The beast king pulled the leg full from its socket and with no further exaltation, no drumbeat or ceremony, gnawed down upon it.  At such a distance, she could not make out its eyes beyond a sense that they were closed as the flesh was rendered from the bone by its monstrous tusk-like teeth.  Blood, thick and dark, ran as furiously as her own slowed, down its front.  It had no care of the mess it had made, the sacrifice, the being who would only truly be dead three excruciating minutes from now.

Where had Ammon sent her?

Even witnessing such horror, Amelia noted something strange about the air in this place.  A powdery blue color, translucent like the air itself had been painted to match a Robin’s egg, tinted the vignette.  She shivered in her own skin until she felt a light touch at the hem of her dress.

She tore herself from the macabre scene in response to the pull at her ankle, and saw the little girl, gripping the hilt of Amelia’s prized dagger.  She was frightened, spitting out a brief, unintelligible phrase, as her wide eyes strained even wider at the woman she had arguably taken captive.   She was afraid, the expression shifted to show in the tautness at the corners of her mouth, the sudden presence of her minutely jagged teeth, but only that Amelia had caught her, and she spun on her bare heels and ran with blade held loosely in her hand down the corridor.

Amelia gathered her skirts, fighting the dazed feeling that spun like a dervish at each of her temples, and knotted the ties on her boots back up.   She re-pinned her hair to little effect.

“Little girl!” She hissed as loudly as she dared and stumbled forward after the child thief.  She had no earthly idea where she was now, but nothing promised safety beyond what had just been taken from her.

Amelia’s eyes swam in the inky darkness that overtook her within a handful of steps as she turned the corner in the carved-out passageway.  After tripping on something she could neither determine nor kick away, she slowed herself, afraid to run and break a limb.  The quiet was painful, even in the depths of Capri there had been the surge of water, even in the untrafficked crypts and tombs she had been called to visit, she had footfall or some assistant to whistle tunelessly and calm her.

It was impossible to continue and not question how closely she traveled to her doom.   Still, she would starve up in that cave, starve or wait to be fed to whomever…whatever that was.   Still, bravery meant only one more step, and she had not been raised to cower, sensible though it would be.

The corridor tunneled down and sloped around in a long, meandering spiral until finally, finally, it began to open up into a larger room lit once again by torch light.  Another single creature, hooded, in white stood at its center, surrounded by eight flat slabs of stone each several feet up, off the ground.   They were empty, but the ropes, the splattered blood, indicated that they had not and would not be empty for long.





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