The entire temple area reeked of burned meat and ash, but the repugnant odor was strongest in the circular area in which they now found themselves. The smell was augmented with another disgusting flavor as well in this room, which complemented the already revolting aroma with appallingly nauseating efficiency, and that was the undeniable smell of coagulated blood, a fair amount to be sure.
They stood together at the far end of the room, which had dark shadows looming all around its edges just behind massive stone pillars, which decorated its interior perimeter. Because of this dark mass behind the pillared wall it was impossible to tell just how big the room was, or what may lie beyond the security of the firelight. The fire coming from a massive pyre in the middle of the room, which caste a sickening orange-yellow glow on the whole room. And the shadows that flanked them on either side were not only flickering in the firelight, but undulating in a hypnotic and repetitive fashion, from… well she couldn't be sure but it looked like people on their knees.
It was people, which explained the strange sounds of the room; it was people praying in some language she couldn't understand.
"Its Hindi" Jon said, as if reading her mind, without even turning to meet her gaze when she looked at him. His face was fixed firmly forward at the edge directly opposite of themselves.
An altar of some sort was at the far end of the entrance at which they stood. And behind it something was moving. She couldn't be sure what it was, but noticing its form beyond the fire instantaneously filled her veins with the ice of fear and adrenaline.
As the figure rose from behind the altar the chanting increased from there flanks to a dull roar. The chant created a rhythm, which seeped into the very core of her being, and filled her up with dread and, as strange as it felt to her, wonder, maybe even awe. The figure stood finally at its full height which was impressive, maybe six or even seven feet tall, stood for a moment basking in what was obvious worship of itself from the shadows beyond and finally said something in Hindi. Its voice was quiet but somehow clearly heard from over the din of chants around it, but could that really be it speaking? Its voice sounded like a tuning fork struck against iron bars, it hummed and rang in an otherworldly way that made it impossible to tell what sex it was. At the sound of this disquietingly musical command the chanting instantaneously ceased mid-verse. The figure began to walk to the right around the edge of the room, and she could see now that hands were reaching from the shadows to touch the hem of its clock, which came into a hood at the head, making it still impossible to see the figure hidden underneath. And with a shocking realization she came to see that the figure was actually closer to nine feet in height, possibly more.
It cut across the middle of the room, still slowly, almost levitating to stand in front of them in front of the pyre in the middle of the room.
"It isn't touching the ground, the floor is covered in sand and it didn't leave a single mark in it" Jon said in a low whisper. The figures gaze slowly swept from the left across the room to the right, and as its head turned in there direction it paused for an almost un noticeable second before finishing its scan of the room. The entire area was silent, still, and even the fire seemed to have turned its volume down in the presence of this, this thing.
"You may step out of the shadows my friends, I have known you were there for quite some time," the thing said in its disquieting metallic voice, and in perfect English as well! Not even the slightest hint of an accent lay behind its silvery voice.
She didn't want to move forward, in fact she wanted to run, she had never been more frightened in her entire life. Forget mother, forget father, forget Jon, she just wanted to run, run back to Denmark and the noose because nothing could be more terrifying than being in this room right now, not even death by hanging. But when a reassuring hand pushed lightly against the small of her back, urging her forward she heeded the command, and her and Jon (still looking intensely at the figure but showing no fear in his face whatsoever, and how she hoped her resolve appeared to be the same) stepped forward out of the shadows and into the light of the chamber, face to face not but twenty feet or so away from the monolithic figure commanding the attention in the center of the room.
"There you are, that wasn't so hard to do was it? You really shouldn't be so rude as to cower that way, you are my guest after all, and I have been expecting you for sometime now" the figure spoke again in its perfect English. "Of course you are a bit early and have caught me, I am afraid, in the middle of something rather important, so if I may implore you to wait for just a few moments we can begin to get to know each other"
Then the figure barked a command in yet another language, and this time she recognized it from her schooling as a girl, and though she had never been good with Latin she understood enough to make out that the thing in the room facing her was ordering that something be brought to him. And a scant moment after the command was issued two other hooded figures, normal size ones, drug out between them a under his arms a small and seemingly half conscious and clearly terrified Indian man wearing nothing but a wrap around his private areas. The two hooded figures, who were obviously human, came to within about five feet of the thing in the middle of the room and dropped the Indian man to the floor, who fell to his knees and lay with his head down and arms outstretched toward the figure. And he was trembling. Without turning to face them the hooded figure regarded the others with a slight wave of his hand, which somehow remained hidden inside his robes, and with a deep bow both figures retreated back the way they came, walking backward and always facing the figure in the middle of the room.
As they drifted back into the shadow the room grew silent once again. Except of course for the whimpering of the man in the middle of the room at the feet of the giant clocked creature in the middle of the room. Then the creature spoke something gently in Hindi, and a cry rose from the shadowy ranks, clear, singular of tone, and distinct. The word Rakshasa. And as the cry rose and fell the man at the feet of creature slowly rose first to his knees, then one foot, then both, to stand in front of the form in front of him that nearly was double his height, but he never looked up at the creature, just down at his own feet, muttering what she could only assume was a prayer. The creature whispered something again in Hindi, and yet a whisper was still all it took to command the attention of everyone in the room, even the man who had previously stood shaking at the foot of him.
