“What need have they of their bodies, the dead?” Her hand rested on her throat, the fingers caressing her voice before it traveled to her mouth and rolled from her tongue. “If our pleas, our words, our demands can coax them from their slumber and they can rise and join us, then, of course, they can be of use.”
“How? How could the dead be of any use?”
She watched me. “What can they bring back from the dark?” Her hands were clasped in her lap, her shoulders suddenly square and tense. “What secrets can they share? What mysteries? What answers can they drag with them from that netherworld of shadow and fog and the dreams you dream in the deepest of sleeps?
“That’s why we would dig them up and lay them in front of the fire. That’s why we would carve words into their flesh. Sacred, secret words. Words which can only live on the tongue of a blade and in the slicing of skin. That’s why we would then raise them up and hope beyond hope that there would be something to learn. Something more. Something wonderful and mysterious. Something wise that we could use.
“And then one day it went wrong. Horribly wrong.”
There was a sudden quiet. I let Cecilia have this brief moment of peace, knowing the pain one finds when stumbling through the jagged rocks of memory.
I gave her a quick glance.
Her eyes had found me.
She reached forward and took my hand.
Her eyes closed and she breathed deep. “A man appeared in the fire.”
She then opened her eyes as she continued.
“A man appeared, wrapped in flames, and, with a look, stole our breath, stole our life, our knowledge and power. With a look, this stranger in the flames brought it all to an end.”
— excerpt from Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche (July 2015)