Air bubbled and burst with such force that drops of water, cold enough to burn, splashed onto the Inquisitor’s hand. Her nostrils flared, body drawing up slightly in disapproval. The interrogator flinched and hauled the heretic out of the tub of water, a hand clenched in her hair. Water spattered again, staining the Inquisitor’s robes with dark spots. Panicked, the interrogator drove the heretic to her knees on the concrete floor, the near-soundless grunt of pain from the woman an appeasement to the regal Inquisitor.
The kneeling woman was no beauty, wouldn’t be on her best day. Her hair was cropped only long enough to grab a fistful of. Thick gold locks lay strewn around the chamber, her best feature robbed of her. Her jaw was too broad, her nose swollen and broken, her mouth lined with blue from cold. Every breath she dragged in was pained, her body canted and hunched to the right as she fought for air beneath ribs that purpled more visibly with each moment. Her wrists were bound at the small of her back with hemp rope, knots tight with wet.
The Inquisitor brushed droplets of water from her robe with a delicate flick of long fingers. “Sister Caroline,” she murmured for the fourth time, “I beg you, put aside your heretic words and embrace the Word of the Mother Church once again.”
Caroline’s chin dropped to her chest, strength running out of her as surely as water streamed from her hair. The Inquisitor smiled faintly and put her shoulders back with satisfaction, familiar with the unconscious gestures of defeat. “We welcome you back, my child,” she murmured. “The Church forgives all.”
Caroline lifted her head as if weights hung around her neck. Even her eyelashes had been shorn, leaving her eyes raw and dark with bleary defiance. “Only God’s forgiveness matters,” she rasped, “and you don’t speak for H–”
The interrogator slammed her back into the tub of ice water. Caroline’s body convulsed with coughs, sending water slopping over cold porcelain to splash on the floor. The Inquisitor lifted her robes, moving back. “Resistance is still too strong in this one,” she said flatly. “The heretical teachings run deep and the Devil lends her body strength. Break her. Weaken her. She will submit. They must all submit.”
She turned and left the interrogation chambers, heels soundless on the hard floors.