The drums thumped in rhythm with Aiden’s heart beat. As he walked hand in hand with the red haired lady he twisted himself back to meet eyes with Pazuzu. The fire light of the torches made his shiny snake skin face almost sparkle, he smiled back at Aiden with a row of sharp pointed teeth, to reassure him everything would be just fine.
“Ho”, the long lines of armored men barked in unison as they shifted to face the procession, thumping their shields against their spears as they moved making a great loud noise. Aiden snapped his head back forward, wide eyed as he gulped nervously, startled by the sound.
The red haired lady tilted her antler crowned head to meet him with yet another kind smile, to her it was just another Tuesday. He relaxed a bit when her eyes met his.
The pale white face paint with the black trailing eye makeup made her ghost-like in appearance. Apart from that Aiden thought she was still very pretty. There was something about her that made him feel safe. Perhaps the way she moved with a regal sort of grace. Or perhaps her kind gentle eyes full of a wondrous sense of understanding. She had a near other worldly presence about her he couldn’t quite put a finger on, but he knew he liked her very much.
“HO” the men shouted again. Now in rhythm with the deep thud of the drums, each row turning back to face the stones as they passed. Aiden’s heart beat a little faster with every thump of shield and spear.
The procession seemed like miles as they walked ever slowly while the red haired lady splashed each side of the aisle way with the blood from the bowl . Casting it across the rows of men with a fresh cut branch of ash wood. Its leaves heavy and slick bristled with every flick of her wrist throwing an arched stream of the consecrated boar’s blood over their heads.
Aiden half expected the acolyte carrying it to trip and fall backwards and spill it all over herself, but she must have done this a thousand times. She walked as gracefully as the high priestess seeming to know every dip and stone on the path intimately.
The fire light from the center of the stone circle grew brighter as they inched their way closer. Aiden knew the four big stones that marked the cardinal directions were big but they grew to be massive as they approached. As they began the ascent up the the slope of the mound he noticed the circle of smaller stones was a bit of an illusion. Not only a single ring as it appeared from below but many spiraling rings spinning ever in ward to the large block of a stone at it’s center.
Aiden stared dumbfounded at the immense stones wondering how they could have moved something so big, never mind four of them. As they finally reached the top of the mound he realized the smaller stone weren’t arranged in so much of a spiral but more of a maze really.
He traced the path as it snake back and forth arching its way around the stone circle, each layer finding it’s way to the two great bonfires and the immense stone alter at the center of it all. I really shoulda tied my boots for this he thought to himself as he estimated the distance in an exaggerated sum of about a hundred miles.
The drums and shouts stopped, for a moment he thought he had gone deaf if not for the thump of his heart beating in his ears. They stood at the entrance of the serpentine labyrinth, waiting.
He looked back to Pazuzu once again, the Demon king giving another tight lipped smile and a nod of reassurance, motioned with his eyes for his young friend to divert his attention to the base of the northern most of the massive standing stones.
The tall hooded figure stood straight and tall, as still as a statue, so still Aiden hadn’t noticed him at first glance.
BOOM BOOM the drum thumped twice, louder and deeper than they had before. The cloaked figure raised his hands to the hood of the long dark brown robe as if signaled by the drum beat. BOOM BOOM, the drum thumped again as the hood was removed revealing a man with small dark eyes and dark hair, Asian from the look of him. An image of Fr. Chien and his attempt to convince everyone of “God’s plan” back home in the camp flashed in his mind. But this man was very different from the old priest.
BOOM BOOM the drums thumped again and the man made a sound, almost like singing, but a very strange, deep rumble of a song. “WWWAAAAHHHH” he bellowed both with a deep guttural tone, and another higher tone nearly that of a birds song. Aiden’s jaw dropped as he realized that somehow, some way the man was singing with two voices.
The drums sounded again. BOOM BOOM, and another man, singing in the same fashion joined in from the base of the next stone. Aiden had been too distracted by the first he hadn’t noticed that each stone had a robed man standing at it’s base. BOOM BOOM the third joined, and then the fourth. All singing in the same two toned drone in unison, as if they all somehow knew when the others would start and stop.
The drums thumped at a steady pace once more as the crowd of warriors resumed the barking of “hoo” with every beat. The red haired lady laid the ash-wood branch in the bowl as the acolyte girl, her white garment now thoroughly speckled in blood, stepped aside. She took Aiden’s small hand with a smile and began to walk the tracts of the labyrinth as the priests and priestesses of the procession train began their own chant to a faster heart beat rhythm of a second drum.
This a chant of actual words, at least Aiden thought they were. Though they were words he had never heard before.
They spoke them fast, each beat of the drum queued another syllable spoken as they blended together like one single word, repeated over and over as they snaked their way back and forth through the maze.
After the first two layers Aiden had begun to hear the words individually as they burned themselves into his memory.
