The prosecutor leaned close, her breath stinking of sausage and stale beer. “Do you hear them? They want blood, and yours will do.”
Through the dull roar of pain a sharper howl reached his ear, a wild animal with many throats. He couldn’t make out the words, but he suspected this stout, humorless woman was right. “You are willing to bet . . . your office . . . on my guilt?” The words tangled on his tongue, and he drew on the last dregs of his strength. “I saved General Tugg . . . from an assassin in Kethmira.”
“How I came to his . . . notice.” He flexed his fingers, shocked at how cold they felt. “For your sake . . . I hope your protector has more power.” Dev choked and something wet erupted from his chest and sprayed over his chin. Blood, probably, from the taste. The pain seared his chest, lanced down his back. At least he wouldn’t have much longer to wait for death, he thought. “Neera,” he whispered. That would be his last regret: that she would have to bury him, so soon after her husband.
A booming crash shuddered through the thick stone walls of the building. Another followed close after, then another. The prosecutor was barking orders to subordinates outside the cell, but the words no longer made sense to Dev. He wondered if death would come as a bright light, the way his father’s people taught, or if he would find himself in a slow-moving river full of blossoms, as his mother had sung of before her own demise.
Someone cursed loudly, right in his ear. He’d have flinched away from the spray of spittle on his ear, but he couldn’t move his arms and legs.
Another resounding crash gave way to the sound of squealing metal. Dev found himself flung back, in mind if not in body, to the train accident: Pain. Noise.