Her feet traveled up the roughly hewn steps with quiet ease. Ageless, she moved with immortal agility and timeless grace. The ethereal shimmer of her gown accentuated her femininity as she climbed. Beautiful from before time was first counted, Sypheun was gifted beyond most. That is why she went.
The steps rose from far below and stretched into the darkness above. Occasional flashes of light touched her form with their fiery embrace. A myriad of eyes watched from the eager masses below, knowing that only she was capable of performing this rite.
Sypheun glanced over her shoulder and watched the wretched thing that followed her. A flash of anger darkened the bright color of her eyes. “Your kind is never strong enough.” She yanked on the chain with perfectly bridled strength – hard enough to cause pain to the derelict being, but not hard enough to knock it down and cause more work for herself.
She shook her head in disgust. “Worthless creature,” she hissed. Nearly silent wails and breathless moans fell from torn lips as the frail man was forced to keep pace. His almost lifeless eyes held nothing but resignation. The man was spent, aware of nothing but his own pain and anguish.
Sypheun saw the door carved out of the granite above her. “It’s almost time,” she called over her shoulder. “We are in need of another sacrifice.”
The man’s fatigued breathing and vacant stare annoyed her. She jerked the chain again. Anticipating the task at hand, she rushed up the narrowing flight of granite steps nearly dragging her victim behind her. Once at the door, Sypheun pulled a key from her bosom and unlocked it. Only she could enter that other place; do what needed to be done.
A stale gust of cold air pushed through the door as Sypheun slowly opened it. Debris moved with the old stone as she pushed it inward. The pungent aroma of decay teased her nose. “How lovely,” she whispered as she yanked the man into the small room. She loved this part of the ritual. “Do you remember this place?” His eyes began to register something beyond the nothing they had held for so long.
“Maybe once you see a little more, then you will remember. It’s been years since you’ve been here.”
With a slight smirk, she ran her fingers across a stone slab centered in the chamber they now crossed; dust stirred where her hand traced. She looked back at the man and her grin broadened. His eyes were more clear as he seemed to take in his surroundings. Sypheun laughed. “Do you remember that night, so long ago?”
She reached the outer door, unlocked it, and flung it open. The night beyond filled the room. Its dim glow nearly blinded the man who had been kept in utter darkness for so long. Sypheun stepped beyond the door and yanked the chain violently. Her captive fell through the doorway and landed on his hands and knees. He opened his eyes and began to remember.
The rush of memories induced a mental hell of unbearable depth. A full moon cast her cold light upon the miserable soul as he wept bitterly at the entrance of the tomb. Sypheun grabbed the chain and pulled him to his feet.
“Time for a new sacrifice,” she whispered. “You do remember how this works, don’t you?”
He nodded his head in horror. Once vacant eyes looked down at his withered and discolored skin. He had changed more drastically than his fragile mind was ready to accept. Nearly all of his humanity had been drained by the throngs of hungry succubi in the depths below. He was now a ghoul.
The walk through the cemetery all those years ago surfaced through the jumbled mess of memories. He had come on a cold night to find the old tomb that was the subject of so many stories. There were tales of a beautiful specter that haunted the tomb. He had found her. He had also found his damnation.
Sypheun smiled as she saw the flood of memories haunt the creature’s eyes. Her attention drawn away, she heard the sound of nervous footsteps echo across the stones around them. As always, a new fool roamed the grounds and sought to satisfy his curiosity.
The frail ghoul watched with sick aversion as a young man walked towards the tomb. He couldn’t have been much more than fifteen. The young man stopped abruptly when he saw them waiting for him.
Sypheun’s beauty held the boy captive. He didn’t even see the wretch by her side. Her sweet voice filled his ears as she sang an arcane song of blood and death. It lulled him, pulled him to within a few feet of her. Her beauty seduced him; he never saw her remove the chains from the ghoul. Enthralled, he noticed nothing beyond her allure until the strange metal clamped securely around his neck.
He woke from her spell as if seeing for the first time, noticed the ghoul, and cried out in fright. Sypheun jerked the chain and brought him to his knees. The boy fought like a savage beast, but she only smiled in response. “Such energy, such life and vitality. You will serve us well.”
“What the hell are you doing to me,” screamed the boy as he fought against the impossibly strong woman. “You can’t do this!”
Sypheun grabbed the boy’s face. He was immobilized the instant her hand touched him. Her smile broadened as she began to pull at his energy. “Let me teach you a hard lesson. You are about to realize that humanity is not at the top of the evolutionary ladder.”
She began to walk backward towards the dark recesses of the crypt as she talked, the boy helplessly in tow. “All sentient beings evolve through violent exploitation. The acts of seizing, conquering and subjugating are inextricably linked to life as a higher form. It is through sacrifice and death that all things advance and become. This is as true for your kind as it is for mine.”
Sypheun was just inside the door of the crypt when she spoke again. “Ghoul. The crypts are now your home and haunt. By day you will sleep in the rot, then rise and roam by night. Feed on the flesh of the race to which you once belonged. You have returned to this world as a spoiled sacrifice, a harvester of decay. As for you,” she said as she pulled the young man into the darkness, “it’s fitting that you leave your world through the crypt. But you shall find no death here, only the depths where we are eternally hungry.”
~ Zack Kullis
© Copyright 2015 Zack Kullis. All Rights Reserved.