Rocks that Bleed - ch 5 of ?
The Warden is an echo of Quackity. And over the sound of it he cannot hear Ponk trying to reach him.
(This chapter depicts Ponk's torture scene, be warned! This includes amputation, burning, and poisoning, without the minecraft gore filter. stay safe!) (Ponk uses they/them pronouns in this chapter as well)
there's a parallel fic showing Ponk's perspective which I recommend you read as well (if interested) you can find here!
crossposted to ao3
Blood he manages to wash off, it’s the crying obsidian that stains. His own act of imprisonment marring his skin, purple splotches that won’t come off. He keeps scrubbing. It won’t come off.
Sam takes a deep breath, stashing his Warden gear within arms reach. He needs to take the day in Las Nevadas. He needs to create, not try and piece together what’s already broken.
“Hey, Sam!” Puffy joins him as he heads towards Las Nevadas.
“Oh–” He starts, not expecting company. He balls his hands into fists, as if to hide the stains. He isn’t sure why. “Hey, Puffy.”
“You look even more tired than before, you know that?” Puffy nudges him comraderally.
“Yeah? Uh. Been busy,” Sam remains obtuse, staring ahead down the prime path.
“Yeah?” Puffy laughs. “Doing what?”
“...Building. For Las Nevadas.”
“That’s what you’re losing sleep over?” Puffy skips ahead of him, her woolly curls bouncing as she walked. She notices Sam isn’t as inclined to humor her. She slows down, cutting him off. “Hey… Hey, what’s wrong, Sam? You look… tense.”
Sam stops, irritation almost waning at her genuine concern. “I am… fine.”
“How’s Dream been?”
Sam bristles at the question. He knows it’s just because she’s worried about him, but he can’t bear that particular subject right now.
“It’s not Dream– It’s not just Dream. Someone tried to break into the prison. And… keycards have been stolen,” Sam is vague to the point of near honesty.
“Shit, Sam,” Puffy lets out a low whistle. “Scary stuff. Any idea who?”
“I’ll find them,” the vagueness persists. “I need the prison to be absolute, and, threat or not– this is still a… a questioning of my authority.”
“...What’re you gonna do, Sam?” Puffy finally looks wary of him. She’s blocked his journey to Las Nevadas, but Sam is willing to stop, to defend his own feelings.
“I hate to say it,” he doesn’t. “But I need for the prison to be feared.”
Puffy grows quiet, her concern only growing. “Why, Sam?”
Sam doesn’t answer for a long time. Puffy stays, waiting. And he thinks of Dream. When he finally speaks, he’s steady. “He’s gonna kill me one day, Puffy. I’m gonna do whatever I can to keep him locked up, to try and keep you all safe. Whatever the cost is… but still, there’s gonna come a time where I won’t be able to hold him anymore. And he’s gonna kill me. I… I haven’t made peace with it. But I am sorry you’ll have to live with that.”
“Sam– oh my god, what the– why would you think that? What makes you so sure?” Puffy pulls him into a hug, which he bears numbly and without reciprocation.
Sam smiles at her, stepping away, taking a shaky breath. Not to ward of tears– The Warden doesn’t cry, but that smile is terrifying enough. “I know him, Puffy,” he sounds so sure, every word his reality, an almost cheery pride in his confidence. This ramble has been long awaited, bottled until he finally had a worthy audience. “I know him and I know what he’s gonna do. I… I know him. So.” He’s still breathing like he’s bordering on a panic attack. Puffy is getting tired of Dream giving her friends panic attacks from behind bars. Sam isn’t finished yet, insistent on her believing him. “All I can do is everything and anything I can to make sure he stays in there. For as much of forever as I can manage.”
“Sam… come on you know how crazy this sounds–”
“Not crazy, not crazy– it’s not crazy if it’s true,” Sam shakes his head furiously, repeating it like a mantra, not knowing how well he’s proving her point. “I know him. I know every bit of it. I know him…” He whispers it, a curse he shoulders, to know Dream in his entirety, his burden and his burden alone.
