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Situation Vacant - prologue

by Gabbie 

Posted: 26 July 2004
Word Count: 1944
Summary: Set in an alternate world of the mutliverse, this prologue sets the scene for the start of 'Situation Vacant'. It seeks to intrigue and explains a past event that is refered to later in the body of the book.

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Selador, Summer 4984 Tempus Parallel

The watcher crouched further back under the overhang as the shadow line crept towards her roost. She blinked her eyes to moisten them. The waves of heat were draining the energy from her. Every day she sat in this place and watched in the hope that there would be more food from the black building on the headland below her eerie. Today her vigil might be rewarded.

The sun climbed remorselessly to its zenith sending its heat into the black building. Its stones soaked up the energy and responded by turning the air around into a shimmering heat haze.

Earlier, she had watched as a cart delivered a long bundle to the building. Over the years she had learned that when this happened there was often fresh meat for the taking by the time night fell. Once she had to fight others for the morsels of sweet flesh but as the years had passed and the lands had become more arid, the others had died. Now she was the last. A great Roc. Long ago she could remember her mate and her chicks. Then the lands had been green. There had been many like her and she had to use her powerful beak and talons to snatch the food from the rocks at the base of the cliffs, screaming in triumph as she bore it away to feed her own, before the sea or the others could claim it.

Her eyes turned to the place where the flesh would be. There were no crashing waves or curtains of flying white foam at the base of the cliffs now, only the slow swell of a tired sea.

The heat of the outside did not penetrate the inner chamber of the building. Here the air was icy, as though the occupants had leached out all the energy the sun tried to give.

Nine figures stood motionless in the dark chamber - their faces thrown into sharp relief by the light of a single oil lamp burning on a stone altar.

Seven of them dressed in plain black robes formed a circle about two figures in the centre.

These could not have been more different from each other. One stood tall and imperious, her hair covered with a tight red hood to match the robe she wore. Her face tense: a half smile lifting the corners of her thin mouth - her eyes triumphant. The other, even taller, figure faced her, his hands bound behind his back.

The woman in red spent some time looking at him. He was not her type. Too slender. She preferred her men more rugged; more masculine. This one had been intelligent though. He had tried to save himself with clever words. Poor fool. Her eyes roved over his fine, fair hair, pulled back and tied at the nape of his neck, and then moved to examine his features. He had once been handsome but now his eyes were blank with despair, his skin white in the cold air. Dressed in plain blue leggings and tunic, the only decoration he wore was a dull silver collar around his neck. His body displayed the marks of the abuse he had suffered

“Welcome to Selador, Ammathelon. I have waited a long time for this pleasure.
The woman leaned forward and ran her fingers down the side of his face and neck, tracing a rivulet of dried blood. She stopped when she came to the collar, resting one long-nailed forefinger on the grey metal and she smiled as she looked at him. She could feel her own excitement at what was about to happen building like a sexual charge. He shuddered and raised his eyes to hers. For a moment there was spark in them.

His voice was a hoarse whisper. “Go on witch, take what you can only have by stealing the life and power of others. Take it if you dare. But be warned. You drink from a poisoned cup.” He coughed and a dribble of pink tinged mucus ran from the corner of his mouth. His eyes lost their fire and dull blankness returned

The woman had been leaning close to hear him and she hesitated. Something in the words sent a stab of fear through her but she quickly masked it.

She hissed, “There is nothing you can do to us. We will have your power and send your empty husk back to those fools on Lantira. I would like to see their faces when you return.” She felt regret at having to forgo the ultimate pleasure of taking his life as well. “Ah well my love,” she mocked, “we could have had such….an…. exquisite experience together, but it is not to be… not this time.”

“Prepare yourselves,” she turned and commanded the women “You have been chosen to receive the power of this man because you have shown yourselves worthy. Never before have we had such a one in our hands. What you take from him will ensure the future of our sisterhood.”

The women bowed their heads and began a low chant. The words ran into one another creating a vibration that was taken up by the ancient stones of the temple. The leader raised her hand slowly and watched in satisfaction as the light of the single lamp grew and flared a virulent green As one, the women responded to this signal lifting their left hands to touch a forefinger to the neck of the one next to them.

The leader clasped both hands around the collar on the neck of the man.

“Create the link,” she commanded. The woman nearest her reached out and placed her hand on the leader’s neck.

The chant quickened and the vibration became almost unbearable. The man in the centre of the circle stiffened, his back arched but he remained standing, head thrown back; mouth open in a silent scream. The cords of his neck stood out, straining against the collar.

