So, for today's post, I thought I would share my short story for this week, inspired by this beautiful artwork from Innistrad's Chapel Geist.
Alwyn jerked back as the man screamed. He collapsed, writhing in pain, but the spirit suspended above him seemed oblivious to his pain. Then, in choking sobs he muttered words she couldn't understand. Heart pounding, she dared take another step, crouching in the long shadows. Holding her breath, only then could she make out his cries: "Thank you. Oh Piotyr thank you!"
Neither spirit nor girl moved until his sobs grew silent in death.
Then it did move, pale dirty robes rustling as if in an unseen wind. Long iron chains looped around its form clanked against one another. But the spirit merely retreated into the shadows, nearly vanishing into the darkest corner of the tower chamber.
Three times now Alwyn had slipped away from her prayers, creeping like her namesake cat through the shadowy corridors, and made her way up the long stairs into the tower. Each time she discovered another foreigner closeted inside. The dying man's sobs had been the only words she had ever heard. Then again, he was also the only one who hadn't walked out.
Which meant it was time to leave. If she was discovered, she would be whipped for sure.
You are curious, like your namesake.
Alwyn began to shake. There was no question. Though she hadn't heard any words, the spirit had spoken to her.
"Stay back," she said, standing to her feet. "I am a priestess of Piotyr."
You are no priest, little cat. Somehow, she heard its amusement.
Her first thought was to run. To flee down the stairs as fast as she could. But what if it chased her? Better to show no fear.
"What...what do you want from me?"
That is the wrong question. What do you want from me?
"Nothing. The...the priests sent me. To observe."
You do not lie well. I wish you no ill will. Tell me. Why have you come?
"I...I'm not sure. But I should go."
You came because you were curious. Why, in a chapel of Piotyr, do his servants play host to a spirit of Darkness? Don't you want to know?
This was a mistake. She should run. Flee. Call for the priests and curse the consequences...
"Yes. Yes tell me."
I am here to pay for my crimes. Great power and insight are mine. Travelers come from all Northland to speak with me. Whatever your wish, whatever your desire, if it is within my power, I will grant it.
"And what did he want? D..death?!" she asked, pointing to the corpse. The word made her shudder.
His tale is not mine to tell. We are speaking of yours. What of your parents who left their infant at the chapel door? The affections of the boy with whom you exchange glances? The disapproval of your sponsor? Yes, little cat, I see all that and more.
"Stop it! I don't care about any of that!"
Then speak. Tell me your heart's desire. But be quick. Even now the priests are coming to seal this chamber against the coming night.
Nervously she glanced back. Her mind still urged her to flee, but her heart overruled her. Well did her heart remember the long nights, whispering her prayer to the silent god, crying out for an answer that none could give. No! This was a creature of Darkness. Only a fool would trust it.
"I don't believe you."
This is your last chance. Speak your question and step into the light. And I will share the answer you've longed for.
Deepest darkness. She was going to do it. When else would she get this chance?
She stepped forward unsteadily. Her heart lurched like a wounded sparrow. Still, she focused her thoughts on one question: who am I?
But then footfalls echoed from the stairs. The spirit stirred, and she swore she heard a faint hiss in the air. Then Father Gerard rushed into the chamber.
"Stay where you are, Alwyn!" He rushed over and gripped her shoulders tightly. "Piotyr be praised, you are unharmed. What were you thinking, girl?!"
Say nothing. I beg you.
"What is this? Why is this spirit imprisoned here?"
The high priest made no reply for a moment, but gazed into Alwyn's eyes. She blushed and looked away.
"You spoke with it." She shook her head, but hot tears burned in her eyes. He stepped towards it and withdrew the pendant hanging at his neck.
"What promises did you make to her, spirit? What price did you demand?"
No price. She will be my last.
Father Gerard turned to look at her, and by his eyes she knew he had heard the words too.
"Did you consent to this, Alwyn?" he asked gently.
Ask no questions. You must agree!
The priest glanced at the floor, as if noticing the corpse for the first time. But he only shook his head, sighed, and spoke.
"Acolyte Alwyn, this is a geist. Two hundred years ago, a man betrayed this chapel. For a sack of gold, he opened these gates to enemies of the King. Only by the will of Piotyr was the chapel saved, but hundreds died in the fighting. And for his crimes, he was bound by the Chain of Remorse, one link forged for every life his betrayal ended.
But now my suffering can be at an end. Please.
"But for every life he blesses," the priest continued, "every question answered, one link is broken. Yet Piotyr demands justice, and so a price must also be paid."
Not this time, child. I will pay the price. And I will be free at last.
"Do you still want to do this, Alwyn?"
"I do. I must."
"Then step forward."
She did so. Her fear had vanished, replaced with longing. Once more, she whispered her deepest desire: who am I?
Then she felt the warm, fetid breath of the spirit. The chains burst into golden light, and with a crash fell to the floor, bearing the dirty, tattered robes with them. Just like that, the spirit was gone.
And Alwyn received her answer.
If you have any feedback, I'd love to hear it. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!