Then the creature, as every eye in the chamber gazed upon it, raised its hands and lowered its hood. The first and only human thing she recognized about the creature was that it was undeniably a male. Its white hair fell around its face to rest on its shoulder and back. Its skin was grey, like stone, and looked as if it was just as hard. There was almost a blue tint to it that could be seen clearly in his skin as well, due to the fact that the creatures' back was to the fire. Its white hair looked as if its ends were on fire in the orange glow. Its face was aquiline, slender, and pointing down into a sharp chin, its nose long and sharp. At first she thought that he had solid black eyes, but then realized with paralyzing alarm that he, the creature, had no eyes, just hollow sockets with nothing but a dark chasm behind each. And the thin smile on his face revealed a similar property, behind the cracked thin lips was nothing but the same darkness found behind the eyes, not even teeth were evident, though a dark feeling told her that they were there, somewhere. But worst of all his skin seemed to be cracked liked a mirror, with the cracks scattered across his face growing wider as they traced down his neck.
The creature, seeming to sense her terror at its appearance (though because of those holes in its head where eyes should have been she couldn't tell if it was even looking at her) smiled toward her and spread its arms wide, as its robe fell from its shoulder to the floor with a hard thud. Its body was just as terrible, its long limbs were as tall as she was easily, and were so thin it gave him the appearance of a famine victim, though his arms were etched with obvious stringy muscles. His chest was shallow, but muscular nonetheless, and it lead to a belly that seemed to bulge with food, yet his entire figure was still slender. His arms ended in hands that seemed to big to match the thickness of his arms, and three long spindle fingers sprouted from each hand with a thumb jutting from the side as if placed there by an afterthought, which ended themselves in gross and ragged yellowing nails, filed to a sharp point. He had no visible veins about his body just those horrific cracks which varied in thickness as they traced down the length of his body, getting thinner only around the belly.
He was scantily clad in nothing but dirty pants, too short, stopping at his shins, and his feet, which had the same three digits as the hands, nails and all, seemed to be touching the ground, but the sand around them was completely un disturbed. And as revolting as it was, you wouldn't be able to ignore the obviousness of the creatures' excitement in the situation, more obvious than was normal for any animal, even one of his stature.
Its face, as stony as it was, very clearly displayed pleasure at the shocked look that she could see on Jon's face and feel growing on her own.
"Did you expect anything less?" it cooed in its silvery voice.
Very obviously a rhetorical question as it turned to the praying man next to him, who had once again averted his gaze to the floor (and who could blame him, she thought). He, it, the creature, was without any doubt the most hideous sight that her eyes had ever bore the unfortunate circumstance of coming across. Nothing repulsed or appalled her more, and as she looked at him she felt the vomit swell in her throat, threatening to gush forward. The same look of repulsion was on Jon's face as well.
The creature spoke something to the praying man in Hindi, then held out his long arms. Slowly, though clearly terrified the man walked forward, and with an ungodly quickness the monster took him up by one arm and held him at his eye level. It cooed at the man, and used its free hand to caress the hair of the man, who shock violently and attempted to turn away, though it seemed now that he could not look away from the vast emptiness of the creatures' eyes.
A chanting from the shadows began again, and as she looked around the circular room she noticed that several human hooded figures had emerged to stand at intervals around the room, one on either side of them no more than an arms reach away, and how they had crept into the room without her noticing made her blood run cold. She gazed back at the creature and watched in revolt and shock as it slowly opened its mouth wide, wider, and wider still, un hinging its jaw and spreading the growing gape horizontally as well as vertically, until its mouth was easily the size of a large pumpkin. And as it curled back its lips, which cracked as he did so without blood escaping the wounds, he revealed to his chanting audience saw blade teeth, three rows or more for each jaw, and all of them the most brilliant shade of white she had ever seen.
The man being held let out a terrified groan, and relieved his bladder, staining his diaper like covering a deep shade of yellow, and the man began to cry, though his gaze never left the face of monster. And with a sharp metronomic sound, animal and unearthly at the same time erupting from the creatures' mouth it lunged forward with its grotesque mouth dripping with saliva and bit down at the neck of man. Tearing away his head with a quick jerk of its neck and masticating for a brief second before swallowing the entire head nearly whole. Pieced of brain and flecks of skull littered its teeth as it cracked a devious smile toward her and Jon. Blood continued to gush from the seizing body in the monsters hand, and he turned back to face it, lifting it now with both arms and plunging the remains shoulders first into its wide open mouth. The process was graphically quick and the body was gone in mere moments as the crowds' chants grew to a steady roar.
The beings mouth quickly snapped shut back to its former hollow state, spraying blood and bits of bone as it did so. It then comically stuck its fingers in its mouth, suckled them for a brief moment, and removed them with a pop, exclaiming an 'mhmmm' sound in its maddeningly musical voice. Blood still covered its face and upper body, but it turned with an almost grace and strode toward her ten more feet, smiling its horrible smile.
"Now where we? ahhhh yes, introductions!" the creature exclaimed
"I know who you two are already of course, but I don't think you have any idea of who I might be. Can you believe that I used to be human? I would happily tell you what I was called by then, but considering how long it's been I honestly cant remember what that might have been anymore. The people here call me Rakshasa, they believe me to be a god of some kind, and the hooded followers you see think of me as Beelzebub, or Satan, and they worship me as well." The monster says all of this in perfect diction, his ringing metallic voice seems to echo vaguely, and of course he is still smiling, regarding them with his no-eyes.
"It is strange, I never believed in a god before, and now that I am one I find this amusingly ironic! the truth though is that I am the beast, I am everything that is worth fearing in this world, I am the hidden ruler, the all seeing shadow, and now that you have meet me I intend to know what it is that you think you are going to do."
He gazes, mused by the obvious horror on her and Jon's face, and for a moment they both think that they are going to die at the hands of this terrible visage of horror in front of them, what have they found, and how can they ever escape this hell which they have so blindly walked into