After Greater Expectations
What little light there was to be had illuminated a blood-streaked face.
Her hand reached for his cheeks, pursing his lips as she poured the contents of the bowl down his throat, stepping back. He coughed and sputtered. It was bittersweet, too much for his addled tongue to process. He wretched but nothing would come up.
<"Are you sufficiently awake yet, Uto?"> She folded her arms over her chest as she regarded him with the air of a lion playing with a mouse.
He shook his head, trying to pry that wretched taste from his mouth. It was of no use. Uto the thief pulled then at his arms, only to find them bound tight to the cold wall behind him. <"What is this?">
Selene walked away from him, into the dark. Striking a flame from a birchwood matchstick she lit a brazier, then another, and another. The chamber came into stark contrast, still dim but now viewable. It was no simple prison cell.
Shackles lined the wall; empty ones, though evidence of their use was plain to see. Selene shed her grandiose robe, tucking a few strans of gray back amongst the raven tresses that crowned her head. She turned to him, unfastening bejeweled vambraces and setting aside pendants and amulets and bangles and jewelry.
<"Why am I here?!"> Exclaimed her prisoner.
<"Because, Uto..."> She said. <"You've committed treason.">
<"But you s-"> The criminal began, but in that time she was upon him, crushing strength in her hand pushing against his mouth, shoving something in, forcing him to swallow. His cries were muffled, and it didn't take long, the small bit of bread was soaked in an unguent processed from many of the local flora, and... some of its fauna.
She backed away again, tilting her head in anticipation to see the concoction do its work. She felt it, his grasp on reality swaying, dwindling to a faint thread's grasp on the world. In Uto's eyes the room began to sway and shift, the figure before him, stripping herself of her clothing, becoming something born not of Earth but of its Nightmares. With every move she made the world around her grew more unstable, more terrifying. He screamed loudly, violently, thrashed against his chains. She only grinned, and in his eyes it was no human grin, but the snarling maw of some foul creature, all teeth and red eyes, black crested horns sprouting.
<"It's fairly long lasting..."> She said. <"Most who recover from it physically are left mentally addled as well. However in the short term it accomplishes another feat; tell me, Uto. When you and your ilk decided to double-cross me, where did you decide to take the Senator's daughter?">
Uto the thief sputtered and howled for salvation, and the creature before him, masked now behind the veil of potent drugs, shook a writhing finger. Stepping into the flickering flamelight he could see now that she was made of worms, a stalking shape creeping forward in the black, waiting to get their choice of his soft innards.
<"She's still gone to where Gallio wants her! They'd intended to take Aquilla himself as well! Wounds of the Gods please leave me be! Please!">
Selene cupped her chin, turning to look up at the vaulted ceiling. They were very far down now. Not a soul in Nova Roma knew of this room. Knew of what transpired here. Decades upon innumerable decades it hd been here, the source of many years of everlasting life.
It was a place of pain and death, her true aspects if ever she had them.
"So he sees fit to circumvent my instructions, the fool." She said, turning to Uto with a wry grin.
By now his gibbering shape was lost to the world, though, and even if he'd been within his wits he would not very well have understood her. English was a relative unknown here, especially to the plebs.
"Very well. My plans must adapt then. I can't have him killing the Primavita, Lucius is still important to me." She turned around, her true eyes flashing red in the dim. Her two attendants stepped forward, their veils adorned in black feathers, their faces still hidden even here.
"Prepare my chariot, I must do what I can to salvage this."
The two quickly moved out of the room, leaving her alone with her stammering, stupefied prey.
<"By the Gods, please! Please!"> He shouted.
Selene tightened her tunic, moving forward slowly. In the eyes of Uto, it was some vast approaching monster, and his mind shattered quickly.
His screams beat around the walls of the chamber, unable to penetrate as she wrapped her hands around his face, her eyes flaring bright as the black tendrils siezed what little light the flames could give off. As Uto began to wither away, she whispered sweet prayers to him, giving him the blessings of Diana. Within a few moments all that was left was a dry frame.
She stepped away, renewed, sated. Uto, still living even as his flesh crumbled to ash. managed a raspy, gravelly moan, and she stepped into the corner of the chamber, opening a small ornate box. Removing from it a bit of black cloth she revealed the glowing green contents.
She had had her meal. Now her master would have its own.
Up above, the Temple of Diana shimmered with peaceful moonlight.