World of Crystals > Hail to the Queen, Baby
Hail to the Queen, Baby
This one had not made a sound, did not even cry out. She frowned, at that. The screams, the cries for mercy...they were a symphony to her ears. She decided to remedy that.
Stepping away from the altar momentarily, she gestured to an acolyte, who quickly knelt before her and held up a mirrored tray. Upon it was a black cushion, with a number of long, thin needles resting upon it. As she carefully considered each one, the captive human coughed violently, catching what breath he could at the brief moment of respite. He hissed at her, some curse or such in that ugly, animalistic gibberish he called a language. At that, she laughed, a rich, velvety sound that echoed off the black marble floor and obsidian walls of the temple.
"Yes, that's the way," she answered him softly in her own language. "Show me your hate." She took one needle from the cushion and chanted briefly over it; in response, it glowed white with burning heat. Casually, she lifted one of his calloused hands off the black stone of the altar, as high as the shackles binding him would allow, and slowly slid the needle under his thumbnail.
"Tahran!" he screamed.
It was bloodcurdling. It was...beautiful. "Is that your God, I wonder?" she purred in curiosity. "Cry to Him again, ape."
One by one, she slid the burning needles into his fingers, but he clamped down on his lip in defiance, so hard that it began to bleed. Tears flowed down his cheeks, but he did not cry out again. But she laughed again, harder than last time. By the Goddess, these rivvin were entertaining. He was beginning to break, though; that much was obvious. It was almost time for the end, then. But, perhaps a little longer...she wanted to savor this. He was now ready for the piece de resistance.
Her hand went for the thick mythril chain around her waist, and grasped the slender, black adamantine handle of a whip. It was no ordinary whip, however. Hanging from that handle were no less than nine, living serpents, writhing in anticipatory glee. Their excited hissing warmed her, and she gently caressed each in turn. Her eyes went back to the human, bright red again in pain, and she smiled.
"You shall cry for this Tahran, now," she gloated, raising the whip over him, so that the snake heads brushed against his bare, battered chest.
When she spoke the name of his God, he growled and spat at her. She glanced down at her tightly cinched corset, spittle dripping from the crimson silk. The smile faded from her ruby-painted lips, and for the first time that night, she showed something akin to irritation. A slight change in plans was in order, obviously. She dragged the whip down his chest, to the tattered remnants of his filthy, fur-lined loincloth. And, with a flick of her slender wrist, set the serpents upon his most sensitive region.
The barbarian shot up as far as he could off the altar, the shackles never seeming so constraining as they did just then. Their sharp fangs sunk into his soft flesh and the venomous toxin spread into his blood stream. Again, and again, he screamed: "A Tahran, sábháil mé uaim féin!" And then there were no words left within him to scream, neither the name of his God nor any other prayers or curses. All that was left were primal, guttural cries, until he would pass out from the pain.
He wouldn't, of course. That was the beauty of the poison from a whip of fangs. His very nerves would burn as if they were on fire, but he would be kept conscious to savor every moment of it.
She struck him over and again, turning her attention higher up his torso. Finally he could no longer scream, could no longer cry out, he simply grunted with no voice left. Her heart raced within her chest with every strike, adrenaline rushing through her veins, her very loins. This is what she lived for. What her Goddess lived for.
And then she stopped, when he teetered upon the edge of oblivion once more. Battered, broken, he lay still, his eyes wide open. She climbed atop the altar, switching her whip for a spider-shaped dagger. She leaned in close, her long, silvery locks brushing against his shoulders, and she smiled again with the dagger pressed against his heart. Black-robed women encircled them, numbering nine, singing a a hymn in discordant harmony.
...Bel'la del z'ressurl Valsharess
Plynn nindol ona
Udos linda bel'lanen
Olathurl Ilhar del Dome...
"And so, our time together nears its end," she whispered quietly. "Do you see, now? Tahran has abandoned you. Tahran cannot save you."
She inched the dagger into him, swaying to the hymn, letting her consciousness drift until all she could feel was that great, powerful presence washing over her, and the blade sliding into his heart.
"Take him, Mother," she sang reverently as she carved the heart out of his chest, "We sing Your praises. Great Mother of Pain, Lady of Spiders. Take him and be with us now."
The body beneath her twitched, but she paid it no heed. The great, spectral widow was looming over them all, and she held the beating heart over her head. His tainted, filthy blood ran down her arms but it mattered not. It would be made clean. She rose up, off her knees, the gauzy black gossamer silk of her gown billowing as she levitated off the altar, holding the human's heart tightly in her grasp. The hymn reached a crescendo when she floated into the darkness that gripped the dome of the temple. Waiting, watching with a thousand thousand eyes was the great spectral widow, hungry, always hungry...
She was engulfed in darkness, floating and utterly disoriented, lost in the ecstasy of the moment. She could not see the ethereal strands shooting down to the altar, spinning the now-still corpse in a thin, darkly glowing sheen. The heart released from her hands, guided to the Great Widow's gaping maw. The Goddess was alive, She was alive and feeding. When all turned to darkness and the song stopped, the webs tickled her ankles and wrists, and she thought that she too would be devoured, and it was the most wonderful feeling on life. For a single, blessed moment, she dangled upon the Web of Life and Death, and all was made clear.
And then Her Priestess awoke, lying outstretched on the bloodstained altar. The Widow was gone, crawled along black threads to Her web in the Otherworld. And the Priestess was content to lay there in a state of bliss, staring in wonder at the ethereal threads sparkling between her fingers. But then, she was stirred by a male voice, jerked violently back to reality.
Zhandura seethed in quiet rage, the quiet rage she was so known--and feared--for. She descended from the altar, the very picture of genteel madness in her bloodstained dress, walking slowly across the room leaving a trail of webbing from her perilously high-heeled boots. The room went deathly silent, because they knew what was to happen.
This fool was going to be reminded just why she was called "merciless".
The mage, garbed in a rich violet mantle, stood frozen at the great archway of the temple, which--for some ungodly reason--was not flanked by the usual guards. She loomed dangerously over him, the intensity of her anger palpable though she said nothing. He coughed nervously and looked away, unable to bear her burning red eyes, and spluttered.
"My Queen, I apologize--"
"What is it?" she asked in an even tone.
"There--raid. House Pal'lithaer."
"How many, and where are they now?"
"Five score. Mostly slaves, bearing down on House Olbaen's gates--"
Zhandura's hand went flying to the mage's throat, and she effortlessly lifted him an inch or so off the floor. "Do you mean to tell me that you interrupted this most sacred rite to inform me of a pitiful attack against a house that is not even ours?"
"But House Olbaen is not so far on the plateau--"
"I do not need a geography lesson, much less one from an imbecile."
Zhandura glared at him, her cherry-red fingernails digging into his throat. "You did no such thing, else you would not be defiling this temple with your stupidity. Hold out your tongue."
He gargled, but complied. Before he could blink, Zhandura spoke a single word and his tongue was severed cleanly from his mouth.
"A favor to you, that you may be spared the shame of speaking such absurdities in the future," she said with a sadistic smile. She let go of him and he collapsed upon the floor in a gasping heap. With a look of disdain, she gestured to the gathered priestesses. "Remove this...thing from the Spider Queen's temple."
With an indignant swirl of her dress, Zhandura exited the chamber, contemplating a suitable punishment for the absent temple guards. That brought the smile back to her face.
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