Aidan knew it was all his fault. If he hadn't mixed his molly with alcohol on that horrible night, he most likely wouldn't have ended up in this sad sad situation. But hey, coulda woulda shoulda. Now all left for him was to pay for his grave mistake.
When he first woke up in the body of General Adnan Minn in the middle of what seemed to be a medieval RPG, he thought he was hallucinating. He soon realized he thought wrong – everything around him was too elaborate to be a drug induced hallucination. Besides, Aidan hadn't felt so sober and clearminded in ages – aren't hallucinations supposed to be all trippy and confusing?
His second thought was that he had finally kicked the bucket and was now in literal hell. This seemed to be very likely judging by the awful smell, uncomfortable clothes, nasty food and awful demeanor of everybody around him. Having no other explanation for what had happened, Aidan decided to just go with this „hell" theory and see where it took him.
„General Minn, how is your injury?" a gloomy soldier, wearing dark red leather armor asked him. This lovely fellow was of course referring to his extremely painful bleeding head wound. Aidan had no idea how this General got it in the first place as the wound was already there on the day he woke up as Adnan. Might be that it was a pre-installed hell-setting. Either way, it was not pleasant.
„It is as expected," Aidan answered. He wanted to add „thanks for your concern" but it didn't seem that the soldier was particularly concerned.
„If you're feeling better, the prisoners are waiting for you, General."
Who said he was feeling better?!
Having nothing polite to say, Aidan preferred to stay quiet.
„I don't mean any disrespect but please question them as soon as possible. We're a bit short on time – you wouldn't want to anger the Regent." This hell-soldier seemed really uncomfortable for some reason. He wouldn't look directly at Aidan and his eyelid was twitching.
In case the Regent was Lucifer himself, Aidan decided to follow the soldier despite the splitting headache and general unwillingness to do anything. He was led into a dark cold dungeon which gave him a perspective on his own living conditions in this place. Aidan was definitely better off than those poor bastards chained to the walls. This was perhaps a different level of hell? For like really bad criminals?
The soldier left him in front of the shackled people who were all beaten up and bloody. The ones that were still conscious looked at Aidan with mixture of hate and fear. It was very unusual. Normally people would look at Aidan either with indifference or with certain sense of superiority.
„We're not afraid of you, you dirty mutt!" a prisoner with long messy hair spat at him.
Well, you obviously are for some reason!
Aidan didn't know what to say to that. He wasn't sure whether he was supposed to take offence to „mutt" and at the same time he felt really bad for the guy.He stood there for a while like an idiot, realizing that he also had no idea why the soldier wanted him to meet the prisoners. So Aidan decided to leave the dungeon without saying or doing a thing. Maybe, he could ask around, if somebody had the keys to those shackles and free the poor men? Then again, if it was really hell, these kinds of actions wouldn't matter, would they?
„That was quick. As expected of General Minn," the soldier said quietly. „Did they give out the location?"
„The location?" Aidan asked stupidly. The soldier gave him a weird look.
„Yes, the location of the Emperor-in-Waiting?"
„Oh, em, that is the one question that they didn't answer," Aidan said, trying to sound natural.
„Which questions did they answer?" asked the soldier, obviously confused.
„A lot, a lot... a lot of other questions," Aidan said quickly. „Doesn't matter. I will ask about the location again."
„I beg you to forgive me for forgetting my place," the soldier lowered his head. „So you are trying a new torturing technique?"
„Maybe," said Aidan out loud, trying to keep his calm.
„Your reputation precedes you, General Minn. I've heard a lot about the efficiency of your methods and I would not dare doubt you."
And this was how Aidan finally pieced together that this Minn dude was apparently a famous torturer with some terrifying instruments even named after him. His mission here was literally to torture the prisoners for information. To say Aidan was disgusted, would have been an understatement. This was also the moment when his hell-theory started to crumble. It seemed unrealistic that Lucifer would outsource his torturing job to Aidan out of all people.
As he entered the dungeon again, Aidan made the angriest face he could master, hoping it would be enough to scare the prisoners into answering his questions without using other methods.
„Where is the location of the Emperor-in-Waiting?" he asked loudly.
The dirty-haired guy chuckled in reponse:
„You'll have to cut this information out of me."
Fuck, dude. Why are you like this? Just work with me here.
„Gladly," said Aidan out loud, trying to sound as menacing as possible. „I will... cut your stomach open and play with your entrails."
The prisoner didn't react at all.
„And then...," Aidan was dangerously low on inspiration when he suddenly remembered an old meme. „... your arms will be cut off, your legs will be cut off, your tongue will be cut off, your nose will be cut off, your eyes will be plucked out, your tongue will be sliced open."
„Stop it!" another prisoner suddenly interjected, before Aidan could get to the eyebrow waxing part. „I'll tell you... Just give us quick deaths."
