The sun shined through the window as it peaked over the horizon, casting a yellow glow through the room. Under the window, sat a cushioned bench, opened to reveal an enormous collection of books. Next to the window, sat a desk with even more books of varying sizes stacked tall. A large bed placed in the center of the room held the sleeping form of Eliana, a young woman with chocolate colored hair.
The door to the room opened and a short and stout older woman entered. She went straight to the window and drew the white curtains, allowing more sunlight to flood the room. A small groan come from the bed as the light illuminated the bed.
With a sigh the older woman approached the bedside. “Miss, Eliana, you really should wake up. Father Markus wants you to study once more before your birthday festivities begin.”
“Five more minutes,” came a groan from the bed.
The woman frowned with her hands on her hips. “Miss Eliana, it is time to get up.”
“I don’t want to,” came another reply. “Come back in an hour.”
“I will do no such thing,” the woman huffed. She grasped the white blanket on the bed and in one hard pull, ripped it and the girl wrapped in it off of the bed.
Eliana hit the hard floor with a thud and pouted at her maid. “Mary, that was not necessary.”
Mary shook her head, her blonde curls bouncing as she did so. “Lux has blessed us with a new day, a day more important and special than any day of the rest of your life. Now up.”
She motioned for Eliana to get off the floor. The young woman did so and trudged alone to a door on the opposite side of the room. In a grumpy haze, she threw it open and stepped inside the washroom. Mary followed after.
A golden tub filled with water sat in the center of the washroom with a mirror and a cupboard near the door. A vanity sat on the opposite wall. Eliana disrobed rather quickly before dropping her body into the tub. Water splashed out the sides at Mary as she approached.
“The water is freezing!” Eliana yelped as she tried to get back out of the tub.
Mary grasped the girl’s shoulders and forced her back into the water. “I am sorry, miss,, but Father Markus was very adamant on you being ready on time. He wanted to be sure that you had plenty of time to study this morning so that you would not be late to your birthday feast this afternoon.”
“At least I am always late because I study,” Eliana smiled. “I have to make sure I know everything about the gods for tonight’s ceremony.”
“Yes, miss,” Mary spoke sadly as she began to massage soap into Eliana’s hair. “I know.”
Eliana hummed quietly to herself as Mary cleaned her hair and scrubbed her body. She blew bubbles in her water and laughed when one flew away. She popped it before it could go much farther. When her bath was finished, Mary rushed off to find clothes for the young maiden. Eliana stepped from the tub and wrapped a towel around herself and her hair. She glanced at herself in the mirror.
“Will you be there to watch me?” She spoke softly as she stared into the green eyes of her reflection.
She reached out to touch the reflection with a frown. “I wouldn’t be able to recognize you if you did.”
The door to the washroom opened once more and Mary stepped in carrying a bundle of white clothes. Eliana’s frowned quickly turned into a cheery grin as she tried herself off.
“Is that my ceremony dress?”
Mary shook her head as she handed Eliana her clothing. After dressing herself, Eliana sat at the vanity to brush her hair. Once she finished, she stood and twirled. The dress puffed out like a flower petal as she moved and returned to its stagnate place when she stopped. She turned to thank Mary, but the woman was gone. Shrugging, Eliana reentered her bedchamber with a bounce in her step. Taking a bag off of a hook, she packed it full of books from her desk. The garden would be a wonderful place to study, she thought to herself.
The gardens were her favorite place study but, not only to also to relax. She found a calm peacefulness about the sacred place. Flowers upon flowers stretched through the open space. Cobblestone pathways led travelers through varying parts of the garden. Each part being dedicated to one of the gods.
The section dedicated to Lux, the god of light, was filled with bright blooming flowers of orange, yellow, and blue hues. The section dedicated to Stellae, the goddess of the night, only held flowers that bloomed in darkness. Few people were allowed in the gardens at night, but Eliana had seen those flowers of dark purples once before. The goddess of lift, Amare, had a section full of blooming flowers of all colors. There were also tall trees with birds and woodland creatures living within their branches. The section for Villam, the god of harvest and land, was full of fruits and vegetables used to feed the people living in the temple. Unda, the goddess of water, had a section with a stream that flowed to the pond in the center of the garden. Water lilies, lily pads, and other aquatic plant life. Large fish swam through the water.
The final area was one that Eliana rarely set foot in. She worshipped all the gods, but Orcus, the god of death, was feared by all humans. His devoted followers were usually social outcasts who spent their time away from others. His section was filled only with dark colored flowers. Most were dead and withered.
