Repetition upon repetition can make of any act, no matter how inconsequential, a sacred rite. Such was the case with the Petition for Clemency of Prisoner of Consequence 413.
As regular as the rains, as unfailing as the turn of the days, the Prisoner filed his motions. Each year, on the anniversary of his incarceration, he availed himself of the rights given to every Ordic citizen, to demand that his case be re-examined.
Every year, the jailor took it upon himself to read the brief. It was always a crude affair. The implements of writing were not provided to the prisoners, even to such an important prisoner as a warcaster. They could be purchased, using a system of work credit exchange that freed his guards of their chores, but such a purchase was far from cheap, and the prisoner spent much of his year's budget on these pleas.
Jardon snorted to himself, flipping the sparse pages of the folio back and forth as his eyes wandered across them, parsing for anything new. "Pleas" wasn't the proper description. As always 413 maintained his innocence, maintained that he'd been wronged or perhaps framed, and begged that his case reach the ears of his Majesty, Baird II.
The jailor shook his head back and forth. As if the case of a Warcaster accused of massacre could ever have been decided without the Royal attention. The prisoner grasped at straws. Jardon had no idea whether or not his claims of innocence were true, but true or no they'd long since found their way to the King, and yet here the Prisoner remained.
The numbering convention didn't refer to their current stock of noble prisoners, the tiny nation of Ord didn't have more than a few dozen notables important enough to keep under the kind of security measures 413 sweltered under. Instead it referred to his place in the list of prisoners that had ever been confined within this place. He was the four hundred and thirteenth such unfortunate, and to Jardon's knowlege, none had ever been released.
He sighed. Truthfully, the annual petition didn't amuse him as he pretended. Something about the prisoner's forthright refusal to believe that his King had abandoned him tugged at the old jailor's heartstrings. He wished that this man's story had a happier ending. He shut the folder with a sigh and dropped it into his outgoing message tray. Tomorrow a man would come and take it to his superior. He wondered each year how far up the chain of command these missives actually went. Was there some mildewed stack of them, growing larger every year, in some higher rankers wardrobe? Did they perhaps prop a door open? Were they burned annually for heat? Smoked by an idle nobleman to peals of laughter?
He put aside his thoughts of 413 and stood. It had been a long day, and tomorrow was just going to be another. It did something to a man, to live beneath the earth like a mole. It gnawed at the mind and eroded away the spirit. Folk were not meant to dwell so, the meanest peasant had the sun upon their face. He had not seen it in months.
He moved to the simple peg on the wall from which his overcloak hung, and swept it on. Jardon paused a second before going to the door, giving the folder on the desk a long look. He shook his head, the ritual sameness of it persuading him as much as anything else, then he went left his office.
Beth nodded from her desk. She would go to her rest after he did, another longstanding tradition. She believed that she'd decieved him as to how long she remained at her post, but he knew full well that she'd leave just half a bell after him, yet arrive in the morning a bell and a half behind him. Too young by half and useless, she was typical of the sort of personnel they got in the Pit.
He strode past her, passing through the guard post with a nod and a cheery greeting. They maintained the posts in the depths out of intertia. The prison had been built as though it was above the ground, off of a Cygnaran design which was supposed to be state of the art. There were innumerable choke points and cutoffs, murder rooms and traps. None of them had ever been used, and most were now unusable. They carefully maintained those guarding the stairs to the surface. The rest were simply a burden, their maintenance yet another worthless formality.
After several switchbacks and ladders he reached his room. He chuckled deeply as he entered. How it would shock the others of his rank to know that he made his abode within the cell reserved for prisoner 414. He lay down on the rude bunk and sighed, staring at the ceiling.
There were several reasons that he gave for his eccentricity. He said that by experiencing what his captives went through he maintained his empathy towards them. He claimed that by occupying the very cell that their next guest would inhabit he forced those tasks with maintenance to have it in working order. He told his men, jokingly, that the prisoners whose designations were 413, 411 and 409 were better company than he could find in the barracks.
He never let on the truth, which was that he stayed in the cell because of a dream. It was the same reason he worked in the Pit, the reason he'd thrown away a successful military career to work as a jailer for maniacs and madmen. Earlier in his life, back when choices were something that he made, and not something that he regretted, Morrow had come to him and told him what to do.