Disclaimer/trigger warnings: This chapter deals with abuse. Nothing is shown but the aftermath, and it can be interpreted as sexual or general physical abuse. This is also the major reason for the alphabet having a bit of a hiatus - this was not easy to write, to the point where it almost physically hurt. But some stories want out, even if they hurt. This is a longer one, so it might be easier to read it on AO3. Thanks goes out to SakuraTsukikage, who encouraged me to post, and helped me with some grammar.
“They kept me silenced. I couldn’t heal it.” His voice is too hollow for his liking and his shoulders tense enough to hurt, but that pain pales in comparison to that on his back and elsewhere, deeper. At least his hands no longer hurt, as ugly as they look.
He can feel Karl doing his best to mend the damaged flesh on his back. Their healing skills are nowhere near evenly matched, but until his own magic is once more within reach it is the best he is able to receive. In a way, having Karl do it for him is a comfort he needs as much, if not more, than the actual healing itself; to be taken care of, be so clearly cared for by someone, and that care is able to diminish some of the pain that healing magic is unable to reach.
As it is, healing magic is not going to be able to take care of his back either, not completely. Too much damage has already been done to it, and been left to scar. He can feel it; his back is forever beyond repair now. He can feel it in the scars and he can feel it in the way Karl carefully cleans off the dried blood; the touch is hesitant, almost afraid to reveal the no doubt unsatisfactory results of his efforts.
And then the silence confirms it beyond any doubt he might have held.
Warnings: This letter contains hinting of abuse, and there is claustrophobia all over the place.
It is not only the confinement of the heavy walls that Anders find maddening, but how isolated they are as well. Tucked away in this tower on a small island only accessible by boat ever since the bridge was allowed to crumble, surrounded not only by water but people who seem to loathe them all as well. Some seem downright disgusted by him, and some seem anything but, only in the very worst of ways. None of them thinks of him as human, as a person. He is something to be used when convenient and then put away, and he is considered too troublesome to be useful most of the time. He has enough potential to be useful to be kept alive, but that is all they allow him; this grey imitation of a life.
Some days there is not even enough light in the world to call it grey. Some days they stuck him into a cell as if they want him to think of the Circle as a prison. It is, of course it is, but in front of so many others they preach and tries to pretend that it is something else. Pointless in Anders’ mind, when it even is in the name. Kinloch Hold. To hold them here, trap them here and take everything they can from them. They even had to take the light this time, as if staring into darkness for days is going to make him behave himself in the future, if he can even call the rest of his life that. Future implies more opportunities than he will be allowed here.
He needs to not count the steps from wall to wall, he needs to not claw at them until his nails are chipped and fingertips bleeding and he needs to stop screaming in something that must not be terror, he needs to not chew at his lips to distract himself from the feeling of the stone above and around him. There is danger in blood, of course, but the wounds on his back are a greater call to demons than what he is able to do to himself short of biting his own arteries open. He does not want them to know how much this is getting to him, that is all.
He needs so much more than to not show them any weaknesses that should not even be considered such. He needs air and he needs sunlight, he needs wind and he needs rain, he needs to feel alive and not buried deep under so much stone like the dwarven dead.