In the time of the Spanish Inquisition, the narrator is standing trial for an unclear crime. Upon being dealt the death sentence, he faints.
Finally awaking after going in and out of consciousness, the narrator is in a dark room. Fearing he has been buried alive, he is relieved when he is able to walk around. He believes he is in a dungeon at Toledo, an infamous Inquisition prison.
Where am I?
While exploring the size and surroundings of his prison, the narrator discovers and immense crater in the middle of the room, which would serve as a surprise death to some. He finds out that someone is attending to him because he wakes to having bread and water. On his second reception of bread and water he immediately passes out, later on figuring that the water was drugged.
After once again regaining consciousness, the narrator finds himself strapped to a wooden board, with only his head and left arm free, and has been left with a plate of meats, but no water.
When he looks up, he sees a Figure of Time, holding a pendulum with a blade swinging back and forth. With each swing it descends, making for the eventual death of the narrator.
As the blade nears his chest, the narrator is struck with an idea. He smears the strong-scented meat against the ropes that hold him down, and the rats jump up and chew them until he is freed. Whoever is observing him obviously notices that he has free'd himself, and that is when the walls become hot and start enclosing, pushing him towards the crater.