6th of Cylus, 718
The artist had sinned, and the Wounded God had forsaken him, cursed him. With him, he had cursed the land of the nation, the rabble and the noble, the innocent and sinfulful. Everyone was to pay a price, all because of him. He had gone and renounced his faith, refused to shed his blood. Fool! Coward! Hypocrite! Those words haunted him, and yet his stubborn pride kept him sheltered from the truth. The land was covered in blight, the trees were gone. The grass had become sharp glass, and the streets of Quacia were under siege from the mutated beasts borne from the corrupt blood of men. On the streets, blood flowed in rivers, finding their way through the cracks, feeding the Wounded God. It was his blood; now he was reclaiming it.
Buer locked himself in his home in the shanty, knowing all too well he wouldn’t be able to hide for long. It was coming for him; the divine reckoning of his Father about to punish his disobedient child. Stacking tables and chairs against the door, none of it served to block the sounds of the massacre outside. The beasts’ feral screetches rang in their high pitch, and their wet trot spoke of the bloody streets. Men, women and children screamed as they were torn apart, all while alive and well-aware of what happened. Grieving mothers screamed to the soil, holding the lifeless carcasses of their children whilst asking ‘why, oh why’ to form the choral backdrop of the scene. It was all sound, no imagery, for outside the windows, and through the cracks in the wall, there was only a thick, murky mist as dense torrential rain. The string section abused their strings with harsh arcos, and the brass section came in in bursts, pushing the panicked heart to it’s limit.
“Behold and beguile
observe and aspire,
For the Death of Your God
Is all we desire,”
The Whore of the North sang those words, her voice no better than the wails of the beasts outside. She was there, hiding in the shadows, only now reveling her ugly form. There she was, an old hag, wrinkly and gray, mutated, distorted into something no longer humanoid in shape. Her hands had become claws, her feet hoofs. Five arms spawned from her back, tightly tied with cable by the Immortals she served. Her exposed breasts sagged so low they almost dragged through the mud floor, and in her wrinkled flesh blue, sicklish veins traced a detailed map of her domains. But it was her maws what terrified Buer most. It was not the sharp, shark-like teeth, nor the tongue that coiled and danced like a snake, but it was the fact that was all red. She had been feeding on the blood! She had been feeding on the blood that belonged to the Wounded God!
Buer recoiled back, pressed himself against the wall. He knew what she was here for; she would try to beguile him, to belittle him into the service of her Masters. It was she who planted the seed of doubt in him. It was she that exploited his weakness and caused all this.
“Back away, pestilent Whore,
For your promise I will hear no more,
Tell your Masters to call me not,
For Ruby is forever bound to rot.”
She laughed; it was the most horrific sound he could imagine. His veins were ice; his pants were damp. She laughed and laughed, then stopped and sang back.
“You call me Whore, you say you’ll rot,
To this I say you’re mistaken not,
And yet here you stand, alive and well,
Surely hoping to escape from hell.
Well listen here, you traitorous slut,
Your precious God you’ve gone and gut!
The land of Quacia will stand no more,
That is a fact you cannot ignore.
Go ahead, then, and kneel,
Or to blade and anger you’ll appeal,
For I offer you a chance to live,
The endless life my masters give!
Wish you to be alone and safe?
Come with me and in blood you’ll bathe,
Praise the Masters and resist them not,
Choose to kill the One who fought.
Or ignore my heeds and suffer much,
Endless pain I’ll bring with touch,
And your skin I’ll tear and rip to shreds,
Your veins will make my finest threads.”
And laughed she did again. Buer was tempted; he knew it was the only way. The Wounded God was furious with him. What were the chances he would be forgiven? Perhaps the Immortals would spare him. Perhaps he could live like the Whore and bow down to them, bow down to those impostors ---
“No, I say, and say again!
You know my father? He knows my name!
You call me whore, you call me slut,
Your ugly words my faith won’t cut!
Leave this place, leave right now,
To your false Masters I will never bow,
My Father’s angry and loves me little,
Yet your words my doubts won’t fiddle.
I’ve done wrong, I’ve been bad,
My precious Father I have made sad,
I see no chance to see the light of day,
And yet blood may the debt repay.
Witness now, you filthy witch,
I’ll cut my veins without an itch,
For my blood for him I shall withdrawal,
And not a drop will touch your maw!”
Buer did as he sang; his nails dug onto his wrist, and blood started pooling out down to the ground. The Whore looked hungrily towards it, and yet she seemed, for the first time, afraid. As soon as the blood struck the ground, she began screetching as if burned by an iron. Smoke started coming out of her as if a pyre was lit underneath her. The Wounded God hadn’t yet forgiven him, but he had nonetheless protected him. Praised be the Wounded God! How could he be of such little faith? How could he seduced by the rhetoric of the Heretics? But the Whore was not yet dead, for she lunged forth. Her claws, sharp as knifes, struck him faster than lighning, tearing into his pelvis, into his manhood and his testes. Buer felt, in horror, how she mutilated him, and he felt how he screamed and screamed, but only heard the orchestra’s volume raising and raising until all he could here were those thunderous comings and goings of the brass section. Like the women outside, Buer cried out to the skies.
“Why, oh why?”