(Sorry I missed yesterday…I thought I posted ‘Weirdest Day Ever’ yesterday, but apparently that wasn’t so.)
“…ekat tsum uoy yob siht fo luos eht. Noitcetorp ruoy htiw su sselb.”
Arion woke up to the monotonous murmurs of the cloaked figures around him. He was still tied up, but he wasn’t on a stretcher this time, and the room was dark, devoid of all light except for a faint blue glow. He was kneeling in the center of a circle, marks etched in the floor that emitted the eerie light, and several figures shrouded in dark cloaks knelt just outside the circle. He tried to count, but could not turn around; he estimated that if there were the same number of figures behind him as in front of him, there were twelve.
He realized that the one directly in front of him was murmuring in a gruff voice, the same voice he had heard before. He couldn’t understand the words, but he figured it probably wasn’t good for him.
He tried to shift position and loosen his bonds. The cold of the stone floor was seeping into his bones, chilling him, and the thick ropes were cutting deep into his arms and legs.
Suddenly, the murmuring began to swell as the hooded figures discovered he was awake. Arion could hear the distant toll of a bell, followed by a faint roar, but he wasn’t sure if it was real or just his imagination.
“Wh-what’s going on?” he cried out fearfully after finding his voice.
“Silence!” one of them hissed from his left. “Do not interrupt the ritual.”
The middle one resumed chanting, and Arion fell silent, listening to the words. “Gnisselb ruoy su evael dna mih ekat. Repsorp su tel. Eid ot denitsed saw eh.”
With a sudden chill, Arion realized they were speaking backwards, and he understood what they were actually saying. Take him and leave us your blessing. Let us prosper.
He was destined to die.
He let out a strangled yelp. “No! I don’t want to die!”
Several hisses of “Silence!” reached his ears, but he did not stop. “Help! Someone!” he called out. “They’re going to kill me!”
Almost in answer, there was a distant crash. Several of the hooded figures cursed under their breaths. “Who dares interrupt the ritual?” one growled.
One by one, the hooded figures stood up, except for the one who was chanting. While the others rushed off into the darkness towards the sound, the one remaining continued his dull murmur.
“Stop, please,” Arion begged it. “You can’t do this.”
In answer, a white skeleton hand reached out of the folds of the cloak, fingertips resting on the edge of the circle. Arion stared at it, horrified, as it snapped its fingers. A tiny blue flame ignited, catching onto the circle, and the whole ring ignited, including all the marks in the floor.
Arion tucked himself tighter into a ball, trying to keep away from the ring of blue fire around him. He watched the figure’s hands search for something in the darkness, and froze as he saw the glint of silver.
The figure stood up and walked right through the flames to Arion, the cloak pushing away any flames that tried to flare up and burn it. It knelt in front of Arion, who couldn’t shy away without falling into the flames himself. His eyes searched the darkness beneath the hood. “Please,” he whispered.
In answer, it held the knife to his throat.