“Alright, initiate. This next step is very simple. You kneel here, I grab the back of your head, and I drown you in the gentle forest streams.”
You manage to let out a yelp of surprise before your entire world becomes the icy-cold water currently trying its damnedest to fill your lungs. You struggle, but eventually give in and close your eyes. It’s not so bad, actually. Mostly because you can somehow breathe normally. You quickly give up trying to figure out the logic behind this.
The experience is kind of soothing. You drift off to a dreamless sleep. When you wake up, you are walking through the forest.
“Good, you’re awake. You’re part of the 5%, buddy.”
“I’m not even going to ask you what that means.”
You look around you and see numerous people in hooded purple robes walking alongside you. You nervously shuffle over to a rather cheery-looking lad with a bright smile on his face.
“So, what brings you to the Fhurbahel Cult, initiate?”
“Do you guys seriously call yourselves the Fhurbahel Cult? Like, the word cult is right there in the name. That usually implies something negative.”
“Relax! Messing with you. What brings you to Apathy’s Dawn?”
“Ah, that sounds suitably ominous without being too in your face about it. Well, I suppose I was just kind of looking for something to do. I don’t even remember where I was before the grand poobah over there tried to drown me with wizard water.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll find your place soon, in our cozy little family.”
You nervously smile and nod. Eventually, you reach what the cultists were walking towards: a massive temple with a large banner hanging down from the top. You don’t care about the logo it depicts. At all. Large statues of disinterested looking people flank the entrance.
You wonder what this cult’s gimmick is.
You follow the rest of the members into the temple. It’s dark and damp and icky and you don’t care about any of that. Eventually, you enter a large room with steps leading down to a large altar. No good can come from this, you tell yourself. Your grandmother always told you you should really stay away from anything involving an altar, candles, and hooded cultists. Then again, your grandmother worshiped a tree, so she was kind of out there, really. The leader motions for you to stand at his side.
“Look. The ritual is starting.”
“Cool, what’s it called?”
You lean against an uninteresting stone pillar, and look down at the altar. Three blue-robed fellows start dancing around it in circles, waving their arms in the air and chanting in ominous greek. You look over to the leader, and he seems to be vibrating in excitement. You yawn.
Eventually, one of your fellow yellow-robed companions walks down the steps, and kneels at the altar. The three blue-robed priests chant in unison.
“Παρακαλούμε σημειώστε μας.”
The leader leans over to you.
“I read that one in a magazine recently. This is our first time trying it out… it looks promising though. I can feel it in the air.”
And indeed, you can feel the air has become heavy, though that might just be a side-effect of a large group of people gathering in a damp temple in the middle of summer.
Eventually though, something does happen. You get a mild headache. A light throbbing feeling in the back of your mind. It’s not just a headache though.
It’s something worse.
“Something’s happening, guys!”
The leader loudly laughs in happiness, before coughing. He doubles over, and starts retching. Then the black fluid comes, and splatters on your shoes.
You look down in disgust, and when you look up, he is weeping. Black fluid seeps down his cheeks and runs into his robes. You look around you in panic, and notice several other members doubling over and vomiting on the stone floor. One of the three blue-robed priests has grabbed the initiate, and lifts off his hood. It’s the fellow you talked to earlier. He coughs as the priest plunges a dagger into his chest, again and again and again until he stops coughing.
Yeah, this ritual got weird fast. Time to book it.
You turn around, only to be greeted by a complete clusterfuck. Priests and initiates are running around screaming, banging on the floor and walls and punching the stones until their knuckles bleed. When you look back at the altar, where once stood three priests now stands a… hole.
“OH GOD, WE FUCKED IT UP AGAIN! AGAIN!!!”
You have no idea how else to explain what you are seeing right now. A sort of rip in the fabric of reality has appeared right infront of you, and you are surrounded by puking and screaming cultists and have no idea how you got here and you’d really really like to leave now.
You feel a tug on your robe, and note the initiate from earlier standing up, bleeding from multiple chest wounds.
“Stay a while. Enjoy yourself.”
You run forwards and clothesline him, and dash for the door. You are starting to cough, and notice your eyes are… leaking, for lack of a better term. Jolts of pain pass through your entire body, and you fall to your knees. You are now dragging yourself to the exit, eyes closed from the pain.
You turn your head back, just in time to see a withered wooden cane exit the void and enter the joke you used to call reality.
The pure adrenaline gives you a burst of strength, and you run like the wind, out of the temple. You don’t look back long enough to catch a glimpse of the monocled eye gazing at you.