Content warning: unethical experimentation, physical abuse of prisoners, violence against women and a brief recounting of rape.

Raul felt as though his former life had been a century ago. After the massacre at his village, he was taken to the palace dungeons to be experimented on by their reptilian doctor from the bowels of hell. And that was no exaggeration, he could recall stories where he witnessed its evil.

The lizard man got a random pregnant woman from the prisoner populace, then he cut her arm and slathered some kind of mud on her open wound. When asked what the goal was, the lizalfos said it was to see if her child would be infected with that same disease. For weeks she suffered from violent convulsions and seizures. Whatever the disease was, it killed her and her unborn baby before they could have found out. When he found out, the mutant reptile told the guards to, "go get another one." That was probably the first time in his life that Raul wanted to kill someone. He just couldn't comprehend how someone could just disregard life so… flippantly. All life had value, end of discussion!

Not even children and infants were safe! There was a time when Raul saw a young boy being taken from his cell kicking and screaming. Once they restrained him, the lizard-man started draining his blood and wrapped the wound in a cloth drenched in what Raul overheard was blood from horses. The boy fell deathly ill instantly, and he was kept that way for days. After a while, the cold-blooded lizard administered human blood back into the youth's veins. And as soon as he was able, the child tried to throw objects at the reptilian abomination as revenge. As a result, the guards went into his cell and broke some of the young soul's teeth while the reptile-man watched on with steely eyes.

Since both of these incidents, Raul tried as best as he could to protect everyone. Even though some part of him told him that his efforts were futile.

Raul couldn't always save himself, either. Once he and several other prisoners were chosen randomly and marched upstairs into a small room. There they were told that they were to be deprived of food and water; they would only be provided with modified saltwater.

Never in his life had he felt so dehydrated. It got so bad that he would lick floors that were freshly mopped just for the chance of getting freshwater. His vision was so blurry that he could barely make out his surroundings. He had often felt faint and frequently crawled on the floor. Sometimes he would pass out and he would wake up back in the cramped, mold and grime infected cell. There were even times where he couldn't figure out where he was or what he was doing.

If it weren't for a kind stranger sneaking him hydromelons, he would probably be among the dead already. Raul found out later that he was the only one who survived the experiment, and he wept for his fellow test subjects. He didn't know them well, but they certainly did not deserve their fate.

The torture ended when the demons realized their 'study' wasn't going anywhere. And when Raul inevitably asked for water, they threw a bucketful at him.

Life was strictly regimented here. For breakfast, lunch and dinner they were given slops. In the mornings, they were taken out into a yard for roll call. There, the "doctors" would take notes on each of the prisoners.

There was no escape from this place. The dungeon they were in was nestled high above the clouds and it was heavily guarded. It was demoralizing to say the least. He was glad that neither of his kids, nor his wife were here to suffer.

His fellow inmates had some interesting ways of coping. They would never discuss their current ordeal, they talked about anything and everything else. From their previous lives to their opinions on plays. There were tales of big events like going to a debutante ball or attending local political debates. He had also heard people describe more mundane activities like going to a street market and going to school.

Some couples would have sex with each other despite the lack of privacy, combined with the smell of feces and rot in the air. Nonetheless, Raul could understand why they were doing it. So whenever there was a couple making love, Raul would turn his head to give them as much privacy as he could.

The convicts would also try to express themselves by singing some songs and improvising musical instruments by tapping on the iron bars of the room or striking the tin bowls with spoons.

Another way of coping, he observed, was clinging to the old social order. Even when it didn't do any good.

Once everyone was being distributed a bowl of gruel, and there was a man who tried to steal a second helping before a pregnant woman could get her portion.

"What are you doing?!"

"What does it look like?" The man retorted.

"It looks to me like you're taking more than your fair share before a pregnant woman has a chance to get food," said Raul. "Why?"

"I'm famished," the man simply responded as he checked his bowl.

"Is that why you deserve more food than a woman with a baby on the way?" Raul was determined to get to the bottom of this and ensure this behavior would end. "Because you're hungry? So is she, and she didn't get anything yet."

"It's okay if I get a little extra food because I'm a lord and I maintain social order."

That response appalled Raul even more. "Did you even ask her if it was okay if you had extra…"

"Raul, please, it's fine," the pregnant lady cut in. "It's no big deal."

He was shocked, was she going to let him off the hook that easily? He assumed that she didn't want to ruffle any feathers of an elite, but he wasn't going to be as merciful. "No, it's not okay! A lord is supposed to provide for the needy!"

Raul remembered that he and the lord argued for a couple more minutes until a guard came by and yapped at them to shut up. When they failed to comply, the guard beat both of them for insubordination.

The so-called traditionalists were bad, but the traitors were a whole new low. Sometimes prisoners were given a chance to collaborate with the torturers, and in return they would get better living conditions. And a small handful took it. They would pick people for experiments, take part in abuse, inform on them to the guards and just in general do their dirty work. All without a hint of remorse. Raul never felt so angry and disgusted by a group of people in his life. How could they live with themselves knowing they were damning their fellow man to a miserable existence?

One of these traitors was one of Hyrule's most wanted criminals, a man nicknamed "The Butcher." It went without saying that he was the most violent man Raul had ever seen. The Butcher would never hesitate to beat and mutilate someone for looking at him the wrong way. There was one time where he beat a teenage girl with an iron crowbar for serving him cold coffee. The guards had to intervene to stop him from battering her to death. Since then, the girl would hide whenever he was near. If that wasn't bad enough, he would sexually assault prisoners to mentally break them. An elderly woman was riling up fellow convicts to fight back and keep living. The Butcher disapproved of this, so he had two of her biggest supporters pinned down and forced the other prisoners in their cages to watch as he anally raped her in front of everyone. Since then she became afraid to speak up, increasingly stressed, and suffered from flashbacks.