“Buddy… I think you need to spend some time away from the prison. Didn’t you say it was automated? Can’t you just load up on food and leave him for a week?” Puffy is being perfectly rational, a hand remaining on his arm. But Sam knows better.
“I can’t.” He says it hoarsely. He’s acknowledging the fact that he is as chained to the prison as Dream. It’s just as necessary as it’s always been, but it feels less noble now. Sam blinks like he’s coming out of a daze, he looks down at his hands and the purple stains feel less accusing now. “I should go, Puffy. I have work to do,” he puts a hand on his friend’s shoulder without fear or hesitation or guilt. “Thank you for listening.”
“Nuh uh, no way, Sam. You really think I’m gonna let you just leave after that?!” Puffy plants herself firmly in front of him, resolute that she is capable of stopping him, a hand against his chestplate.
“Oh? What would you have me do, Puffy? I… I needed to vent. I feel better now, and I’d like to get back to work,” Sam tries to give her a smile, hidden behind his mask. He decides on a resolute nod instead.
“I will let you go, on one condition.”
Sam raises an eyebrow, humoring her, “oh yeah?”
“We’re gonna meet up, get lunch, once a week , you hear me? Not optional,” Puffy puts her hands on his shoulders, and Sam is proud of himself for not shrugging her off. “Not to therapize you, but because we’re friends.”
She manages to get a laugh out of him. Puffy beams.
“Yeah… Yeah, you know what, fine. Lunch. I can live with that. We’ve got to work around some stuff for me, every day I’ve got work to do–”
“Yeah, yeah, busy business man,” she teases. “I’ll message you later. Rest today too, m’kay?”
“No promises,” he calls after her as she heads back the way she came down the prime path.
So much peace and loyalty there.
Puffy doesn’t know it’s a matter of hours after that conversation, their shared laughter and friendship between them, that Sam will hurt Ponk.
The problem– or perhaps benefit, of knowing the person you are hunting intimately, is that they have nowhere to hide. The Warden knows every secret spot, every hidden room or cavern or safehouse.
Ponk didn’t stand a chance.
Not when the Warden struck them down, ripping away their first life, nor did they didn’t stand a chance now as the Warden gave chase.
Chase is too generous. The Warden wanders like he’s looking for a lost book– which, in some way he is– and simply picks it up and returns it to its proper place on the shelf.
Everything has a proper place.
And right now? Ponk’s is in a cage.
It’s too easy. The Warden treads quietly, but no conflict jumps out to meet him. The Warden knows where Ponk would take sanctuary. The Holy Land offers security, but there’s nowhere to hide. He expects them to come here. So far, they haven’t. But after checking all the usual suspects, he will wait here. Ponk at the least might feel daring enough to show up to bargain with him if he’s in the Holy Land.
The Warden cannot kill Ponk in the Holy Land.
The Warden has no intention of killing Ponk.
Not again, at least .
Hours spent wasted and waiting, he eventually wanders, circling out. He’s considering checking Punz’s house, the man is never home and Ponk would feel safe there.
One cannot argue this world is free of gods, maybe there is still hope that fate and the inevitable are mere abstraction.
But surely some form of malice existed which made the Warden stop on the prime path and look down. There’s blood just on the edge of the trail, leading down the hill and near a little door underneath the steps.
It’s a narrow passageway, opening to an empty room underground, another doorway under another staircase, a ladder behind a painting. None of this was hidden from him. He knew this server too well for that kind of unsurety.
He continues on without haste or need for silence. He knows there are no exits, and even if Ponk hears him coming– they cannot hope to fight him.
Now he is in the chapel, dimly lit by glowstone, ferns lining the walls, a place designed for a wedding. If Ponk had hoped to find sanctuary in Church Prime, he supposed this was a fitting second bet. The Warden finds Ponk passed out on one of the benches, curled in a ball, dried blood seeping through the back of their hoodie.
