Welcome to installment #2 of the Chasing Shadows – Making Amends series. For more information or to read the previous scene, head to this page.
Consciousness filtered into the void, creating a muddled awareness, and with it… pain. Excruciating pain—a throbbing ache in Mujur’s skull which pulsated with every heart beat. He fought the grogginess, even as the pounding in his head persisted.
The gruff voice seeped through Mujur’s clouded mind. Cold liquid doused his face and yanked him out of his fogged existence, choking him as it filled his nose and mouth. Through gasps, he lifted his leaden hand to wipe away the moisture. His arm jerked to a stop, captured by the bindings cutting into his wrist. With heavy lids, he struggled to blink the fluid out of his eyes and make sense of the shadows.
The sting of a slap across his face brought him fully alert. The world around him slowly solidified in his right eye, though the vision in his left remained a blur, the swollen lid only allowing him to squint. Strapped to a cold slab of rock, he took in his surroundings. Outside the familiar wehr-tiger village, a multitude of faces looked upon him, each twisted in an expression of disgust, hatred, or fear.
“Wha?” His thick tongue failed to function correctly, and the words stuck in his dry throat. He licked his puffy lips which were distended to the point of bursting and swallowed, moistening his mouth with the little wetness he could scrounge. “What’s happening?”
Gemuk, the corpulent man who’d captured him planted a beefy palm near Mujur’s head and leaned close. His thick brow protruded over dull orange eyes which mocked, while his lips lifted in a disdainful smirk. He grabbed a fistful of Mujur’s hair and wrenched it back.
Shards of pain pricked Mujur’s scalp, replacing the previous ache with the intensity. He fought to stifle a moan through clenched teeth, as Gemuk’s breath wafted over him like rotted meat.
“You thought you’d get away with it?” Spittle flew as Gemuk spoke each word.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Trepidation filled Mujur as the last moments of the wehr-tigress’ life flickered before him. She too had been fearful.
Mujur increased his struggles. “Free me.”
Gemuk bent closer, filling Mujur’s ear with hot, moist air as he exhaled. “You think anyone believes you?” He straightened and sent a backhand flying across Mujur’s throbbing face.
Nausea threatened to overcome Mujur as pain reverberated through his skull.
Gemuk glared and took a few steps back. “Kasut, cane him.”
“Why? I didn’t do anything.” Mujur tugged at the straps holding him, uncaring of the fibers which rubbed his wrists raw. “Let me go.”
The crowd drew away as another male entered the clearing, slapping a thick rattan cane across the palm of his hand. Dark low-lights streaked his reddish-brown mop of hair in a disorganized pattern.
Though Mujur had never put a name to the wehr-tiger, he recognized the male immediately—one of Gemuk’s underlings.
Mujur increased his struggles, cringing as the rough rope bit into his ankles. “Wait! Don’t do this. Please!”
Kasut shook his head, his expression one of disappointment and regret. “Your sins will be a brand on you into the next life.”
“Help me.” Mujur sought the eyes of the bystanders.
One by one, they turned away, abandoning him to his fate.
Only a lone girl who hid behind a tree boldly stared at him, her brownish-green eyes red-rimmed and filled with sadness.
Mujur couldn’t turn away as he looked into the visage of a younger version of the dead wehr-tigress. “Please,” he called to her.
The cane whipped down. Mujur’s entire body tensed when the sting of the rattan met his flesh, cutting into his chest. He fought to hold down the bile rising in his throat as pain consumed him but had no time to recover as Kasut beat him without mercy. Only the whistle of the cane slicing through the air prepared him for each blow which ricocheted off his body.