11: Slaves Shall Serve

The Devourer turned and looked over his shoulder and saw two dots against the building. They seemed to stand still but as he watched they grew larger by the moment. He sat down on a body and waited for them. Already missing me, He chuckled to himself. The first of them went down and disappeared. Then the other did the same. He got to his feet in an attempt to see what was happening. One of the figures got up again. It held something in its hands and swung it over its head and down into the obsidian. A scream echoed over the fields. He turned and continued walking. Then he hid from them again, the humans.

In the early autumn of the sixth year of solitude, when the sun had started to set, he journeyed back to where he left them. And after two moons, he saw the silhouette of the mountain of dead and obsidian against the last autumn sun. Almost the size of the Vessel it reached for the sky. A never-dying fire burned at its top and drew toward it the attention of anything on anything with eyes on the fields. Smaller fires moved around the building throughout the night as he crept closer. Then he saw the pit.

First, he thought the sound of their whimpering were the winds against the hills. Then he peeked over the edge and saw the mutilated men huddled in the pit. They turned to him when he rustled the obsidian. The faint moonlight illuminated their empty orbits and muttering toothless mouths. They dragged the stumps of their severed legs through the shards in search of the sound. He flinched and rolled onto his back and watched the stars and listened to the gibberish of their tongueless speech.

Then the sound of footsteps approached from the direction of the castle. A woman with a torch stopped at the edge of the pit and looked down into it. She took a bag attached to a rope and lowered it down into the hole. Making himself as flat as possible, the Devourer crept to the edge and watched the prisoners crawl to the bag and urinate into it. After they finished, the woman lifted the bag and put it on the ground beside her. She poured some sludge from a container into the pit. The prisoners ate it in delight. She drank from the bag before taking it with her back to the castle.

Some time later more people came from the castle with torches in hand. Between them walked another prisoner with his arms tied behind his back. They stopped at the edge of the pit. One of them gave its torch to another and walked around the prisoner. Four more people came from the direction of the castle. All carried torches. They stopped and stood around the prisoner. The accumulated light from the torches made it possible for the Devourer to see their faces. It was Chyron and six women. None of them Eoz.

Chyron kicked the prisoner in the back of his knee, and he fell to the ground. They rolled him onto his back with his bound arms under himself. Chyron sat on his chest, and one of the women handed him a thighbone. He rammed it into the prisoner’s teeth again and again until all came loose. The prisoner spat them out onto the ground. Chyron pried open his mouth with the bone. The woman handed him a long piece of obsidian. He stuck the piece into the prisoner’s mouth and sawed off the tongue as the prisoner screamed a gurgling scream. Another woman took it and put it into a bag. Then Chyron pushed the shard into the prisoner’s eyes. One after another as the prisoner screamed again and a fountain of blood sprayed out his mouth.

The lights from the fires reflected off the blood streaming from the prisoner’s empty orifices. The women stuck a torch in each eye and one into his mouth, cauterizing the wounds. Chyron flipped him onto his stomach and started cutting off his leg as two of the women held him still. One of the women began hacking at the bared thighbone until it broke as Chyron started cutting into the flesh of the other. As soon as the first was severed, they put it into the bag with the tongue and cauterized the stump with their torches. The other leg followed some time later. When all was done, they cut his arms free, hacked off his fingers, cauterized the wounds, and rolled him over the edge and into the pit where he lay motionless.

Dig! Chyron shouted at the prisoners that crawled toward a hole in the middle of the pit. One after another they disappeared into it as more swarmed out from caves along the edges of the cavity. The ground swallowed hundreds of them like ants into the depths of their kingdom. All but their new brother in slavery that remained where he fell. Now and again they resurfaced to empty the tunnel from shards.

The same scenario played out the next day and the day after that. More slaves were mutilated and thrown into the pit to tunnel deeper fueled by the sludge traded for golden water. The lucky worked themselves to death early and became sustenance for those not yet so. The Devourer watched and waited while the green lights appeared and danced over the skies.