Wind Walkers: Ceremony of Blood

Wind Walkers: Ceremony of Blood

A Chapter by J.A. Marquez
"

Bethany finds herself at the hands of the Red River tribe. They intend to sacrifice her as a blood offering to cleanse the land.

"
Hands groped Bethany's limbs, but what faint light came through the trap door kept them hidden. Panic stricken, she wretched and wailed while they keyed open the heavy shackles. A salty palm found it's way to her mouth, molesting her eyes and cheeks to get there.

She bared her teeth and bit down hard on the wrinkled skin. From the buzzing chatter erupted an indignant howl. The same hand came whipping across her face, leaving blood and saliva smeared on her skin.

She was lifted, kicking and screaming, and flailing her arms wildly. One by one the men, who she could now see were wearing bizarre animal masks, ascended the ladder and then she was passed through the hole like a sack of grains. Beneath her back she could feel the rough, dry grass as she was dragged by her arms through a clearing.

"Gomez!" She shrieked. "Help me!"

It was dusk. Almost a full day had passed since she had been kidnapped. Turning her head and straining her eyes in the darkness, she sought out any means of escape. The shadow of something tall, a grove of trees perhaps, rose up around the dimly lit camp. Smooth pebbles rattled over her toes, and she heard the gushing of water.

"No!" She screamed, ripping an arm free and tugging violently at the second.

Someone restrained her from behind, and a man in a boar mask approached her, clutching her chin. He tilted her head back and ran his hand roughly through her hair. Then he did something wildly unexpected. With a single hand he tore the blue cloth from her body and flung it to the ground. Exposed and horrified Bethany collapsed, her body hanging in the unfamiliar arms.

Silence fell over the tribe. Bethany realized that a whole crowd had gathered on the river bank. She kept her eyes pinned on a peculiar white rock, out of place among the grey river stones.

"My people." The man in the boar mask said. "As was promised to us by our forefathers, a sacrificial lamb has been provided. Don't be fooled by her wiles. She bears the marks of a demon."

The arms fell away, she landed face first on the ground. Her head throbbed where it hit a cold river stone. The crowd gasped at the sight of her mutilated back.

"She has been cast out by her tribe, unfit to carry on as a member of civilization."

A wave of approval rolled over the crowd.

"We must spill her blood and with it the demon that lays dormant inside. May the river wash her away from this land, never to return."

As the people cheered, Bethany began to drag herself along the rocks. If she could get to the water before they killed her she could float down stream and escape. The tribe leader held up his arms triumphantly. Somehow the brute who had been holding her did not notice as she inched away from him. The leader opened his hands to silence the people.

"As many of you know, the male escaped earlier in this day, before the beginning of the ceremony of blood. To account for the loss we must make this a holy sacrifice."

Bethany froze. Gomez had escaped.

"Wait." She said, softly at first.

Nobody heard.

"Wait!" She repeated.

The leader dropped his arms and turned to her. In the glow of fire light he looked like a man-animal hybrid.

"It speaks."

Dragging her knees beneath her, she sat up as straight as she could. The rocks jabbed into her, bruising her legs.

"You cannot sacrifice me." She panted.

The cheif scoffed and turned to the people.

"She says we cannot sacrifice her. Why not, clever demon?"

She straightened more, the moonlight shining on her pale, scarred skin.

"I am the daughter of Cheif Roon, leader of the Wind Walkers. If you kill me they will seek revenge, and you will perish."

Awed gasps rose up among the crowd, followed by expectant silence. Fire flickered in the cheif's eyes, just a dancing glimmer against the deep black orbs.

"What is the daughter of a cheif doing alone in the woods, with blood hunters roaming free?"

Vainly seeking an answer, Bethany's eyes darted around the river bank.

"You see, it is a demon. Cunning and deceptive."

"No, I'm not!" She protested.

He knelt low so that he was at eye level with her. His yellowed teeth were exposed in a sickening grin, sharpened to points like the animal that he was.

"I know you, demon. I know your ways. You will be purged from this land and we will be purified."

A knot formed in the pit of her stomach. It hadn't worked.

"Bring forward the high preist." He bellowed, still glaring at Bethany from behind the boar's head.

The crowd parted and an ancient man in a rolling chair was pushed onto the rocks. The boar head gripped her and threw her at the feet of the priest, scraping her ankles along the rocks. The old man, who was blind, held a hand out to touch her. She felt his knobby fingers on her head, then heard him whisper something illegible.

Hot tears forced their way from her ducts and streamed down her burning face, dripping salt onto her dry lips. Torches illuminated the wall through which they had passed. Poised on either side of the tall gate were armed men, keeping watch. A faint glow radiated through the thick logs. It was a village.

The old man spit in his hand and wiped it on her forehead, leaving her sickened and sticky. Still searching for freedom, she scanned the pebbled terrain. They were in open land. They would be susceptible to blood hunters, or even - something whizzed over the heads of the people, plunging into the chest of one of the gaurds. Then the second gaurd tumbled, blood dripping from his head.

"Someone's out there." The leader roared, pointing to the trees across the river. "Men, go put a stop to this."

A small group of beast clad warriors took off in the direction of the trees. Another arrow came down and skewered the high priest through his neck. The old man rolled forward, landing on Bethany. She yelped, disgusted and fearful. Boar head snatched up her arm once more and wrapped his fingers around her throat.

