there other Warlocks tasked with feeding him? Did he even care? Should he?

The day passed, like any other. Occasionally, exhaustion would overwhelm Corrigan and he would drift off to sleep, but the nightmares were still there.

His evening feeding drawing near, Corrigan heard the familiar sound of footsteps, but not the soft ones he was used to. Somebody new was coming to his cell. His world shattered with a screech. Rusted metal grinding against itself. The door to his cell was open.

"Rise, Paladin."

Corrigan remained sitting. "Come make me, Warlock."

"As you wish, boy." The Warlock raised his palm and there was a brief glow to his hand. Corrigan was overcome with revulsion. He was choking in his cell and knew, just knew that he had to get out to live. Scrambling out, he found himself on his knees before the Warlock, gasping for breath.

"That wasn't so difficult, was it? Now, will you come along willingly, or should I persuade you some more?"

Corrigan hated the thought of submitting. Even worse, though, was the idea of being manipulated into doing what his captors wanted. One way or another, he was going to follow the Warlock, it may as well be on his own terms.

They left the cells behind. The halls beyond were bathed in torchlight. Corrigan could never have dreamed in his previous life just how happy he would be to see an actual torch. The hallways twisted and turned, actually leading farther down. In time, Corrigan found himself in what looked like an apothecary's laboratory. The Warlock led him to a table at the far end of the lab, used his power to restrain Corrigan and strap him down. Confident that Corrigan would not be going anywhere, the Warlock departed.

"Make this easy on yourself and submit now, Paladin."

Corrigan must have been exhausted to the point of delusion. He could have sworn the shadow in the corner was speaking to him.

"I promise you will not like what follows. This is your last chance."

The shadow moved. It unfolded itself, gaining a vaguely human form, but somehow off, like a bad reflection in dirty water. "What... are you?" Corrigan asked.

"What am I? Boy, I am a fragment, a whisper, an echo of what you could be. Submit yourself willingly now to become the host for my master and you will possess power previously unknown to any mortal."

Become the host for my master. What madness was this... thing... speaking. Suddenly, Corrigan remembered a discussion with his old mentor, Rondrey. The Legion.

"I will never submit to you or your master, DEMON. My faith in the Light is strong."

The Shadow Demon chuckled, "The Light? Where is your light now? If the Light favors you so strongly, let it strike me down right now!" The demon paused, raising his hands, as if physically reaching for the Light itself. "No? Too bad for you."

Why had the Light abandoned Corrigan when he needed it the most? Even here, outside his cell, he still could not feel its warm glow, always in his heart.

"This is your last chance, boy."

"Do what you will. I fear nothing you or your kind could do to me." Corrigan lied. For the first time in his life, he was truly alone, and he was terrified.

"Your choice. You will submit to me before my work is done. It is not a question of 'if,' merely 'when.'"

The Shadow Demon drifted to the door. He had legs, at least in form, but apparently felt no need to actually use them. He touched the door with his hand and it was opened from the other side by the Warlock guard from earlier. The Warlock stepped aside to allow... something into the room.

"Paladin, allow me to introduce you to my associate, Shaamon."

Corrigan was momentarily dumbfounded by the beast in front of him. Larger than any dog he had seen, with skin thick like leather. The size of the beast alone would have been striking, but its dominant feature was the two tentacles protruding from its back.

A Felhunter.


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