The Mask

The Mask
Summary: Deekes Encounters the mask, and speaks with Logen about his methods.
OOC Date: Day/Month/Year (OOC)
Related: Interrogation of a Laniveer
Logen's Room, Royal Suite Four
This is a large sitting room with two windows giving an ocean view. The walls are painted a creamy yellow, and the floors are a dark hardwood, almost black. There is a wooden bench under the windows, with storage beneath, and a deep blue cushion atop. The central area is marked by a deep blue carpet under a cozy seating arrangement. A couch, several chairs, a couple of tables, and a foot rest. Sweet treats are almost always found in this sitting area. There is a bookshelf in one corner, providing a bit of a library, as it sits beside a small desk and chair. Across the room, there is an easel and other sketching paraphernalia. By the window bench, a box planter has been set up, with a small bucket of gardening tools. The Kilgour coat of arms has a place of prominence above the fireplace. Several doors lead out of the room, allowing a choice of directions for those wishing to leave.
Umbra 1, 228

Logen is packing away his heavy black outfit, the interrogation over and the report written for his father and Caedmon. The mask sits on the desk, staring up at the ceiling with that featureless cold surface. As he turns back, Deekes is standing there holding the mask with a curious look in his eyes.

"Deekes, please hand that to me." Logen says with his hand outstretched towards his guard.

"Your Highness, Logen… what is this? I've heard tales of the mask from the Dungeon guard, tales of the shadow that prisoners mutter about in their dreams. This, mask…" Deekes looks from his prince to the mask and back again, he doesn't keep it for that would be disobeying a direct request. Logen takes the mask and starts to run a finger over it with an eerie loving care.

"Deekes, I am that shadow. This mask, I made this mask years ago when Gladys left me with nothing but an empty shell of a chest and a scorched soul that could not find care for another. I hid inside this mask, and hid myself away. For a long time I became cruel and hateful of anyone who thought themselves in love, or completed by another. Dark, twisted thoughts began to grow inside my head and for a long while I could not be around my family or other people for fear that I would hurt them." the prince pauses and holds the mask to his face, the only thing visible are his eyes. Cold, staring, the slits cut just so one does not see him blink and the impression of lidless orbs of icy fire becomes whole.

"My prince, I… I never knew." Deekes fumbles with any sort of response, is there really one to such dark history?

"No one does, save Caitlyn… and she does not know about this mask. She will, in time, learn of it and the history behind it. But that is not until after our first child is born. I will not have her fear me, I will not have her coddle me either. I have grown past this mask and it has been three years since I've worn it." The mask is place into the chest with the cloaks and shadow clothing. "Years went by, and I learned so many things about the human heart. So many truths about the mind and the soul, what we crave and what we fear. Fear itself, kills the mind and opens the doors for the master of that fear to enter at will." Logen pauses and moves to bury the chest with his dark history deep into the recesses of a hidden opening in the wall. When the wall is made to look solid again he turns and leans against it.

"Your highness, I." Deekes again is at a loss for words, he looks down for a time before looking back up again. "Then you interrogated the prisoner? I have not seen you dressed as this, and I've been with you everyday all day."

"Until nightfall, when I've retired to mine and my wife's bed." Logen points out, "This is why Caitlyn has been so angry, so fearful that I have lost my passion for her. I have spent a week visiting this prisoner, or, the mask has spent a week doing so. In the dead of night, I travel with three guards and a healer in the guises of pitch black. We set to work then, a table is brought and the man strapped to it so that he cannot move, not even his head." a pause, "You noticed how the mask is perfectly featureless? There is reason for this, the only thing the light shines on is the mask. It is so smooth and our clothing is so black it appears as though the eyes and mask form from the shadows themselves."

Deekes cannot stand, it would seem, at hearing this and moves to sit down with a hand trembling very slightly. Logen moves to take his own chair behind his desk and fixes his gaze on his guard.

"The healer is careful to never do something that would endanger the prisoner's life, but while their eyes are locked open on my own and unable to know of see what is happening to them, the healer begins to cut into their body. Or tear out hair, or do any number of little to massive pain. Always, the wounds are treated and cared for. Dead men do not speak."