"Don't even think about going anywhere. We will find your mate and kill him. Then you will be killed, right here on these -"

His eyes opened wide and his mouth gaped. Bethany watched as blood pooled behind his teeth and dripped over onto his chin. The smell of it burned in her nostrils. His hand went limp, so that she fell away from him. She scrambled to her feet, getting as far from his lifeless body as possible. The grey stones were stained red where he lay.

The knot in her stomach tightened and then relaxed, forcing its contents to spill from her in an agonizing heave. All around her people were yelling and running for the gate into the village. Before they could find sanctuary the door was sealed shut, trapping them among the dead.

One fire went out, and then another until the bank of the river was lit only by the moonlight. So much blood, Bethany thought. The discord among the frantic tribe people swelled. They pounded on the door, screaming their pleas to the gatekeeper.

"Let us in!"

"Help us!"

"The blood hunters will kill us!"

In the midst of the chaos someone grabbed Bethany's wrist. She hollered a startled objection.

"No!"

The hand held firm, pulling her over the rocks into the darkness.

"Let me go!"

"Shut up!" Gomez's voice boomed in her ears.

"Gomez!" She gasped, throwing herself into his arms.

"Here." He draped a tattered blanket over her shoulders. "I found this in the woods. Probably belonged to another sacrificial lamb."

Bethany secured the coarse fabric around her body and took Gomez's hand. They stepped carefully over the rocks, then darted for the cover of the trees.

"We have to move fast. They'll figure out that you're gone soon and come after us."

Fear both propelled her forward, and urged her to turn back. Sweat dripped into her mouth, the taste of it sour and unclean. Pounding beats swelled in her chest, forcing her lungs to expand and contract more quickly.

"Stay close." Gomez urged, zig zagging through the dense brush.

Thistles pierced the soles of her feet and stray branches scraped her legs. She found herself stumbling after him, bumping and bruising each inch of her body as she went. Gradually the wails of greif became a distant and haunting moan. Then he came to an abrupt halt.

Gasping for a breath, Bethany bent over and heaved. Gomez petted her back.

"It's okay, take a minute." He said, keeping his voice low.

As her breath caught up to her she noticed that she was standing at the edge of a road. The cracked pavement created an almost natural looking surface. If it weren't for the deep color consistent throughout, broken only by chunks of faded yellow paint she would have found it insignificant.

The road ran east to west, relatively speaking. Stalks of unkempt weeds broke through the blacktop. Crumbled fragments of the unused highway were scattered over the dirt on either side. Bethany looked to the west. The road curved and rose gradually into the mountains. At the high peaks patches of snow glowed brightly in the pale light of the moon.

"We'll follow this road. There has to be shelter somewhere. Keep close to me."

The road was hard and cold under Bethany's feet. Much like the old cities, she had seen the highways from above, but had never stepped onto one. It was strange, unnatural. Deeply shaken, she struggled to carry herself along the rough surface.

"Where did you go?" She asked Gomez.

He glanced over his shoulder at her and frowned.

"Do you really want to talk about it?"

He had a point. Bethany wanted nothing more than to escape and forget.

"I've never been so scared." She shuddered.

"Then you'd better hope we don't run into any blood hunters."

It was a disturbingly real possibility. Out in the open there was no defense. If they were spotted they would be stalked until the moment for attack was ideal. In fact, it was highly likely that one or more of the blood thirsty creatures were already on their scent.

"Gomez," Bethany said.

"Yeah?"

"Thank you for coming back to save me."

He stopped and embraced her.

"I told you, I won't let you die. Not without a fight."

His arms were warm, holding her tightly. Sweet and musty sweat scented his body. A deep yearning was growing inside of Bethany; something that had been planted the day they met. The palpitations in her heart caught in her throat. A warm, tingling sensation tickled her from head to foot. Was this love? She wondered.

Attempting to grasp what was happening to her she let her feelings take control. Gomez's eyes took her in, as she did him. The ligaments and muscles in her feet began to stretch so that she was near to his height. It was a new experience, and she was eager. Gomez placed a hand on her shoulder and moved away.

"In time." He said reassuringly.

Deeply embarrassed, Bethany shrank into herself. In her own exhilerated state she had misread his intention. The souring of the moment churned her empty stomach, so that she felt physically ill.

"We should keep moving." She said half-heartedly.

He smiled, took her hand in his and led her on down the crumbling road.


© 2015 J.A. Marquez


Author's Note

J.A. Marquez
A few things to keep in mind: This is a book intended for a younger audience, teens and young adults. Being a young female myself, I felt that the main character should at some point experience romantic feelings. It is a fact of life, at least as a young woman. As much as I would like to exclude them entirely I also want this to have a sense of reality to it.

This is the first draft of this chapter. Now previously I have had people reviewing as if it were intended to be a final copy. When you approach this for review keep in mind that any valid suggestions will be considered.

Thirdly, the entire story is a work in progress so things will change. I have decided to add a note like this to each chapter to offer some clarity.

I have a process. First I imagine and write down a story, then I go back and develop it further. This means that by the time it is finished we may have a whole new book on our hands. Please read as much and as often as you can so that this can be as exeptional as possible.

Thank you so much for taking the time to follow this project.

-J.A.

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Added on April 16, 2015
Last Updated on April 18, 2015
Tags: dystopia, fiction, adventure, coming of age


Author

J.A. Marquez
J.A. Marquez

South Lake Tahoe, CA



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If you want to know who I am, read my stories. Many are works in progress, and many are just a few sentences, but each one is a piece of my soul. more..

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Unbroken Unbroken

A Story by J.A. Marquez