At the center where all the sections met, there was a pond. Six statues were arranged around the pond. Lux was in the center in a spot that always seemed to have sunshine. When the sun was not shining, a fire was lit at his feet by priests in the temple. Stellae, who was his wife, was next to him. She held a star in her palm as she played a harp, her short hair blowing in the wind. The statues were on land that was surrounded by a small fish pond. Inside the pond, Unda, rested. Colorful fish swam around her. Her head and shoulders were above the water with her hair covering her bare breasts. Her fish tale barely broke the surface. The other gods surrounded the pool of water. Amare sat on a bench by the pond. Her hair was braided and adorned with a crown of wildflowers from the garden. She was cradling a baby. Villam stood across the pond. In his hand, he held a hoe as he worked in a field. The last statue was of Orcus. He was off to the side of Amare, glaring at her as if taking a life was more beautiful than giving one. In his hands, he held a book. His statue seemed secluded compared to all the others and it stayed in a place where the sun never shone; it was always shrouded in darkness. His expression was also different. While the other gods laughed and smiled, the god of death’s eyes seemed void of all emotion.
Eliana skipped to Amare’s section of the garden and laid down on the grass under a large tree. Two squirrels who had been fighting over an acorn scurried away at her appearance. She laughed quietly to herself before reaching into her bad and pulling out a large book. Dew and grass clung to her dress, but she did not mind. The feeling of the cool drops of dew on her skin felt blissful. She felt alive. The sun shone just high enough to give her the perfect amount of light to read without it scorching her skin or blinding her.
“Thank you, Lux and Amare, for this beautiful day,” she mumbled a prayer to herself.
She flipped through her book until she found the chapters on Amare. She grinned and giggled as her eyes followed the symbols on the page.
“Amare’s grace and beauty outshine those of all the other gods,” she read aloud. “Her spirit and liveliness keep the seasons changing. Each and every creature she creates is created with a great deal of thought.”
By the time she reached the end, she had been reading from memory. It was not long before a familiar voice joined her.
“Every spring, a festival is to be held in Amare’s honor as a way of thank her for her blessing of spring and the end of winter.”
Eliana’s head rose and she looked up to see Father Markus, the old high-priest of the temple. He stood by Amare’s statue, the wrinkles on his face cringing as he smiled. His white robes engulfed, his frail frame.
“I have always admired your devotion to the texts, child,” he said joining her in the grass. “It reminds me of myself when I was your age.”
Eliana let out a quiet laugh and sat up from the ground. She dusted grass from her dress as she spoke. “Well, if I want to be a High Priestess someday, I must know them word for word.”
Father Markus gave a hearty laugh and nodded as he patted Eliana on the head.
“Yes, my dear, you should, however, you have to know the texts on all the gods in order to be a High Priestess. You cannot focus solely on Amare, unless you want to become a priestess of her teachings. As an apprentice to the gods, you are meant to choose only one to focus your studies on.”
Eliana sighed. “And? I will become the first apprentice to also become a High Priest. I will be the most knowledgeable person in Aldwell that has ever lived.”
Father Markus gave her head another pat. “Yes, you will be, but both jobs have many responsibilities, Eliana. Are you certain you can manage both?
She nodded and she opened her book to the section on a different god. “Positive.”
Father Markus chuckled before beginning to rant, “But there is no greater honor than that of an apprentice. Many families would love to have the honor of having one of their own as an apprentice.”
“So, you’ve told me many times, Father.”
“Why even the King and Queen’s eldest son was chosen as the last apprentice,” he continued to ramble. “He was chosen by Lux, the leader of the gods himself at his ceremony. He was like you, wanting to be a High Priest and also devoting himself to his apprentice studies. He would have made a fine High Priest.”
Eliana felt her stomach twist. “But I thought apprentices were able to choose which god they became the apprentice of? What happens if Amare doesn’t chose me? I’ve devoted myself to studying her texts specifically. What happens if Villam chooses me?”
She continued to panic, thinking about how boring her life would be to be a servant of Villam. All of his texts were farming techniques and when to plant what crop. She had no interest in farming or caring for the land. She could barely get through his texts during her studies and every plant that she had tried to raise, died on her. She felt that she would certainly die of boredom, shriveled like all of the plants she killed, before she could become a High Priestess if Villam chose her.
