The sun was directly overhead, illuminating every inch of the hollow stone tower, and eliminating the shadow of its lone prisoner. This event had become his only tool for keeping accurate time amidst his frequent slips unto unconsciousness, a fitful sleep that brought no rest and could last from mere minutes to hours.
Sleep became a strange thing when one was slated for execution.
At least it was no longer something to wrack his brain with. This placement of the sun marked his fourth day in the tower, and his last day on this world. Soon he would have the opportunity to receive his final meal- What his executioners would consider a mercy, but his tongue an act of war- And be lead out over the cliff where the ceremony would take place. The, "victim", of his, "crime", would be there to oversee it, as well as the High Priest.
Or in this case, only the one, considering that they're one and the same. Assault on a member of the royal priesthood was met with a sentence of death after all. Normally a lowly slave like him wouldn't even be given the kindness of being held for four days prior to his, "Spiritual Embarkation", but being the property of the High Priest gave him certain privileges. More than that, he was sure that his former master only wanted to rub it in his face one final time, see that look of absolute and powerless defeat in his eyes. Unfortunately, he doubted he'd have the strength to resist giving him that satisfaction.
The rusty door was thrown open and a pair of hooded guards stepped in. Why they carried weapons, he'd never know. No one chained to a stone wall for the, "Ceremonial 100 Hours of Enlightenment", would have any strength nor will to fight. They (presumably) eyed him for a moment before approaching, probably because he knew them. He often found himself eating in the company of the guards, but they were forbidden to say a word. They released his arms from the chains, and slowly lifted him to his feet. A moan of pain escaped his cracked lips, having sat still against the wall with no food for days, he was understandably quite sore. The guards could not show him any mercy however, if in fact they did know him as he believed. There was a schedule to keep, and punishment would fall on them next if they were late. They stopped only momentarily to gesture at the plate of mush on the small table set outside the tower, but their prisoner shook his head, and they continued on.
It was a short walk along a cobblestone path, only a few minutes time with the rustle of the trees in the breeze, birds chirping overhead, and animals chattering to one another in their dens. The cliff lay only on the other side of the priest's estate, and he was waiting, and he wasn't alone.
Today seemed to be one of his less ostentatious days. He was only wearing his standard clothing and headdress, solid gold, and covered in feathers enough to make it several feet tall. Then of course the splint, gold of course, and hastily inlaid with precious gems. His arm was broken from the man's attack after all. At his side stood the newest of his concubines, arms in chains held by the priest. She was in fact the trigger to his outburst.
"I would have expected you to react differently when I told you that your wife was to join my collection of lovely ladies, Renka", the priest mocked, waving his broken arm and giving the chain in his hands a yank, "How else shall the divine presence fill a slave?"
Renka's body tensed in an attempted lunge, but his escorts held him still, eliciting a laugh from his former master.
"In fact, there is only one other way, and I've gone to all the trouble of arranging it for you. You will have the honour of receiving the royal sacrament"
Again the guards held their prisoner still at his would-be outburst, but their hands were shaking. They obviously weren't made aware of this development either. This execution would entail far more than the usual, and most of it, pain.
The High Priest waved them over to the post erected by the cliff's edge. As per the ceremony, it was unanchored, only a post upright on the ground. The two guards looked at one another for a moment, before one gave a slight nod, volunteering to be the one to see this horrific ritual through. The other stepped back, bowed to the priest, and left to attend to his other guardly duties.
Renka was led over and tied with his back to the log, facing the cliff. A quick and almost silent, "Sorry", was heard as the remaining guard violated his vow of silence, but Renka didn't have the awareness nor inclination to recognize the voice before the ritual would begin, and the soldier stepped away.
The priest was holding his sacred book before him, yelling out several passages speaking of deliverance and forgiveness as the guard returned with a rope in hand, dragging a box behind him and positioning it before the post. He waited a moment for the priest to complete his reading, and give him the signal before continuing. He stepped back as he slid one side of the box open, and released its contents.
They called them "Nicca", in their language. Insect-like creatures that will swarm and devour everything in their path. They often used the bugs' flesh-dissolving venom on their weapons, it was one of the biggest reasons the nation was as powerful as it was. They were used to "return the flesh to the world". Renka would have been screaming there with the Nicca coating him for minutes if not for the remainder of the ceremony.
In his writhting he had twisted just far enough to catch another glimpse of his wife, who had wrestled the chain from the grip of the wicked priest and was running toward him, her words inaudible against his yelling.
... Just as the guard carefully dropped a torch at the foot of the post. "...And fire to bring judgement upon the soul", this was the royal sacrament. A death sentence usually reserved only for royalty who betray the church, an over-glorified torture session ending in death.
Flame met flesh, and Renka's screams were only temporarily drowned out as the swarm was cooked alive with a horrific squeal.
His wife didn't stop her approach.
One could barely make out an unintelligible yell of protest from the soldier as she threw herself against Renka and clung to him, sending the post tumbling over the cliff.
They spun end-over-end, becoming tangled in vines and crashing violently against the sharp rocks on their descent until a final impact brought them both into blackness.