Halloween 2016 IF – Day 17
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With him threatening you and making demands, you are, more than ever, aware of the heart hidden inside your shirt and that you need to protect it. No matter how good it smells, you definitely must not eat it, especially not where he can see. And you’re not sure that if you let him know you have it, it’ll remain safe.
More to the point, though, this man seems like he knows what’s going on—and knows you, whoever you are. Given that he’s threatening you, it may not be the best idea to antagonize him, but you force yourself to focus on coming up with some questions. If you have something he wants, he might be willing to answer. You don’t remember much, but you have things to rely on, and, perhaps, things relying on you, so you have to do your best. The heart’s still beating—that means it’s alive, right? And might stay that way if you care for it properly.
You take a deep breath.
“Who exactly are we waking up?” you ask. You’re shocked by how unfamiliar your voice is this time.
He stares at you as if you’ve grown a second heart. “Where the hell is this coming from?” he asks. “You know who. The Terror Underground. The Hill’s Horror. He’s lain sleeping for thousands of years, undisturbed. Why are you asking about that now?”
“The rituals.” You make up an explanation for your behavior, anxious. “They’re messing with my memory, I think. You’re threatening to sacrifice me but I don’t know where I am, or how we got here…”
His expression grows exasperated. “I should have realized,” he says, more annoyed than anything else. “Since you’re the sacrifice who bears the sacrifice. But we’ve met here for years, you and I and the others, after we found out this is where he’s sleeping. Once you give it up, you’ll remember again, because you won’t be bearing the burden. So stop on asking questions and it’ll all come back on its own.”
You try to take a step away from him, but his hand tightens around your shoulder. Unable to escape, you try to examine the area around, to get a better sense of where this is, if you’re really supposed to remember. For a moment, you think, Isn’t this where I parked the car? But that’s absurd, because there’s no car here, and you don’t remember driving anywhere.
“I don’t understand,” you say. You don’t have to try in order to sound plaintive. “Why are ‘we’ trying to wake him up? If he’s a terror underground, shouldn’t we let him sleep?”
“Oh, he’ll wake some day regardless,” the man says. “We are a group of individuals who know how to appease him. If we wake him with the sacrifice of the heart of one of his own kind, he will pour power back into us in thanks. Everything is prepared, Seven. We’re running out of time. Give it over. Put it on the altar.“
“The heart of one of his own kind?” you ask.
“It took a lot of work to dig up,” the robed man grumbles. “It was kept in a saint’s shrine, stupidly enough. The fools didn’t know what they had. That the man who they thought was a saint was really a devil’s child, the offspring between a monster and a human woman, and his unnatural heart wasn’t kept beating through God’s power. But now you have it, do you not? Are you not hiding that? Its power will pour out and he will want to eat it and become strong. Let’s give him a breakfast to be thankful for.”
He has managed to drag you to the altar now. It is stone, with a groove in the centre. You stare down at it. “Why should I let you hurt it? Why must we sacrifice anything—”
“Are you not listening, Seven?” he demands. “Don’t tell me you want it for yourself. For fuck‘s sake. I’ll offer yours first and whet his appetite for something better. You’re the seventh son of a seventh son—you can be damn well sure that what you’ve got in your body will be of interest to anything that wants power. That’s why you were chosen.”
“Chosen,” you repeat. Finally, this is starting to sound familiar.
“The sacrifice who bears the sacrifice,” he repeats. “The chosen one. For fuck’s sake.”
Yes, this is familiar. You are the seventh son of a seventh son, the seventh member of their group and known only by this number. From the moment your father invited you into this inner circle, you’ve been praised for your potential due to your bloodline, that most powerful ancient number repeated. It’s been long known that any sacrifice you make will have more power than that made by any other human. You are here because that day has finally come.
It is time.
He has a knife pressed to your sternum now, just below your breastbone. Inside your shirt, you can feel the foreign god’s heart pumping anxiously against your belly.
You are running out of time. You know your options: you can agree to sacrifice the heart of the devil’s child, and spare yourself. You can let Five here kill you.
You search your mind for other options.
You can sacrifice the heart to yourself rather than the horror beneath the ground, like Five thought you might be doing. You can try to flee with the heart, and hope Five does not catch you.
Can you go back Through? You reach for it, but you can’t find that exit. That option is closed to you.
You are out of time. His knife is pressing in. You must choose.
It is time.
[Please offer actions, thoughts, or concerns for Seven in the Comments.]
[Instructions | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 | Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 | Day 25 | Conclusion | Author’s Notes]
Haven’t you heard a story a lot like this situation thought? Where the thing under the hill asked what you would prefer to lose less – Your love. Your hope. Your dreams.
And then proceeded to devour that which what was the answer.
Wouldn’t that possibly be a more powerful sacrifice? Isn’t it worth mentioning?
Of course if worse comes to worse you could try and flip the situation on Five and kill him instead.
Is it where you parked the car? Is it? Because you did drive somewhere, though maybe not on this level of reality. If this is where you parked, then does INSIDE correspond as well? That is, does inside the house = inside the terror?
What does that mean for Sweet?
Don’t give him the heart. Don’t give him anything.
Whether you can or not, the priority is to get away from the knife — and if he’s close enough to dig it into you, he’s close enough to hit. Try to talk him down and lower his guard — how are you even supposed to take the heart out to put it on the altar, if he’s shoving a knife in your gut?
If you can distract him or get him to lower the weapon with that, then punch him in the throat and see if you can grab the knife from him before getting the hell out of dodge. If you can’t get the knife, get out anyway.
…the first sentence of that was supposed to be “Can you take the heart into yourself without devouring it?” Whoops.
Don’t sacrifice the heart. Apart from any other issues, invoking anything with Terror in its name is generally on the Evil Overlord List, and thus should be avoided. They tend to be cranky when they wake up.
That leaves you with the problem of Five and his knife. You’ll have to get clear somehow, and make sure he can’t follow. The comment above has some good ideas: play along, stall for time, and hit him hard when his guard drops, if it does. If not…
…if not, it’s a dangerous thought, but…you’re the seventh son of a seventh son. _Anything_ you sacrifice will have more power than that by any other human. What would happen if you spilled Five’s blood on the altar, or your own — made a sacrament of your struggle? Would you have the power to defeat him, then, and whoever else was coming for you and the heart?