He’d been reckless, arrogant, and cocky.
He knew that now, but he’d been caught and laid out in a makeshift coffin.
The alabaster face with the unnerving copper eyes staring down at him, contemplating the horror of what was happening, and taking pleasure in it, told him there was no chance of rescue or escape.
The cold, damp air held an atmosphere of dark anticipation, and the weak torchlight made the solemnity of his predicament worse. Beads of cold sweat slid into his eyes, and blinking them away took a frightening amount of effort for something that should have been an involuntary reflex.
Paralyzed, he decided to test his mouth; if he could form words, he would beg the thing for his life.
His plea for mercy, to his growing despair, was a keening mewl like a kitten in distress.
The thing’s smile was cold. “No, captain, there will be no mercy given.”
It sat on a stool placed next to his bier, and wiped a marble colored hand across his brow, then flicked the reeking sweat in his eyes.
Unable to turn his head, he only mewled louder.
“Does that hurt?”
He didn’t want to hear himself mewling again, but it hurt like hell.
Taking a deep breath while he still could, he tried to assess what was happening to him.
She told him, and he realized what he was going through was completely open to her, all his thoughts and emotions exposed through the power of her spell.
“You’re turning to stone, Captain Arlen. It’s a slow spell, so you can feel what’s happening.”
He made a noise something like a gargling sigh, but he was trying to scream.
“I’m going after the rest of your men, too. Don’t worry, you won’t be alone. You should have stopped the slaughter, my friend. You could have ordered them to stop, but you told them to ‘have fun’ instead.
“Are you having fun now?”
She pointed at something in the room. “You can’t sit up, but the light you can still see over there is an alcove with ensconced torches and a pedestal inside, so you’ll be illuminated for all to see.”
Standing now to look directly at him, she further explained.
“There used to be a circle of statues in this small pantheon, but I’ve had them all removed. The rest of your men, as I collect them, will occupy other pedestals.”
The hardening and turning of the captain’s skin had taken his throat, and was now creeping over his face. He tried with the strength remaining to close his eyes, and couldn’t.
“You’ll all be my stone angels, remaining on the ground for those of mine you sent into the afterlife. And like them, you’ll live forever.”
She touched the last of the flesh on his face and smiled again. “Just not the way you planned.”
He could no longer see, and the last thing he heard were her footsteps echoing the fading of his last heartbeats, and then he heard nothing at all.