For many a millenia C’thla had existed in a dream-like state. Though the previous body she’d inhabited had been burned to ash and sealed in this tomb long ago the essence of her being were very much alive. Mostly she traversed the terrain made of memory and dream. These memories were often altered by her subconscious (if demons truly had a conscious or if that only came with having a human body she didn’t know). The dreams were vivid enough she felt as though she was reliving these moments.
For C’thla the waiting was torturous but dreaming was a way of passing the time until Damen Orlys found her the right host.
In this dream - or memory? - she was a druid priestess or rather she’d inhabited the body of one. This was in a time long before the hellscape ever existed. Her followers were sacrificing captors from Caesar’s army in her name. There was power in this, an orgasmic ecstasy in the spilling of their blood.
She stood in the center of a grove of trees, surrounded by lit torches, and watched as five of her followers approached the five kneeling captors before her. The druids held knives made of bone in their hands. Their tunics glowed in the light thrown by the torches.
The Roman soldiers, now nothing more than lambs for the slaughter, had been bound and gagged. They watched her, their eyes wide and glassy fright. Twice their group had tried to escape only to be dragged back, beaten and flogged mercilessly. One of them had had their tongue cut out from biting one of C’thla’s followers. Another of the soldiers was a boy of thirteen years old; he’d seen his first and last battle.
Her disciples pulled back the heads of their captors so their necks were exposed to the cool night air. In the Demon Tongue, as C’thla had taught her followers to speak, they said, “In the name of C’thla, the High Priestess of the Second Caste and the Order of Chaos.”
The blades were drawn back and the necks of the soldiers yawned open, liquid crimson jutting from their wounds. C’thla felt utter rapture - she’d felt rapture like this many times but the pleasure was never lost on her. The sight of their writhing bodies made her wet and warm inside but the sight of the dying boy fascinated her in particular. She could sense his confusion at how this could be happening to him and his relief that this nightmare was finally coming to an end. C’thla masturbated underneath the black velvety sky, laughing in pleasure. At the exact moment the final Roman went still she burst into the final orgasm.
The dream shifted and she was in a different body, in a different time, maybe even a different world. She stood on a platform in the center of a village. Her arms were bound to a wooden stake. The smell of gas burned her nose. Around the platform made of wood and straw stood the people of the village, glaring at her with self-righteous anger and piety. Judging her. Standing at the front of the crowd was a tall, broad shouldered man. He wore dark clothing and a top hat, his hair and beard. To those who did not know where to look he appeared human but C’thla knew he was not. His eyes were what gave them away: they were too bright to be human. The demon inside the man had possessed his body to get to her.
“Maczog?” she cried. “Why? We have been lovers since the beginning of time. We fought together you and I, waded through blood and spirit. Why do you condemn me?” Tears were streaming down her eyes; the salt of them stung her cracked lips. She was thirsty, so thirsty. She wished she could stop herself from feeling the sense of despair and betrayal, but emotion was one of the biggest flaws of inhabiting a human body.
The face that looked at her, surrounded in a spread of angry faces shrouded in the shadow of the night and the orange glow of burning torches, might have been carved from ice or stone. You know why, he said, communicating with her through her mind.
And she did. The realization made her break out in fresh, breathless sobs: because of the child growing in her belly. Maczog as well as the rest of the Primordial Caste feared what power such a creature could wield. Because of this fear they had killed the father of her child and now they intended to destroy her as well as the fetus growing inside her womb.
She glared at him then. In a voice dripping with hate she vowed then that when she found her next vessel she would hunt him and the others down and destroy them.
After her body and the fetus of her unborn child had been burned to ash, her ashes had been entombed and buried far beneath the earth. For millennia she continued to exist in a loop of dreaming, reliving her experiences, the vessels she had possessed, the wars she had fought in. She was vaguely aware of the passage of time, the turning of the world, the forming of the hellscape.
Sensing a change in the air, the mother of demons shifted awake from her dreams. With a rushing sensation she let her mind travel back to the chamber where the High Priest of the Scarlet Church had set her sarcophagus. She felt a ripple pass through her Aspect - almost as if she had an actual body - however it was not the real feeling and nothing compared to what the human body could feel. Damen had brought her another woman!
This one was beautiful. All the women Damen Orlys brought C’thla to “try on” had been beautiful but the demon priestess found this one to be exceptional. This one had blonde hair and blue eyes. Like the sun and sky, C’thla thought. The other two women had been dark haired.
Normally C’thla would have reached out right away but now she hesitated, cautious. The last two rituals had failed, there was always the chance this one would too. The woman was too beautiful to be wasted so soon.
C’thla was content to watch and wait for now.
Slowly Sara could feel the sedative of Damen’s magic begin to wear off. Eventually she was able to wiggle her toes and lift her arms.
She wasn’t sure how long she sat there with her back pressed against the wall and her clenched hands resting on her lap. It could have been an hour - it could have been longer. At least the chamber was warm and didn’t smell of mold.
After a time Sara began to feel as if someone was in the room with her, watching. Her eyes searched the room. There were shadows behind the sarcophagus where the light didn’t touch. She thought she saw a humanly shadow lurking only for it to be gone in the blink of an eye. Sara knew better than to tell herself she was just seeing things.
While Sara waited for the drug to finish wearing off she tried to think of a way she could try and get out of the room. There was no obvious way that she could see but it seemed better to try than just sitting there waiting to die. The ceilings and walls looked solid; she couldn’t find any cracks or signs of wear. She wished she was a practitioner like Crow instead of just a healer - she could have at least tried busting her way through the door. Her heart tugged painfully when she thought of Crow. She still couldn’t believe he was gone.
After what felt like another hour of waiting Sara staggered to her feet, leaning against the wall for support. Her muscles and limbs still felt heavy but she could move.
Sara froze and looked around jerkily. The voice had come from her right. It had sounded like a woman’s voice. Like a frightened animal, Sara hunkered down slightly. The shadows were thick, almost pulsating. They seemed alive. At last she was able to discern a lithe womanly shape - it seemed she was in fact made of shadow.
“Do not be afraid,” the shadow-woman said. She spoke with a velvety, slightly scratchy voice. “I mean you no harm.”
Sara knew this was a lie. She could feel the demon rooting around in her head, pulling out her thoughts. And yet...there was a part of her that wanted to go to the demon. Don’t do it, she told herself. Don’t believe her lies. It’s all a trick. But what could she do? Where could she go? She was trapped in this room with no way of getting out.
“Sara...do not fight me. There’s nowhere you can go, nowhere you can run. There is only me.”
The demon stepped towards her and the shadows seemed to come with her. Sara stepped back. The demon took another step towards her. Sara walked back until her back was pressing up against the wall. The shadows took up one whole half of the chamber now, just shy of reaching the altar. When the shadows did touch the altar the candles were snuffed out as if by a giant black hand. Seconds later she was surrounded by a black so thick she couldn’t see her own hand in front of her face.
Sara hyperventilated, hugging herself. The room had grown cold. The demoness laughed tauntingly at her, the sound coming from right in front of her. Sara screamed mindlessly, screamed like she never had in her life. Her sanity gone she hunkered down and clenched her eyes shut and began to sing the lullaby her mother used to sing when Sara had woken up in the middle of the night from nightmares: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine...you make me happy when times are grey...”
“You will never see the sun again,” C’thla whispered in Sara’s ear.
And then Sara felt teeth sinking into her shoulder.