Burning in the Void – Chapter 3

you must accept this _Sera

Sera was still crying when she woke. She did not know how long she had slept. It could have been mere minutes, or hours, or even days. In the darkness of the prison cell she had no way to tell time but the beating of her heart, which was racing so quickly that she feared it would burst from her chest. Her shirt was soaked through, though whether it was from her tears, sweat, or blood she could not say, and it clung to her body in heavy, awkward folds. The air was hot, stale, and redolent of unwashed bodies. She lay on her side, pressing her face into the hard tiles of the deck and wishing that she could push herself into the floor and become part of the world.

That was almost the worst part of it all, she decided: that she was no longer a part of anything. For her entire life Sera had served some purpose. First she had been the daughter of loving parents, who raised her to respect the king and honor god with her body and deeds. She had worked hard to help them with their work in the protein farm from her earliest memories until the day she was apprenticed to Rigel. Then, as the apprentice of a skilled healer, she learned the secret arts of tending to the ill, including when it was appropriate to pierce the skin to set a compound fracture, or lance an infection, or stitch a laceration. Throughout her whole life Sera had been a faithful citizen of the Kingdom of Humanity, laboring under the guidance of the one true faith to better to lives of those who worshipped the true god, in whom they all lived. Now all of that had been stripped away. She was excommunicated. Nothing but a condemned heretic. If she didn’t testify against master Rigel then she would be executed and her body cast away, never to be offered to god so that she might return to him and become a part of the people.

That thought brought with it a fresh wave of tears. Sacrifice. How Sera longed to be allowed to offer herself as a sacrifice to god now that the option had been taken from her. For so many years she had questioned her faith, confessing her doubts to the priests and taking little solace in their assurances that she served god by caring for the sick, and that true faith would come with age as she settled into her position within the kingdom. Now that would never happen. Instead her niece Anna would be sacrificed, despite all that Sera had given up to heal her, and Sera would be executed as a heretic.

Sera sat up and wiped way the viscous liquid, likely a vile combination of sweat, blood, tears, and snot, from her face with the wet hem of her shirt. She sat still for a moment, trying to control her breathing and quell the sobs that still surged to the surface by counting her breaths. She lost count somewhere after five hundred and gave up, satisfied that she had at least stopped wailing.