The Warden just stares for a moment. Ponk is already asleep. How hard would it be to carry them back without a struggle? Too hard. Ponk doesn’t trust him now, or if they do, they shouldn’t.
He had planned for this.
The Warden rummages for the potions; weakness and slowness.
Ponk shoots awake at the sound of glass shattering above them, gasping for breath. In a matter of seconds they begin to feel weak and dizzy, they see netherite and a gas mask standing over them.
“S-Sam–? N-No– Stay away–” Ponk falls off the pew, stumbling away from him, trying to stand but finding their legs too weak to hold them. They make it almost to the back of the room, by then they’re too weak to even crawl.
The Warden picks them off the floor, confident there’s no longer a fight to be had, grabbing them around the waist, Ponk struggles weakly only for a moment, their eyes closed tightly as they blindly try and shove him away, a shaky hand pressing against the Warden’s chest plate, too weak to pose any real threat, and then the Warden has them unconscious, first he carries them in his arms, he can feel the jagged grooves of the harsh wound on their back, only just healed from a true respawn. There wasn’t that much brutality in the death. It won’t scar, surely. He looks down at their sleeping face, eyes closed, unafraid and unaware as he carries them close to his chest.
No. Too familiar. Need to draw a line.
They’re thrown over his shoulder instead as he takes them to the waiting cell he had designed with such care. He doesn’t have an explanation for if someone were to see this abduction, other than the few who knew he had taken a life from Ponk, seeing Sam carrying Ponk down the prime path wouldn’t raise much concern.
No one appears to stop him. No one will know where Ponk has gone, except maybe Ranboo, who knew about the cell, but he seemed reasonably frightened enough to keep his mouth shut.
The Warden needs them to set their spawn at the cell, to make sure they can’t run and that the proceeding events won’t kill them. Like Dream’s former habit of swimming in lava, a bed trap will stop them from dying. To truly take a life it has to mean something.
This means nothing to him. This time there is no intention to kill, only to get those keycards. This is also a lie. This is a matter of fear and respect and submission. Everyone must fear him and the prison. Even Ponk.
The Warden had planned for this as well. Alongside the outer wall of the cell is the bed, the Warden gently places Ponk there, brushing a hand against their cheek before putting a few drops of a strength potion in their mouth. It takes a few minutes for them to stir, but the Warden is ready.
He wakes them up with a gentle, “hey, Ponkie. Why don’t you get some rest?”
Ponk is still groggy, but lets the Warden guide them, following the familiar. “Okay, Sammy...” So much trust surviving between sleep and awake.
Nothing about this feels cruel or personal to the Warden. Every act is procedural, gently guiding Ponk forward, whispering sweet pet names, it’s the act of honeying a trap. By the time Ponk is fully conscious, it’s too late. Their spawn is set.
“W-Wait– You– No no no– You can’t–” Ponk panics, trying to get up, but still not fully aware, pulling against the Warden’s previously gentle grip on their arm, now a vice holding them in place.
Yet again the Warden is reminded of how small Ponk is compared to him, terrified and stumbling back, trying to pull away, looking up at a cold mask, looking for their Sammy.
No more words needed, the Warden draws his sword, and completes the familiar act of cutting Ponk open.
There is no desire to kill here, no need for directionless brutality, it is purely clinical. So Ponk awakens, alive and exactly where the Warden had intended for them to go– within stone brick walls, a sheet of glass between them and the man they once might have loved.
The Warden walls in the spawn, ensuring they have nowhere to go. This will not be the last time they need to respawn. Not with what the Warden intends to do.
Ponk will understand soon enough. All of this is up to them to decide. They are responsible for their own suffering in what is to come.
“...Sam?” Ponk’s unsure voice reaches him through the door as he enters the antechamber. Ponk gets to their feet, not assessing their predicament, merely assessing him. “Hello..?”
