Adam awoke. Cold, tired, filthy. Body aching. Something stirring at the back of his mind. Something he was too scared to remember yet too ashamed to forget. Faces. Women. Men. Children. All of them. Something was wrong. Something. Someone. Him. Something had changed and all that was left was the battered, broken body of the man he was running from, the man he was yet once was not.
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Someone was with him.
The figure moved closer. "Welcome."
Adam tried to speak, managed little more than a croak. Wrestled against the chains holding him tight. "W...who are..."
When it came, it came from nowhere. A blow, a single strike. He couldn't even tell where it was hurting. All he felt was pain. Forcing his eyes open, he looked down at his bound body. Crusted blood surrounded open wounds, still flowing, still hurting. Rows of tiny incisions from the jagged metal teeth of his chains covered him.
"It never had to be this way, Adam."
Another strike, another surge. He would have screamed if he could. He strained to see his tormentor through the darkness but found nothing.
"You brought us to this. You brought me to this. You never understood. Never stopped to question. Never stopped to think. The lives you touched, the people you hurt. Just one would be a tragedy. For this many, nothing but a number."
A searing pain into his chest, a burning point of metal piercing through his flesh. Adam screamed, a rattle in his raw throat. Still the pain came, more now, more fierce, a crown of broken wire surrounding the head of this most false of kings.
Suddenly he was overcome by a state of peace. The pain still came, but seemed unreal, abstract. Something to be watched, not to be understood. He whispered.
"It is finished."
Gradually the pain withdrew to a dull ache. His eyes opened and the figure stood at his side. Even this close, nothing more than the eyes were visible. Eyes that spoke of age, of wisdom, of determination.
"Adam. I have but one question. Do you repent of what you have done?"
Something through the fog spoke to him, a small voice carried on the wind. He whispered once more.