Eliana took several deep breaths as she tried to pull herself together. She plucked a twig from her brown hair and busied herself in her book once more. The leaves rustled behind her as Father Markus rose from the ground.
“Don’t forget your birthday feast is this afternoon,” Father Markus reminded her. “You are being promoted to god’s apprentice. It is one of the greatest honors that only you will receive. You must look your best for the meal for our guests. Your ceremony will begin at sundown.”
“Yes, Father,” she said quietly without taking my eyes from her book.
He grunted in approval before walking out of the gardens.
Eliana laid in the grass reading for some time before she began to grow tired. She felt her eyes droop and she tried to fight it, but eventually she found herself falling asleep.
Father Markus walked through the hallways of the temple, ordering servants to help decorate and prepare for the feast. Other priests walked by on their way to and from worship. They bowed to the High Priest as they passed.
“Father Markus,” one said. “How is Miss Eliana doing today?”
Father Markus smiled. “She is well. She’s studying in the gardens like most days.”
The priest laughed. “She certainly strives for knowledge. She would make an excellent High Priestess.”
Father Markus nodded with a frown. “That she would, however being a High Priestess is not in the plan that the gods have for her.”
“Yes, I am aware of this, Father,” the man sighed. “It is just a shame that our newest apprentice is so ambitious.”
“I believe she can channel that ambition into her purpose with the gods.”
Eliana awoke several hours later. Her face has fallen on her book and drool was dripping from her mouth. As she wiped the corners of her mouth, she sat up, pulling a stick from her frizzy hair. She glanced into one of the glass windows where two of the temple’s maids were watching her with sad expressions. She turned away from their stares, assuming they were judgmental ones and that these maids were jealous of her.
She stood, grabbing the book on her way up, dusting the dirt and grass from both is and her dress. She turned to smile at the statue of Amare once more before rushing from the gardens to change in order to prevent a lecture from Father Markus.
Once she was back in her quarters, she let out a sigh of relief. Father Markus had not caught her in the halls in her dirty white dress. She quickly undressed and threw her filthy one down the laundry chute that would send it to the basement of the temple where more maids would work to remove each and every stain. If the dress could not be save, then it would be thrown away.
She slipped into another dress similar to the white one she had most likely ruined before exiting her room. The sweet aroma of bread filled her senses, signaling that her birthday feast was about to start. She grinned as she rushed toward the smells in the dining hall. When she arrived, Father Markus was already there, greeting the other religious and political figures as they entered for their meal.
He excused himself from his current conversation with another priest when she entered. He clasped her hand and pulled a leaf from her hair.
“I told you to look your best,” he said, shaking his head. There was a hint of humor in his voice.
“Do be careful, Eliana,” he sighed as he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “You are very special, you mustn’t let people see you acting improperly.”
“I know, Father,” she said, smiling.
She craned her neck to see around Father Markus. The King was sitting at the head of the table as people filled in the empty chairs. The Queen sat beside him. She was staring at her as if she were trying to see into her soul. Feeling uneasy, she turned to Father Markus.
“The King is here?”
“Of course, he is here,” he smiled. “He arrived this morning. He is here for your birthday celebration this afternoon and then your ceremony this evening. Today is a very special day for Aldwell, so he must be here.”
She nodded in understanding. This was the first time she would meet the king. She had only seen him before in parades. The king turned to her as she was staring and she caught herself making eye contact with him. She cleared her throat and glanced down at her feet.
Father Markus nudged her to start walking toward the table. The servants were already beginning to set the food on the table.
“My fellow citizens of Aldwell,” Father Markus began to speak as he and Eliana approached the table. “I thank you all for being here. Tonight, Eliana will fulfill her duties to Aldwell by becoming the next apprentice to the gods. She will be the third apprentice that I will have trained since becoming a High Priest. She will be given the honor that our very own Prince Cedrik was given before he passed.”
Eliana grinned proudly during the speech. She was going to be the only apprentice alive. The last one died shortly after being appointed so she was never able to meet him. For the longest time, she had wished she had. Training would have been a lot easier if she had another apprentice to train her.
The crowed around the table all clapped as she curtseyed to them before she and Father Markus took their seats. Her seat was beside the Queen, while Father Markus was on the other side of the King. The Queen glanced at her from the corner of her eye and then ignored her in favor of the conversation between Father Markus and her husband.
