Killer in the Shadows #6

Rome night

The sun shone through the high windows of the temple. It was smaller than the public temples of the city, but far more elaborately decorated. The walls were built from large blocks of stone and overlain with bright marble.

Gold offerings were stacked on top of altars and ornate wooden tables. High windows had been cut into the stone walls beneath the rafters, crossed by iron bars so that nothing but the wind could enter through them into the sacred space. The only other opening was a small iron door which led to the priestesses’ private quarters.

Six tall women wearing white robes stood in a semicircle at the centre of the temple. Behind them was the high altar. This seemed out of place in its luxurious surroundings, and yet it was the heart of the cult.

An immense block of jet black onyx, heavily worn with use and severely damaged by numerous attempts to destroy it, the high altar came from a time beyond the memory of any living man. It was missing all of its corners, deep ravines had been hacked into its surface and long cracks radiated out from several points. The black altar’s flawed appearance was more obvious for being surrounded by gleaming gold ornaments and polished pillars of marble.

In front of the six priestesses was a large gold basin. This was wide and deep enough for a man to lie down in, though no man was permitted to even see it. Intricate designs were etched across the entirety of its surface. As the sunlight illuminated the temple’s interior, these patterns seem to glow and move in a slow dance.

Shadow stood at the centre of the basin, facing her superiors. She wore a pure white tunic under a black cloak. The dark hood was pulled down and rested against her back.

The Six began to speak in soft voice. Barely audible, their words were directed towards the bright golden basin at Shadow’s feet. The voices of The Six grew gradually louder. Individual words soon blurred into a loud murmur. As the chorus reached its peak, a fire crackled into life beneath the young priestess Shadow’s feet.

The flames grew taller and radiated intense heat. Sweat stung in the eyes of the others as they watched arms of fire wrap themselves around Shadow’s dark form. The flames spiralled upwards, fell swiftly and the fire died. The Six ceased their chant. The basin was empty. Shadow had departed.

Check the latest installments of Wilson’s War and Scafell Pike.

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