„Are you going to betray us for the sake of a quick death?" the long-haired prisoner asked, incredulously. „Don't you dare!"
„Oh I will dare! I've seen what this monster is capable of. The ones who returned from his clutches, were the unlucky ones. We had to kill them ourselves. Do you want to force your family to put a pillow over your face? All for the sake of this stupid war?" the talkative prisoner seemed older and a bit less disheveled than his comrade.
„Stupid war? Are you insane? The resources are ours by right! And without them our nation will soon perish," the younger prisoner was so angry he was spitting blood almost after every word he said.„Will it, though?" the older prisoner asked quietly and turned his head towards Aidan.
„Your boy-emperor is kept in the south wing of the inner fort. Do with that what you will."
„Thank you," Aidan nodded. Now that he had this answer the soldier would hopefully leave him alone. However that was not what happened.
Instead Aidan was dragged into some kind of strategy meeting.
„General Minn, we are grateful for your service," said a tall handsome man with dark eyes when they entered. Judging from his attire which was similar to Aidan's own he was also some kind of general.
Then the most boring discussion commenced.
These people were going back and forth about the ways they could rescue this Emperor-in-Waiting.
„We should storm the fort."
„That will lead to many casualties. The Regent will not be merciful, if we lose any more soldiers."
Once the Regent was mentioned, everyone's faces turned dark. This guy didn't seem to be particularly beloved. But he was definitely feared.
„If the Regent cared about the casualties, he should have given in to the demands of these savages and sent them the ten slaves they asked for. Just ten slaves and we could have avoided all of this."
„He obviously hates his nephew and won't waste a broken copper on him. Not to mention slaves."
„Well, he still needs him alive. So we still need a plan."
„Let's surround the fort and not let anyone in or out. At some point they'll run out of food..."
„I'm sure that we will run out of food first, you idiot."
It seemed these people could argue endlessly. Aidan looked around trying to see, if there was at least any of that medieval wine standing around. He really couldn't handle all of this mind-numbing boredom sober.
„You've been awfully quiet, General Minn. Don't you always have something to say?" said a strict man with a long beard.
All eyes were suddenly on Aidan.He panicked. It felt like he was back in school and the teacher had caught him daydreaming, so now he had to come up with an answer that would get him out of trouble.
The problem was that he just couldn't care less. This was Aidan's problem even in his normal life where there were no emperors, regents, and prisoners to torture. Everything was just so pointless that it was a waste of time and effort to think about it. So fairly early on Aidan got into the habit of avoiding any serious thinking – most of the days he would numb himself to the point of stupor. Luckily his boss didn't mind him being high at work, as long as he performed all right.
Unfortunately in this reality people seemed to have actual expectations for General Minn. Apparently, not only was he responsible for torture but he also had to come up with hostage retrieval plans. Wasn't it just a bit too much?
He racked his brain for something to say to make all these people stop staring and leave him alone. And suddenly it came to him.
„Trojan horse," he said thoughtfully.
„Excuse me?" Obviously nobody in this room got the reference.
„They want slaves, right? Well, let's send them ten of our best „slaves"," Aidan tried to elaborate.
„We don't have any slaves to send," the old bearded man frowned.
Aidan had almost forgotten what a chore it was talking to dumb people.
„You don't need actual slaves. Just put your best fighters in disguise. Once they're in the fort, they can try to get to that Emperor-in-Waiting of yours," Aidan sighed.
„The boy is as much ours as he is yours," the tall general chuckled.
Oh no, Aidan wanted nothing to do with this. Yet, he only nodded in response. There was no need to antagonize anybody.
„That is not a bad idea," one of the generals, standing next to the map said after a short moment of silence.
„What if all our best fighters get slaughtered inside?" the old guy was not convinced.
„Then they were probably not our best fighters," said the tall general. „I'll send those savages an official peace offering. We'll see, if they fall for it."
The meeting was finally over and Aidan sent his thanks to all existing and non-existing deities for this little mercy.
As he walked out in the yard and took a deep breath, he felt a terrible stench fill his nostrils. He soon identified the source of the foul odor. It was a big pile of bodies right in the middle of the yard. Shocked, Aidan recognized the man on top of the pile.
„Wait a minute," he turned to the soldier behind him. „Aren't these the prisoners I talked to earlier?"
The soldier nodded.„Didn't I tell you to set them free?" Aidan asked, a long forgotten feeling of anger raising up in him.
„That's what I did," the soldier seemed confused.
Aidan clenched his fists. He suddenly realized with unexpected clarity that this wasn't hell - one coulnd't die in the place where you were already dead. This was so much worse than hell.
Aidan had to finally face the fact that he had been transported to another fully functional yet horrible world into the body of a deranged and utterly disgusting person. The worst part of this whole ordeal was that this world was low on alcohol and didn't seem to have any weed.