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The Great Ziggurat | [Short Story]

26 Nov

Contextual background: Catharsis of Ur wakes to find himself in a room recovering from the attack of the Wahrlog, Specter. He was rescued by angelic sentries after trying to take his life in order to avoid the attack from Specter.

Suggested music track: Hunger, Amaranthe

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When Catharsis opened his eyes, he felt the dull stinging of burnt flesh on his face. He could smell it through the medicated jelly, covered by stained strips of papyrus bandages and mud.

In the candlelight, he slowly peered around the room, searching for Specter in the darkness. Expecting to see its hollow black eyes peering from the corner. Or to see the gleam of its incisors reflected in the muted light, lips pulled back over them.

Cautiously he searched the rest of the strange room and noticed that he was lying on a stone table of some sort, cushioned by a thick reed mat. Not much was visible to his hurting eyes, but on the opposite wall there was a window buttressed by two white sheers flowing softly from the warm desert heat, letting in the remaining rays of the setting sun.

Catharsis didn’t know what was happening or where he was, but he faintly remembered the angelic figures that saved him after his hut was lit ablaze by a surreal firestorm…likely where his burns had come from.

Trying to stand, he felt a soft hand on his shoulder.

He shuddered.

“Rest my son,” a voice whispered, “you are on hallowed ground and safe, I assure you, from any danger.” The weakness overtook Catharsis and he collapsed on the mat.

“There are probably so many, many questions you have. But you must know first that you are safe.”

The voice continued and the figure came to stand beside Catharsis as he spoke. “I am Enlil. The high priest of this temple. This is a sanctuary and place of healing.

“It seems you faced the Wahrlog of the Darkness, Specter. And were it not for the sentries that saved your life, you would not be here in our very presence.” Enlil motioned to the dark doorway and when Catharsis’ eyes adjusted, could see the faint outline of two stone statues that resembled the figures who had saved him, and defeated the Wahrlog.

“Whe-where am I,” Catharsis whispered, trying to swallow past the thick pain in his throat.

“You are safe inside the Great Ziggurat.”

Catharsis blanked for a moment then looked up, “Yes, I’ve heard of this place from others before. It is a sanctuary for those who have suffered with affliction.”

“Yes, that is correct, my child,” Enlil softly agreed, bowing his head.

As Catharsis’ eyes adjusted more to the room’s darkness he could see Enlil more clearly. The high priest’s head was smooth and he wore a simple white tunic that covered his hands, which were loosely folded in front of him. The tunic flowed down and covered his feet and was secured around his waist with a single purple sash. A necklace with a pendant hung from his neck and there was a strange marking on his forehead.

“This Specter, why does it haunt me so?”

“You have been marked since birth. He has marked you. Specter has marked you with an invisible illness that, though not visibly seen, has plagued man ever since the new beginning. He has marked you with affliction.”

Enlil continued, “Yours is the affliction of darkness. There are others, but this is yours. Each affliction is commanded by a Wahrlog. The Wahrlog that commands your affliction is…Specter.”

“Then what is to become of me?” hesitated Catharsis.

“You shall remain here until your health has recovered. You will be taught about your affliction so that over time, you may control and survive with it. So that it will not control you.

“You will be tended to by mediciners, who will prescribe certain elixirs for your consumption. Over time, these substances will help to quell the effects of Specter. They will lessen the darkness with which you live…with which you endure.

“Now it is time to rest, my son. Tomorrow you will meet the others and begin your road to healing.”

As Catharsis’ eyes became heavy and the last rays of the sun extinguished their light, Enlil bowed and slowly exited.


 

 

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