The bladed man’s face remained impassive. There was an odd black mark on his forehead. The silence dragged out while he stared at Meholah. Looking into the empty holes where his eyes had been hurt. At last he spoke. “I am Achsiel. It is for Tu Sinar that we have come.”
Meholah struggled to understand the words. Finally, he said, “I do not understand. You seek our god? Why?”
“It is the will of my god, the One God, the Father. Tu Sinar has much to answer for,” replied the stranger. It was then that Meholah realized that the odd mark on his forehead was a fingerprint, burned into the skin. The others all carried the same mark.
“It is the mark of our faith,” the bladed man said, raising a finger to touch the burn. “The mark of our choice. The same choice you will have. It is the only real choice you will ever make.” His voice sounded subtly different suddenly, with an echo to it that it had not had before. Meholah felt death’s coils slip tighter around him and he thought to turn and send the learners away, back to the shelter, to warn them. But he could not seem to move and now the stranger was pressing closer. Heat radiated from him, a fire strong enough that it would blister Meholah’s skin if he could not find the strength to move, but still he was held thus, motionless, while his death came closer.
“Now you will hear the past you have forgotten,” the bladed man commanded, in a voice that boomed and echoed off the stones. And he was no longer a man, but a vessel for a thing of vast age and hatred. Meholah fell to his knees and heard three of his pupils do the same. He heard harsh breathing, one man’s inner struggle with himself and knew that Rehobim, of all of them, still stood. “Now you will remember your crimes.”
Then he spoke of a time beyond the memory of Meholah’s people. He spoke of an ancient god betrayed by his brethren, betrayed, worst of all, by his own children. Then millennia of black suffering, while the betrayers ran free under the sun. He spoke of an opportunity finally come, a time when wrongs would at last be righted, and old evils avenged.
At last he asked a question. Just one question, with only one correct answer, only one answer that could lead to life. Meholah wanted to give it to him. From the depths of his fear he desired it, but the Oath was too strong in him. He could not turn away from it now, even to save his life.
He closed his eyes and lowered his head, not wanting the sky to see his tears.
Then the world exploded in fire and searing pain.
Excerpt from Landsend Plateau