The blue-eyed warrior clan matriarch silently navigated the narrow streets of the city’s older section. The cobblestone turned to dust, and she was on the town line.
She could smell the many flavors of Life Spice in the very last stall. Life Spice was once only liquid. She despised the year the powdered form arrived. The town lost 2,000 warriors to a sleeping death because raiders poisoned the rations; the generals paid a moon cycle’s wages to replace the rations.
Her brown-eyed spirit-healer sat at the back, quietly mesmerized by odd pink liquid Life Spice. Using her War God connection, she projected invisibility to avoid the sex-crazed berserkers and arrive at the spirit-healer’s table.
“Hey! You vanished; I needed your impressions.” She expected a sickening analysis, but she needed truths openly discussed for strategic planning.
The brown-eyed spirit-healer giggled inappropriately through tears, “What? No courteous greetings? No respect for gifted in other fields? Do you know the darkness I know?”
The matriarch sighed, embarrassed, “I’m sorry. Finding you here should have told me as a warrior the truth is most difficult, maybe even courage stealing. I do respect other gifts and other fields. Sometimes, the darkness reaches out and touches me physically.”
The healer wept, “I’m revolting. That baby on that bed… I should have known… ”
“You couldn’t know. My girls found her by chance after temple duties. I didn’t know.”
“The rumor vine is nasty, usually destructive. But I should have listened.”
“Okay. Let me listen. I’m a warrior. I’ll sort truth and fiction.”
“Outlands contacts bear tales. Heinous tales. There’s this new… stuff, worse than Life Spice. The name is foreign, archaic. The best translation is DeadLife Nightmare.”
“How is it used? What does it do?”
“It should never be used. Good people never touch it. Men rule so men don’t use it on other men. But women… and gods, the children…” As the healer wept inconsolably, the matriarch felt an oppressive, binding darkness descend.
“Okay, we know who. Do the stories tell how and why?”
The healer keened deep, soul-searing sobs that warriors find uncomfortable and disquieting.
“Despicable things… Some victims become physical slaves, working for powerful enemies. Others are prostituted, night after endless night. Other times, the victim endures just one time–but it could be one man, two men, ten men… one opening, two openings, every opening…” The warrior nodded, mesmerized.
“Evil. Walking evil. Not just politicians. Alchemists, teachers, scholars, priests, warriors. They give it somehow. The victims are paralyzed, unable to move. One variation allows the victim to remember everything they see and hear. Another takes away all sensation and memory. And one variation makes every moon cycle female immediately fertile daily for at least six cycles… and if conception occurs, the body acts like it’s not pregnant.”
The spirit-healer continued in an almost soul-less drone, “Sometimes the victims are young males. No one knows anything until they start to starve. When forced to eat, they scream with bowel evacuation.”
The spirit-healer collapsed; the warrior fought nausea waves.
“Chaos god piss! This is gruesome, unbelievable. I can see the willing blindness. Have the outlands begun to revolt?”
“No. Everyone just wants to work and party, forgetting it all. They trust the politicians to take care of them. When something doesn’t look right, they don’t speak. It’s like alchemy along with a foul curse. The dead are mounting. But it’s not proven.”
“Let’s talk with the frame-healer tomorrow. Right now, I need time to process all… this. Let’s get you home. You don’t belong here; your exercises should have taught you that.”