Daen, hear me.
Kaenorr, hear me.
Vaekainen, hear me.
Kae'Aboth, hear me.
Stygius hear me.
She had repeated these mantras so many times per day every day for... even she lost track. The ritual summoning of her gods drained her slowly of her spiritual connection to them... focused outwards to... what?... the cloaked figure she sometimes saw lurking in the darkness.
She sometimes glimpsed him from the sides of her eyes... flowing through the murk like a shadow... cloaked and crowned like a dead king returned. No muscle of hers would move, not even her eyes... except for her tongue and throat which were forced to murmur the same mantras time and time again.
Now she felt her muscles begin to loosen. Her eyes rolled slowly side to side. She saw the strange apparatus she occupied and blinked when the flint was struck and the torches lit.
In the light, she saw the battered form of Ariya holding the torch and moving across the chamber. Her breath stuck in her throat, and her mantra stumbled.
I'm delighted you're with us again, Qovakrisstia Darkhair. The hissing voice rattled through the room. Turning her head to the left, she saw the cloaked figure seated at a table casually observing her.
Free. Or as free as I wish. I've occupied your mind for too long not to know how you would react, so I merely anticipate your actions and stop them before they even start.
The figure stood and slithered forward to stand by her side. I've tapped you as much as I dare. Your link to your gods is very strong, and a good source of divine energy readily suckled and stored. I thank you.
"And now?" she swallowed and gasped.
You're far too dangerous to keep alive, and I'm wasting mental energy keeping you chained... energy best used elsewhere. You're comrade, even know, is beginning to fight me for control of his mind. Arbiddance. He's very strong, you know. Roughly in the same range as I... but not quite.
The figure stalked around her. He still has his uses. But you... you stay alive so long as I still need the forces I've tapped from your spirit. Once they are depleted, then I'm afraid you'll have to go.
He turned and walked toward a doorway. Tonight perhaps. You would be wise to make your peace with your gods, as you'll be seeing them before tomorrow is over.