“In eighteen years, we will have our next apprentice to the gods,” the king spoke gruffly. “While you have been a magnificent High Priest, you are reaching the end of your days, Father Markus. Do you have anyone in mind for the next High Priest position? As you know, a High Priest must perform the ceremony to appoint the chosen one as apprentice.”
Father Markus nodded and glanced at Eliana. She smiled before turning her attention to the king.
“I plan on becoming a High Priestess in Father Markus’ place.”
All chatter in the room died. The king, who had just taken a sip of wine, had trouble swallowing it. He cleared his throat after a small coughing fit and looked at Eliana.
“We have never had an apprentice ever become a High Priest. It is unheard of and impossible.”
She frowned and looked to Father Markus for help. “But Father Markus said,” she started to speak again, but the queen interrupted her.
“Dear, you must know that you will give your life to the gods,” the queen snapped. “You will not have time for studies other than what your position calls for. Whatever it was that Father Markus told you is false. You will never be able to become a High Priestess. Your own mother did not want you, what makes you think you would be wanted as a High Priestess?”
“Now, Majorarie,” the King whispered. “Leave the girl alone. Her ceremony is tonight. She needs to be in a pure state of mind when the ceremony begins. We can’t have her mind clouded beforehand.”
The queen frowned before sitting back in her chair and crossing her arms. She remained silent for the rest of the night.
Eliana wanted answers from Father Markus. Her eyes were beginning to cloud over with tears that were threatening to spill at any moment.
“Eliana,” Father Markus placed a hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry. I just could not bear to upset you. An apprentice’s duties are the only matters they should be concerning themselves with. Their duties should be consuming their lives. That is why you cannot become a High Priestess. This is the same reason that you can never marry or have children.”
Eliana gulped before taking in a deep breath. “If you don’t mind, Father, I would like to spend the rest of the afternoon in my chambers.”
He nodded and removed his hand from her shoulder. “As you wish, my child. I will send for you when it is time to ready yourself for the ceremony.”
The two of them stood before walking to the door. He kissed the top of her head before returning to the feast.
As soon as Eliana left the room tears began to spill from her eyes. She rounded the corner of the hallway and heard two voices chattering. Against her better judgement, she stopped and listened, peaking her head around the corner. It was the two maids from the garden.
“The ceremony is tonight. Aren’t you excited, Mary?” The taller and younger of the two spoke.
“No, I am not excited about cleaning up afterward,” the elder replied, grumbling.
“But Eliana is being inducted as an apprentice,” the younger said. “It is exciting. I wish I had been chosen.”
The old maid shook her head. “No, you don’t. The ceremony is a terrible thing. Being chosen is a terrible thing.”
Eliana leaned closer, intrigued to hear more from this heretic. She wanted to know the reason so she could report her to Father Markus in the morning. The old woman continued to speak, but a whisper in her ear kept her from hearing more.
“Shouldn’t you be at the feast?” The voice was casual, unlike most people who spoke with Eliana.
“I got tired of it.”
“Tired? The afternoon of your ceremony?” The voice continued. “Then I supposed I should do my duty and escort you to your room so that you can get a proper rest before the ceremony this evening.”
Eliana smiled and turned to see a devilishly handsome guard name Roan. He and Eliana had grown up together. He had been one of the only children she was able to have contact with.
“Come,” he extended his hand and she took it. “Tonight, is a big night.”
Eliana shrugged. “I guess.”
“You guess?” Roan grabbed her by the shoulder rather roughly and turned her around. “Eliana, you aren’t having doubts are you?”
Eliana shook her head and picked at the lace at the bottom of her dress. “Father Markus lied to me. I can’t become a High Priestess like I want.”
Roan laughed and leaned against the wall. “That’s why you are pouting? Eliana, you are going to become an apprentice to the gods. That is a bigger honor than anyone else working at the temple.”
She raised an eyebrow as she looked up at him. “What’s the point though I’m going to have to pledge my life to a god tonight and then spend the rest of my life serving that god. I would rather serve all of the gods. I don’t even get to chosen the go I’m going to serve.”
“Well, maybe Amare will choose you? After all, you are very devoted to her,” Roan shrugged. “In the meantime, you need to rest.”
He extended his hand and she took it. As per custom, he kissed the top of her hand and began to lead her to her room. The maids had disappeared. Eliana assumed they were afraid to be caught slacking off.
Roan bowed and released her hand. He spoke with a smirk. “My lady, I will see you at the ceremony this evening.”
