This has been a while in the making, but I think it came out pretty good overall. This started as a “first sentence” writing prompt, and evolved into Sarintha’s history.
WARNING! There are spoilers here. Don’t read this if you haven’t read the book. It won’t ruin the entire book, but it will spoil one of the plot twists that I enjoyed writing. You’ve been warned, so continue at your own risk!
The city burned, fire lighting up the night sky. “I told you this was the wrong place. Get to Trior. We’ll find her there.
As the foursome of trolls turned their backs on the flaming remains of Forsidge, the leader of the group, Ventrex, felt his stomach roll despite his efforts to contain it. “I can’t believe you convinced us to taste one of those disgusting animals.”
“I didn’t think it was that bad,” Tikren grinned. His fangs were still stained red from the culinary experiment. “A bit chewy, perhaps. If you’d given me enough time to properly cook it…”
* * * * *
It was well past nightfall when Ventrex pounded on the door of the small house. They had arrived in Trior a few hours ago and after threatening a few drunken fools learned that there was a healer already here. His lip curled at the memory of one of the humans wetting himself as he stammered out his answer. Disgusting beasts.
After several minutes, a man’s voice answered. “It’s too late. Come back in the morning.”
“Is this the healer’s home? It’s urgent that I see the healer at once.”
A mumbled argument on the other side of the door was followed by the click of the latch. Tikren placed a clawed hand on the smooth wooden door. As the man inside cracked the door open, he shoved. The man sprawled across the floor as the four trolls barged into the room. Further in, a woman stumbled back.
“Pellat, Zex.” Ventrex pulled one of the chairs from near the table and straddled it. “Restrain him. Tikren, bring her here.”
The woman was forced into a chair across from Ventrex. “I hate having to speak to them,” he mumbled to the others before turning to the human before him. “If you want to live, answer my questions.” He spoke slowly, hoping it would be able to understand him.
It nodded, so he continued. “You are the healer?” It nodded again. “Good. Tell me, healer. Where are your parents?”
“My… Parents?” Her forehead creased and her eyes darted around the room. “What– who are you? What do you want? Why are you–”
Ventrex slapped her across the face. Streaks of blood appeared where his clawed fingertips scraped her skin. “Pay attention, human. Your parents. What happened to them?”
“They were killed in an explosion. I was a child.”
His eyes narrowed. “What sort of explosion?”
“I… I’m not sure. There was a ceremony…” Her eyes darted from him to the man tied on the floor.
“And who raised you?”
Her eyes settled back on Ventrex. “I grew up in the temple south of here, outside Tillias.”
Tikren’s eyes lit up. “Is this the one, then? A healer in Trior whose parents were killed during the ceremony?”
Ventrex rubbed his hand across his face, absentmindedly licking the blood from his fingertips. “It doesn’t fit. It’s months too early. Protector Gelrog told us we were to come and wait until she arrived. Lord Thavatos would not be mistaken.”
“Gelrog obviously is wrong. She’s right here. Let’s take her and get out of this wasteland.”
It certainly seemed like they had found her. He stared at the thin human shaking in the chair before him. She was an orphaned healer in Trior. Exactly what he had been told.
He stood. “Fine. Yes. Bind and leash her. Kill him.” He noticed a gleam in Tikren’s eye. “No, you can’t eat him. We need to get out of here. Burn the house.”
* * * * *
Gelrog’s fists shook with fury. Ventrex turned his eyes back to the ground. “I’m sorry, Protector. She matched the description.”
“Silence! I don’t care what your feeble mind thought it had put together. My instructions were clear. Go. Wait. Let her come to you.” Gelrog paced between him and the human he’d brought back.
Her hands and feet were still bound, and her clothing hung in tattered rags from her emaciated frame. A strip of cloth had been twisted around her head and across her mouth to stop her incessant babbling.
Gelrog stopped over her, his nose wrinkled in disgust. He bent down and pulled at the leather leash fastened around her neck. “Cut the binding from her feet. We’ll use her in our ceremony.”
The binding on her feet was cut and Gelrog started pulling her by the leash. She scrambled to her feet and followed with Ventrex close behind. Moments later they stood before a blood stained stone altar. The human’s eyes widened and she tried to back away, almost as if it could understand fear or pain. Ventrex pushed her forward. She struggled, twisting and pulling to get away. Gelrog handed him the leash and turned away to prepare.
With the help of two other trolls, Ventrex finally got the human bound to the altar, hands and feet tied to each corner. The leash and gag were removed and he double checked the bindings.
“Please,” she begged. “Just let me go. I’m obviously not who you wanted. I can just go. You don’t need to do this.”
He didn’t bother answering. She wouldn’t be able to comprehend what was happening, anyway. If she could, she would be honored to be offered this way.
Gelrog returned as Ventrex sat on the ground. He’d stripped off his robes and shirt, leaving just a short pair of pants and a necklace made of bone. His green skin glistened in the sun, as did the sacrificial knife he held in his hand.
Gelrog stood over the sacrifice, knife in hand. The human stared back at him, jaw set. “No more begging?” She shook her head. “The others cried and begged until the end,” he told her.
“No more begging. I accept death, but on my terms.”
“Interesting.” Gelrog placed the tip of the knife against her temple and traced along her jaw, down to her chin. Blood swelled and flowed as the skin split. She winced and her muscles tensed against the ropes as he repeated the process on the other side. “Are you sure you won’t beg?”
She glared up at him, not answering. He twisted his long, clawed fingers into her hair and pulled, stretching her neck and exposing her throat. The tip of the blade pressed into the hollow at the base of her neck. The smell of sulfur filled the air. Thavatos would be pleased.
Gelrog hesitated. His eyes rolled back in his head and he didn’t move. A shadow brushed across the altar and Ventrex heard voices whispering. The ancestors had come for the offering. They were speaking to Gelrog.
Gelrog opened his eyes. He looked down at the human lying before him. “It seems you are to be given a chance, of sorts. Tell me, human, what’s your name?”
Her lips moved, but no sound came out. She swallowed hard against the knife still at her throat. “Sarintha. My name is Sar–”
Gelrog plunged the knife in and twisted. Blood gurgled from her throat with a wheeze from her attempt at speech. Her eyes widened, her arms and legs straining against the ropes.
“Sar… Ghee?” Gelrog mocked, holding the handle of the knife. “Is that your name?”
He pulled the knife out. The blade flashed and he cut the bindings that held her down. Her hand flew to her throat and she rolled onto her knees and elbows.
“You,” he pointed to one of the priests nearby. “Give her you spell components. Whatever dried plants, powders, or dusts you have. If she survives,” he looked down at her, “which I doubt, bring her to me. The ancestors, and Lord Thavatos, command it.”
Ventrex stared, wide eyed, as the human dug through the bag and began mixing some of the powder with her own blood. Blood that was spilling rapidly from her neck. There was no way she would survive, but he held the leash ready, just in case.
There it is. I hope you enjoyed it!