edited: 6/3/05

The Sacrifice

Chapter 1: Abomination

I met a man in the alleyway long ago. A ragged man reeking of neglect and squalor. And as I passed by him, he spoke, his voice rough and hoarse. "There's time in the world for everything," he preached. And at the time, I laughed at him and told him to lay off the drugs and ale for a bit and maybe his senses would clear. Then again, maybe not. Maybe he was permanently damaged. Well, that was a downer for him. But hey, that wasn't not my problem, now was it?

But lots of people tell me things, when I think about it though.

The gods once told me if I proved myself pure and selfless with true intent, I would be readmitted into the Elysian Fields of the Seven Gods and their angels. The euphoria mortals could only dream of. A heaven, if you will.

It's every mortal's dream to be welcomed into the Elysian Fields after death. And most are, though they area usually allowed only into the second level of that divine realm. Hell is the place where mortals go after death. It's not as bad as it sounds, believe me. Or at least I think so. Not like I've ever really been there before. I've just heard bits and pieces, here and there.

But, unlike humans, I am not mortal. Angelic blood runs through my veins, preventing any sort of death that might come my way. Scars run down my shoulders from where my great wings were stripped like skin from flesh. Scars that are more than a thousand years old. Scars reminding me this is all real and not just another nightmare.

It's kind of hard to believe that I've been here for that long, a thousand years, and still have been unable to prove myself worth of the Elysian Fields. How pathetic am I?

In the center of the infamous town of Taleer, countless people gathered, polluting the air with obscene words. Upon hearing those words, I moved closer, wondering what they were shouting for. Or at. I noticed one dark curly haired boy, no older than ten, pick up a stone the size of his fist and squeeze his way through the crowd. I edged closer, watching the crowd comprised of mainly men dressed in shabby tunics and trousers.

At the outskirts of this little mob, I saw the boy with dark curly hair heave his rock suddenly at someone tied to the post. Tied to the post? I shoved my way through the crowd, disregarding the mumbled protests.

"Witch! I hope you burn in all the seven layers of Hell," I heard the boy curse. My eyes widened. Quite a curse for a rather small child.

All around me more jeers erupted, echoing the boy's words. "Look at her! Her eyes are wild like a demon's." "Damn her and her kind. They cursed my lands fallow." "Bitch! You killed my boy."

The focus of these threats was a woman with wild auburn hair, her hands tied behind her back so she could not protect herself from the stones bruising her delicate skin. Beneath her feet were twigs ready to burn. She sobbed and whimpered, but never cried out. I had to hand it to her. The girl had real fortitude.

I blanched in disgust at the scene around her though. But this wasn't the first time I had seen a beating such as this. Men, women and children were habitually beaten if seen using sorcery. If it wasn't beating, it was lapidation. If not lapidation, then burning. Or sometimes both. They found it unnatural. An abomination. I wanted to strangle these people for believing this woman standing before me was unnatural. Unnatural, my ass. Sorcery was more natural to this world than air.

I looked down at the woman, my chestnut brows puckered. I didn't know how to help this woman and I knew I shouldn't interfere with human affairs. I was a fallen angel looking for his way back into the Elysian Fields, not a mortal looking to correct the world. But when she looked at me with those wild sapphire eyes moist with tears, darken with sorrow and brightened with lost hope, I couldn't help myself. It was as if someone else was controlling my body. A compulsion to help.

I moved to the front of the crowd, in front of the woman without thinking. A rock clipped my shoulder, hard enough to bruise.

"Hey, boyo, get outta the way!"

I jerked my gaze into the direction of the voice. A burly, swarthy, grease man glaring at me as if his stare could kill me. He threatened to heave a rock at me. Let him. Not like I would die from it. If fact, I would enjoy the pain it would bring. It brought me back into reality. But when he drew his arm back, ready to release the rock, I caught his hand.

I brought my face real close to his, my nose nearly touching his. Fear emanated from the man like a second body odor. I fought hard not to snarl in disgust.

"Drop it," I hissed, pressing my thumb on the inside of his wrist. The rock dropped. I shoved him hard into the arms of several other men and not to mention on woman giving me an appraising flirtatious grin. In disgust, I glowered at her and the men.