“Why are you doing this?” Despite their efforts to keep a level head, the Warden can hear their voice shaking, wide eyes showing fear even from behind a mask.
“You know why I’m doing this.”
“I-It’s just a stupid book!”
“Are you surprised to wake up here?” The Warden’s tone remains level, even as Ponk stammers over him.
“Y-Yes!” They turn, pressing against the walls far too close, staring at the dispensers above and behind them. “W-What is this?! Where am I?”
“This is your existence now.” The Warden speaks like he’s reading from a script, one drafted and practiced by Quackity far too many times. “It’s just you and me. Until you give me the books.”
“Sam, Sam, it’s just a book,” Ponk refocuses on him, trying to exchange fear for a lighter tone, teasing and too trusting. “Look, I didn’t do bad things like Dream, okay? Look at me, am I green? Nah, the only green one here is you.” The Warden can hear the nervous smile in their tone. Ponk still seems confident that there’s another way out of this.
“The only reason to steal those books is if you had the intention of trying to do something malicious that could let Dream out–”
“–which I will not let happen.”
“True, me and Dream, we’ve been friends for a long time, okay. Since day one!” Ponk paces the cell, stepping back and forth to the sheet of glass. “You know, the community house– you don’t remember that, alright? Don’t you think this is going a bit too far?”
The Warden’s neutrality dies for a moment under a spark of… something. Something almost like anger. The community house– you don’t remember that, alright? He didn’t linger in the past like Ponk. He knows first hand how much things can change.
“Look! You built this, for me? For your books? The prison has taken over your mind, Sam.” Ponk is looking for someone outside that sheet of glass who is no longer there.
The Warden ignores their pleading. “I went and did an inventory. I know that you have eleven more books. And neither of us are leaving here until you give me the other eleven.”
“Sam– you… don’t… know definitively that I have those books, alright? I could’ve sold them! Other people want Dream out, Sam–”
The Warden turns and presses a button to his right.
“Sam– Sam!” Ponk is pressed to the glass, watching him with unfiltered panic now. They turn around as they hear the redstone click, trying to back further into a corner but there’s nowhere to go as lava floods the cell. “Sam– y-you need to chill with this!”
“Do you have them?”
“I don’t–” Ponk stops, covering their mouth to hold back a cry as they burn, collapsing against the glass wall before finally the spawn trap pulls them back. The Warden turns off the lava and waits.
“S-Sam, please– why the fire?!” Ponk flinches when they return to that room, the lava finally fading. “Y-You know I don’t like that…” their voice shakes, but it’s like they’re teasing, like this is in any way comparable to the lighthearted pranks from before.
They don’t have much skin exposed, but the Warden can assume their hands are marred with shining burns, healed enough not to kill them, as they finally open their enderchest. Ponk continues to protest, pacing the cell frantically.
“I know you have them in there. All eleven of them, don’t you?” The Warden stares through that sheet of glass, dark eyes piercing.
“You need to chill! I have your books, but–” Ponk takes a deep breath, bottling their panic.
“And you’re gonna give them to me. And that’s all that matters.”
“I could stay here, for as long as I want, alright?” Ponk paces the cell, snapping at him with far too much courage for a prisoner. The Warden would know, and he intends to fix that. “Sure you have my stuff, it’s stuff! Things–”
The Warden cuts them off, words slow and methodical. “This is our life now, Ponk. You spawning, and burning to death, over and over.”
This is our life now, Dream. You spawning, and burning to death, over and over.
If Ponk exists beside Dream in his mind, he’s already too far gone.
Ponk, despite everything, still has hope.
“G-Getting to spend time with you ain’t that bad, huh?” Ponk has the audacity to be endearing. Like they don’t know how far past that the Warden has moved on. “Huh?”
The Warden presses the button.
“No– No– please– Sam, it hurts!” Ponk turns from the lava once again flooding the cell, banging a fist against the glass, pleading, pulling their mask up from their face, taking gasping breaths of molten hot air, biting back a scream as yet again they burn.
