UNMADE SNIPPET

Long have I promised an Unmade snippet, and been bribed with kittens and readers’ tears and all the things I enjoy for one, which is much appreciated!

So here it is.

It is hiiiiighly spoilery for the end of Untold. I’m just warning you. It’s also a little… it’s a little bit… it’s not right is what I’m telling you. I’m not right.

The last two times Rob Lynburn had opened the priest hole, Jared had tried to kill him.

The first time, Jared had tried to strangle Rob with his bare hands, and the second time he had used a weapon. There were not many weapons available when buried alive in a wall. The body of Edmund Prescott, twenty years dead, his fair hair turned white and brittle and hanging like spiderwebs in his gray sunken face, was all that Jared had.

Jared had shoved up Edmund’s sleeve, rotten and disintegrating under his hand. Underneath his clothes, Edmund’s body had shriveled to nothing but papery skin over bones. Jared tore the skin away and ripped a bone free out of the forearm.

He had spent some time—he did not know how long, time was hard to tell in this lightless trap—sharpening the bone against the stone wall of his prison. Hiding the bone in his sleeve, he waited.

Rob had lifted him out, and Jared had pretended to be more drugged than he was, head lolling, mumbling something about help and his mother. Rob had bent over him, almost seeming concerned.

Jared had whipped out his weapon and tried to plunge the bone into Rob’s throat.

He had caught Rob unawares. Some of Rob’s sorcerers had been with him and one had grabbed Jared’s arm, pulling it back, so the wound was shallow instead of the gaping hole Jared had planned. The next minute, Jared had been pinned to the floor by the sorcerers as he struggled and lashed out under their hands, Rob’s rage washing over him as magical pain.

Rob had taken hold of Jared’s hair and banged his head, rhythmically and sickeningly hard, against the stone floor.

“Very resourceful, my boy,” he’d said. “I’m impressed. Don’t try it again.”

They had left Edmund Prescott’s body in the priest hole with him, but Jared had not tried it again. They would be expecting it now.

The food they gave him was drugged with something that made him drowsy and his magic not work. At first he did not eat it, but it became clear the choice was eat drugged food or starve to death, and the food let the days slip by faster, filled them full of dreams.

He was sitting with his head against the wall, dreaming, when the priest hole opened, a pale square of light on the wall above him. He felt himself being dragged up by magic, back against the wall, helpless as a puppet on Rob’s string.

The light of day hurt his eyes: he squinted, dazzled, and in his blurry vision Rob’s face almost looked kind.

“How are you today, Jared?” he asked gently. “Ready to be a dutiful son?”

Jared was lying on the ground. He knew he must look pitiful, dirty from the grave below, not able to see or stand: he tried to raise himself on one elbow and could not quite manage it—the elbow kept slipping away from him.

“Yeah,” he grated out. “I’ll be a good boy. Don’t put me back down there.”

Sight and sound slipped out of his reach: the last thing he saw as his vision darkened was Rob’s proud smile.