Friday, September 27, 2019

#FridayFlash - The Priests

Carissa stood on the narrow steps, staring at the plain facade. So unassuming, with only their god's name carved above the simple wooden door.

Quietus, lord of death's survivors.

She drew a shuddering breath, clutched her shawl to her throat, and approached the door. Everyone knew about the small temple, even if it wasn't spoken of in polite society. The priests assisted those who could no longer live without those who were already deceased. Sometimes just giving the survivor a new purpose, sometimes helping them to the afterlife.

Carissa knocked, head lowered. Devon would never want her to approach the temple of Quietus, but he was no longer alive. He couldn't take care of her anymore, couldn't ease her pain, couldn't run the shop, couldn't give her a baby.

Tears stung her eyes as she knocked again. She didn't worry about who might see her, because she had no intention of seeing any of them again. Waiting for the door to open caused her heart to ache, made her think more and more about her lost Devon. She wanted to curl into a ball and cry almost as much as she wanted release.

The door swung open to reveal a gaunt woman in a simple black dress, such as a mourning peasant would wear, with a small dagger on a chain around her neck. Carissa met the priestess's mournful eyes, and something shifted inside her chest. "Come in, lost one."

Carissa passed the woman and into the temple, tears falling down her cheeks. The door closed behind her with a heavy sound, but she felt neither dread nor worry. Rather, relief washed through the woman, accompanied by a sense of peace.

"Follow me," the other woman said, leading Carissa through an arched doorway into a lamp-lit hall. Nothing else was said, and her sense of peace grew stronger the deeper she went with the black-clad woman.

"We shall speak here," her guide finally said, gesturing at a small vestibule. Two plain chairs and a wooden carving of Quietus comprised the only furnishing, but there wasn't room for much more. Carissa slumped in one seat, the gaunt woman sat delicately in the other. "What brings you here today?"

If she could get right to the point, so could Carissa. "My husband has passed and I cannot live without him any longer."

The priestess tipped her head, eyes piercing Carissa's very soul. "You wish to join him?"

"Yes!" Carissa's heart lurched, pain tearing loose from the calm control she'd felt since entering the temple. A sob wrenched her entire body, tears pouring hot down her cheeks. "I need to be with my Devon." She squeezed her eyes closed, the pain as sharp as when he'd first passed on.

A soft hand slid across hers, returning the sense of peace to Carissa. "We can ease your suffering and send you on to join him. But there is a price."

Carissa opened her eyes, a dark hope springing to life. "Anything I have is yours!"

"It's not your money we seek." Sad gray eyes hardened with power. "In payment for releasing your soul, we make use of your remains for whatever rituals we deem necessary."

Carissa paused. The priestess spoke of necromancy or worse. Her corpse used as a tool for the priests, possibly defiled, abused, desecrated.

Did any of that matter once she was dead, once she was with her Devon again?

"Anything. Please, do it." Carissa meant it, heart and soul.

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