The Warden watches Ponk’s suffering from behind a sheet of glass. It’s sterile, impersonal and without touch. Like watching it through a security camera.
The Warden could never torture Ponk in the way Quackity tortures Dream. He could never feel their skin break under his fist, to feel as Ponk desperately pushes against his armor, weak and broken down, their trembling hand managing to brush against the Warden’s face, the Warden responding in turn, a hand forcing them to look up at him, to let them see what comes next, as the Warden can feel the tension in their shoulders as he drags a knife down their back. He isn’t like Quackity. It will never be so personal.
He believes this like somehow it makes him better.
So it goes. The Warden not once wavering, when burns seem to lose their effect, Ponk chokes on poison. Ponk never wavers either, defending their Sam like that’s a way out.
Ponk speaks boldly, even as they flinch away from the next dose of pain. “Can’t you see the person you’re turning into? This isn’t the Sam I know.”
You’re right. It’s not.
“Are you ready to give them to me now?”
Ponk slumps against the back wall, exhausted, a shaky hand wiping sweat from their face. “I’m not too sure,” Ponk finally wanes, growing weaker. “You’re being a bit of a dick, Sam,” they spat. There isn’t hatred in their eyes, staring up at the Warden across from them, merely bitterness. “You said it yourself! These keys don’t even work,” Ponk stumbles back to their enderchest.
“Of course they don’t work, they haven’t worked for like, two weeks,” the Warden grows irritated at the notion that his incompetency is so dire he would have let active keycards slip away from him. Ponk doesn’t understand .
“What’s so wrong with me having them, then?”
“It’s the intentions you had behind having them. I found you, trying to break into the prison,” the Warden is cold, patronizing, his anger well contained. Ponk never stood a chance getting into the prison, but their ignorance, the lack of fear they held for the prison and him, that must be broken. The Warden doesn’t care if he has to break Ponk to do it.
Ponk flinches as the poison returns, curled on the ground, covering their head as it burns their skin in a different way, eyes closed tightly and teeth gritted against the pain. “C-Can we make a deal?” They stammer, looking up at him once they can speak again.
The Warden has watched it all without feeling. “There is no deal. You give me the books. And I let you leave.”
The poison faded enough for them to stand, staggering towards the glass, not yet so wounded they have no fight left in them. “Look, I can stay here all day, there is nothing you could do to me that would just make me... give you what you want!”
This is a matter of principle for the both of them. The Warden will not be weak, and neither will Ponk. Someone has to snap first. And only one of them is in a cage.
“You said you have an issue with being controlled by the Egg and whatnot, is the prison not controlling you? Huh? Is it not– Can you not see yourself being controlled?” Ponk leans against the glass, trying to catch their breath, a sheet of glass the only thing between them now, dark eyes tinged with red staring up at that unfeeling mask, still without hatred, still with some deep rooted understanding they’re so sure is still between them.
That rage– no, rage is too passionate, too personal– the Warden’s contempt for Ponk, their daring to believe this is in any way a bargain, reaches a tipping point, and he speaks with utter certainty, “I am doing this out of my own free will.”
Ponk stares at them, no longer resentment, but genuine shock stirring. They rummage in their enderchest, finally returning with a collection of books in hand.
“I’ll– I’ll give you the books, Sam. Open the window,” Ponk leans against the glass, waiting, desperate for some escape from this tiny cell suffocating them.
The Warden does not oblige. These dealings are done with a barrier between him and the violence, always. He has heard Dream scream for so long now, but that bloodshed is distant, and he will distance himself from this cruelty too.
“Put them in the hopper.”
The Warden is not relieved nor victorious as he takes them from the barrel. Especially as he collects only ten.
“Where’s the last one?” The Warden is a deadly calm, no rage, no malice. Ponk has already shown they are breakable. He only needs to push a little further.
