21 Chapter 13: The Intention of Gods and Monsters: Daxfoss
She wrapped her hand around my throat. She was stronger than expected. I wasn't going to die, I did too much for that. "Samai" I manage to wheeze out her name, my body starts to tingle, probably because my blood was being cut off from the rest of my body, the tingles get stronger and then start to hurt, I was going to die, it was going to be by sister's hand, I feel the fire sand on the face, I noticed that it was falling faster than it usually did, the clouds break apart more, light coming and going more frequently, I start to feel myself slip away. "please" her eyes were blood red, something was oppressing her, pulling her down, making her sink, I refuse to die like this, after everything I did to live I refused to die by the hands of the thing that was hunting me, I was going to live. I punch Samai across the head, I guess I was stronger than I expected she was knocked out, hopefully, she could pull herself upwards now. She was sleeping now. When she came to she was panicked looking for me, "I'm alive if you're wondering" she turns around and breathes a sigh of relief
"I'm sorry, she just took over,"
"I'm not angry at you, do you think that she's gonna come back?"
"I don't think so, I didn't think I had a connection to her anymore,"
"I don't know," she says
I was feeling tired and no matter how much I didn't trust that Samai wasn't going to suffer another attack from the Blood Goddess, my body wouldn't let me go another minute without rest. I saw Skotash, the fire sand clouds hung above the land just like it did every other day, the ash fell upon them, I heard screams. I saw the red beating heart of Skotash, it beating harder and brighter than it ever did before, "she lies" I heard the voice "the goddess lies" I heard the voice of The Ash God, then I fell into the Black Sea, I was being pulled down into the Sunken Places, I could the dark place, its spires were starting to come into view, I could see swimming creatures, His Ashen Children, they were rising, then it dawned on me, I didn't feel myself moving, I wasn't sinking the Sunken Places were just rising. The Ash Lands rise and The Blood Land's Heart beats.
I wake up my dream was a lot more different now, I questioned everything, I still saw the world like before, I sunk into the Black Sea, the Heart of Skotash was beating that was different, then I realise that when I fell into the sea the Sunken Places always seemed closer, I wasn't sinking the Sunken Places are rising. "Samai" I called for her, she was pulled from her slumber, "What?" she asks, rubbing the ash of her dress and her hair and her face, I hold out my hand and I feel ash fall into my hand "The Sunken Places are rising and now the ash clouds are falling," Samai held out her hand and then rubbed it between her fingers, she seemed to be in awe "wait, The Sunken places are rising?" she looked at me understandably panicked "That will cause the flood in at least most of the continent"
"Of course it will," I say throwing my hands into the air
I hear footsteps and the cracking of twigs. "Samai" I look around frantically "someone's here" I look back to see that Samai was gone, "Samai was traced here" they look at us "you, boy, do you know where she is?"
"are you sure? Boy lying to the Sword of Aima gets you killed"
"I'm not" I really did have no idea where she was, I felt something splatter on my face, blood. A guard fell to my knees, then another. I saw Samai covered in fresh blood, like me "you-"
"killed them, yes" she looks at me, her hand was shaking
"was it her again?" I ask
"yes," she said, she was starting to cry now, "I think so, I don't know, I was sinking again, she wanted their lives" she suppressed her urge to start crying and looked off into the distance "what is it?" I ask her
"I feel the magic going somewhere" she slices into her palm and squeezes drops into her eye "where's it going?" I asked
"To the heart," she said,
"do you know where it is?"
"no, I cant see it, if we want to find it and find out what's going on we have to go to the Citadel," she said. I didn't want to obviously that being the place where all the people that were most capable of killing me were but I wasn't leaving my sister, ever. "visula imparse" I looked at my hand to see them change. "we're going to look like them" she explained "remember this, our story is that we searched for Samai and found nothing" she slices into her arm casting a spell,
"entralla," she said seeming to take on an accent that I've never heard before, an image of a bedroom appeared in front of us, my sister walked into it, I followed.
"where are we?" I ask, the Citadel shakes
"my chambers" she opens the door slightly, she stuck her head out, I look at her room, I see a book on her floor near her fireplace, I look on the floor to see dried drops of blood. "nobody's here" she walks into the hallway, more and more sunlight is piercing through the darkness, giving the place more illumination than I ever thought would come here, I knew that there was going to a price, we were going to burn, unless we get out "shouldn't we jut leave?" I ask
"The Goddess wouldn't let anyone of us go, she's trying to kill you and take control of me, The Ash God is causing the Sunken Places to rise and I have to stop that without killing you" she explained she did make a good point. We walk through a hidden passageway and walk upwards into the Archaima's office "be careful we have a limited amount of time before soldiers come in" she pushes the door open she seemed frozen "what's wrong?" I asked
"I don't feel anything, I'm sure that a magical alarm would signal the soldiers" she pulls herself out from her stupor and looks through the notes. The room had a desk in the middle and papers were scattered across the room, dust was on every surface. There were a lot fewer torches here than there were in the hall, passageways or chamber. I look around. I look at the book titles they were all linked to scripture. Blood Fire War, The Sunken Places.
