Ogres and Ogresses Ch. 09bystubborn_dreamer©
Just a note, I did send in revisions on my earlier chapters so there should be a different format on chapters 1-4. The storyline is the same, but it might be worth it to revisit those chapters. On with the show!
Chapter 9: Sacrifice
"The child is dead."
"The child is dead." The child is dead." The child is dead." The child is dead." The child is dead."
She couldn't understand the words.
Zyra couldn't begin to fathom what those words meant.
Etaceh watched the glazing over of the girl's eyes, the defeat that was slowly sucking the life out of her.
It was delectable. How easily she could be broken with four simple words.
On the other side of the Marble Tree Rell, Enui, Hanto, and Gharla had begun to wake. When Rell felt the cold on his face he immediately thought of water and sprung to his feet.
Where, where were they?
Looking down he saw the dark outline of Gharla. The soreness in his limbs had gone and he helped her up with surprising ease.
"Where are we?" she asked confused. "Where...where is Zyra?"
They heard groans behind them and turned to see Enui clutching herself desperately in a corner while Hanto rose to a sitting position. Worriedly Gharla rushed over to Enui and tried to reach out to her. Enui wrapped her arms around her, shivering.
"I...I don't know...w-what's happening to m-me... Oh gosh...won't somebody please fuck me. Fuck me!" Enui stammered tearily.
"Don't worry dear one," Gharla said holding the trembling girl. "We'll get you the help you need."
"We're in the Marble Tree," Rell said suddenly.
The weight of his words rang through the darkness.
Yes, that made sense. They had all been transported inside of it.
"Then where is Zyra?" Gharla asked, feeling dread rise inside her.
Looking out of the door-less room they saw the moonlit corridor. A tall dark figure garbed in black suddenly stood in the doorway.
"Who are..." Rell started, but the figure turned and began walking away. "Wait!"
Scrambling to their feet they rushed after it.
"Zyra? Zyra darling are you trying to escape from me?"
The girl didn't answer, instead looking straight ahead with a dead expression. Etaceh rubbed her chin in contemplation then reached out run her fingers through Zyra's hair.
"Still think it was wise to follow me child?" she hummed.
"Child huntress, strong warrior of human female tribe, the Rovians."
Her eyes snapped up to look at Etaceh's, their deadened fire burning dully against the surface.
That's right Zyra, don't give up without a fight.
"Child who almost took pleasure from Ursie son Rell. Child who fears pleasure."
The fire began to burn brighter and she saw her tighten her fist.
"Child who failed her purpose here, who has no purpose. Would you like a purpose Zyra? Should I turn you into a bird? Or maybe a worm. Or maybe..."
She ran a finger over Zyra's full lips.
"Maybe I'll let the nymphs have you. And I can watch as your mind fades away, and all your memories of little dead Nima just disappear."
Without warning Zyra grabbed her wrist and pulled her forward. Her other hand clenched around her neck and Etaceh was on her back, the girl, now a feral beast, perched above her. She squeezed her neck mercilessly and Etaceh let out gurgled laughter.
"Yes! Revert...your— nothing... but an animal!"
"Etaceh, stop before she actually harms you."
The girl didn't flinch when she heard Caligula's voice, her fingernails drawing blood on her wrist.
"A little...choking's never...hurt anyone."
Caligula sucked his teeth and pulled the girl off of Etaceh by the back of her hair. She was a strong and he had to use actual force to get her off. He never expected her to turn her violence towards him.
The minute she was raised she turned and punched him in his face.
His hood fell down and she could see his purple eyes lighted with shock.
"Wow," he said holding his cheek. It had already begun to swell. She heard a cracking noise and saw a white spark lick his cheek. Then he was fine.
His eyes trained on her inquisitively.
"You just struck a first witch of the Dark High Council and choked the protectorate of this valley. What do you have to say for yourself?"
"You can all go to hell."
Those were the first words she had spoken since she had learned of Nima's...she couldn't think about it.
Caligula raised an astonished eyebrow. Maybe she was his offspring, they all hated him.
"Ballsy little human isn't she?" Etaceh mused from the floor.
"Quiet Etaceh," Caligula snapped. "Haven't you done enough?"
"I want her," Etaceh proclaimed pulling herself to her feet. "I want you to make her ours Caligula."
