Page 61 of Court of Nightmares

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His voice sounds wrong.

Pushing back our hoods in sync, we spread out, keeping our masks in place as we face him.

“You have been judged. We are here to deliver your sentence, slayer.” The words tumble from my lips as if dragged from a deep well within me of the god’s blood.

With my eyes on him, I expel his blood from me, feeling it drip to the floor.

“My sentence?” He cackles. “Oh no, I think I will be the one doing the judging around here. I felt you in my mind, and you were delicious, so ripe and powerful. I’m going to eat your heart,” he roars as he flies at me. I push him away with Conall’s wind, like a fly.

He slams into the wall, and I jerk my head at the humans tied to pipes along the wall. “Help them. He’s mine,” I tell them. I feel them step away, our bonds open and strong as their powers flow through me.

When he climbs to his feet with a maniacal laugh, I slam his blood from the floor back into him, but instead of healing, I send it to attack.

He yells and stumbles back, but when his head swings up, he only appears more dangerous as we begin to circle each other.

“Who are you?”

“We are the judges,” I answer.

“Name,” he hisses rabidly, spittle dripping down his face.

“What is yours?” I ask in response. He is clearly feral and belongs to no court.

“Sam, Sam the butcher man.” He chuckles. “And I’m going to feast on you.”

“Sam, do you have any final words?” I ask in a calm manner, pulling my power tight like a weapon, ready to release.

“I bet you’ll taste as innocent as those kids did. I bet you’ll scream just as prettily.”

“Very well.”

He’s covered in blood, his victims’ and his own, and I call to it now. His victims’ blood turns on him, cutting into his skin and making him howl. Grinning sinisterly, I open the wounds wider, and my power courses through me as I cut open his body until he falls to his knees, ripping at his own skin with an animalistic roar.

I unleash the power gathered inside me, and it throws him back against the wall, pinning him in place as I let the shadows fall away from me. I release his body, watching as he falls to the ground and writhes. His eyes, nose, and ears leak blood, his body one giant wound that cannot heal.

Pulling off my mask, I glare down at him. “You are weak, you are nothing, and may your death be haunted by the souls of those you stole.”

I lift my hand and curl it into a fist when he leaps at me, ripping all that power, all that blood, from him. He explodes, shattering like a vase, not a person. His blood spatters me and everything around us, and his beating heart rolls to my feet. With an angry grin, I stomp on it, ending him.

The judgement is complete.

As if guided by something beyond me, the power leaves me with a soft wave, and I turn to see the others watching me. “It’s done, time to go home.”

* * *

The humans were wiped and dropped at a hospital. Once we reach home, I instantly drop my clothes to the floor, and then Nathair guides me to a huge room. Gargoyles are positioned in each corner, and snakes are built into the stone above. Candles light the space, bathing the room in a warm glow.

The only feature in the room is a giant, stone square bath in the middle, which is sunken into the floor and filled with warm water.

He holds my hand and helps me down as I step in, and I sink until my head is covered, washing away the blood. When I emerge, they are surrounding the tub, their masks and cloaks gone.

“Your first judgement is complete. How do you feel?” Nathair asks softly as I float.

“Good, is that wrong?” I ask quietly. Something about this chamber feels important, and I don’t want to disrupt that.

“No. After my first judgement, I felt invincible, good, like I was finally making a difference and helping people,” he murmurs.

“After my first judgement, I cried happy tears,” Azul admits.

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