Jiselle checked to make certain that Arndt was fast asleep by shaking him gently. She had refilled his mug with ale any time that the liquid had dipped below visibility; she suspected he would be asleep until mid-morning at least. When her attempts to waken her husband were answered by the continued rhythmic snoring she crept with adroit stealthiness from their bed. Clad only in her shift, she navigated the dark of a their single room home toward the wood pile. The only light was from the moon and the few dying embers left in the hearth.
She removed the small deer antler stashed among the pile of timbers and left through the front door into the chill of the the mid-autumn air. Shivering, Jiselle slunk down the main street of the town that led off to the woods where many of the men of town would hunt for their livelihood. Her gaze swept about the shadows cast by the building. In between two of the houses she thought she saw movement, but as she waited, her breath held for fear of discovery, the source revealed itself to be stray tomcat that hissed furiously at her as she continued toward the trees.
Once safely ensconced by the darkness of the forest, she quickened her pace, ignoring the crack and snarl of the underbrush as she trod carelessly through it. Thorns and burrs bit into the soles of her feet and she left a trail of blood as she passed familiar sigils carved into tree bark. The closer she came to her destination, the warmer the air grew. Soon she was sweating enough to soak through even the thin shift that she had worn to bed. Her stomach twisted itself with apprehension and eagerness, soon she would see her liege. Her knuckles grew white as her grip tightened around the antler.
Up ahead, flames lit the outline of the trees. Drawing closer revealed a bonfire, though no other entity was present. Rivulets of sweat streamed down her forehead as the heat from the fire compounded with the supernatural heat that hung in the air. She shed her garments, tossing them into the flames. With a steel resolve she turned the sharp tip of the animal weapon she carried and began cutting into her palm, using the crimson ink of her own blood to draw the runes of her god upon her flesh.
The symbols drawn, she recited the incantation the old crone had taught her. The flames of the bonfire roared up into a large column, shifting through various colors. Tendrils from it licked at her body, and the smell of burnt hair surrounded her. She tossed the antler into the inferno before her and she shielded her eyes as the resultant light became unbearable to look upon. Shadowy figures played across the canvas of her eyelids. As the intensity of the light seemed to lessen she lowered her arm opening her eyes to reveal that she had lost all faculty of sight.
You summon me.
The voice reverberated in her head, loud enough for her to fear that even her sleeping neighbors might hear it.
“I have done as your priestess dictated, my lord. I wish to become your queen.”
Silence and then the snuffling of hot air, as if a great beast were smelling her. Jiselle almost recoiled with the fear and disgust that now filled her.
You. You are not worthy.
Dread began to gnaw at her gut. She turned to flee from the unholy terror she had summoned only to trip an fall. As the red horned god feasted upon her, no one in the village was wakened by her screams.
Apropos of: Arathania