Hi everyone, I thought I’d share some of book two in the Empowered Ones series; The Temple of Arrival. I hope you enjoy it and if you haven’t already please sign up to the newsletter.
The monotonous tapping of water striking stone was comforting to Skit. So too, was the constant flickering of the torch ensconced into the slimy stone wall of the cell that had been his home for the past two decades. He gazed through half-open eyes at the iron grate acting as the door to his cell. The howls, yelps and whimpers of his fellow inmates, now that was something that still scared him. It was the sound of madness and insanity; it was the sound made by the Broken. It was constant, and in those first months sleeping had been difficult, but the saying that a man can get used to anything over time had proven true.
He clenched his jaw as he breathed in the damp acrid air. His back was moist with sweat, and his lice filled tunic covered his emaciated body. The cell was small, containing a pile of straw that acted as his bed, the flickering torch that was his only source of heat as well as light and a small dripping pipe that provided him with water.
The sound of iron grating on stone caused him to sit a little straighter. It was very rare that anything different happened to break the tedium of his self-inflicted imprisonment. He only ever saw the caretakers once every few months when they came through and dropped off food. The yelling and cries of the other inmates grew louder and louder until it grew to an almost deafening pitch. Approaching footsteps came from the darkness of the corridor outside the cell until a shadowy figure appeared in front of Skit’s cell door.
Skit’s ruined eyes could just make out a silhouette standing in the flicker of his torch.
“Who’s there?” he asked, his voice barely louder than a strained whisper. When was the last time he had spoken out loud? He couldn’t recall.
“An old friend,” came the reply. Skit’s eyes widened at the voice. Fear twisted in his belly.
“No. Not you. You’re no friend of mine. You’re the reason I’m in here.”
The figure stepped closer revealing himself.
It was who he had feared most. Vavius.
“Now don’t be like that Skit. We were friends back in the day. Fighting side by side against the Supreme and the Imperium. We were good at it too.”
Skit waved a skinny arm dismissively.
“We were fighting the good fight until I learnt the truth about you and what you did. I wonder if during all this time the others ever figured it out?”
Vavius crossed his arms, his blue cloak looking black in the dimness of the Asylum.
“To answer your question, they never did. Although I’m sure, they know some of the truth now. And it doesn’t matter. I’m this close to it Skit; I have the map.”
Skit looked away and spat in disgust.
“Congratulations,’ he replied his tone dripping with sarcasm. ‘Who did you betray for it? Tarv? Yin? Or perhaps Cleo?”
Vavius chuckled humourlessly.
“Two of those three are dead. I won’t tell you which. I’ll let it haunt your dreams while you cower in this hell. Why choose to hide here? Of all places.”
Skit shook his head in despair at the words. How many more would die for this man’s lust for power?
“I hide here because I know it disgusts you. It represents the worst of us. I’m just surprised it took you this long to find me.”
Vavius gripped one of the cell doors iron bars and placed his face to the cool metal.
“You know why I’m here. I need your help. I need you to read the map. I tried to make sense of it myself, but it’s written in ancient Aeranyth. There’s only one man I know who could read such a language, and that’s you Skit,” Vavius explained taking a scroll from the pocket sewn into his cloak. He pulled the string, unfurled it and pressed the parchment to the bars.
Skit squinted at it for a few moments and chuckled.
“I cannot read it,’ he said shaking his head. “You’ve wasted your time coming here.”
“You’re lying. I know you can read ancient Aeranyth,” Vavius snapped.
He channeled his Anger. His limbs grew, as the emotion acted as a conduit to the Power. With ease, he ripped the iron door from its hinges and tossed it casually down the corridor. The crash of its impact set off the Asylum’s inmates, their howls of madness rising until that was all that could be heard. He stepped into the cell and forcefully placed a gloved hand to Skit’s forehead. He closed his eyes.
Skit screamed, but the agonized sound was lost in the howls of the damned.
“So, you need a cypher to read it,” Vavius muttered as he tore his way through Skit’s mind. His eyes snapped open as he learned where to obtain one.
“The Venerable Chamber archives,” he said, before lifting the now unconscious Skit over his shoulder and departing the Asylum.
*The above is a rough draft and is subject to change.