The hooded figure stood silently as the great sands of the Hashat Desert blew around him, and simply waited.
All around him, the winds heaved and roared, like some fierce beast, but the hooded figure didn't seem to care. Swarms of sand flew through the air, but they merely seemed to pass through the figure as if he wasn't there. The figure just stood there, waiting in complete silence.
The figure wore a large black cloak, covering his entire body, except for his face. Over his face, he wore a plain white mask, with no eyeholes, mouthholes or holes of any kind. Just a single red symbol painted in what unsettlingly looked like blood.
"Is it clear?" A voice suddenly sounded in the storm.
The figure nodded his head. "Clear enough."
Suddenly, as though the air itself had just coughed them up, five figures appeared. Four of them were wearing the same cloak and mask combination as the hooded figure, each with a different symbol painted onto their masks. The fifth wore simple desert clothes and had a large, black bag over his head. His hands were bound behind his back and he seemed limp as two of the figures carried him roughly by the shoulders. Unlike the first figure, these five were struggling to make their way through the sandstorms, as torrents of wind and sand buffeted against their cloaks.
"Lariel. Aziel." The hooded figure greeted the new arrivals. "Sahiel. Mehpiel" He turned to the bound figure. "And our special guest."
"Iniel." The figure identified as Aziel hissed in a reptilian tone. "Where issss he? Where isssss the Keeper? Isss he dead?"
"Uh… Depends on your definition of dead." Iniel scratched the back of his head. "If by dead you mean large, green, scaly and royally pissed off, then yes. He's dead."
"So your ambush failed." Mehpiel summed up. Mehpiel was the smallest of the group, with a higher-pitched, feminine voice, slightly muffled beneath her mask. "And who classes 'large, green and angry' as dead?"
"You've obviously never visited the Acinus forests." Iniel muttered under his breath. "Anyway, you don't need to worry. Tamziel is distracting the Keeper. He will not interfere."
"Fool!" Aziel snapped. "We need Tamziel here! You promisssed usss you would dissstract him!"
"Well, things didn't exactly go as planned." Iniel shrugged. "There was a girl with him. She recognised me from somewhere, so Tamziel and Bezhiel had to take over."
"Did they kill her?" Sahiel let out a low, malevolent chuckle. "Did they paste the temple wall with her entrails?! Oh, I hope they did! I'm shuddering just thinking about it!"
Iniel stared silently at Sahiel for a few seconds. "Did anyone ever tell you that you have a talent for being incredibly creepy?"
"Iniel." Lariel folded his arms calmly. "I'm losing my patience."
Iniel felt a shiver go down his spine. Lariel easily had the most presence of the group and somehow his glare could pierce through several layers of clothing. Just looking at the man made Iniel uncomfortable.
"R-Right!" Iniel suddenly snapped to attention. "Bad news is Bezhiel's dead. The girl was a pretty strong practitioner and the Keeper managed to take him by surprise. It wasn't a pretty sight. Unless you like that sort of thing…" Iniel shot a less-than-stealthy glance at Sahiel.
"Are they still in there?" Mehpiel's hand nervously twitched towards a dagger hidden in her cloak.
Iniel snorted. "Do you really think I'd be wasting your time with all this talk if the Keeper was still here?"
"To be honest, yes. You have a habit for that sort of thing."
"Iniel." Lariel interrupted. "Is the Keeper still in there?"
"No. Tamziel managed to lure him and the girl out into the sandstorm. I don't know where they are now."
"Good." Lariel gathered his robes around him to stop them blowing away. "Then we proceed as planned. Iniel, if you please?"
"On it." Iniel turned away from the group and raised his hand. "Irios."
As Iniel spoke, a white marble wall sprang up from where he had placed his hand. Slowly, a pure white temple began to emerge from thin air. It was only a small structure, but it was a grand one, emitting a fearful and impressive aura. The sands seemed to blow around the structure, as if afraid to touch it. In front of the group, two large, arched doors stood, simultaneously inviting and threatening.
