Chapter 2: Aristine
No one knew from where she had come. No one could recall a day on which she arrived or how she had gotten there, not even Aristine herself. She simply only knew life within the cult. She couldn't remember very far back, but to be fair, there was not much to remember. She was easily the youngest member of the group that was not an inborn. She was a mystery, overshadowed by the mysteries that the cult worshipped and succumbed to as well as the mysteriousness of the cult itself.
They did not go by a name in particular. However, once a member entered the group and swore their oath of fealty, there was no leaving. The oath was a relinquishing of one's spirit to the powers at be. It was an admittance that one was only a simple being in a world wrought with powers unimaginable. It was truly letting go of one's self. The ultimate sacrifice.
"How long have you been able to see?" Sebastian asked curtly.
"Always," Aristine admitted. With this, Sebastian did pause, for only a second, but a second Aristine did not dismiss. A simple nod of understanding and the two continued into a chamber Aristine could not imagine having existed in such a small alcove as the one she had entered for the ceremony. The ceremony that was still being completed behind her with the guttural sounds of soulless bodies being laid to rest. Aristine had pressing questions, but she knew better than to speak out of turn to someone as powerful as a warlock.
Sebastian took a seat in the center of the room. Sitting on the barren ground with crossed legs and rigid shoulders. He motioned for Aristine to join him, so she sat directly in front of him, although offering a bit of space for comfort. She dare not look up into the eyes of the warlock, but stared at the bit of dirt before his feet, waiting for him to speak.
"Do you understand what just happened? Why --"
"Yes," Aristine immediately answered, unintentionally interrupting the warlock. With this she did glanc up, but rather than a menacing look, she saw curiosity splash across his face, followed by a defenseless smile. She could not understand why she had answered so promptly, yet she had the utmost confidence in her answer. Just as rapidly as she'd looked up, she returned her gaze to the ground.
The air around Aristine seemed to evaporate to dryness and she began to feel uncomfortable. However after speaking out of turn so quickly, she refused to make the same mistake again. This time waiting for Sebastien to continue speaking. He did
not. They sat together in silence for what seemed like an eternity. She felt as if she were gasping for air, but refused to look up or utter even the most indiscernible sound. The moisture continued to disappear, replaced by an intense heat.
Aristine's mind began to drift. Had each of the acolytes been soulless creatures? Was she being tested? How long had it been? Her mind continued to race, yet still she dare not move. She barely breathed, although whether it was due to the stifling air or her nervousness she could not tell. The moments drained on, until suddenly, it all stopped.
The air returned to a cool crispness and Aristine all but actually gasped this time, pulling in as much of the refreshing air as her lungs would allow.
"I would like to meet again tomorrow. Thank you child," Sebastian stated. And with that, he got up and retreated to yet another unsuspecting chamber, leaving Aristine alone on the ground.