(This is taken from the opening scene of Redemption, due to be released in eBook in March 2014)
Jae huddled in the corner of the damp cell, trembling as much from the penetrating cold as the stabbing pain consuming his body. He wrapped his arms tightly across his shins, pulling his knees closer to his chest. The thin linen pants issued upon his arrival at the College were now nothing more than a chaotic mass of tattered rags, and he stared at his scrawny legs with mild indifference. After being deprived of proper nutrition and exercise for months, the muscular physique he'd been so proud of achieving was now emaciated beyond recognition. His formerly tanned skin had morphed into a sickly white, and his once neatly trimmed black hair hung in greasy clumps down to his shoulders. Beaten down emotionally and physically, the previously jaunty, robust lad of sixteen was dead to him. Soon even the glorious memories would disappear, leaving him with nothing for company but the withered being he'd become.
Sighing, Jae turned his attention to the slime-covered wall and grimaced at the tug of the thin metal collar around his neck. He'd never escape this hell. Like all other pupils of the Mé'Draak, he'd remain in this god-forsaken cell until the Master managed to Break him or he died during one of the attempts. It didn't matter. Neither was more favorable over the other. But either was preferable to the third option. His gaze automatically shifted to his cellmate, Derran. The moment the boy had returned from his morning session, Jae had immediately recognized the vacant look plastered across Derran's face. Soon, the Mé'Draak would move the boy to a different cell, and he'd join the rest of the pupils living in the same ghostlike state.
Please, don't let me end up like him.
No more than nine years of age, Derran had been in the clutches of the Mé'Draak for three days, and the Breaking sessions had already taken their toll on the lad. He'd retreated so far within himself that he was forever lost to this world. Aside from his shallow breaths, nothing remained to classify him as living. No thoughts, no emotions, no sensations. A voiceless captive, Derran would do nothing but obediently follow the Mé'Draak's bidding for the rest of his sad life.