As I mentioned on day 2 of NaNoWriMo, Saturdays are typically my weakest days for word count, thanks to prior commitments, mostly of a church Sabbath service and travel related nature. The 9th of November proved to be of no exception to that trend, though I’m still ahead of the prescribed “par” pace. I did miss either of my goals for the day, failing to hit 1,667 daily words or a grand total of 18,333 words for the piece. I am just resolved to make my major goal for tomorrow to be breaking the 20,000 word barrier. I guess we’ll see how I did in tomorrow’s blog entry.
And while today’s output was the merest shade over 600 words, I did enjoy the scene below tremendously.
“Now?” the cleric said, “do you still wish to go through with the ceremony?”
“Yes. I fear that unless I purge my mind and purify my spirit then any return to Laurspoint would be a fool’s errand.”
“Very well. The first stage of the rite of exorcism is to scourge the body. Please disrobe yourself and kneel.”
Nikolai followed the instructions. As he knelt, he began mumbling a litany of benediction. The cleric disappeared into an alcove at the back of the chapel and returned brandishing a spiked censer half-filled with holy water, and a ceremonial dagger with an ivory hilt carved with the moon symbols of Satiada. The cleric sliced the tip of his thumb with the dagger and let nine drops of blood fall into the censer, where they mingled with the blessed liquid within. “The lifeblood of your servants and the power of your lunar spirit are stronger than any bonds forged by man” he intoned.
“Stronger than any bonds,” Nikolai said. He gritted his teeth; sure of what must come next.
The cleric swung the censer hard at Nikolai’s back. The spikes tore into the exposed flesh, drawing blood. Nikolai screamed at the force of the blow. Even as he did, he could feel the other presence within his mind shrivel up like a tortoise within its shell.
“As the essence of your adherent splashes upon this ground we consecrate to you, sainted Satiada, we ask that you allow the impurities within him to leave this fleshly vessel behind,” the cleric prayed. He swung the censer again, and once more the jagged spikes bit deep into Nikolai’s flesh. The cleric pulled the censer upwards, opening a series of dark red welts on the old knight’s back.
This time, Nikolai’s screams came through a series of thick, nasal sobs. He could still feel the dark presence within him, though his connection with it had started to fade. “Leave me!” he cried.
“As the pain purifies your follower’s body and purges his tainted blood, so let the way of your spirit purify his soul and purge the taint from within him,” the cleric said. He pulled the spiked censer from Nikolai’s back and poured the holy water and blood from inside it into a plain wooden goblet. “Drink in the blessing of Satiada, sir knight, so that the pain of this rite is but a memory.”
Nikolai drank deeply from the goblet. Curiously, the liquid inside had no taste, though it burned his throat as he swallowed it. While Nikolai greedily lapped up the concoction, tendrils of purple steam began billowing forth from the welts in his back and rising to the temple’s ceiling. As the smoke rose it began to coalesce into a humanoid shape. The smoke took the form of a human girl, no older than fifteen. The shape in the smoke was screaming, at first a single wailing note of frustration, but eventually Nikolai could hear words within the anguished cry.
“I was so close! Why couldn’t you have waited and let me see her die?” the smoke-girl said in her screams.
“I need my body for me,” Nikolai said.
“I was going to give it back when I was done,” the smoke-girl said. Her form rose to the ceiling of the chapel and then abruptly stopped. The smoke continued to rise, but the image of the girl started to fall. There was a soft thump against the floor, and where the smoke and blood had been, there was the girl made flesh. She was nude and she was crying great streams of tears.
“My name’s Erica,” the girl said, “and I think I used to be dead.”