The temple guards took Ishmael, bound in chains and manacles, and led him through the city in disgrace. Some people who saw this spectacle hurled insults, sundry pieces of trash, and rotten vegetables at Ishmael, saying things like, “hypocrite!” and “he saved others, let him save himself now!” and “exile for heretics and death to traitors!”.
Once inside the temple, the guards took him down to the dungeon.
Ishmael could smell mold as he stood outside the dirty 3×5 hovel where he would await his trial. It was a familiar smell to him as he had often made checks on the guards and prisoners inside the temple dungeon when he was Captain of the Guard.
Inside the cell, there was a tiny window that cast in a single ray of light when the sun hit is just right. The walls were covered with graffiti and make-shift calendars scratched into the stone by past prisoners who were counting away the days until they could taste freedom again– one way or another.
“Welcome to your new quarters, Captain, we trust that they will be to your liking.” one of the guards said as the others chuckled, almost in unison. Another guard removed Ishmael’s leg and wrist manacles, while another gathered the chains and threw them into a pile near the exit.
Ishmael’s cell was very near the exit to the dungeon, but once he was tried (i.e. if he was not executed on the spot) he would be a moved to a cell deeper in the bowels of Khemi’s dark and expansive, undercity labyrinth.
His chains having been removed, Ishmael was then shoved and kicked into the tiny cell. He didn’t have enough room inside to stretch out, but at least he had enough head space to sit on the floor cross-legged without knocking himself out. The smell inside the tiny cell was unbearable until after a few hours when he no longer noticed it.
First days, and then weeks passed with barely any human contact. The guards came by three times a day to deliver prisoners with their rations of rice, but one could hardly call this human contact. The guards on duty would spend most of their time in the dungeon abusing and taunting the prisoners, sometimes throwing the rice right onto the floor at the feet of hungry, helpless prisoners.
The most severe abuse was always reserved for Ishmael while he was there. Sometimes a certain guard, called Yuya-abrams, would take a special interest in abusing the former Captain and would beat him and then throw waste and other garbage into his cell, which Ishmael would have to live with until the temple slaves came through and washed the cells.
This was the dark time for Ish-mael of Khemi.
In the darkness, Ishmael the Wise sat in the middle of this almighty forlornness. There he sat, naked and alone– he waited only for death.