"So this is the temple of a minor god." Mehpiel let out a gasp. "Magnificent."
Suddenly, as if reacting to the temple's presence, the bound figure began to stir.
"We do not have time to waste." Lariel reminded the group. "If the Prophet regains consciousness, then we will struggle to hold him."
The group agreed and began dragging the bound figure into the temple.
The inside of the temple felt refreshingly cool and peaceful, compared to the raging sands outside. Four huge marble pillars supported the grand roof above them. The walls of the temple were a pure bone white colour, just like the outside. Barely any dust or mud or stain of any kind could be seen on the floor or on the walls.
Except for the large blood stain on the Eastern Wall.
At first glance, it looked like someone had splashed red paint all over the white marble stone. A closer look, however, and you could see the lumps of flesh and brain matter slowly dripping down the wall. And then there was the body
Well, if you could call that a body.
Generally, most bodies had some sort of recognisable form. Or bones. This one was more like some sort of bloody red pulp. The shredded remains of a black cloak were wrapped around the brutalized corpse and a shattered white mask lay at its side. A mop of messy silver hair, stained red, lay atop his head, casting a shadow over the battered pulp that was once his face.
Lariel looked at the 'body'. "Bezhiel?"
Iriel winced. "The Keeper isn't exactly the most delicate of beings."
"It's beautiful…" While his face couldn't be seen, the rest of the group could tell that Sahiel was taking an almost orgasmic delight at the sight. "I want to meet the artist who created this incomparable work…"
"If you really wish, you can stay behind afterwards and meet him." Iriel shuddered. "The rest of us, however, enjoy having our bones on the inside of our bodies. So we'd like to get this over and done with."
"Seconded." Mehpiel gagged, trying not to vomit.
"I concur." Lariel nodded, his voice as cool and calm as always. "Bring the Prophet to the centre of the temple."
The group moved through the temple until they eventually reached a small statue in the centre of the temple. The statue was that of a simple soldier, sword and shield in hand, but there was something about the statue's eyes… Something about them which emanated sheer willpower. Iriel looked at the eyes for a second before turning away, shivering. There was an inscription on the base of the statue, but time had faded it away and none of the group could tell what it said. They could guess though. And they had a pretty good idea whose name was on i-
A sudden roar from outside shook the group from their thoughts.
"The Keeper returnssss." Aziel hissed. "Tamziel obvioussssly couldn't hold him. Get it over and done with, Lariel."
"Rushing this is likely to cause us just as much disaster as the Keeper is." Lariel drew a long, thin dagger from the folds of his cloak. "Place the Prophet on his knees, in front of the statue."
Mehpiel and Aziel did as they were told. Another roar cut through the air, this time considerably louder.
"Now stand back, everybody." Lariel placed his hand on the Prophet's head. "In the name of our organisation. In the name of El Iyesh. We begin…"
And, in a single smooth movement, Lariel cut the Prophet's throat open.
Dark-red blood splashed onto the ground as the Prophet let out a dying gurgle, muffled by the bag still on his head. Then, he slowly collapsed onto the white marble floor, a small puddle of blood forming beneath him.
The temple began to shake violently and large cracks appeared on its previously flawless marble walls and floors. Large chunks of the roof began to plummet from the sky, narrowly missing the group. The statue they were standing in front of began to emit an impure white light.
"Arm yourselves." Lariel ordered, drawing a large sword from the folds of his cloak. "This is the part where we kill a God…"
Several days later.
Reyte Yarith stumbled through the hot desert, dazed and confused.
Where am I?
He didn't know how he had found himself in the desert.
Why am I here?
He didn't know of any possible reason for him to be in the desert.
Who am I?
Most importantly, he couldn't remember any details about his own life, aside from his own name. He had no idea where he was born, where he lived, anything. However, there was one other thing he could remember. A name. He didn't know whose name it was or what it meant, but he could remember it as clear as his own name.
Who is Ouragos?
With that, the exhaustion got to Reyte and he collapsed into the soft sands…