Here’s a piece of dark fantasy flash fiction about the ultimate sacrifice. It’s about 650 words and has an estimated reading time of 2 and a half minutes. Let me know what you think!
I knew that once I crossed the threshold, there was no turning back. I knew this, but I was determined to do it anyway.
I would cross the threshold to the Underworld to save my daughter, and no power in Heaven or Hell could stop me. Not even Labraid himself.
“Here we stand,” Kolvar, the fairy said. Indeed, we stood at the cave mouth entering the Underworld, and I was frightened. It was total darkness inside the cave, and Kolvar had told me he wouldn’t follow me in.
“I’ve done my duty,” the fairy said. “I’ve led you here. Now, I must turn back. But I must ask again: Are you ready for this?”
I told him, in no uncertain terms, that I was.
My sweet daughter, Moyra, had been taken to the Underworld because of my sins. I had mocked the gods, especially Labraid. During the summer solstice, I neglected my duty to give offerings. I’d told my family I no longer believed in such things, that it was fairy tales and nonsense.
But I was very wrong.
A fairy-woman stole Moyra in the night, taking her below and away from us. That was when Kolvar visited me and told me what I must do.
To bring my daughter back to life, I had to switch places with her. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. My life for hers.
Kolvar bid me adieu, and I walked with purpose into the cave. I could see nothing in the darkness, but I heard the echoes of tormented souls. Their cries pierced my ears and, the longer I walked, the louder they got.
Finally, an orange light began to come through. It created dancing shadows on the cave walls; I saw primitive paintings there. Paintings of war dances, sacrifices, and one-eyed demons. Up ahead, the cave descended downhill.
The further I walked, the hotter it got. I was sweating profusely.
“Jelric,” a voice grumbled my name.
“Up ahead. Here is what you seek.”
An opening in the cave, with scattered bones about. And there, my innocent daughter, with the hand of the Dark God, Labraid, upon her.
My daughter, usually so full of life and color, was pallid and thin. She wore rags for clothing, and her lips were a chalky blue.
“So, you’ve come for her, yes?” Labraid asked. The Dark God bore little human resemblance besides having two arms and legs. His pale-white skin shone in the firelight, greasy with slime. He had no nose, just two small openings where it should have been. He wore nothing but a dirty rag covering his privates, assuming this disgusting creature had any.
“Yes, Labraid. I’ve come to take her place.”
My daughter whimpered. It looked as if she were starved.
“Well, go ahead then. Step forward,” Labraid commanded.
I obeyed. He let go of my daughter, and she stumbled to her knees. I gathered her, kissed her, told her I was sorry. Then, the Dark God gripped my shoulder.
Immediately, I felt my blood run cold. I saw my skin turn an ashy-gray, and I felt tremendous pain throughout my body. I screamed. I gazed up at Labraid in my agony, and he squeezed my shoulder harder.
When I turned, my daughter was gone. The deed was done; I’d taken her place. My transformation was complete, and I saw the heavy chain locking me to the cave wall. I cannot die here in the Underworld; I only suffer incredible physical and emotional pain each second of my existence.
I starve, I thirst, and I suffer. Every day is exactly the same. But my daughter is free, and that’s all that matters. I’ve made the ultimate sacrifice.
But don’t mistake my virtue for heroic strength. I curse Labraid and the gods every day, and I will do so forever in my eternal damnation.
(Original photo by Matt Kochar on Unsplash – edited by Nick Pipitone)
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