Chapter 4: The Bride and Death

Four old virgin priestesses led Irene into the temple. They walked down the long winding stone steps, descending fifty feet under ground.

"What a lovely bride you will make for Tynek. Your flesh is so firm and milky white." The old hag rubbed her hands all over Irene's body, while the other three priestesses tore Irene's clothes off. Tears formed in Irene's eyes, but she bravely fought back the urge to cry out. One of the hags grabbed Irene by the left wrist and another grabbed her right wrist. They led her into a cement pool filled with cold water.

The other two crones stood over the bath and started chanting.

"Clean and pure. Flesh so firm. Flesh so young. A worthy bride for Lord Tynek."

On and on these worthless hags, with their stringy gray hair, blowing in an unholy breeze, caused by the awakening of the cruel deity, chanted and chanted.

† The hags lifted Irene out of the pool of water, dried her with clean linen, and clothed her with a white silk robe.

"It is time, my sweet, you are a very privileged young princess any one of us would gladly trade places with you."

Irene was shaking violently up and down her entire body. She was too panic-stricken to scream or cry out. Her life would soon be at an end and what was worse was that she would lose her immortal soul to Tynek. She would not go to the place of the blessed souls, ruled over by Kentrell and his lovely wife, Freja.

† Irene was led into a dark chamber lit by torches in tripods. A blood stained stone table served as the alter to Tynek. The hags tied Irene spread-eagled to the table. Then the old priest entered the room with Fahd. The cowardly neophyte was carrying a basket. The ancient priest walked up to the alter and addressed the young maiden.

"Worthy is your flesh. Why tremble so? Your soul shall live forever as a part of my master. Fahd, bring forth the mask."

Fahd sat the wicker basket on the ground, opened its lid, and pulled out a silver mask. The old priestesses started singing the praises of Tynek.

† The moonlight was unusually bright and seemed to guide Traugott to Chief Dolan's door. The great warrior opened the door and entered. He walked through the house and could not find anyone home. He went outside through the backdoor. On the ground was motionless figure laying face down. Traugott ran up to the figure, turned it over, and saw the features of the chief. The old man had been badly beaten and breathing faintly.

"What happened here?"

"The priest and Fahd came a day early. I told them too early…but… Fahd shoved me down and kicked my face in. I have grown too weak recently. Think of it, Traugott, I was once a man, but now I am more worthless than an old woman. A little rat like Fahd…"

Chief Dolan stopped breathing and went limp in Traugott's arms. Traugott closed the old chief's eyes with his hand and laid the corpse on the ground. He drew his new sword and ran towards the temple door. Time was working against Traugott. He ran down the steps, which Irene and the cruel priestesses had walked down earlier.

† The mask was in the old priest's hand. The metal felt smooth and the polished silver reflected the torch light brightly. Once the mask was on the old priest's face, his body began to double in size. His flesh turned into the substance of shadows. The eyes in the mask glowed red. Fahd passed out at the sight of his master's transformation. The strange being fixed his glowing red eyes upon Fahd.

"Cowards are unworthy in my sight."

Wisps of shadows shot out of the demonic form and covered Fahd. The old priestesses heard the neophytes bones being crushed and pulverized. When the shadows vanished from Fahd all that remained was a blood stain on the floor.

"Great is your power, Lord Tynek, see what your worthy servants offer thee. Flesh so clean and pure."

Tynek turned around and beheld Irene's helpless form.

"Yes, indeed her flesh pleases me."

Irene felt the cold shadows move up and down her body. The white linen on the princess started tearing. Soon she was stark naked and the linens were cast to the side. The old priestesses gathered up the torn cloth and departed from the inner chamber.

† Irene watched the wisps of shadows enter her body. They felt cold and evil. The poor princess could feel her life being pulled from her flesh.

† Screams from the old hags filled the air, causing Tynek to withdraw his shadowy tentacles from Irene's body. Tynek looked toward the entrance and saw a standing form. The form moved into the light revealing a great warrior with an impossible weapon in his hands.

"Who are you to interfere in the affairs of the immortals?"

"This day I am the servant of Death and I deliver unto her the soul of a god."

Tynek, with his immortal eyes, could see the pale figure of the goddess standing at Traugott's side.

"Yes, I see Fernanda and it is your soul that she shall collect."

The shadowy tentacles shot out of Tynek's body towards Traugott. Quick movements of the great sword sliced the tentacles from Tynek's body. The dark deity screamed in agony and fell to the ground, flopping like a fish out of water.

† Fernanda walked over to the now motionless body and lifted the mask off the shadowy form. The great body shrank back to its human form, which quickly turned into a skeleton and then to dust. To Traugott's eyes it seemed the mask disappeared on its own accord, as he could not see the goddess of death.

He ran over to Irene and freed her from her bonds. What he saw both shocked and disgusted him. His beloved was old like the hags. She was breathing faintly.

"My soul is free."

Traugott took Irene in his arms and kissed her lips one more time before she died.

The End