Rated R. Contains violence, including gore.
Editors’ note: This episode originally aired as PodCastle 324. We are reissuing it to celebrate PodCastle’s 10th anniversary. This story was in fourth/fifth place in a listener vote that was held to determine PodCastle’s most-loved episodes over the past decade.
Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy
by Saladin Ahmed
I do not know how he brought us to this land of blood and iron masks. I know only that I am a real man trapped in a mad landscape of living lessons.
My brothers and I were spirited here from my home in…Damascus? Yes, praise be to God that I can remember that. The sound of the street-preachers, and the smells of the spice vendors’ stalls.
We were sipping tea in a room with green carpets, and I was laughing at a jest that…that someone was making. Who? The face, the voice, the name have been stolen from me. All I know is that my brothers and I suddenly found ourselves in this twisted place, each aware of the others’ fates, but unable to find one another. Unable to find any escape.
Now my eldest brother has been slain. And my next eldest brother has disappeared.
Who am I? I do not know how he changed our names. But in this world of lions and giants and the blinding shine of armor, I am called Joyless, as if it were a name.
It was not my name. It is not my name. But this is his place, and it follows his commands.