Voices in the Dark - 1
It started as it always did, with that familiar feeling of creeping cold welling up from beneath her. "Its time." Kaiao croaked through cracked lips. Her attendants guided her to the stone floor, gently but firmly pushing her down to kneel before an iron tub filled with water. The ice cold lapped around her knees and thighs now, rising higher with every shuddering breath she took. Along with the cold came the whispers - constant, imperceptible, droning together until they became like the distant sound of a shallow brook flowing through her mind. A thousand voices from a thousand times desperately spoke over one another, growing louder and louder with each passing heartbeat. Kaiao's chest grew tight when the cold reached her navel, she could feel the dread building somewhere inside her that was always accompanied by the screams. Her attendants lashed her wrists to the tub while another woman went around the room extinguishing candles until the room was engulfed in darkness. The din of whispers rose to a cacophony that drowned out all other thoughts, seemingly empowered by the sudden blackness around her. "Why me?" She tried to whisper, but distantly - somewhere beneath the omnipotent drone of whispers, she knew she'd finally screamed. She felt her lips tear freshly open, felt the blood run down her chin, felt her ragged throat strain and snap, felt the ice cold rise up to her neck, felt someone grab a fistful of her hair and plunge her head down into the tub of water.
That was when she lost control. Under the water she could see nothing, could feel nothing, and could hear nothing aside from the tornado of droning voices around her. Her own screams joined theirs, mixing together even as she strained to hear them. Bubbles of air rushed up around her eyes and ears, she knew she'd run out of air soon. That was the point - the more desperate she grew, the more coherent the voices became. At last she was pulled back out of the water by her attendants. Kaiao gasped, sucking in air even as they plunged her back in to scream it all away.
What felt like hours passed by with Kaiao's attendants holding her underwater again and again. Finally, she felt it - the stillness when all became one and one became clear. Suddenly Kaiao felt entirely alone, buried beneath the ice cold sensation that gripped her even as cascading fire erupted from her loins. Everything of her life had been forgotten in the crushing silence, nothing mattered but the oncoming pressure she felt welling within her head. It was then that she heard the voice coalesce within her.
Bursting up from beneath the water, Kaiao arched her back and screamed, wriggling beneath her restraints and flexing her joints to their breaking point. "THE SLAUGHTER COMES FOR THE MOST DESERVING LAMB!" She screamed, voice reverberating through the small chamber with the echo of a different, deeper voice. Several of her newer attendants cried out in shock when Kaiao's head strained far enough backward to touch her shoulder blades. "A THOUSAND LIVES STUMBLE INTO THE DESERT ON A PATH CAST BY MY SHADOW!" She spouted, still straddling the coursing waves of fire between her legs. "WITNESS THE COVENANT OF JACKAL AND HARE, BONDED BENEATH THE BROKEN EYE!" Kaiao arched forward, coughing phlegm and blood into the tub in an uncontrollable spasm. "HE WILL HAVE AN END OF HIS OWN MAKING!" She screamed, arching her back with such force that a hand snapped the restraint holding it. Kaiao immediately brought it up and savagely clawed at her mouth and eyes, smearing blood across her face. "ARE YOU LOST? CAN YOU HEAR THEM TOO?" Kaiao asked, the double-voice echoing oddly as she twisted her head to face an empty corner. "SHE IS ALWAYS WHAT WE MAKE HER TO BE!" Kaiao screamed in the face of an attendant who was trying and failing to keep ahold of her free arm, now slicked with blood. "SHE IS… ALWAYS… what. We make her to… be." She said, voice shifting from a scream to a harsh whisper. Her body relaxed, the ice cold subsiding back into the nothingness it seeped from. Her eyes darted around the darkened room trying to see around the spots that speckled her vision. Already she felt the visions fading away from memory faster than any dream. She clung to any piece of them she could, the piece that felt most important. "I see you." She whispered to Noone. "She has a part to play…"
Kaiao snapped her free hand up to point at a young girl against the wall. "You! Bring him to me!" The attendant who'd been scribbling down hasty Catahn recordings lept to her feet. "I'll fetch Bloodchief Tioteche at once."
"No!" Shouted Kaiao, sending flecks of blood spattering over the girl. "Bring Sipowae, as fast as you can. You… We- we have to stop him."
"The Warchief?" Another attendant asked, voice screwed high in disbelief.
"NOW!" Kaiao screamed, sending the attendants scrambling to do her bidding. She slumped in the restraints as another coughing fit took hold of her.