The Assassin’s Sacrifice: 6

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Copyright 2020 Jeff Suwak. All rights reserved.

(This story was originally published in Plasma Frequency Magazine, Issue 11.)

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

He drew his throwing knife from the leather sheath tied around his calf and readied to throw. The moment that Adta grabbed his wrist, he spun around and pressed the blade to her throat.

The woman’s eyes gleamed with rage. Heider pressed the blade forward more firmly, and then the rage was replaced with fear. “One little life does not seem so insignificant when it is your own, does it?”

They faced each other for another silent moment before he let go of her, turned, and threw. It was a shot that few men could make, but Heider was unlike most men, and his knife found its mark clean and true in the priest’s throat. The man went down sputtering, clutching at his neck as blood ran around the blade.

“Idiot,” Adta growled.

The waithawa rose from its bird-like crouch, watching the swirling passageway in the air slowly close and sputter out. Turning to Heider, it fell to all fours and loped after him.

Heider rushed forward as the waithawa leapt over a broken piece of pillar and cut the creature out of the air, bisecting its body from throat to stomach with his kukri. Without turning back to examine his handiwork, he pressed forward towards the altar.

The mawala stood facing him, their suction-mouths working furiously. As though coming to some wordless agreement, they turned and fled across the chamber towards a distant tunnel. Heider noted the direction they headed in so that he could track them down later, but stopped at the boy.

The child was pale and still. He looked like he was already dead. Heider refused to accept that idea and cut through the veins that had bored into his flesh. Blood sprayed across the warrior’s face as he struggled to release the boy.

He was near to completing his task when something blasted him from behind and sent him sliding over the ground. His kukri skidded out of his hand as he slammed into a wall, pain shooting through his ribs as they loudly cracked and broke.

Dazed, he stumbled to his feet and looked up to see Adta floating swiftly towards him. Dark bands of eldritch energy curled around her hands as she traced symbols in the air. “The punishment for betrayal is death,” she hissed.

The crone traced a black triangle in the air. It expanded rapidly like a window until a slavering, undead hound leapt out of it. The creature’s flesh had peeled away to reveal rotted, maggot-ridden organs within.

Heider staggered backwards as the dog closed on him. It leapt into the air and he prepared to meet it with his bare hands, but a bright light engulfed them both before they collided. Shielding his eyes, the warrior could faintly make out the image of the hound falling motionlessly to the floor, where it swiftly decayed and then disappeared altogether.

He looked up to see Adta appraising the scene in confusion. Ghostly faces began to appear in the light around her. Gradually they solidified into dozens of luminescent children.

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I’m not in the Matrix. I AM the Matrix.

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