She was sitting on the ground now - crying hysterically. She was likely going through another flashback. Raul knelt down next to her and put his hand on her shoulder, "Lady Coreth, are you alright?"

"No!" She choked back her tears. Raul fished into his pocket to grab a handkerchief to give her. Alas, he didn't have one. She wiped away a tear with her finger, "It's that man! I can't forget what he did to me! I was so powerless to stop him!" She wept some more, her voice shaking as she continued, "I-I wish my son was here, he would know what to do with criminals like him!"

Raul nodded, "I know exactly how you feel." It was all so hopeless. They were so isolated from civilization and they had no ability to fight their oppressors. The only thing he was grateful for was that none of his family was here to suffer. I wonder how Dilan, Faria and Imi are doin'. He hung his head as he thought of Hola and her beaming smile. I hope you're hangin' in there in the afterlife.

"Your son's a knight, right?" Raul began to ask.

Suddenly, a door slammed in the distance and heavy metal footsteps started getting closer. Raul instinctively took a step back as a darknut strode past his cell.

The guards were on the end of the hall indulging in some fine liquor they looted from a castle somewhere. "Ah, this is some good shit!" he heard one of them exclaim.

As the dark knight approached them, one of the guards glared at him. "What the hell do YOU want?!" He snarled.

"I was sent here to find potential servants for the King's court," the black knight retorted. Judging from the tone in their voices, Raul guessed that they had a rocky past together.

The warden groaned, knowing he couldn't refuse the higher ups but hating that he had to assist HIM of all people. "How many?"

"About twelve."

With that, the guards went into every cell, picking out the strongest people. The black paladin stood back and observed the whole scene. Raul wasn't sure where they were being taken, and he didn't want to find out. He tried to blend into the crowd and look as weak as possible.

The dungeon keepers didn't fall for it. "Get your ass up and get in line," one of them barked at him.

Knowing he had no choice, Raul trudged his way out of the cage and joined the chosen ones. "Single line!" The warden screamed at the doomed prisoners, who immediately complied as to avoid retribution. "Forward march!"

They made their way out of the dungeon and into the winding halls of the palace. It seemed as though the palace itself was designed to intimidate average folk. The ceilings were curved like wishbones, and high enough to let the sound of their footsteps bounce around. There were paintings of battles with demons reigning victorious and Raul spotted several desecrated religious idols and murals. His jaw dropped in shock; the gods made the world as it is, so they should be treated with respect. There were a few pointed windows that offered a glimpse of the stars. Melted candles lit their way down the corridor. Some devils strolled past them, jeering at him as they went. Raul knew it was an intimidation tactic, but it worked on him. He felt tiny and helpless, as though he could be crushed like an ant.

As they were marching, they passed a pair of carved oak doors. Standing in front of them was a young lady. She wore a fancy green dress, which was low enough to expose some cleavage. Her hair was tied up in buns on both sides of her head - which were enclosed by hairnets that were attached to some kind of tiara. Her neck was adorned with a three layered black pearl necklace. She was clutching a book in her hand as she silently watched everyone pass. Raul's first thought upon seeing her was, What's a noblewoman doing in a place like this? He squinted as he took a second glance at her. Something was off about her. Her skin was unusually pale, it even had a grayish tinge. But her hair was even more odd, it was a deep shade of violet. Then it clicked. She's not human, is she?

"Keep walking," the jailer yelled at him. Raul immediately changed his attention forward, not wanting to get into trouble. When they got further away, he checked back to see if the girl was still observing them. Sure enough, she was. Who is she and why is she watching us?

They were herded into a narrow room, which Raul guessed was a part of the servant's quarters. "Listen up!" The overseer screeched, "From now on, you're going to do what you're told when you are told to do it! If I say jump, you ask 'how high'!"

Haven't we already been doin' that? Raul thought to himself, but he dared not voice it.

Then a small voice squeaked, "If we are considered employees, what will our compensation be like?" Raul looked to his right and cringed, it was one of the newer girls. She was in for a rude awakening.

The devilish overseer walked up to her and spat in her face. "How do you like that for compensation!?" As she was wiping the saliva off her face, he turned to everyone else, "Anyone else want some?!"

The devil stomped back up in front of them. He pointed behind them, "That way's your quarters. I don't want to hear your yap about the conditions. Get in, get your shit, and get back out here."

Raul didn't know that 'shit' meant a simple gray shirt and pants. Everyone else got similar clothing folded on their cot. All the bunks were arranged in even rows along the walls. He tried to count but he only managed to get to fifteen. The mattresses all looked like they were stuffed with hay, and the blankets looked almost paper thin. None of the beds had any pillows on them, as far as he could see from where he stood. The quarters were not even gender segregated. Overall, not that worse from home.

But Raul still felt now that he had to serve his captors, things would sink further.

Author's note: The experiments that were mentioned happened in real life, they were done by Nazi "doctors" and Unit 741. They're the stuff of nightmares, enough said.

I read somewhere about how the prisoners in concentration camps coped with their circumstances and incorporated some of their methods into this chapter.

I tried to tone it down a little so I can keep a T rating, but I think this is probably pushing it.

Next chapter will be lighter.