Jezri's Nightmare Books

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Covenant


 
Shereena climbed the steep hill, careful to avoid any rocks that might slip beneath her feet, causing her to fall. It was her Attainment and having reached full maturity, her day to be judged by God. She was nervous, this would be her first time standing before Aman, though she had been assured from the time she was a child, the goddess was always watching. The revelation had caused her mother a lot of hair pulling when Shereena had refused, for two full weeks, to bathe because Aman would see her naked.
 
After a few slips and a skinned knee, Shereena finally reached the summit. A dais sat in the middle of the point. She stared at it, reluctant to continue the ritual. What if Aman found her wanting? She felt the wind picking up. It beat against her back, forcing her forward. She tried to push back, but then realized her reluctance might be seen as defiance. She didn’t want to disobey, she just wanted more time to prepare. So many of her friends had come up here in the past year.  A handful of them had not returned, having been found pleasing by Aman and taken into her presense. If Shareena returned, it would be in disgrace. Yet… Her thoughts went to Roan and the kiss he had stolen from her only this night.
 
The gale continued, rain pouring down as the sky opened up to voice Her displeasure. Lightning flashed across the sky and she caught a brief glimpse of the deity beginning to form.  Her knees buckled at the splendor and her knees hit the ground. Only then did she realize she had reached the platform. Her scraped knees stung from the rough stone, but she didn’t flinch from the pain. Instead she hung her head, waiting for Aman to either speak, or strike her down. 
 
The tempest died and the rain stopped. The silence was deafening. Slowly, Shareena became aware of a pounding in her ears. She opened her eyes. Everything was dark, except for a light above her. She looked up and the pounding in her ears subsided. The world stopped spinning and stood still. Aman’s Eye was upon her.
 
SHAREENA.
 
Shareena recoiled, covering her ears with her hands, but the voice that had spoken her name, was inside her head and nowhere else.
 
YOU RESIST ME?
 
Shareena’s voice barely audible, even to her own ears. “I live to serve you.”
 
Cold fingers reach into her. Shareena’s breath caught in her throat, her heart pounded loudly. Icy tendrils wrapped around the organ, squeezing tighter with every beat.
 
YOU ARE AFRAID.
 
“Yes.”
 
She felt something from the goddess… pleasure.
 
WHAT HAVE YOU TO OFFER?
 
This was the part she had been dreading. Her family was poor and they could not afford the traditional slaughter. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small bird. The creature pecked at her fingers and she dropped it. Its wings were broken and it couldn’t fly away, but that didn’t stop the bird from trying to escape. It hopped towards the edge of the dais, before Shareena lifted it back into her hands. She held it up so Aman could see.
 
She was met by silence. Around her she felt the air begin to singe. Her nose burned as the air left her lungs and was filled with the scent of sulfur.
 
YOU INSULT ME.
 
“No!” She spoke quickly, pleading with Aman to understand. “My family lives in poverty. It is all we could afford.” The blood from her injured fingers dripped onto the slab. A small thrill raced through her body. Her blood excited the diety.
 
I WILL ACCEPT YOUR SACRIFICE.
 
Her voice shook with fear. “What?” She looked down, startled as something clattered on the stone… a knife, its blade long and sharp. She recognized it from the texts. It was used during the dark ages to kill those that had displeased Aman, when she had been Aman-Kathra. It had not been used since the Covenant was reached.
 
“I… I don’t understand.”
 
YOU WILL SACRIFICE YOURSELF
 
“No, please.” She tried to resist, but Aman pushed into her mind, controlling her limbs. She reached for the knife. “Please, no,” she begged, but Aman wouldn’t relent. She could feel Her hunger, Her thirst for blood. A realization struck Shareena and she thought it before she could stop herself. “She is not a goddess.”
 
That knowledge terrified her. If Aman wasn’t a deity, then she was a demon. What had happened to those that had never returned from the Sacrament? The answer came as the knife in her hands continued towards her heart. She thought of Roan, his breath, which reminded her of sweet honey, his kiss, at first soft and then hard as he pressed his mouth urgently over hers. The knife stopped.
***
Shareena straddled Roan, gasping as he entered her. He stopped, repositioning her. She was a virgin and he didn’t want to hurt her, but Shareena was impatient. She arched her back and begged him to keep going. Encouraged by her moaning, Roan continued, plunging deeper into her. She met his thrusts, her rhythm matching his. The stone slab was rubbing his ass raw, but he ignored it. He was nearing release. He closed his eyes, concentrating. When Shareena had first suggested meeting at the Sacrament, he had been leery. It was dangerous. If Aman were displeased… but she assured him it would be safe.
 
“There is no Attainment tonight, She will not be there.”
 
“She is everywhere.”
 
 
In the end, he had relented. With his eyes closed, he didn’t notice the Eye opening in the sky. Shareena reached behind her and plucked a knife from thin air. Roan opened his eyes, troubled by a change in the air.  He found himself looking into eyes that didn’t belong to Shareena.
 
“Shareena?”
 
Her smile was cruel. “No. I am Aman-Shareena. Then she plunged the knife into his heart. The Covenant was broken. She was finally free.

 

 

 

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