Marc was praying. His hands were in his lap, inconspicuously. But his fingers were intertwined and he was praying.
For the last half-hour, he had been watching this quiz together whit his mother. The candidate, an attractive lady in her mid-thirties, had reached a score just three points short of moving into the final. And now she found herself locked in the Loser's Throne, awaiting the Cascade of Defeat.
The beginning was always the same. He entered the cell and there was no reaction. None at all. This one was no different. She just stood there, motionless, with that familiar stoic face. Her arms were trapped in a huge wrists scaffold. It was so big that it covered most of her forearms, forcing her to stand upright. She showed no sign of fatigue, no form of emotion.
There was no hate, no disdain, no defeat. But no resignation either; it was quite difficult to understand their demeanor when one first encountered them in captivity. As fierce and loud as they were in battle, as enigmatic they became when defeated.
Now the Duhl Sharkan was more than just the head of the dungeon and the most feared torturer of Carrandolan. He was also a scholar, and in the last few days, he had been gathering as much information as he could about the Baduhl Khani culture. This was how he had found out that in defeat they were able to go into a form of trance. In this state, they were free from fear, able to undergo very severe forms of torture, and even capable of fighting off a considerable amount of assailants for some time. For a while, he had been pondering on the question of why they never used it when in battle. In the end he understood that in this state of mind, they had a very limmited sense of purpose. All they were doing was defending themselves, there was no further goal, let alone a collective battle plan. But as a personal defence, it was very difficult to break down.
Unless you knew a few little secrets...
As soon as the women had seen only the first of the photos, both of them knew there was only one possible reaction: total compliance. Because when the boys were to show these pictures to anyone else in their close-knit society, the consequences would be grave, even mortal perhaps. For over fifteen years they had been successful in keeping their forbidden relationship a secret. And now here were these two younglings, capable of destroying it all. Ironically enough, the boys would be bound to their word by the same extreme stern belief system. This would be a one-off.
Frankly, Meredith was quite surprised that she had gotten the job. She was just a novice, having had only two appointments up until now, but all the other more experienced women had reclined. They had however told her the way things were going to roll with this guy, and that had puzzled her even more. It seemed like a piece of cake. And it paid really well, far above average. What was the catch?
She had turned up just like he had requested. No excessive make-up, and in plain clothes. Now she did understand why that would have put the others off. As a newbie, she hadn't developed that double identity on which they so heavily relied on. Going in more or less as a 'civilian' didn't bother her that much, yet. When the time came she did introduce herself with her stage name, though.