She nodded. “Thank you, Roan.”
He bowed once more before continuing his rounds. She opened the door and tucked herself safely inside. She drew the curtains closed, brining darkness into the room. She lit a single lantern and tapped a floorboard with her foot, causing it to spring up. She smiled and reached in for the small blanket that rested inside. The blanket was an indigo color with a pattern that resembled the night sky. She had been wrapped in it when Father Markus found her at the temple. Slowly, she unfolded the blanket and inside rested a silver necklace with a large sapphire in the center. The stone was cool to the touch as she traced it with her fingers. She unclasped the back and slipped it around her neck. She touched the stone once more before wrapping herself in the blanket as best as she could.
“Mother,” she whispered. “Today is the big day. I wonder if you will be at the ceremony today.”
She smiled to herself once more as she rested her back against the stone floor of her bedroom. She covered her eyes with the blanket as she rested her eyes. Sleep overtook her and she drifted off.
Father Markus stood outside Eliana’s door with a maid and Roan. The feast had ended an hour before and many of the guests were roaming the temple gardens while they waiting for the ceremony. He knocked on the door for a third time since arriving.
“Are you sure she is in there?”
Roan nodded. “Yes, sir. I found her in the hallway and led Lady Eliana to her chambers with instructions to rest before her ceremony. I stayed outside the door for a while before continuing my rounds.”
Father Markus nodded. “She must still be asleep then.”
He knocked once more before turning the handle. The three of them stepped inside and saw Eliana asleep on the floor still wrapped in her blanket.
Roan chuckled and shook his head, earning a glance from Father Markus, making the young man clear his throat and straighten up.
“Ruby,” Father Markus said to the maid. “Please prepare a bath for Eliana.”
The maid nodded before rushing into the bathroom.
“Eliana,” Father Markus spoke as he stood over her. “Wake up.”
The girl did not stir.
“Eliana,” he said, reaching down to gently tap her cheek.
An inaudible sound escaped her lips as she swatted at him. He scolded her once more as she sat upright, rubbing her eyes sleepily.
“It is time to ready yourself for the ceremony. You are running late. Ruby has prepared a bath for you in the other room.”
Eliana nodded as she stood up. She placed her blanket on her bed and then slowly walked to the bath. As she opened the door, Ruby was standing behind it ready to open it as well.
“Lady Eliana,” she gasped. “Please, get in the bath.”
She rushed from the room, closing the door behind her to give the young lady privacy. She took the ceremonial robes from Father Markus before heading back into the bathroom. She rushed to Eliana’s side, who by now was in the process of stripping herself of her white dress, and took her by the arm. She ushered her toward the bath and set the robes to the side.
“The water is cold,” Eliana mumbled.
“I did not have time to heat it,” Ruby apologized. “Father Markus wanted us to hurry.”
Ruby began to scrub Eliana’s body and hair before pining her long hair into a braid. Eliana winched each time a pin jabbed her in the head.
“I’m sorry, My Lady.”
She continued to tug and pin Eliana’s hair into place for several more minutes before pulling the girl from the bath. She threw a towel at her to dry herself off. Once Eliana was dry, she put on another white dress before Ruby pulled the ceremonial robes over her head. They were a deep, crimson red with gold embroidery.
“Red is becoming on you, My Lady,” Ruby smiled.
“Yes, it is too bad this will be the only time I get to wear something that isn’t white.”
Eliana looked at herself in the mirror. The red fabric pooled at her feet and the red color seemed to bring out her green in her irises. The sleeves were long, engulfing Eliana’s hands and arms in a sea of red. She watched in the mirror as Ruby gathered the fabric at the bottom and began to pin it so that it would not drag the ground. The blue sapphire around her neck stood out among all of the red fabric.
When she finished, Ruby admired her handiwork and smiled proudly. “Perfect.”
She began to drag Eliana from the bathroom and back into her chambers where Roan and Father Markus were still waiting.
“Father,” Eliana said. “What will the ceremony be like?”
He never answered. He stayed silent as he and Roan escorted Eliana to the main doors of the temple. Ruby rushed off somewhere else to watch the ceremony with the rest of the staff.
As Eliana and her escorts approached the temple doors that led outside, Father Markus instructed Eliana to take Roan’s hand. He went through the doors first, making sure that she knew not to exit until the guards on the other side opened the doors for her.
Once Father Markus was gone, Eliana turned to Roan to talk with him, but he never said a word back.