“Sam, I don’t have the last one, I don’t know why you’re talking about eleven, alright?”
The Warden doesn’t care if Ponk wants to play games. He has all the time in the world, Ponk’s clinging to some precious sense of bravery, or worse trust, is only putting off the inevitable.
“I went and did a full inventory–”
“Ooh, look at me, I’m Sam and I’m super smart–”
The Warden feels a pang of frustration, slamming the button again. Ponk shouldn’t have the strength left to mock him.
“–and I keep invent–” Ponk cuts off, stumbling back as the hopper above offers more poison. Ponk grimaces, struggling to breathe tainted air as it eats away at them, oily green liquid infecting every open wound. “I… I wasn’t even going to break him out.” They’re on their knees now, staring down at burned hands.
“The prison is not a joke.” The Warden will persist until that message rings clear.
Ponk puts a hand on their enderchest, using it to help them stand, wincing as whatever fresh wounds are tugged on alongside the deep mark across their back. “L-Look, I give you this book, where am I going? Huh? Are you going to let me out?” Ponk is accusing now. “What’re you going to do?”
“You can go wherever you want afterwards,” the Warden remains calm, but offense rises at the thought that Ponk believes this is somehow satisfying or enjoyable for him. It is a necessity . He needs to ensure no one gets away with taunting the prison. Once this is finished, the Warden doesn’t need another prisoner.
Ponk freezes, trying to read some expression through that mask. “...you promise?” They ask like a challenge.
“Yeah, of course. Naturally. We’ll have no reason to keep you after you give us the last book.”
We. Us. Even the Warden isn’t sure who he’s referring to, the obvious answer being himself and Quackity, but there’s something else there, like it’s him and the prison, Pandora’s Vault, a breathing entity wrapping around him.
The Warden presses the button again.
“Who am I promising this to, Sam– please!” Ponk is finally pleading, backing against the glass as they burn. “Please.” They turn to face him, hands pressed against the glass. They lost their bravado early on, but even showing their fear, they don’t give in. “What’s with the fire?!”
The Warden takes no pleasure in this suffering. It’s Ponk’s fault. They could make this end whenever they wanted. “I’m tired, Ponk. Just give me the book.”
“No–” Ponk burns again, curled on the ground. “After everything I’ve done for you?! After everything–”
There is finally respite, Ponk fighting to stand as the Warden just watches them, unfeeling. “Sam… please..!”
The Warden steps forward, irritation growing. Ponk has the audacity to beg for mercy when they know exactly what he wants.
“Do you want me to just take your other canon lives, is that really what you want?” Even through glass, the Warden towers over them.
“Y-You can take my canon lives!” Ponk shouts hoarsely, slamming a fist into the unyielding glass. They finally seem angry. “Being a ghost, seems better than being alive,” they gesture to the cell around them, somehow afraid and fearless all at once. “And seeing you act like this!”
The Warden’s irritation grows. Ponk pretending like this is caring, like Ponk is here out of trust or love or understanding, as if some feeble soul is trapped inside the Warden’s body. Ponk still lacks the appropriate amount of terror. There have to be consequences. “Actually, you’re right. No, you’re right, actually,” the Warden’s voice is calm, casual. “I could take something far, far worse from you, than a canon life, if I wanted.” If I wanted, like this is a whim, not a threat. All that matters is control. The Warden has Ponk at his mercy. And he is going to teach them that lesson, no matter what it takes.
“W-What’re you gonna take?” Ponk snaps.
“Maybe I’ll just… take one of your arms,” the Warden speaks so lightly, casual and careless. Ponk’s condition is meaningless so long as they know their place.
Ponk stares at the thick shears in his hand now, stepping back from the glass. They laugh weakly, “Sam, stop joking.” They take another step back. “No,” laughter ringing with panic slipping out.
“Well, why not?” The Warden is patronizing, lilting, teasing. Like this is a game or a joke.
