Chai’s fingers stuck together as he clutched a bloodstained knife at his side. His unruly black hair, muscled build, wide stance, and flashing black eyes proclaimed his dominance. He swept a long flowing cape over his shoulders and watched an enormous shadow slither forward. His heart pounded. The deed had been done.
The body of a young man was lowered into the pit.
For a horrifying moment, Chai stiffened as he beheld a vision: His mother’s face as she lowered him onto his soft bed, cradling his body and crooning in her sweet voice.
Chai froze. The knife slipped from his fingers and clattered on the stone floor.
A circle of robed figures turned toward him.
He raised his head, searching wildly for direction.
The stone carving of his god—a man’s head with the body of a great cat and the wings of an eagle—stood in the center of the cold room staring sightlessly through blood-red eyes.
Chai exhaled a long breath. Squaring his shoulders, he forced himself to look into the pit one final time. A dead body. No personality, no family, no loving mother—no grief.
The shadow followed the body into the black depths.
A servant tiptoed near and retrieved the knife.
Chai grunted, and the knife was slapped into his hand.
He held it aloft, his crimson sleeves flowing in rippled folds down his arms. His heart thudded against his chest. The dazzling fire flared in front of the stone god and burnished the blade a deep bronze.
A new vision framed itself in his mind. He sat on a high seat above every mortal man. Every being on Earth shrunk from him in terror. His will reigned supreme. He could feel a smile creep across his face, but the burning in his heart seared all joy.
As he stared at the stone figure, his vision widened. A wall of impenetrable mountains opposed him. Suddenly, he flew aloft and with a bird’s-eye view, vast rolling hills and open grasslands slid away under him. Clans huddled against the foothills and nestled between the shoulders of the great mountains. Chai caught his breath. A great throng—people from all over the mountainsides, hills, and valleys—gathered. Finally, a conquest worthy of his skill!
He dragged his gaze from the vision and stared at reality. In utter silence, the pit consumed his offering. He lifted his gaze to the blood-red eyes. “I will bring more…and become worthy of renown.”
With a guttural command and a sharp gesture, he ended the ceremony. His quick, sharp steps echoed through the dim temple hall. When he reached the open doorway, he halted on the threshold. Peering into the black night, a sensation so riotous it could not be controlled rose up inside him and demanded release.
He burst into laughter.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page
“Frailey writes in a crisp, lean, and richly detailed style, building a fascinating, absorbing world.” ~Blue Ink Review
“The story was wonderful and well written.” ~Culver
“While part of a series, Neb works well as a standalone.” ~Rachel
“Well written, this story grabs your interest from the beginning and keeps it throughout.” ~Speer
“the murder mystery and the drama with Adele—feel like distinct, separate stories, the book does not feel fragmented. Instead, the overarching plot with the aliens ties everything together to make a cohesive, epic novel.” ~IndieReader