"And you question them or they are given more pain?"

"No, I do not say a word. No one does. The only sound is the work of the healer and the smolder of the torches."

"But, then why?"

"Fear. They cannot know what it happening to them, they are tortured for no reason. To their minds. And as such they begin to fear, their minds begin to work with reasons, justifications for why this is happening to them. They try, at first, to think it passing. That we're just making them sweat because the next day will be questions. But each day, for an hour, this happens. The shadows close around them and that mask forms above their face. They cannot move, cannot speak, they can only scream in terror and pain, and their minds race with why. Why is this happening? Why won't they speak? Why? Why? Why?" Logen's voice quickens and takes on a tinge of panic.

"That's…" Deekes shivers at the thought and looks away. Logen takes up a cup of cooled tea water and drinks from it before continuing.

"Yes, it's a horrific thought. They question their loyalties, their lives, themselves, they question so much. Soon they begin to submit to the pain, they break. Their spirit shatters when there's nothing else to question and none of those questions asked have answers. They are trained then, to fear the gaze of those eyes, my eyes. The color blue makes them uncomfortable, blue eyed people cause them panic, and the sight of a mask will make them lose control of themselves all over again." he pauses, drinks and then continues. "It is on the seventh day, when they've broken and will not think to make me angry, that I question them. It startles them, at first, when their hear the guard's voice from the shadows. It sounds detached, and uncaring. Which is true, that guard doesn't care what happens to them. He's good though, I'll have coached him on what to say and how to reward."

"Re-reward? You highness?" Deekes looks at his prince again a little confused by that statement.

"Yes, oh yes, rewards work to reinforce the fear. They will try, once they hear a voice, to muster their spirit again. It will always happen like that, their submission to the pain is a defense. And like defenses, they hide a weak force when battered down, but a force is there none the less." another pause for a drink. "Prisoners aren't kept from basic food and some water, but they rarely get enough, and nothing to keep up strength. When they answer a question, they get something they've lacked. Like with this prisoner, I asked his name. At first, like always, he was dumbfounded that I spoke. He'd prepared mentally to deal with the pain, to endure it until the end. I could keep going, keep up the silent daily torture and after a year he'd finally succumb to despair and perish."

Deekes just listens now, seemingly enthralled and appalled at the same time. To think his prince such a cruel creature of torture and fear, a man he's respected even after witnessing his comrade's whippings and detention for this prince's slights. Slights he understood and forgave when he got to know the prince and the duchess. Such a loving husband and caring leader of the soldiers, a man for the people in the guard's eyes.

"He answered with his name, I forget what it is now, his name isn't as important to me personally as it might be to the report and as such I forget about him instantly. And he got water as reward, my warning to not be cute and spit it at me was unnecessary and I know it. It is a test of his resolve, has he finally understood that I am in control? He did learn, from the week's torture, to not make me angry. Of course, there were no words, no emotions from me for all that week so he's made it in his head that anger will mean worse than what he's gotten, which he's associated with calm." Logen continues, and then takes a breath and finishes his cup. "He thinks I will speak to my father about his release, and about getting him sunlight. Those two promises, are lies. He took Laniveeran coin and committed treason against the throne, a throne that encompasses his own home in Laniveer as well. He will be executed like most prisoners, but the hope for release drove him to be truthful and tell me as much as he can. Hope and fear are powerful tools, pain is not. Pain can be used to make someone fear, but it does not provide truth-filled results."

There is a shift in the guard's seat, as he tries to comprehend this prince's sudden much darker side open up before him. A man so incredibly cold and uncaring in such stark contrast to the doting husband and warm compassionate person who spends his time reading or training in the use of weapons, mustering the men and teaching them to follow commands. Slow, his personal image of his prince is shifting and understanding of the man he'd thought once just a blundering boy walking in a man's shoes blossoms in his mind. This is no child playing at adulthood, this is a man who's outward courtly behaviors mask, much as the one in his hidden store, the underlying demon of pain cruelty bred from a darkness instilled when one stole the light from his chest and his youth.

The guard and his prince sit, and silence falls over them. Soon, Caitlyn comes home and Deekes takes his leave to give them their time together.

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