Nairi Calinthrell and the Man Who Was Buried Alive
Title: Nairi Calinthrell and the Man Who Was Buried Alive
Disclaimer: Wholly original work.
Characters/Pairings: Nairi, etc.
Summary: In which Taros Kildiring is buried alive and has a conversation with Nairi Calinthrell and her partner.
Notes: The Calinthrells are perhaps the most well known residensts of the Agassian land - everyone knows someone with the name. And since they're so populous, many times they server as priestesses to the Death Goddess and do her bidding. For Halloween
Taros Kildirin was having a terrible week. But he'd figured out, at least, where he'd gone wrong. He'd married Autara. That was it right there. He'd married Autara!
Which didn't help his current predicament at all. His voice was hoarse from yelling even though no one could hear him. He'd dug at the wood above him but that just tore at his nails and probably would just cause enough dirt to fall onto him to suffocate him faster.
"Autara," he whispered. She would come for him, though. She would. He had to believe even though his belief was fading fast. Everything was fading. He felt very tired.
And the memories played out in his mind like a show in Ruame. Flashy, flamboyant... He was the tragic hero. But he would be rescued. The tragic heroes always were.
He tried digging at the lid of the coffin again.
And he cursed Autara's name.
Seven days before, he had found the body of Rejet Lanaou naked in his bed, covered in blood. He knew Rejet quite well and even somewhat liked the fellow, save that Rejet rather liked to pound Autara into the bed when he wasn't around. Which was often, since he primarily traveled to earn his living and provide for Autara.
Taros understood that women got lonely. So a few little indiscretions were okay, really. As long as it was just Rejet, as he was, again, a rather nice fellow. Good looking, well-bred. Probably a bit too rich for Autara's murky breeding, but that was neither here nor there.
With Rejet dead and Autara nowhere to be found, Taros had found himself the obvious suspect. Autara appeared the next day, feigning ignorance and claiming she'd been out shopping for dinner to feed whichever man she had to. She did not hide the affair - but no one did. Everyone seemed to know that Taros's dear Autara was little more than common property.
Lacking an alibi of his own, Taros could do little as he was sentenced to die. He hoped that one of the town priestesses might call upon the mist-goddesses known as Judge, Justice, and Jury, but his guilt was far too clear in the minds of the town.
And Autara had come to him, whispering softly through iron bars, sure she could save his life and they could flee the town together.
Taros had agreed and asked for one last night with his beloved.
She had lain beneath him with little interest, but Taros hadn't quite noticed that at the time. And she'd given him a bottle to drink, one that made him sleepy but did not put him to sleep.
"It will wear off when you've been buried and I will come free you," Autara had said. And then she had run to the jailer and sheriff, wailing that Taros had taken ill.
Thrown into a box and unable to move or even open his eyes but still quite able to hear and feel, Taros began to panic when he was dragged from the bed and thrown none-too-gently into a roughly-hewn wooden coffin.
He had to trust Autara.
And he discovered there was no sound louder than the sound of dirt falling onto one's own coffin.
For two days, as best he could figure, he was stuck in the suspended animation that the vile potion had caused - long enough that he had started to doubt Autara.
And when he could finally move, the pieces began to fall into place. Whoever had killed Rejet Lanaou had done it together with Autara and had planned to use him to take the fall. Taros's heart froze at the thought, but it had to be true. A woman with two lovers likely had three.
Autara was little more than a common whore.
As he tore at the lid of the coffin, he wondered if he'd ever escape. He thrashed about only for a few minutes as it did nothing.
Mainly he just thought about the same things again and again. About the pretty girls and boys in Ruame who bought his goods and offered places in their beds. He'd always smiled and politely refused. He had a wife. He had Autara.
She had... betrayed him.
He tore at the lid of the coffin. And suddenly it gave.
Somehow the dirt wasn't hard to get through and minutes later he found himself with his head above ground, looking up into beautiful green eyes.
"Taros," the woman said as she took his hand and pulled upward. "My name is Nairi Calinthrell."
"Did Autara send you?" Taros gasped. The woman was overly strong and she managed to lift him nearly off the ground. Another woman beside Nairi reached to steady him.
"No," Nairi replied. "But we were sent for you. This is Selli sa Cosa, my partner."
"What do you mean Autara didn't send you?" Taros asked. He didn't understand. He thought he understood everything.
And then he actually looked past Nairi's eyes and down to where her black dress was tied off in silver trim and where heavy daggers hung at her waist. Each of her wrist guards were decorated in tiny silver skulls.
Selli, however, was the one to speak.
"I'm sorry," she said softly. "But you're still down there. Your spirit is what dug free."
"You've been dead for two days," Nairi commented. "We just didn't feel like digging."
"No!" Taros screamed as he turned to run. But he couldn't let go of Nairi's hand.
Truly, they were of the army of the dead - the warrior women who collected souls and took them to be judged.
He had died. He had died almost immediately. Autara had... poisoned him?
"You took my hand," Nairi explained.
"You took mine."
"You offered it," Selli countered. "And you should not let those inexperienced in the art of death mix a potion such as what you drank."
"Oh, here she comes," Nairi said with a smile. With her free hand, she pointed to where a woman wearing a dark cloak was hurrying across the cemetery.
Autara hadn't betrayed him after all. She had come. But she had failed earlier. In an effort to save him, she had... Been the one to kill him.
"Autara!" Taros screamed. Nairi shook her head.
"We're not where she can hear you," she explained. "Though Selli, perhaps you could go dissuade her from digging."
"It's too difficult for me to plane shift," Selli said softly. "And Taros's spirit is attached to you."
"Ah," Nairi said bluntly. "Then that's all that can be done."
Taros tried to break away from Nairi's grip again. He failed.
"Let me go back," he pleaded. "I'm young. I can find someone better. I can..."
"Your fate was written in the Book of Days when you were born," Selli said. "And now your fate has passed to the Book of Years. You have left what is and gone to what has been. We must go."
Nairi Calinthrell smiled as she watched Autara grab at the first handfuls of earth. "Yes, we must go. Selli?"
Taros finally turned to look away. He had died. And by dying, that had sealed his guilt.
Selli cast the spell to take them to the death goddess's temple in the wild northland and before Nairi could even tug him along, he went.
"So who's next?" Nairi asked once Taros had stepped into the very short line outside the very strange hall where the three kings of the dead held court. He had been allowed to let go of her hand.
And he stood, frozen.
"Hmm," he heard Selli say. He did not turn. "Oh, Taros Kildirin, we'll be right back."
He heard Nairi chuckle.
"What?" he turned and asked. Two other members of the army appeared with an elderly woman.
"Let that woman go ahead of you." Nairi smirked. "You wait til we come back. Looks like the next on the list is none other than Autara Kildirin."
Selli sighed. "We could have saved a trip."
"I can't help that I like surprises." And the pair was gone.
Taros screamed. The person in front of him turned and glared. The door to the hall of the kings opened. Another man went inside.
Taros didn't get out of line.
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