"You'll have to kill me first," Zyra hissed. "I'll never give myself up."
Caligula smiled at her in response. "What if we said we could give you what you asked for? Is that worth your life?"
Turning they saw her friends arriving just in time. Before they could reach to the center of the hall, a wall of black fire erupted in front of them. They scurried back before the fire burned them when it suddenly spread, boxing them in.
"LET HER GO!" Gharla screamed pressing to run into the fire. It was unaffected. It didn't burn, but it blocked. They were trapped.
"LET HER GO!"
Etaceh rolled her eyes and motioned for Caligula to proceed. Zyra looked at him, unable to hide the desperation in her eyes.
"Zyra, is it? Do you know why you are here?" Caligula asked her.
He was handsome with a richly colored voice, but his eyes held secrets that no human knew. She was terribly outmatched here.
"I've come for a cure."
"No," he interjected. "You are here because we let you come here."
Etaceh slid to his side, leaning behind him as she smirked at Zyra.
"Your fortitude impresses us."
Zyra was confused. Then why...was this another test? Did she pass it?
"Then...you will give me a cure for Nima's illness?" she asked hopefully.
"You can't cure death kid," Etaceh said laughing. Behind her she heard a woman burst into sobs. "Oh shut up!"
"What she means to say," Caligula said glaring at her. "Is that nothing is ever given freely. Your niece has passed make no mistake, but she only died this morning."
Zyra stared at him, willing him with her eyes to explain.
"She died early today. Now let us say that you arrived yesterday with a cure. Your dear Nima would be saved. What you need is not just a cure, you need time. A day in which you would be able to successfully make it to her and administer the elixir."
From high above on a shelf she did not see, a small vial attached to a cord floated down into Etaceh's hand. Zyra reached out to it but Etaceh pulled it back.
"But what will we have as payment?" Etaceh said smirking.
The deal was a catalyst. All of a sudden a procession of witches filed into the room. Hooded figures in black stood to circle around them. The black flames rose to the ceiling. Five witches stepped forward, a purple pendant on their robes. They pushed the basin to line up with the skylight and it began to bubble up.
"Zyra run!" Hanto shouted roughly. "Go!"
The five witches threw handfuls of dust and leaves into the water until it turned a frothy white. They backed up as the sides spilled over onto the floor and smoke rose from its top.
"What will you sacrifice?"
Zyra stared the adorned witches down, their formless eyes probing at her soul.
"What would you require?"
Etaceh's face ripped in two with the broadness of her red smile. Her floor length hair seemed to shudder like an anxious animal.
"Well...hm. What about your life for hers?"
Gharla threw herself against the wall of black, delirious in her agony. "YOU CAN'T! YOU CAN'T!"
Hanto joined in, telling her cliché "stay alive" phrases that rolled off of her like rain. She locked eyes with Rell. Through all the chaos he seemed to be the only one who understood. His hands touched the flames. He smiled at her and gave her a small supportive nod.
"Take care of them," she said softly.
Gharla yelled out to her saying how she didn't want to do that alone, but she hadn't been talking to her.
"What about them?" she asked. "Will they be safe?"
"You only have one bargaining chip my sweet," Etaceh said dismissively. "Your friends are adults, I'm sure we can make deals, but your dance card is full."
"What's a dance card?"
Etaceh frowned. "Wrong century darling. Not to worry."
Caligula stepped forward and cupped her face in a long fingered hand. He looked deeply into her eyes for any wavering.
"Would you really die for this child? Not even the fruit of your own womb?"
He pulled back and looked at the other witches.
"Very well. We have keromedio!
The witches exalted at his proclamation. They parted the path to the dribbling basin.
"Bring forth the keromedio for Hecate!" the assembly shouted.
"Bring forth alms for Circe!"
"Bring forth sacrament for Medea!"
They chanted or different people as Caligula guided her forward. Gently he put the elixir around her neck as well as a necklace with a strange leaf symbol upon it.
"When you are ready, put your hand in the bowl and your life will be ours," he whispered.
Then she was alone by the basin.
She looked back at the flaming wall. Gharla had pulled herself together and was holding Enui. Together they watched with brave but trembling mouths.
They would not dishonor her, she was grateful to have been with them. Hanto still yelled for her, his eyes red in anger and grief. She felt sorry for him, that he had ever attached himself to her. Rell smiled and gave her a simple sign for peace. She should have let him finish that night.
