“Arise you imperfect beings, accept your rise to greatness” a booming voice spoke out in the stone tunnel.
I opened my eyes to see Jaerno, fellow acolytes surrounding me. A circle of dark hoods of black and royal purple, their faces were barely visible in the grim torchlight. In my direct sight was Jaerno, he was a magnificent man dressed in purple robes with glowing silver edging, his face was a mass of black hair and purple paint. Jaerno held an arcane knife in hand and a thick book in the other as he preached his pagan tongue. The others stood in a statuesque state, solemn as death itself.
“We have before us another contender for the Khola revived!” The leader of the cult commanded. His underlings pulled down their hoods to reveal their shaven heads. Men and women alike with strange sacrament writing all over the visible skin. They began to hum a low note that shook me to my core. Stop please, I wanted to scream my objections, Let me go you heavens.
“He denies the fact that he is the one reborn, he demonizes us for trying to bring out his full potential! As you see, the great Khola in this form is blind, unknowing of his true potential.” Jaerno continued.
The groups harmony began to fluctuate between higher notes and lower.
“We shall bring out our forsaken god, we will bring him into the world once more!” The crowd surrounding the huddled group in the center of the cave began to cheer with delight. The thunder of their applause shattered through the vacuous stone hallways of the cave.
I wanted to shout, to be free, free of these tormentors from a pagan faith.
Yet, I could barely utter a word, let alone move.
I was gagged with a foul tasting cloth and hogtied in a kneeling position, they left me all but powerless.
When these loons kidnapped me, they immediately injected me with enough tranquilizer to bring a colossus to nap.
Every day, paraded around me repeating this same song and dance, every day since my capture they have tormented me with this display of ritualistic devotion and slaughter of the name of Khola.
This rival cult is just a mere joke, a rebel in the region, a black sheep in a herd. Nothing but mere idolaters to those of true faith.
Thankfully, they had no recollection of who I was, of what I could do with a single word. They were blind, and I could see.
But they could clearly recognize my affinity with the dark, they could feel the presence of the Khola’s energy within me. The rambunctious heathens only had part of the story, a lone chapter in the wide view of things.
“Bring upon the sacrifice!” Jaerno shouted to his supporters, suddenly a poor, haggard man was brought into the circle. Jaerno reached over me with his blade in hand and slit the man’s throat. He never fought back, nor was he bound and chained. The calm figures next to him grabbed the man and bent him over me. The man’s lifeblood came leaking down onto my body.
I tried to look away from the man, I could not bare to see another willing sacrifice have their life leave their eyes and body. The warm gush dripped over my back and ran down my body.
After I was captured, they did this to me every two days in front of a crowd of less prestigious members of the cult, all of them hoping to see our leader be birthed back into the world to guide them.
I know that he won’t save me from these blasphemous practices, let alone let them have his favor. The faction I was a part of currently has his favor.
This was the third time they have conducted this ritual, but the emotions and sensations flowing through me made it seem as if it was the first. As the last remnants of the sacrafice’s blood left his open wound, they cast aside his body like it was garbage and observed me. The sacred humming ceased and silence filled the room.
Anger boiled up within me. I desperately wanted to tell these heretics that they were wrong, that they were worthless. You see where this worthless killing has gotten me? The Khola will never respond to such barbaric acts! I wanted to scream and punish them for their acts of heresy and pointlessness.
This is one of the many faces of the Cults of Khola, all of whom came from the same original group. Each group saw the man known as the Khola as a different representation, and none of them could agree on which side to praise. Groups here value his blood thirst, his ability to cause havoc more than anything, and this made me livid. They only valued what everyone feared of the man, disregarding the knowledge the man had brought with him when he became powerful.
The blood began to cool on my skin when the silence was interrupted.
“Yet again this non-believer has kept the holy lord within his fleshy prison” one acolyte observed. “Shall we try flaying him to let the Khola’s spirit free.” the person suggested.
Immediately the man was stabbed by the cultist to his right. The speaker’s breath became short and the cultist fell to his knees. Jaerno left the head of the circle and approached the bleeding cultist from behind. With one hand, Jaerno grabbed the bleeding cultist’s robes and threw him outside the group into the crowd.
“Anyone who wants to be in the circle next time, bring me his head!” Jaerno declared. Instantly the ravenous crowd fell upon the poor man, tearing him up like piranhas.
I uttered out some grunts and muffled words from my gagged mouth, Jaerno took notice.
“OH, LOOKS LIKE THE NONBELIEVER WANTS TO SAY SOMETHING?” he shouted. He grabbed my hair and lifted my head upwards.
I saw his eyes first, deep brown that could have been purple in any other light. His sun-burnt face was full of lacerations and peeling skin. His rotten breath smelled of fish and death.
“Care to repeat that, you sorry dodger?” Jaerno repeated with his foul breath. He removed the gag from my mouth and slapped my face.
“C’mon, it’s not like we’ll kill ya if we don’t like it” He reassured, a grimy smile shining in torchlight fell upon his face.
I spit in his face, the loogie landed in his eye. He fell backwards, members of the circle followed his path.
I spoke the words only given to those who have proven their valor, their wisdom and their gifts to the Khola.
As Jaerno rose with the help of his fellow sinners, the torchlights began to dim.
The acolytes stared wide eyed at the man’s corpse who began to rise. The rambunctious crowd began to scream and shriek in terror as the corpse of the out speaker began to move and writhe.
The sacrifice, that poor man, began to rise. He charged Jaerno, the throat still black with blood. The acolytes began to flee towards the mouths of the cave, but soon darkness enveloped the entrances. Those who tried to press on were lost to an inky black void. Jaerno was left thunderstruck, looking at what I have just done with a simple whisper, frozen by fear. Soon enough the bounds around my wrists and ankles melted away as my influence dissolved them. I promptly grabbed a rock and walked towards Jaerno. The beast I sicked on him wandered close, and Jaerno began to repeatedly stab the beast in the stomach whilst holding him back with his forearm. The sacrifice balked and fell backwards, but it served me enough time to ambush Jaerno with a swift strike to the head.
He fell backwards again, dropping the knife. Jaerno hit the floor, but reached for the knife. I spoke another word and the knife was soon covered in inky black tendrils.
He backpedaled away from me, a pure look of fear on his face. The screams from the crowds and the panicked shouts from the acolytes ran high in the cave.
“Please, don’t slay me, you perfect being. We are your loyalists, yourself incarnate! Please..”
“You heavens will never know his grace.” I spoke. An inky black spike penetrated through his chest into the air. The thing disappeared as fast as it reappeared. Leaving a black flower radiating from Jaerno and a hole the size of a fist.
His eyes grew dimmer and dimmer, but the look of panic remained. The torchlight showed only as much as I wanted it, and with one more word, the cavern was turned to black and the screams intensified.