"Get out of here before I decide to place you on that stake," I growled, giving one sweeping gesture of my arm. Like flies they were, hovering incessantly in a swarm and buzzing with annoyance.

I wondered what I looked like at that moment. A slightly disheveled man dressed in a threadbare shirt and a pair of chocolate-brown trousers so large that they dragged on the ground. A man poor enough to live on the streets. Yet here he was, ordering these merchants and commoners like he was a king.

Well, then again, I wasn't exactly a mortal man either.

The mob snarled at me, but turned to leave anyway, dragging the flirtatious whore with them, thank the gods.

Yet out of the corner of my eye, I saw that same dark haired child I notice kneel near the pile of sticks, his face grim in determination and concentration. His hands jerked in quick motions. Suddenly, he grinned bitterly in triumph. He didn't look so young now.

"Get out of here, kid. What do you think you're…" My voice fell flat as the boy scurried away. But the damage was done.

The wild eye woman gave one glance at that rapidly growing spark and shrieked loud enough to make even the deafest man cringe. It tore at my heart to see her attempt to scurry away from the flame to no avail.

Lunging across the fire, feeling the fire lick and kiss my skin, I grabbed the woman with one hand while the other ripped the bonds to shreds. She shrieked when I hauled her over my shoulders and leaped down from the stake, using sorcery to break me fall.

Shifting my hold on her so I carried the woman with one arm under her knees and the other around her shoulders, I noticed the woman was out cold from either pain or shock. It was probably more like shock because she was shrieking just fine before I leaped. Well, maybe it was for the better that she was out cold. Better for my ears, anyway. I may be immortal, but my hearing wasn't.

Glancing around to see if, just maybe, there was a kind soul willing to look after the young woman in the crowd I had suddenly acquired, I frowned. Only hostile glares and shocked stares met my gaze. Fine. So be it. I'll take care of the wild woman. Set her free from this damn condemning town and its insular ways.

As I suspected, the walk to the inn where my horse was tethered wasn't as uneventful as I wished it would be.

A hand touched my shoulder. I shrugged off the touch and kept walking, ignoring the desperate irate pleas from the man behind me. "You can't take 'er out of 'ere. She belongs to me."

I whipped around, careful not to harm the woman but quick enough to startle the man. I could feel the anger pouring from my eyes like tears. "Belongs to you?" I all but cried out incredulously. My body was pulsating with anger.

The man cowered away. "Y-yes. She's my daughter."

The man had the gall to tell me this?

Tension built up inside of me, like a boiling pot just waiting to overflow with seething rage. "You daughter?" I sputtered, my voice shaking with hatred. "You allowed your daughter to be stoned, then burned at the stake? What kind of father are you?"

I can't say why this tension was building up inside of me or where it came from. I had seen a copious amount to burnings, hangings and whatnot. I've seen a child burned before his mother. I've seen a young girl staked because they believe she was a vampire because her skin was sensitive to the light. This shouldn't have bothered me at all. Not a single whit.

But it did.

The father trembled visibly. Had I not been so vexed, I might've laughed at the large man quivering in trepidation. "Sh-she's a witch," he said, his voice slowly growing stronger suddenly. He lifted his chin. "An abomination to my kindred. A disgrace to our race. Her mother was one of 'em, and she was given the same treatment. The One God does not accept 'er kind."

One God, my ass. He didn't exist. The Seven reigned in the Elysian Fields. I was angel, I should know that sort of stuff.

My hand came dangerously close to enclosing around his neck. But I managed to shove the man away for me before he pushed me too far. Asinine man. He didn't deserve to consider himself part of the mortal race. He was below human.

I held back from spitting on the man's face, though he truly earned it. Instead, I threatened, "If I ever see you near this woman again, I'll kill you. And it won't be a quick and painless death either. No, I'll make sure you suffer, that you feel every last wound you've inflicted upon her physically and emotionally."

And with that, I stalked away, pausing only for a moment as I used sorcery to help saddle my roan mare before I left, the woman sitting limp in front of me. But moments after I left the village did I notice the soreness on my chest, the blood smeared on the front of my shirt. Only I didn't have time to wonder whose blood it was before the tempest came in.

A/N: Thanks empath89, Birdytamel, and Islandbreeze for pointing out those sentences!