Acting as Quackity does.
“That’s my arm, Sam,” Ponk is pressed against the back wall now.
“Yeah, you have another one.” Maybe it’s better that the Warden wears a mask. Ponk doesn’t need to know that he is smiling as he finally gets the intended results.
“S-Sam, surely not,” Ponk keeps their gaze locked on the shears in his right hand, glancing at the Warden’s unwavering face.
“I mean, I wouldn’t want to,” sour words for a man who sounds amused. “But we could, couldn’t we?” Yet again, couldn’t we? Like this is a bonding activity between them, a mutual understanding and not a waiting attack on someone cornered and wounded in a cell.
“You wouldn’t,” Ponk forces some more certainty into their voice.
The Warden tilts his head, portraying that cunning pity, that inhuman fascination he has seen in Dream too many times before. “...you don’t think I would?”
Ponk staggers to the enderchest, keeping an eye on the Warden at all times. “L-Look, I’ve got the last book. Look–
Ponk flinches back as the sheet of glass shatters and the Warden steps forward, towering over them, so little space between them as he doesn’t hesitate. Ponk is pressed against the wall, staring up at him with remaining defiance. “I really don’t think you would.”
Now without glass keeping him divided from these acts, the Warden can now see tear tracks among the sweat and the gore as they back away from him. There has always been a barrier between the Warden and this violence, but not anymore. He bends down so there are mere inches between their faces.
“I assure you, Ponk. I would,” he once more assesses them, not as an old friend nor even as a person, but as meat to be butchered. “Are you right handed or left handed?”
Ponk stares at the shears, breathing hard. They must have some inkling of doubt, as they answer: “I’m right handed- I use everything,” Ponk snaps, holding their arms defensively close to their chest, a book still in one hand. “I–”
“Then we’ll take the left one, huh?”
It’s too easy.
He keeps them pinned to the wall, his arm pressed to their throat, a hand grabbing onto their wrist and stopping their arm from moving even as they desperately try and pull away, their free hand pushing against the Warden’s mask, trying to hold off against this brutal strength, trying to wrestle the shears with a hand already slick with burns, and then it’s too late. They scream at first, broken and hoarse as tears well up, their right arm feebly clawing at their captor despite the agony, but then it’s like they can’t even manage that, voice too broken to beg, they struggle as much as they can, not knowing the more they struggle the more the blade will dig, the messier the cut will be. The Warden ignores everything except the wound he is making. Ponk, without armor, is nothing but a terrified, hysterical insect trying to push him away.
Ponk passes out almost halfway through, right when he gets to the bone. Not that that comes as a surprise. The Warden did not do this as a matter of efficiency. That wasn’t the point. Severing a limb is not a slow process, even if he had chosen to use something other than shears. Unconscious or not, they still shudder and twitch as bone finally cracks. He doesn’t stop, he continues sawing.
Not once does the brutality of this act dawn on him.
This act is methodical, careful, an amputated limb, both for Ponk and Sam. He’s cutting Ponk away. He has sacrificed everything for this cause, sacrificing Ponk next only made sense. He cannot be vulnerable to anyone.
That may be the first lesson Dream taught him.
Sam has gotten very good at cleaning up wounds. First Dream, then Ponk.
He tends to their severed arm so they won’t bleed out with the utmost care, he’s cut it a bit above the elbow, leaving enough that he can wrap it tightly in bandages, splashing a health potion onto the tattered and gorey remains. This slows the bleeding enough that he can wrap it with a tenderness that feels eerie in a room drenched in blood.
Just like with Dream, it is only here with that blood on his hands that Sam feels a flicker of doubt. He buries it far too easily. He leaves them there, collapsed on the ground with fresh bandages standing out amongst the other burns and grime. They look weak, broken down, used up. The Warden doesn’t care. He’s finished with them now.
Sam retrieves the arm, not like a trophy, but just one more thing for him to clean up.
He burns it alongside the old keycards.