Inside the cell fifteen minutes later, Mario looked on curiously as Cayn was crouched over a colossal pile of manacles of various sizes, shapes, and weights. The metal restraints clinked and jangled as the jailer handled one after another. He was searching for a perfect pair but none of them appeared to have been made with humans in mind.
Cayn looked up. “Let me see your hand again?”
Mario held out his left hand and Cayn cupped it gently in his enormous clawed mitt. The jailer compared his prisoner’s wrist size to another manacle.
He’s putting way too much effort into this. Mario was starting to feel bad for him. It was a second hand embarrassment thing. “I don’t think you’re going to find one that’s perfect. The one you have in your hand is the closest so far. There’s no way I’d be able to get out of it.”
“The size and weight are wrong.”
“You have to pick something because we’re late,” said Mario. He loathed being tardy with a passion. Whether in a dream world or the real world, he couldn’t stand it. “Your people have sent two messengers to get us already. Anything is fine.”
Cayn‘s dissatisfaction was palpable. “These will hurt.” He rose and turned to leave in search of further options.
Another messenger appeared in an entryway of the outer room.
“Oh for the love of—!” Mario snatched the manacles out of Cayn’s hand. However, unprepared for the weight, he dropped them and they struck the ground with a thud that made him glad he hadn’t dropped it on his foot.
Baffled, Cayn watched as Mario made clumsy attempts to lift the manacles.
“You’re strange,” said Cayn.
“And you’re late.” Unable to pick up the restrains, Mario sat down in front of them to try to fasten them around his wrists while they were resting on the floor. Glancing up, Mario nodded toward the messenger who was lurking judgmentally in the shadows. “See? Another messenger. Let’s just go, okay?
Even without his wrists bound by heavy irons, Mario still would’ve struggled to keep up with Cayn’s long strides. He felt like a toddler scampering after an adult through a warehouse grocery store as his reptilian guide led the way through monstrous corridors of stone that eventually gave way to well lit passages that gleamed with tile and polished pillars.
And Cayn was right. The manacles hurt. They must’ve weighed 20 lbs a piece and together they pulled Mario’s center of gravity forward in an ungainly way.
Hopefully he wouldn’t be wearing them for long.
Cayn and Mario crossed paths with other ‘people’ a few times before reaching their destination. Mario didn’t get a look at them, though, because he’d lowered his head and eyes until the figures passed—per Cayn’s specific instructions.
I wonder if they’re lizard people, too, Mario mused, or if Cayn’s species is a minority. A country of lizard guys or a country of mixed origins?
The corridor terminated in a gigantic set of doors, guarded by two armored figures who were as big as Cayn, which opened to reveal a pillared chamber.
Ornate tapestries clothed the chamber’s walls. A single bold carpet ran as wide as a two-lane road from the door to the steps of a dais upon which sat a vacant throne. The room had no other furniture.
In front of the throne, five golden lizard men statues clad in white-and-gold robes stood shoulder to shoulder on the top step of the platform. Their skulls and snouts were each shaped slightly different. Dorsal spines were present in some and absent for others. Eyes were colorful like marbles. All of them were taller than Mario but none of them rivaled Cayn’s impressive 8 ft stature.
Mario frowned. How’s the king supposed to see the room from the throne with those statues in the way?
One of the statues looked at him with scarlet-tinged eyes.
Oh geez! Mario lowered his eyes quickly, heart pounding.
“We’ll begin,” said one of the robed lizard men.
“HOLD!” Cayn’s voice boomed, nearly giving Mario a second heart attack. “THE KING ISN’T PRESENT!”
The robed ones stared at Cayn, coldly.
Scarlet-Tinged Eyes hissed, “We. Will. Begin.”
[to be continued…]