The leader stood rigid, her eyes closed, her mouth moving in the words of the chant.

When it seemed as though the vibrations would shatter the very stones of the building, there was a deafening crack and the whole group were surrounded with the same green glare given out by the blazing oil lamp. For a moment the green was shot through with streaks of blue and violet and the members of the circled swayed as though they had been caught in a strong wind.
Seconds later the green fire faded. The chant stopped abruptly and the women fell against each other. One slumped to the ground.

The leader took her hands from the man’s neck. As she did so he crumpled to the floor. In place of the tall, once handsome, figure there now lay a wizened old man, hands clawed with age. His skin hung from his face and neck in a myriad of wrinkles.

The leader turned her attention to the sister who had fallen “Is Zerifey all right?”

One of the others bent to the prone woman “She’s breathing but unconscious.

The leader felt another twinge of anxiety. The stripping had been different from all the others she had participated in. What did the blue and violet light mean? And why had it affected the group like this?

She dismissed her worries, her natural arrogance returning as she waved a hand at the unconscious sister

. “Pick her up and carry her to her room. I will come and attend to her shortly. As for the rest of you, return to your own rooms and meditate. Explore what you have taken and come to me again at sunrise.

One of the others stepped towards the body of the old man. “Shall we take him to the cliffs?”
“No. This one we will send back. I want to give the Guardians a message.”

The other women filed out carrying their stricken colleague.

The man on the floor stirred. The woman walked across to him and kneeling down turned him onto his back. She removed the collar from his neck, untied his hands, and straightened his limbs. Bringing her face close to his she examined his ruined features and whispered, “Good. I see you still live, Ammathelon. Open your eyes.” She shook his head too and fro but he remained unseeing and unhearing.

She slapped his face and he let out a groan.
“That’s better. I know you can hear me. I want to send you back with a message. Tell this to your friends – your precious Guardians. My sisters and I intend to redeem the place in the parallels that you took from us all those aeons ago. We may never regain the inherent talent that you denied us with your punishments, but we can and will take the power that you so wastefully squander on healing peasants and preventing progress. Every one of you will become our prey. It is you who will give us what we want. Tell your Guardians that the only way to be safe is to stay on your own world. Even that retreat won’t last long. So you see, my dear Ammathelon, you can’t win.” She smiled but her eyes remained icy. She revelled in the sense of power and achievement this day’s work had bought her.

“Now, I shall send you back. I would be so disappointed if you died before you could pass on my message.” She reached into a pouch tied to his waist and removed a large round crystal. Carrying the stone reverently in both hands, she walked across to a tapestry hung on the dark wall, half hidden by a pillar. In the dim light she could just see the scene it portrayed. She let her eyes roam over the familiar picture. It showed a ceremony in a massive temple. The perspective was from the side of the temple steps. At the top of the steps were scores of celebrants – all were women. They stood tall and proud with cold, beautiful faces, dressed in fabulous jewelled finery and carrying crystals similar to the one that the she now held. At the bottom of the steps, in contrast, for every bejewelled woman, there were hundreds more figures, part of a crowd that stretched into the distance. They were thin; some dressed in rags, some naked, all bent double as they bowed down to the godlike figures above them.

She looked longingly at the tableau before her, and all the while she caressed the crystal in her hands and then crooned as she bought it up to her face and rubbed her cheek with it. She felt the familiar longing, stronger and more intense than any desire for a lover.

Turning back to the stricken man she spoke again. “One day we will have our rightful place again. One day. It’s such a pity this Locus crystal is only keyed to you.” She placed the stone on Ammathelon’s chest.

Summoning her power, she sent a powerful probe into his mind and forced him to link with his crystal for one last time. She relished the feeling of domination as it gave her as she made him whisper the words, “Locus, focus, hearth and home.”

The sense of a pleasure denied when he vanished was an exquisite pain.

Outside, the watcher continued to wait. She measured her existence by the passage of the sun through the sky, and the fiery orb had made many such journeys since she last ate. She stretched her massive wings to ease their stiffness and sent a poignant cry into the empty sky. There was no answer.

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Comments by other Members

Inspiration at 15:29 on 02 August 2004  Report this post
I really enjoyed this, it's clever stuff. I haven't searched it for any mistakes, but i couldn't see any obvious ones!

(I like to give helpful advice - but if there's not anything wrong how can i??)

Great stuff!

Look foward to reading more!


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