“What is the matter?” She asked. “Why won’t you talk to me?”
“It’s against the rules,” he hissed. “Be quiet.”
Eliana was taken aback by his sudden change in tone.
“Fine,” she spat, refusing to say another word until the guards came to retrieve them. She could not hear what Father Markus was saying to the crowd outside, but she could hear their thunderous applause and cheers.
“This evening we mark another great day in history,” Father Markus addressed the crowd. “For another apprentice shall be sent to serve the gods!”
The crowd began to cheer until the priest raised his hand for silence.
“Lady Eliana is our newest apprentice,” he continued. “Given to us by her mother shortly after birth. She is truly a gift from the gods. Under Stellae’s starry night, Eliana was left to us on this very altar eighteen years ago. I have raised her as my own and cannot be prouder than she was chosen.”
The crowd began to cheer again. Father Markus silenced the crowd once more before motioning for the guards to open the temple doors.
The doors began to open and Eliana took a deep breath to calm the butterflies in her stomach. She could feel her heart pounding in her ears. Her face felt hot and was flushed. She wiped the sweat off of her hands on her robes and closed her eyes. She opened them just as the doors finished opening.
The sun shone through the doors. The crowd outside was huge and began to cheer as soon as they saw Eliana. It seemed like the entire island had come to the ceremony and not just the people from the capital.
Father Markus motioned for Eliana and Roan to exit the doors. Eliana took another deep breath as she took her first step. Each step seemed like an eternity as she and Roan approached the altar at the top of the marble steps. Father Markus was standing next to is with his hands clasped together in the sleeves of his robes. He gave Eliana a warm smile which she returned nervously.
In front of the altar were six bowls, each with a different content. Eliana stared at the pink bowl containing flowers, praying to Amare that it would caught fire at the end of the ceremony and that the bowl containing the dirt would not.
Roan led her to the altar to stand beside Father Markus before taking his at the other end of the altar. Father Markus silenced the crowd before speaking.
“Now begins our apprentice’s ceremony!”
The crowd stayed silent as Eliana was instructed to lie upon the altar. Her heart was still pounding in her chest. Her head was by Father Markus while her feet were at Roan. Her arms were extended over her head so they were handing off the end of the altar. A pail sat below them on the ground. She took in another breath as a piece of cloth was pulled over her body. The crowd remained so silent that the only sounds were coming from the rustling of Father Markus’s robes as he prepared for the beginning of the ceremony.
“Let us give the gift of our apprentice to the gods,” he said.
Not soon after, Eliana felt a slow, sharp pain in one of her forearms. She could feel warm liquid dripping down her wrists and hands, hearing each ping as the drops landed into the pail below her.
“Father, that hurts,” she said quietly. She bit her lip to keep herself from crying.
“I know, Eliana,” he replied. “It will all be over soon.”
She nodded, but let out a louder cry as she felt the pain return but in her calves this time. She began to breath heavier as the ceremony continued to drag on. The longer it went, the weaker she felt. The pain had returned several more times in her thighs and stomach.
“She is lasting longer than I expected,” Father Markus whispered.
The crowd was beginning to get restless, whispering amongst themselves about the length of the ceremony.
“Die already!” Someone shouted.
“Go to the gods!” Shouted someone else.
Father Markus hushed the crowned and Eliana felt a pain worse than anything she had ever felt before. Something sharp struck into her stomach and then pulled out. She screamed in pain, only to have the sharp object return to her body again and again. She continued to scream, begging Father Markus to stop.
The sheet covering her body fell from her. She saw the blood-soaked sheet dropped to the ground. She felt her clothing dampen and caught a glimpse of something shiny in Father Markus’ hands. He was standing over her, but her vision was too blurry to see what he was holding.
“Eliana, you need to join the gods. Your pain will end as soon as you do.”
“What?” She whimpered.
“You need to meet the gods.” He brought the knife in his hands down into her stomach once more, causing her to scream again.
“What are you doing?” She panicked. “Stop it!”
“Eliana, you are an apprentice, which means you are raised to die in order to fulfill your duty in the spirit world,” Father Markus explained. “Which is why you must now go to sleep, my child. Go to sleep forever.”
He stabbed her again.
He did it again.
Tears began to spill from her eyes like a broken dam. Her body was growing increasingly weaker by the second.
“It is for our people,” he said. There was no tinge of remorse in his voice. Those words were the last words Eliana heard before everything faded to black.