"Can you tell if the sun comes?" Chains rattled, the bruised and haggard man trapped in them languidly shifting. He gazed up towards the dungeon's single window but the manacles jerked him back before he could quite see through it.
"When the hangman stands outside this dingy rat hole, you'll know it has," the other thief answered, not bothering to move from where he sat. He could have seen through the window if that was his wish, but the urge to do so had long since fled him.
"I cannot see it at all." His chains rattled, the younger thief unable to find a comfortable position. "I must know how much time I have. I must know."
"Do you want your neck stretched so badly?" The older thief kicked at a rat that came to close. He smiled as it hissed at him and limped back through the distant bars. "He'll come sooner than you'd like, or not soon enough depending on where your frantic mind runs."
"How can you wait so calmly?" The younger man scratched a flea out of his hair. "The dread of the morning's light has near driven me to madness."
"What else is there to be doing?" The old thief laughed, shrugging off the preoccupation of the man that shared his cell. He sank back against the cool wall and closed his eyes.
"At least tell me your name." The young thief shuffled over a little closer. "Mine is Partho," he leaned over in anticipation. The old thief opened an eye but did not stir.
"It is Matas, if you are so intent upon knowing it." He snorted and closed his eye. "Not that it will matter for much longer."
Partho nodded his head eagerly and waited a moment as if he expected Matas to add something further. The old man was content to sit and say nothing however. Every so often he might shift or scratch but little else.
"What did you do to end up here?" Partho could not stay silent for long, nor could he stop the movement of his hand. He tapped out a song he remembered well, the manacle jostling the whole time. He had not noticed he was even doing it in fact.
"Do you have to keep that up?" Matas did not even bother to open his eyes. It had been far quieter before.
"What?" Partho's brow wrinkled up. Matas's head rolled to the side as he shifted; he looked at the younger man through half closed eyes.
"That incessant tapping."
Partho's eyes widened slightly as he caught himself at it. He stilled his hand and the damp cell settled back into a silence. The tang of bitter bile and blood lingered in his mouth from the enthusiasm of the guards who had brought him here. He spat into the darkness.
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