Reposted from my old blog. Prompts are bolded; translations from Google Translate.
Part One | In the Old & the New
Nine hooded figures danced around the synthetic light of the structure in the middle of their circle. The movements were purposeful, as were the words they chanted. Thin veils of black material covered their black and white faces.
On long, wooden benches, other beings dressed mostly the same sat, staring straight ahead at the ritual. Some were human, some were not. Regardless of species, they did not dare break the gaze set upon those hooded figures.
Throughout the temple, stone basins of water stood below large statues. Fire burned in pits, though the brightness of the flame did not compare to the light created by the bishops.
A red-eyed man sat somewhere in the middle of the grouping, holding his breath. In all the times he had sat through these services, this was the first time he had sat alone. Even so, his solitary presence was not what concerned him today. The ritual at hand, one he had seen performed on others hundreds of times, would today be performed for the man who usually sat next to him.
A kiln hidden behind a pillar held the lighted, glass dagger which would finalize the ritual. Once that dagger emptied its contents into his friend’s heart, there would be no going back. The bishops’ predecessors had refined this process centuries ago; those who succeeded these bishops, centuries from now, would likely perform the exact same ritual. The magic they taught was meant to be forgotten long ago.
The bishop known as Reisdro disappeared behind the altar area, returning with the red-eyed man’s friend. Three finger-shaped black marks were on either side of the man’s neck, and his dark brown eyes stared at nothing as he mindlessly followed Reisdro into the temple room.
The lighted structure disappeared below the floor as a door opened and the platform supporting the structure lowered into the ground. An empty altar took the place of the platform; a large cinder block in appearance, this would serve as the centerpiece of the ritual.
The smeared man hoisted himself onto the block before laying flat against it on his back. Nico, the head of the bishops, stepped up to the block and the other eight bishops formed a semi-circle behind him.
“S’ohodni my zasudzhuyemo tsyu dytynu do spravy.”
Today we commit this child to the cause. The red-eyed man knew that the end was now near for his friend. He let out the breath he had been holding, breathed in deep, and held that breath.
The lighted dagger plunged into his heart, but the smeared man did not so much as blink. Blood poured out from the wound, spilling over the side of the altar block and onto the floor of the temple. Slowly, the smeared man’s blank, staring eyes closed.
The red-eyed man watched as the dark liquid flowed past him, down the aisle, and pooled at the back of the temple.
He focused again on the scene at the front of the temple. With the smeared man’s blood drained from his body, the lighted dagger emptied its contents into his chest.
It was only a matter of time now.
The steps beyond Faylinn McCarthy’s front door seemed to grow more steep by the day. She trudged up the steps, passed through the common area of the living space, and dropped her bags in her room before falling back on her bed.
It was not so much the public relations job she left outside her front door, but the daunting task behind the door that tired her out more and more everyday. Faylinn’s writer heart was heavy; words flowed easily every day but none of them satisfied her. She needed a catch, a hook, something different. Something to make her novel stand out from the rest of the unpublished manuscripts sitting on some editor’s desk.
“The idea is out there,” she told her ceiling, “I just have to keep digging for it.”
Knowing that she had only a few hours before her cousin was home and the common space of the echoes of the music Ildri would play during her after-work workout, Faylinn decided on a quick shower and clean, comfy clothes before settling at her desk in front of the big bay window in the common space. Her cousin was good about keeping things to her side of their domicile, but the walls weren’t all that thick. The extra noise made it even harder for Faylinn to concentrate.
Her laptop was open and a blank document was on the screen. The curtains were open, letting in enough sunlight, she didn’t need to turn on lights in the common space. Directly in front of her, she could see the wall of Old Dema, and the tops of the round, vertical tunnel structures in the middle of the old city. To her right was Trench; the green grass and rocky cliffs looked so peaceful from here. If only she could bottle up a little of that peace and give it to her muse, then translate it onto paper.
“That’s not a bad line, actually,” she chuckled to herself.
Closing her eyes, Faylinn pictured herself in Trench. She was bundled in a warm coat and scarf, and the chilled wind was blowing across her face. Everything was quiet.
Until the blaring alarms from Old Dema sounded, signaling that someone was trying to escape. They could be beyond the wall right now, with a red-caped Bishop after them on those white horses Faylinn had heard about but never seen. She could practically feel the adrenaline quickening her heartbeat, could hear heavy boots against the water that pooled in the crevices of the ground in Trench.
“Oh my …”
Faylinn’s eyes opened. She could see the scene in her head so clearly. All she had to do was put it into words.
Yellow eyes searched Trench for the escaped citizen of Old Dema. The Bishops would be not far behind, and if she was going to save this soul, then she had to do it before they arrived. After nearly an hour of searching, she found a scared woman, likely close to her age, crouching in one of the few shallow caves. The rocks under her boots crunched softly as she carefully stepped towards the other woman.
“I’m not here to hurt you,” she promised, her yellow eyes never leaving the other woman; not even long enough to blink. “Come with me. Quickly. Before the Bishop arrives.”
The other woman stepped out from the cave, her red eyes searching all around the yellow-eyed woman, as though she was taking this all in for the first time.
“I never thought I would get past the wall,” she admitted.
The yellow-eyed woman nodded, holding her hand out. “Not everyone does.”
Red eyes flitted quickly from their surroundings to the pulse at the other woman’s wrist. The escapee bared sharp fangs and lunged forward.
The woman with yellow eyes never flinched. She reached out as the creature came towards her, gripped the vampire’s jaw with both hands and pulled the head sharply to the right.
The red eyes which had been wide with bloodlust relaxed into the calm of sleep, and the body collapsed to the ground.
Licking her lips, she stepped backwards, retreating carefully. She could hear the hooves of the Bishop’s horse coming her way, which meant there was no time to get rid of the body. Stepping over the dead woman, the one with yellow eyes crouched into the shallow cave, doing her best to blend in with the shadows until the Bishop came to claim his property.
The red-hooded bishop slid down from his seat on the back of the white horse and cautiously approached the dead body. He took in a deep breath, stepped around the corpse, then crouched down to lift a whispered prayer into the quiet, calm air around him.
When the Bishop stood and faced his horse again, the yellow-eyed one believed that her presence had gone unnoticed — until the Bishop stopped in his tracks, sniffed the quiet, calm air around him, and turned back towards the cave where she was hiding. He took three steps toward the cave, causing her to shrink back even further into the shadows the cavern had to offer.
The Bishop tilted his head, closed his eyes, and breathed in deep. Her heart raced; surely he knew that she was here. That she was close.
But instead of progressing forward to where she was hidden, the yellow-eyed one watched the veiled face of the Bishop change to some expression she could not find a word to describe before he again mounted his horse and rode away from Trench and the corpse.
When he was out of sight and out of earshot, the yellow-eyed woman hesitantly stepped out of the cave. Knowing now that the coast was clear, she ran out of Trench faster than she had ever run before.
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