The Sacrifice

 

This prompt is in participation of Myths of the Mirror’s writing prompt.


 

Cold Journey

There used to be more of us… The frigid temperature of the North was unforgiving. More than half of our party succumbed to the cold. They fell asleep and never woke up.

There was only nineteen of us now.

We were on a quest to appease the god of the northern hemisphere, Boreas. A heartless god of ice and snow.

His temple could be found at the peak of Mount Frost – a long dead volcano that is frozen all year round.

The priests say that the task was simple enough – take the chest of offerings up into the temple, read the words, offer prayers… that’s it.

The pay was good, so a lot of us adventurers took on the quest.

We have not thought about why so many of us were needed. We have not realize it until it was too late to head back.

When the first deaths happened, we all shrugged it off as the aftermath of a weak constitution.

“Those fools were too weak!” Laughed Olaf, a large, muscled barbarian who clothed himself with the fur of wild beasts he hunted.

The rest of the group laughed along as we all huddled around a fire.

The wind blew and I felt a chill. The journey to the peak did not seem that far at the time.

The next night, six people crossed the great beyond. It was twice the amount of the previous night’s toll.

No one spoke a word, for among those who perished were men of iron strength. It was just too cold.

The winds seemed harsher, and the freezing temperatures cut deep into the bone.

We thought it was only a two-day’s journey. However, we camped for another night, and it was even colder than the last.

We built a large fire to keep us warm.  We used whatever we had on hand to use as fuel. We huddled close, and tried to rest. Some were afraid to sleep as they fear that they may never wake again.

Most of us thought that our foes would be great beasts of the north – bears, direwolves, some even feared the frozen corpse of the waking undead… We never thought that our foe would be an unseen force that would pick at us one at a time… The cold. For this, we were terribly unprepared.

The mountain seemed more cruel than the previous nights of our journey. Twelve of our companions slept their last.

We were on the last leg of our journey – we could see the temple. It was in the shape of a large, bearded man who seemed to be holding down the head of a large beast. The beast’s mouth was the temple’s entrance, so it seems.

We went in and warmth was a welcomed surprise.

Inside, we saw a large intricate altar which looked like it has been frozen and covered with sharp icicles. There was no fire, but the rays of the sun served as illumination.

We placed the chest on the altar, opened it and found it was empty, but for the piece of scroll that contained the prayer we need to recite.

“What trickery is this??” Olaf shouted. He lost three fingers to the cold.

I read the scroll.

“O lord of hail and ice and snow, take the souls of these brave men who have entered your holy realm…” I read words written on the scroll… it was short, but it conveyed the message clearly… We were not transporting a sacrifice to the god… We were the sacrifice!

The altar lowered, most likely due to the weight of the chest. I heard a loud click. The room rumbled, and the door to the entrance was sealed shut by a large stone tablet. From the ceiling, ice spears fell, killing five of our companions who were unlucky enough to be on the receiving end.

We heard more rumblings – the sound of a mechanism in the temple’s walls moving. It was an intricate trap, and we sprung it.  The temperature quickly dropped and we felt the icy chill.

We were trapped!

“Those damn priests tricked us!” Olaf yelled as he bashed at the door with his one good fist.

“They didn’t lie to us,” I said recalling the instructions to take the chest and sacrifice up the mountain temple.  “But they did trick us.”

“I am not dying in this damned place!” Olaf took out his axe which he hid underneath his furs and started attacking the stone door.

He barely did any significant damage.

A group of seven people volunteered to explore the temple with the hopes of finding a way to either disable the trap, or perhaps find another way out.

We never saw them again. We assumed they either fell victim to some trap, or died some other gruesome way.

There were only seven of us left in the main temple – Olaf, the barbarian, three spear men hailing from the nearby settlement of Friis. Hardy men who were no stranger to the harsh, cold wilderness. One bowman from the south who was chattering his teeth the entire journey. He was severely under-dressed for the journey, but survived by taking the clothes of the dead. Last of our companions was a silent, hooded man. he barely spoke. Olaf said he seemed like a spell-caster, for he saw trinkets under the man’s cloak, as well as markings on his arms.

I looked up and saw the light and how there seemed to be a wind that was blowing all the cold inside. How the entire temple changed to freezing cold from warm and toasty was a mystery to me. However, there might be a way if we investigate the source of the cold air.

I took our climbing rope and gave it to the archer.

The ceiling was high, almost three persons high. A fall from that height may be fatal. The bowman shot an arrow with the rope attached. It struck the temple’s ice-covered ceiling. It seemed to be sturdy enough.

I climbed the rope, with the hope of finding an escape.

“Where is this light coming from?” I thought to myself as I ascended.

My heart sank when I reached the top. The air was flowing in from thin gaps between the ceiling. Light is coming in from it, as well, and was being reflected at the mirror-like surface of the temple’s high ceiling. I reached out, and felt the cold breeze flowing in.

I took out my knife and attempted to make the hole larger.

I only ended up with a broken knife.

“No use…” I grumbled in frustration as I began my descent.

“What now?” Olaf asked. “Anyone got any bright ideas?”

I looked around and noticed our spell-caster companion had vanished!

“Where did Hood-man go?” I asked.

The archer crouched down to the floor and examined the floor.

“He went this way.” He pointed to a corner of the room with a dead end.

“Strange. His track disappeared from this corner… could it be?” He inspected around the area. He found a loose ice stalagmite, an ice formation that  rose from the floor. We heard a feint click, barely audible, and a hidden wall door panel appeared.

“That bastard!” Olaf screamed in outrage.

The cloaked mage was most likely with the priests of the god of ice.

We followed the path out – a long and winding stair case that seemed to crawl underneath the mountain. We found ourselves midway down the mountain’s slope, our spell-caster friend nowhere in sight.

“He seemed to have went that way.” The archer pointed to the east. “He’s probably heading back to the village priests.”

“What do we do now?” I asked the remainder of our group.

Olaf smiled a rather sinister smile, while his one good hand gripped the handle of his large axe.

 

{To Be Continued}

—————————————————————————–

Thank you for reading. I hope you liked it.

This prompt has helped me not only as an exercise in writing, but also in building on what could be a potential series of stories. If I could turn it to a novel of sorts, I’d be really happy…

For now, rest assured that I will be continuing on this story real soon. So please subscribe to be updated and notified once it does.

Have a nice day!

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22 thoughts on “The Sacrifice

    1. Thank you for reading.

      The ending seemed a bit sudden, eh? I see. Thank you for your feedback. I can probably think of other ways to make the escape a bit more difficult, but I was running out of time… hahaha… I guess the urgency reflected in my output.

      Thank you, again.

      1. Oh, I see.

        It was sort of intentional, specially since I am thinking of having some kind of continuation for this story, specially if it has potential. 😀

    1. Thank you very much. I am indeed planning to continue on writing on this story. Hopefully I can have a continuation or something by next month.

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