It was too late though. She had no more time for regrets.
Closing her eyes she prayed for peace and put her right hand into the bowl. At first there was silence. Then she felt the foam beginning to swirl around her fingertips.
Opening her eyes she saw it was climbing up her arm. She watched as it started to take over her form, covering her until she was nothing more than a white mass. Then there was pain. Her right arm was on fire.
She bit off her screams as best as she could but a few escaped, it's agony bouncing off the walls. The foam seeped in her eyes, her mouth, her nose, she couldn't breathe. Inside and out she began to burn until she felt like she was nothing more than a charred consciousness. The burning was replaced by a cold numbness.
Was this what death was?
No, she was still alive. She could feel that wretched foam from inside her forcing itself out, the foam in every part of her was receding.
She forced her stinging eyes open. It was going back into the basin. Her sight had always been good, but suddenly she felt it amplified as though she could zero in on any part of the room. The Tree that was once cold and dark looked bright as the reflection of the rainbow prisms danced in her eyes.
Looking at her right arm her eyes widened.
Carved in black was a tattoo that ran from her shoulder to her wrist. It looked like her arm had absorbed dark shiny tendrils that curled around it wickedly. Every now and then there was a break between the lines. The symbols had meaning, just not to her.
"From this day forward you are the keromedio of this land and the land you hail."
She turned to look at Caligula who looked devastatingly handsome when the shadows were gone from his face. He helped her to her feet.
"Your life belongs to us. When we need you, we shall call and you must come. If you do not, we will take back the life you have given to us. You will live and die by the coven. That is the role of the keromedio."
Zyra nodded, still in shock that she was alive and...relatively whole. The tattoo on her arm had a strange metallic quality.
The surrounding witches let out a strange chant before exiting, a few touching her on their way out.
Her comrades were silent, watching her as though she was a ghost come back from the dead.
"So...that's it?" she asked cautiously.
"A lifetime commitment is not something to be balked at," Etaceh exclaimed. "Your life will never be the same. Be assured of that."
Zyra was, in fact she was sure she was still in shock. She could come apart later.
"So when will you turn back time?"
"Anytime you ask."
She looked at the others. The black wall of fire dispersed and she ran over to them. They enveloped her in a hug and she let them crush her to their content. When they had calmed she turned back to the witches.
"We are ready."
"What do you mean by we?" Etaceh asked tilting her head. "We never said they could leave."
Zyra's eyes widened. "But..."
"But what? Surely you knew there were going to be consequences." Etaceh looked over at her friends in disdain.
"Only one of you is half worth interest. And did you forget about your nymph jinxed friend over there?"
Zyra looked back at Enui who had returned to the ground and was rubbing fervently between her legs. Yes, somehow she had forgotten. There was something about near death experiences that promoted memory loss.
"Can this cure her as well?" she asked pointing to the vial around her neck.
"There's nothing to cure," Caligula said. "She was...playing with the nymphs right?"
"Those blue things that raped her?"
"...in a matter of speaking."
Caligula strode over to Enui. He picked her up by her offending wrist like she was a small child being reprimanded, and examined her crazed eyes.
"It appears she's turned into a nympho."
"Well, can you fix it or not?" Gharla snapped angrily.
He gave her an amused look, taking in her long tan legs and defiant face. Interesting.
"You have to let the nymphs finish with her. Once they've finished she should be fine. Tired and ravaged yes, but sane."
"So we have to take her back here?" Gharla said incredulously.
"I wouldn't suggest leaving," Caligula answered. "The withdrawal she's going through is bad enough at the moment. It will only worsen."
"What about their return?" Zyra asked. "Surely you don't expect all of our lives."
"God no," Etaceh interjected. "Some of your lives are quite worthless."
Hanto growled in response and she chuckled.
"See? He knows it too."
"We could use a retainer," Caligula suggested.
Etaceh turned her eyes lustily to Rell.
She took long strides to stand before him.
"Rell, son of the Ursie Chief. How about we barter for you and your brother?"
"No!" Hanto shouted pushing himself forward and Rell behind. "I will barter with you."
Etaceh rolled her eyes. "We have already established you have nothing to bargain with."
She turned back to Rell.
