The sky blackened. Lightning ripped it in two. Thunder shook her very soul as the woman called forth the forces of evil.
The sorceress’s face lit up, hands reaching toward the sky. Elys squirmed against the pole, bindings tightening. Fear bolted through her, echoing the viciousness above.
Glancing at the sky, she froze. A face formed in the dark clouds. There were unmistakable horns and long, jagged teeth. Elys cried, trying to make herself small against the pole. She lifted her bound wrists and covered her face.
Cackling laughter came close. Elys flinched away from it and the foul stench that came with it. She peered through her fingers. The sorceress slopped a large brush into a pail. She painted a wide circle of the viscous stuff around Elys. The cackling became sing-song muttering while she drew strange symbols on the stony ground. Elys tried not to breathe in the horrible fumes. Her hands shook against her cheeks.
Without warning, the woman splashed the brush against Elys’s robe. Elys fought sickness. “He’ll enjoy you, little Elys,” she hissed. She cackled again. “He’ll be hot upon you soon and raise me to power after.” Elys shuddered as much from the sorceress’s words as from the spattered mess.
Stepping carefully, the sorceress left the circle. She crushed herbs in a bowl, muttering gibberish. Throwing handfuls into the fire, she shouted as the flames rose. Wind lashed Elys’s robe. Thunder deafened her.
Lightning speared the black sky. It struck hard and fast, leaving trails behind Elys’s eyelids. She knew it was coming closer, felt the sizzle in the air. Still she shrieked and jolted when it crashed into the ground before her. The retreating light’s glare made her blink. She heard clattering on the stones and made out a large, hazy figure. Her vision cleared as it leaned in. The face from the clouds smiled, its lips baring horrendous teeth. It sniffed her, touched her with a claw. She tried to pull away, whimpering.
It turned, stalking across the circle. Elys trembled to see its hooves leave sparks. “You have courage, sorceress. You invite me, calling my name.”
“I command you, Althagar,” the sorceress cried. “Take the offering and give me your powers.”
Althagar looked over its shoulder at Elys, eyes blazing. It turned back to the sorceress and took a step forward. The sorceress went pale, frozen as Althagar stepped beyond the circle. It grabbed her and threw her to the ground. When it ripped out her throat, Elys screamed and covered her eyes again. She shouted prayers, trying to cover the grisly sound of that maw taking its fill.
Sudden stillness, then hooves ringing on the stones. It stood before her silently. Trembling, she quieted and let her bound wrists fall, opening her eyes. Blood and gore dripped from its mouth. Its terrible claws closed in. Abruptly, her hands were freed, bindings slashed.
“Go now, away from those who would sacrifice you.” Its laughter chased her as she ran.
© 2010 Jessica Rosen
This story was based on two #storystarters. The bold lines at the beginning were by @melissamurphy2 (Thanks, Melissa!). The last lines were inspired by one written by yours truly.