THE BLOOD OF INNOCENTS
The tower had always dominated the landscape. Some of the
local populace believed that it was a place of healing, but most considered it
evil. Whatever their feelings none could deny the existence of such an ugly
Young girls and boys regularly disappeared on the eve of the Festival of Light. None would see their departure and all attempts to find them would end in the same way. The members of the local chapel would always assist those families desperately seeking news of their loved ones. Carefully exploring the last known location of every missing child, they had learnt that all the clues led to the tower. Unfortunately the guardians of the gate were both heavily armed and mute, so no progress could ever be made.
Families had taken to the streets around the gates, demanding answers. Effigies of priests had been burnt in the main square adjacent to the Never Ending steps. Fathers and sons had tried to break down the main doors but had failed; the magic far too strong for the likes of mere mortals.
A sage dressed in rags, walked casually into the square. Ignoring the gates he sat on the lowest step, removed his floppy hat and placed it beside him. His clothes exuded a smell akin to cow dung, so those nearest moved away. He ignored them.
Looking up into the sky he clasped both hands together and began to chant in a strange tongue. Swirls of wind formed into small tornados. Rising from the dust they rushed towards the gates. A rumble and the ground shook, opening a small crack in the dirt.
The families began to back away from the gate whilst the sage continued to chant, ignoring the carnage all around him.
Hinges protested loudly as the mighty tower gates opened, the guards streaming out with curved scimitars in their hands. The old one looked on with disinterest but the locals knew better.
From behind the sentries a small man with a long dark beard and malevolent eyes appeared. He pushed the menacing spears away from the sage before sitting alongside him.
“Welcome. It is my honour to be the High Priest of The Church Of The True Faith. I can feel that you are a man of magic for the power radiates from your body like a hot sun. But your magic is useless against the combined might of the many sorcerers inside our tower. I can see that you have aged, so why not turn back the years; join us and reap the rewards of everlasting life. There is always enough energy to be harvested from the humans, for as hard as they try, they can never leave this place.”
Ignoring the priest, the old man stood up, throwing his hands to a blood red sky. Another small crack began to form in the ground, spreading quickly towards the tower. He stood as still as the distant mountains, his eyes seeking those running from the tower. Warriors advanced towards him, their deadly swords held aloft. Priests cast spells, whilst novices ran from the smashed tower gates. Many perished, trampled under the feet of the panic stricken. The old man hardly moved, oblivious to all around him.
Eventually the sage moved his feet, stamping them in a continuous rhythm. As the beat intensified, the skies darkened in an instance, a coruscation, and the populace ran for cover. Deep underground, lava began to surge upwards. Flames erupted from within the tower and the apse. Small segments of stone rained down on those desperately fleeing from the tower.
“Save us!” begged the High Priest.
“Your sacrifices enable you to live but you do not have the right to take the lives of humans. Only Zeus, the king of the gods can do that.”
The old man narrowed his eyes and stabbed a finger at the High Priest. He casually stepped over the lifeless form and roared.
“I really loathe imposters.”