"How about being a substitute keromedio? If Zyra fails in her duty, then we shall transfer responsibility to you. If she dies of natural causes or is released, then it doesn't affect your life one bit. Oh, and it's a lot less ceremony."
Rell looked at Zyra before nodding in agreement.
"Excellent!" Etaceh said grinning. "We get them both. Like a tea pot set!"
"Rell, this is foolish," Hanto whispered angrily. "Don't bargain with these tricksters."
"You've protected me my whole life," Rell said gently. "I am prepared to do this brother. For you." He stepped in from of Hanto, a gesture he had never done before.
The hate that had clouded Hanto's heart dissipated. Rell and Zyra's coupling was an illusion, Rell would never betray him.
"Good," Etaceh said happily. "Zyra, link hands with Rell."
She nodded and did as she asked.
"The other hand...yes the one with the tattoo. Good."
Caligula stood between them and lifted their arms into the air. "Squeeze hands."
Rell and Zyra's grips tightened and they watched each other apprehensively.
The black tendrils from Zyra's arm began to suddenly whip about and spread down into Rell's fingers. His grip tightened but he didn't let go. Slowly a black metallic tattoo wrapped a tiny bracelet around his pale wrist. When the symbols were done, then receded back into her arm.
Then Caligula pulled their hands apart.
"We have a retainer," he said nodding. "You and your brother may go."
"And the others?" Zyra demanded. "You said I'm the keromedio of my land and this one. They are under my protection because they're from my land! You have to..."
"Fine! Fine!" Etaceh said raising up her hands. "Are always so serious? You're so tightly wound I'm surprised you can move. Fine! Take your friends and go...goodness. But the nympho should stay behind and wait until she's well again to travel."
Gharla lifted Enui up and looked at Etaceh and Caligula angrily.
"...I'm not leaving her with you."
Caligula's face dawned an easy smile. "Fine, stay with her. You can both stay and when the child is well, we can assure your safety back."
He glanced at Zyra. "I promise."
Zyra nodded and prepared to walk towards the brothers when Etaceh's shrill voice cut through her budding happiness.
"Oh and we have a task for you. Starting now."
They heard one of the witches snap their fingers before they the world began to spin around them.
"Closing your eyes helps," Caligula quipped.
Dizziness took over them as they tried to center themselves. Falling to the ground they squeezed their eyes shut as they held on for the ride. When it stopped they opened their eyes and saw daylight. The fourth day, it was the fourth day again. Nima died on the fifth. Zyra jumped to her feet and shook her head clear before quickly looking for an exit.
"Calm yourself Zyra," Caligula said firmly. The two witches were in the same exact spot, unaffected by the shift.
"You will have plenty of time should you follow our instructions perfectly."
When the others rose the witches led them out of the Tree.
Outside they saw the valley was once again it's beautiful majestic self. There, standing on the waving green grass was a crowd of figures. Two witches garbed in black stood on each side of a group of peculiar looking man creatures.
They startled Zyra most of all because they were green.
They had yellow eyes and varied faces and lengths hair. Their ears came to sharp tapered points and they had sharp gray nails on their fingers. Each wore tan shirts made of something that looked rough and uncomfortable, but their bright brown leg pants seemed to be spacious and well made. Careful stitches were visible on the sides. They were tall, some had shiny adornments in their hair or ears.
As she studied closer she saw one woman standing closer to the back, a dark blue veil covering her head.
In front of their number was one man creature in particular that caused her internal distress.
He was tall, a good head or two taller than Hanto. He was a pale green with a full head of shocking red russet hair that waved carelessly in the breeze. His shirt had no sleeves, so she was able to see the powerful muscles that lay in his torso. Even relaxed he looked formidable. His face looked human, too human in fact for a green creature.
He had full masculine lips and a straight thin nose with cheekbones like a nobleman. His eyes were closed. He was handsome, incredibly handsome and Zyra felt her heart skip a beat.
He was also in shackles.
"This is Kail ShaShanen Shyla," Etaceh said pointing to him.
Her hood was back in place. The men behind him looked stern, some even looked upset, but they kept their eyes forward.
"What...is he?" Zyra asked.
The green men looked at her while the one called Kail stared forward.
"He is an ogre," Caligula answered. "He hails from the Ogre tribe that serves Shyla. They are centuries old."