He tapped his fingers lightly against the side of the cell, picking out the ever-familiar paces he had once heard from his horse. He let his head drop back against the wall, looking up to where he presumed the ceiling was. He closed first one eye and then the other; sighing when there was no difference. He knew that sight out of the one eye was impossible – but the complete darkness was suffocating him. Something he didn't doubt was intentional.

Tentatively, he reached out beyond the metal walls – and did they really think metal could hold him any more than stone or wood could? - of his prison, withdrawing nauseated as usual. He sighed – he couldn't even escape the prison mentally; and was kept within his own head voluntarily. Should he be wearied or glad that the depravity within his captor's minds still turned his stomach? It isolated his with no hope for distraction from his pain or boredom – but it also meant that he himself was not so fallen that the darkness he was surrounded by no longer affected him.

He winced, willing himself not to throw up and wryly reminding himself that this was why he stayed behind his shields. He had nothing to lose at the moment if he did throw up – but that hardly made the prospect any better.

He longed for company – and hated himself for wishing another here to share his fate. And what did it mean that he no longer hoped to escape – to have reason to escape? What did it mean that the sorrow and fear he felt daily seemed...inevitable? What did it mean that the best part of his day was when his brother visited him – because at least it was familiar?

He sighed, covering his face with his hands. He could not even see the city or the green fields anymore. Once, the rivers and forests had been his escape from the icey pain he lived with – but now the lands within his head were ravaged and diseased; overlaid with transparent images of the beauty they had once been.

He could hear the land screaming out to him, demanding to know why he had abandoned it. He could hear the people cursing him, asking why he brought this upon them. He could feel when each voice was ended. There was silence from all else – a quiet resignation. And yet, through all that had fallen upon the world, the quietest voice was the loudest: his own.

Beneath everything he could hear his own doubts and recriminations – his own regrets. His wonderings upon what might have been. He met his brother's anger and accusations with confusion – his hate with sorrow. He questioned what he should have – could have – done differently, what he had done so wrong that caused his brother to so vehemently hate him – to be able to find pleasure in his pain.

And yet, at the same time, he doubted that the matter and it's cause were so simple. He also doubted that it would ever be simply fixed by kindness or forgiveness – certainly not from him.

He dropped his hands, feeling a new mind within the camp. Terrified, alone, mourning – nothing new there. He sighed again. What should have been was so twisted now – wicked in a way it should never have been. Could it be rectified? Could so much disease and depravity ever be healed and cleansed? Perhaps it would be simpler just to give up – to quit fighting for something that was impossible.

He stilled and then straightened, twisting towards the door as he caught more of the newcomer's – the girl's – thoughts. She was alone – hardly a surprise – and had lost her family which was likewise unsurprising. But then she had gone to the water in hopes... He flinched and jerked away as the door was abruptly opened and she was shoved from the daylight into the darkness.

The water had once led to the city – had once carried some messages from the people to the kings. Rumours had spread that the water was blessed, and that it would grant wished; and it seemed the legends persisted still. He turned back to her, reaching out telepathically through the dark. Someone so desperate and so frightened as to try something that was – to her – a vain hope? To reach blindly out in faith for succor that she didn't believe would ever come? Oh Lord, help thou my unbelief...

Perhaps it was a fool's hope, or an impossible dream. Perhaps in the end it was a war he was doomed to lose – perhaps he had already lost. But he was still breathing, and it seemed there was one other person that hoped this would end – that was willing to do more than simply rail against her fate. She had called to the king, and he could not ignore her – not now.

"Hello, Milana."

There's gold in the fire, long purified -

One cannot live until one has died.

Why do you surrender while you have breath?

Life can still triumph even over death.

For every struggle and every faith-fall,

There's mercy and grace abounding for all.

AN: So this isn't right, but I wrote this while I was gone and had no access to the book. So... Look! Another character study! * sighs* Written because I basically refuse to believe he made it through the two centuries or however long it was WITHOUT nearly giving up. 12-16-2016