12 Days, 12 Stories, each 200-300 words. The contest theme is gifts and each day has a prompt. Today's is:
Cadogus didn’t mind the sacrifice, not really. Someone had to do it and at least the final meal was good. Maize. He couldn’t remember last time he’d tasted maize, and honey too. Nice to eat honey without getting stung. He’d licked it from his fingers, savouring each taste.
He’d slept on fur, like a prince. He could have gotten used to that, if it wasn’t for the fact he was about to die. He’d wriggled like a kitten, tossing and turning just to feel it slick and soft against his back.
Then the women had come in, not one but two. Generous. It meant that the Elders liked him. He was brought wine in a horn cup, the Chieftain’s own. Not bad, being King-for-a-Day. Shame it was so short.
The bog land was damp beneath his bare feet as he walked, wrists bound, towards the site. It was the darkest time, pitch black bar a sliver of moon which transformed the landscape into a shadowed nightmare. Death stalked behind him, his hand on the garrotte that weighed heavy on Cadogus’ neck. The silence was almost companionable.
The chant started slowly, a single voice, soft as a whisper. “Behold our sacrifice, Lord of the Sky. We give you the gift of life. Return to us, Lord of Fire, Return to us, Bringer of Light.”
Another voice chimed in and then another, waxing like a harvest moon. He sank to his knees in the soft mud and stared at the jagged black horizon as the cord bit into his throat.
The druids watched as the man’s face turned from white to gold, gilded by the rosy fingered dawn. Reaching down, the eldest brushed his hand across Cadogus’ chilled face. “Sleep well, King. The sun has returned.”
|This story was loosely inspired by Lindow Man|