About: A prologue to a project I’ve titled Flash Fire, enjoy!
A dark chorus of voices rose up to a crescendo around her where she lay chained to a stone altar. Her golden locks cascaded over the edge as she lay her head upon the cold stone. A shape in a black, hooded robes approached her with a knife, grabbing a fistful of her white gown. Practised hands made quick work of the seams that held her gown together. The soft, silk fabric slid off of her like water sliding across her skin.
The figured pulled back its hood revealing the most revolting man she had ever seen. She struggled against her restraints, desperately trying to cover her nakedness. The man cut a shallow gash in his own face, blood trickled down and she suddenly knew why he looked so disfigured. The scarred man touched the dripping blood with three fingers. She cried out as he began to draw strange symbols on her body, she felt nauseous, revulsion crawled through her like skittering spiders.
The man laughed at her powerlessness, she could barely hear it underneath the chanting but the look of malicious glee on his distorted face was unmistakable. When he was done drawing symbols upon her bare skin he dried his hand on his robes and slapped her hard in the face. Bright spots danced before her eyes as her vision blurred, darkening for a moment. Her cheek burned.
The blood-painted symbols began to glow as the disfigured man started the incantation, drawing power from the chanting mass around them. Pain shot through every fibre of her being like wildfire, the world became white with agony. Her screams molded with the chanting chorus and the spell-weaving man’s voice, the magic fed upon her suffering.
She did not know for how long she had been in the clutches of her mad captors, for insanity was the only reasonable explanation she could see. Some of the perverse things she had witnessed returned to her now, images, smells, the metallic taste of blood in her mouth. She felt her life being burned away, whatever foul magic was at work was slowly incinerating her from the inside. Her soul was ablaze. She was deaf to every sound save her own screams.
The light before her eyes vanished and she began to fall, an endless free fall into eternity.
The disfigured man raised his dagger, holding it blade downwards with both hands. He continued to speak as he held the dagger above the woman’s heart. To the unatuned eye the steady flow of life-energy flowing from the woman into the dagger was invisible. When the dagger was all but full the man turned the blade on himself and thrust it into his own heart. The man began to change, symbols in the vilest of colours ranging from sickening greens to soul-devouring black appeared all over his skin. A distorted smile gave his face a hint of his true nature, evil.
The next stage of the ritual was just about to commence when one of the walls of the dark dungeon suddenly exploded inward and a flood of light invaded the dark sanctum. The staggered mass of robed figures had little chance of putting up a fight as a tempest of hostile magic cut through their ranks like a scythe cuts through grass. The disfigured man shouted angrily and began to form a counterattack. A loud snap announced a broken neck. The disfigured man collapsed into a heap without ever catching a single glimps of his bane. The robed figures panicked but were rouded up and herded into one of the dungeon’s corners. Three figures approached the altar, joining the man who had killed the cultists’ leader.
“What is this stench?” the killer demanded.
“Blood Magic,” one of the three, a woman, replied. “The other scents you should be familiar with, blood, intestines, excrement, your standard battle-field unpleasantries.”
“This is one is Asidragan,” the killer said. “Heal her.”
“The very essence of life has been stolen from her, she is fortunate to have anything left at all,” the woman said after a moment’s examination. “Healing her is nigh on impossible, it’s up to herself at this point, her will to live.”
“Heal her, mage, or I’ll have your head where you stand!” the killer retorted, voice hot with rage. “You two,” he continued and pointed at the other mages. “Help her or make yourselves useful and execute the others.”
The screams of panic that arose at the killer’s orders did not last long, cut off instantaneously as the two mages stilled their hearts. The cultists collapsed in unison. “Has she been violated,” the killer asked the female mage.
The woman had cringed at the screaming and what she knew the silence meant. “No, her innocence was never in danger, only her life and her soul. She would have been sacrificed to whatever perverted deity they worshipped, her soul forced to endure whatever pleasures it fancied. Horrible way to die. The others were not so lucky,” she said and pointed at other altars. “I can only hope their suffering is short-lived and that those were the all of the followers.”
The killer breathed a curse. “Why is that relevant?”
“A deity,” she explained. “Can only exist as long as there is human belief that sustains it. Kill the followers and you kill the Deity. It is the only way to ensure the release of the unfortunate souls in its possession.”
“And should she die?” the killer asked and pointed at the unconscious beauty.
“Her soul will most likely join the others.”
“Less talk, heal her,” the man grunted at that.
Then stop asking me questions, the woman muttered under her breath. Pearls of sweat began to decorate the Mage’s forehead, like tiny, ornamental diamond drops. It was not long before she was panting. Alia Tentras was in no way a Mage well versed in the healing arts, she was not even suited for that kind of magic, a fact that was beginning to take its toll. She did what little she could, however. The hovering executioner’s presence and persistence was all the motivator she needed to give it her all, in spite of how little that was.
Tentras breathed a sigh of relief as the young Asidragan began to breathe steadily on her own again and her heartbeat stabilized. “I’ve done what I can. She will not die here but she needs to see an Amaran Priestess and will in all likelihood need plenty of bedrest.”
The killer gave her no word of thanks, only a grunt of confirmation. “You are no longer needed,” the man said to the two male mages. “Leave us, the Imperial Guard will take it from here.”
“We hear and obey,” one of the mages replied. “Tentras, come, Guild business awaits.”
Alia Tentras followed the other two as they left. The sooner they could concluded their business with the crown the better, she reckoned. The Imperial guardsmen went past them as the three of them exited the dungeon. Not a single glance was cast in their direction. It was as if though they did not even exist, but then such was the world they lived in, unfair, filled with prejudice and fear. Tentras closed her hands, clenching them into fists. She knew better than to give voice to her feelings.
Someday, she thought. Someday, things will be different. Someday we’ll be seen as humans instead of abominations.