A Child of Orn – A Prologue
Posted by LizzyBeth
Dear faithful readers (and new readers),
LHP is about to release the next issue of Gallery of Worlds (June 1). In preparation, I’ll be posting the prologue to the new serial, which is making it’s debut in the issue. I hope you enjoy. I’ve been working on this story for several years now and am very excited to start sharing this strange world of mystery, darkness, magic, and light with all of you. I’d love to hear your feedback.
So without further ado…
A Child of Orn – Prologue to The Keepers
The darkness penetrated her thoughts and consumed her being. She remembered a time when the darkness had not frightened her. She remembered a time when the darkness had been like a cloak that warmed her, when darkness had been a friend that she knew better than herself. She remembered a time when stone and earth walls and rooms had been safe and comforting. But this was not that darkness. This was malicious darkness, full of hatred, pain, and horror. This darkness was that sort of pitch that nightmares were made of, from which even death fled.
She shivered more from the fear that gripped at her heart than for the chilly dampness. She muttered a prayer begging for Orn to give her rest, to take her breath and let her soul leave this hellish existence. But Orn had left her, he did not dare come to these chambers. That is what he wanted. He wanted Orn to come…it was a trap. She shivered and even though her mouth was parched and her head ached from dehydration, she managed to shed a tear.
“Orn…come not to this place…give me strength to endure…the light.”
She heaved a choking sob. Light. Dreadful, harsh light. Oh, how she hated the brightness! She was not supposed to see it. She was forbidden to see daylight and yet…was it daily that her captor dragged her out into the brilliance of the burning orb, tying her to the black iron that warmed to scorching temperatures, searing her skin? He would come and taunt her. He blasphemed Orn. He violated the sacred name of death. He made her look at the Sun!
But she would endure. She would not let him take her soul. She belonged to Orn.
Harsh, yellow light reflected off the damp stones. She backed into the corner of her cell as far as she could. She could see the hundred eyes of the other captives. Pale opalescent eyes stared out of taunt, terrified faces. These were faces of creatures like her, once human but now reduced to the stupor of fear and lifelessness. Their faces were barely recognizable as faces – all bloodied, burned, scarred, bruised, and flesh torn. She could see all the horror and hopelessness she felt in the dim glow of the lantern in the faces of the captives. They were all thinking the same thing: who was it going to be this time?
The cruel brightness of the lantern stung her eyes as several men all hooded and shadowed came into her cell. Even though she shared her cell with several others, as she squinted against the burning, she knew they were going to take her. She tilted her chin ever so slightly. She was not going to let them conquer her. They may kill her body, but her soul was Orn’s. She had served him faithfully. She had not answered any of his questions. She had stayed firm. No amount of burning or blinding searing light was going to make her give up her faith.
One of the hooded man laughed sinisterly.
They grabbed her by the hair and half-pulled, half-pushed her along the dark corridor of rough damp stone. These were old tunnels from a time when the gods roamed the earth. She stumbled along trying to keep up with their forceful pace.
Suddenly she was flung into the greater, harsher light of day. Her eyes burned so fiercely that she thought that they were going to ignite. She drew a sharp breath but that was all the visible sign she gave of the pain. She heard him laugh. And she was kicked down. The force caused her to bite her lip. Blood filled her mouth. She spat it out as strong hands pulled her to her unsteady feet. She was then tossed onto the apparatus of her torture.
It was a disk of black metal that had been infused with magic to not only reflect the sun’s light but its true heat as well. There were six metal braces One for each wrist and ankle and one for the waist and one for the neck. Those same strong and malevolent hands bound her. She was forced to face the sun. If she tried to turn her face away jagged teeth of the metal brace around her neck would bite into her skin.
“I belong to Orn,” she said through clenched teeth.
He laughed. “I know. That is why I want you. Your twisted little black soul is just too good to waste.”
“I belong to Orn…I seek the dark places. I dwell in the deep. I care for the sacred things, the holy things, the treasured things of Orn,” she muttered. Endurance. She just needed to endure the light of day. “I belong to Orn.”
He started to speak in a language that only the gods knew. It chilled her to the bone despite the sizzling heat and burning brilliance of the light of sun and apparatus. This was something new. He had never done this before. Normally he questioned her, mocked her, blasphemed Orn and profaned the name of Death. But now he spoke words that cut deeper than taunts. He was cutting away at her soul, slicing it from her living body. She could feel her soul squirm. This was a new kind of pain. It was worse than anything she had endured yet.
He smiled and spoke the words louder.
Her soul writhed and twisted, straining to leave her body. “I belong to Orn,” she chanted. She willed her soul to stay. Even though she wanted to be free and rid of the mortal flesh that caused her pain. It was not her choice to decide when death should come. It was not his decision either, though he did not seem to bother with the proper order of things.
“I belong to Orn,” she whispered. Her soul ripped from her body with a force that could have leveled cities. He cackled with mirthless glee. She felt pain so deep, so raw that she could only gape wordlessly. There was no sound that could express the pain. There was no escape from it either. The pain was too much to faint from. In all consuming agony, she watched with a distant horrific fascination as her writhing soul burst. An emptiness and loss washed over her; the sun’s brilliant rays seemed muted and the pain felt immaterial; all thoughts of caring left her and she was completely hollow.
He cursed and with a howl of anger and frustration, he killed her with a single word.