It wasn’t long before he began chanting them himself.
“FAY-HOO-OOR-OOS-THOR-EES-US-ANS-OOS- RY-DOH-KAY-NAHS-GAY-BOH-WOON-JO-HAG-AH-LAHS- NOW-THEES-EES-AH-YA-RAH-EYE-VAHS-PAIR-THOH- AL-GEEZ-SO-WEE-LOH-TEE-VUHS-BEAR-KAH-NAH- AY-VAS-MUH-NUHS-LAH-GOOS-EEN-GOOS- DAH-GAHS-OTH-AH-LAH”
The final syllable carried longer than the rest, lasting for six beats of the drum. For some reason it made him think of home, of Tyrese and Jacoby.
He hoped a silent hope that they would be alright after every cycle of the chant. As they walked ever onward in the stone labyrinth, the arrow shaped mark on his forehead began to tingle. Growing in intensity the closer they advanced to great stone alter at the center.
He looked back in frightened confusion for Pazuzu but found another acolyte had taken his place instead. Scared and suddenly feeling very alone he searched as the procession continued, the red haired lady squeezed his hand tightly when she felt him fall out of sync. She continued the chant, never falling out of rhythm with the drum beat, as she looked to him and smiled.
It was of little comfort she could see. She motioned her eyes to the center of the stones beckoning him to look for himself.
There at the center, hovering above the very flames of the great fires, Pazuzu hung weightless and unbothered by the flames looking to the stars. In his hands a small wooden bowl held aloft. The talons of his feet glinting like steel as his reptilian scales shimmered in the fire light from beneath.
Aiden stared in awe, the entire journey here Pazuzu had only actually flown but a few times. Aiden had barley noticed when he did other than the gust of wind from his wings, but now as Pazuzu hung effortlessly on the wind above the flames that would burn a human alive all his fears fell away. For the first time since he left the camp to rescue his cousin and best friend, he knew they would win.
He had the most powerful Demon in existence watching his back. The right hand of Lucifer himself as his protector. And now, after the awakening ritual was complete, an entire army of well trained warriors willing to give all to save the remaining children.
Lamashtu didn’t have a chance.
We’re gonna rip that bitch a new one he thought to himself.
He picked up the rhythm of the chant once again, picking up the pace of his stride with a new level of confidence. A purple light reflected from the stones attracting his gaze as he walked at a ready pace with the red haired lady, the tingle on his forehead grew to a warm tickling pulse.
The red haired lady’s face paint glowed in a bright pale purple hue when he looked up to her, she turned head to meet his, her eyes glimmered with the reflection of purple light. He turned his head to the gathered army looking for the source.
The “Ho” of their chant growing louder as he scanned across their spears, the light following the movement of his head. Stunned expressions crept to his face as he realized it was the mark casting the eerie light.
No fear made an attempt at taking control of his thoughts, instead joy took its place. He looked to Pazuzu again, now staring down to him with a calm smile. Aiden couldn’t contain himself as he pointed to the mark with a wide eyed open mouthed grin of excitement as he mouthed the word “awesome” to his airborne companion.
Pazuzu allowed for a small chuckle to himself in response to Aiden’s unbridled enthusiasm as he slowly touched down before the great stone altar. The chanting stopped abruptly as he landed handing the simple wooden bowl to Aiden.
“You must drink now little one” Pazuzu’s thick Syrian accent fell easy on Aiden’s ears as the Demon looked deep into Aiden’s eyes with the love of a father to his son.
With perfect trust Aiden took the bowl raising it to his lips. Pale, iridescent green glimmers of light shimmered throughout the liquid inside. Without hesitation Aiden drank.
“And now I dream?” Aiden asked handing the bowl to the red haired lady. She smiled and nodded her assurance as Pazuzu lifted the young boy and placed him on the alter shifting Aiden’s gun belt so the small caliber revolver wouldn’t cause a discomfort. Aiden had expected the stone to be frigid on a night so cold his heavy knit shirt and blue jeans had barely been enough to keep the chill away but the heat from the fires had made it comfortable.
From the flat of his back he stared upwards to the sky, his eyelids growing heavy. Unsure if a dream or reality he watched as the pale green aurora danced across the night sky, wavering in air in ghastly hues.
A new chant started as he drifted further into the edges of dreaming this one carried solely by the warriors, the words once again unfamiliar to him “Pazuzu?” He asked sleepily for his friend.
“It is called a Hakka, little one.” He said softly. “They honor your courage with this” Pazuzu placed a massive hand on Aiden’s “Sleep now, the old one comes now.”
He paused a moment “TYR comes now.”
About the author
I honestly have no idea what I’m doing. I tend to write whatever pops into my head at any given time. All of which may be the result of a deeply disturbed, and in no small way, skewed vision of reality.