I drank the wine, for in truth my head ached to the point of misery, but I did not eat the food. Nor did I eat anything when servants came, escorted by guards, to exchange my still-filled plates for fresh ones. I let the food go cold. Nor did I, as Selene had suggested, rest. I paced the floor of my cell. Least of all did I enjoy myself, as she had also suggested. I felt sick with anguish.
I prayed without ceasing, as the Apostle instructed, interspersing my prayers with curses and schemes to escape. My rage and my plans came to nothing, leaving me with nothing but my prayers. I knew that I was to serve as the executioner of innocents, fellow Christians. I would have done anything, sacrificed anything, to avoid that inevitability. I prayed for death, for escape, for the doom of the world to fall before the moon could swell to fullness. I stared at it at night, already growing rounder, fatter, through my window, and it stared back at me, mocking me.
I reckoned I had four days, maybe five, before my next transformation. A fast of only five days, a paltry period; would God hear my imprecations after such a short duration of penance? Such were my thoughts. Such was my anguish. I took water, ate no food. I paced the floor and I prayed.
On my second night of captivity in the room overlooking the courtyard, Selene came to me again. I learned then what she had in mind. Entering the room alone, she closed the door and the guards locked it behind her.
“Poor Christopher,” she said. “You look so miserable.”
Selene had worn a gown of very pale blue, almost the very color of the light of the moon streaming in through my window beneath which I sat with my back against the stone wall. With a single movement she slipped the gown from her shoulders and let it fall to the floor, standing revealed to me in her nakedness in the moonlight.
“The bed is more comfortable than the floor, isn’t it?” she said. She walked to it and sat down on it.
“You need to leave,” I said.
“You don’t mean that, do you?”
“Yes. I do.”
She stared at me, her eyes the color of the moonlight and the gown she’d left crumpled on the floor. “Are you like Silvanos, then? Do you prefer the company of men? I could have one brought to you, if you want. The Gamesmaster and I will often share the pleasures of his men.”
I said nothing.
“But then I do remember you mentioning that you’d had a wife. You did have a wife once, didn’t you?”
“Samaethea,” I said, staring at the floor between my bare feet. “That was her name.”
“Is it that you still grieve for her? That is so sweet!” She laughed. “I don’t think her ghost would mind, Christopher, even if she is watching us, which I doubt. Come here and take what I have for you.”
“Get out!” I shouted.
Instead she got up from the bed and came to kneel beside me on the floor. She’d put on perfume; I’d smelled it as soon as she’d entered the room. Up close it overwhelmed. Fruit and lilacs. She brushed up against me. Her skin felt soft and hot.
“I’m not used to men ordering me from their presence when I come to them this way,” she said. She took my hand from where it lay on the floor, brought it to her mouth, kissed it and gave one of my fingers a playful bite. Then she pressed my hand to her breast. I felt her nipple, hard against my palm. I felt myself becoming aroused. Under the circumstances, my body’s reaction disgusted me. Selene took my hand and pressed it to the soft down between her legs, letting me feel the heat and wetness.
I pulled my hand away, springing to my feet to get away from her. “Get out!” I roared.
She sat on the floor, staring. She drew her legs up as tough to conceal herself, as though of a sudden she had grown ashamed. When she spoke, her words were neither seductive nor haughty. She sounded hurt.
“Why?” she asked.
My words were harsh. “You do not know? In truth you do not know? You are heartless, then, as much a beast as I am! No, more of a beast!”
Her words grew even softer. “No I’m not.”
“You came in here, wanting to rut like animals…!”
“Why do you reject me?” she demanded, an edge to her voice now. “You say you like women? Am I not beautiful enough for you? I’ve never had a man refuse me before! Am I not good enough?” She paused, and her words grew soft again, almost childlike. “Why don’t you want me?”
I looked at her in that instant, and something about the expression in her eyes cooled my anger. I turned away from her, went to the opposite end of the room, but my reply had lost its coarseness.
“Selene, can’t you understand?”
“Do you not think I’m pretty?” she almost whispered.
I couldn’t keep from looking at her then, and my gaze became frozen on her. I stood like a sailor entrapped by a siren’s song, a man in the gaze of the Gorgon. “Never was the Gorgon so beautiful,” I muttered.
“You are beautiful, Selene. As beautiful a woman as I have ever looked upon. Of course I desire you. Any other time I…”
“What has you so troubled, then, that you refuse me like this?”
I had to pause for the words of my reply to find me, so taken aback was I by her question. “In truth, you don’t understand, do you?” I asked. “Selene, your master intends to put me in the arena with a band of innocent people on the night of the full moon! When I transform, I’ll tear them to pieces!”
Then came her turn to hesitate in silence. Then: “But it won’t be your fault. Why are you so distraught over something you don’t have control over?”
“It will still be my teeth and my claws that kill them!”
“But you’ve already killed others in the arena.”
“And that was bad enough! But those were killers themselves! They were trying to kill me, and would have, had I not turned into the monster and killed them first! These are innocents I’m talking about! Unarmed innocents, women and children among them!”
“Plenty of unarmed innocents have died in the arena,” Selene said.
“Not by my hand!” I shouted.
More hesitation. She looked puzzled. “You care about those people that much?”
The longest pause of all, then she asked, almost whispering the word: “Why?”
“I could well ask you how it is that you do not!” I shouted. “How can you care so little for human lives? I was right; you are more of a beast than I am!”
She said no more. She got up and retrieved her gown, put it on, went to the door and knocked.
“I’m ready!” she snapped. The guard, who must have stood waiting in the hallway, opened it for her. As she left the room, Selene gave me one last look. A glare, it is best to say, in that her face had grown hard and cold, but the moonlight reflected on what I would have sworn were tears streaming from her pale eyes.