I pull out the book, on the Sunken Places. It was a small book, actually, it was barely a book, I opened it to find scribbles, I skipped over some bits
His Ashen Children
When Shataska sunk the lands of the Fire Witches, they sunk with them into the Black Sea, the Ash God changed them made them inhuman, gave them horns and black eyes, the colour drained from their faces. The Sunken Places are rising, just as the Ash does. Shataska sacrificed a piece of her soul, to sink the lands
The handwriting changed
There are less and fewer traces of blood magic around The Black Sea, the piece of the soul that Shataska pulled from herself dropped or weakened, this decrease began ten years ago, it was quick as if it something just pulled it out, the Sunken Places are starting to rise. Pyromancy has been getting stronger.
it was a black diamond seemingly drawn with charcoal, there were scribbles around the drawing. "are you sure that magic was going to the heart?" I questioned
"because I felt a big centre of magical energy, I could feel it branching out everywhere"
"What are we looking for?"
"To the heart?" I started to worry for about her, "even the Archaimas were afraid of that place, they're probably afraid for a reason" I said
"That doesn't matter now, I still have to go"
"To do what?"
"I don't know" she throws her hands up in the air "stop her from trying to take control of me figure out why magic is going back to The Heart" I decide to not continue this conversation, I didn't want to draw attention to ourselves. I hear the door creak back open "what are you doing here?" I start to panic thinking about what would happen if they saw my mark then I remembered that I was wearing a glamour, then I wondered when it would wear off "the Archaima told us to be here to collect something for him while he prayed" I said
"The Archaima is dead, he died yesterday you were there at the announcement" he takes a step closer to me I start to panic, but I know that if I back away then I'd arouse suspicion "you were one of the people who were tasked to find Samai Flaria for The Culling" I heard of that ritual, seven Blood Clerics lie in the circle with wrists slit, they're blood pools in between them in a circle, all their magic becomes one inside of one body, The Archaima. "we need to be spending time trying to find Samai, the Archaima's body is wasting away and without him the next Archaima will be weak or they might not even exist in the first place to be weak, why are we wasting time?" my sister said
"Why are you in The Archaima's office, why did you lie about it?" he looked at me "why did you think that the Archaima was alive?"
"He's in shock, the end of Summer approaching, the fight against the Ash Cult," Samai still with her glamour on said "what's wrong with your hand?" he asked I looked at it, the glamour made it so my skin looked darker but it started to pale "it's a glamour" he looked at me with shock and anger, "inhebria" the guard falls. I drag him and hide him besides the desk.
I close my eyes deciding to completely trust The Ash God, come to help me, I need to know what you're trying to tell me? I open my eyes, thinking about when I had a strong connection to the God, I look at the torch that's still burning, I walk up to it. I hold my arm towards so that I may burn, it hurts but I leave it there, it hurts every part of me is screaming at me to move my hand away, I feel my skin bubble and boil, it took everything for me to not cry out, I was in so much pain that I forget to breathe. My mark is now giving off an amber glow which was stronger "Shataska is not a Goddess. Shataska is coming. Shataska is here," I heard its voice
"what are you doing?" my sister saw the mar glow, I ignored her trying to get him to say something else, something less cryptic. He repeats the same things over, the pain was almost unbearable, "stop" she said, I didn't listen "stop" she pulls my hand away from the flame, my skin was blackened and browned, then healed as my mark went from a fiery glow to ashen black
"why were you hurting yourself?"
"I was trying to talk to the-"
"Ash God?" she looked at me confused "why would you do that? If you haven't forgotten he could flood most of Neccavari, remember that we can't trust either of them" she was right The Blood Goddess is letting all of these people die and could be trying to possess my sister and is trying to kill me.
I go back to the bookshelves to see if anything is hidden, I grab books and flip through the pages, I look at the window briefly to see that the sunlight wasn't being blocked by the clouds as much. I watch as the pieces of the clouds fall and stain the window. I flip through pages of books. I grow more and more frustrated and afraid I look at the feet of the man my sister incapacitated, his body was crudely obscured by the desk, someone was going to notice that he was gone, someone was going to notice that he was gone they were going to come here and realise that the one with the Ashen Mark and a fugitive are in their leader's office. I push it down knowing that panic is useless, we needed to stop the Gods, somehow.
I push another book back on the shelf and it goes deeper into the shelf than I originally thought it could go "Samai" I whisper "I think I found something"
"what is it?" I pull out some papers
"don't know yet" I place them on the desk and separate them. Something catches my eye, it was the mark, my mark. I look at the notes that are scrawled around the drawing.
The Marked have been growing in power, there have been six known cases of the Marked gaining pyromancy
The Marked seem to be communicating with The Ash God
Their magic seems to be tied to that mark
Amputation doesn't nullify their powers
The Mark has been known to appear on other parts of the body when removal is attempted
"Daxfoss" Samai taps me on the shoulder "I found something" I look at the paper, the handwriting is different in this one more slanted and thin "this is saying that Blood Magic has been waning for years before you got your mark even before you were born, I was right, Blood Magic isn't weakening because of your existence, the Blood Goddess is taking it back" she leans off the table "but why?"
"She needs power"
"To come back"