Art: 059/100 Themes - No Way Out

"Ni Ebitus." No Exit. - 59/100 Themes.

In Mondigan, magic is the ability to manipulate the world around you through human thought and emotion. Although strength and aptitude is determined by genetics, the exact talent that manifests specializes depending on individual personality. For example, aggressive people will have literally, explosive powers.

There are two ways to manipulate the energy around you - by producing more or by absorbing what exists. The former is called 'light' and the latter is called 'dark' because of the similarities to actual light (darkness being the absorption or lack of light). Production and absorption of energy is usually a subtle, almost unnoticeable presence that increases in strength closer to that magician. That falloff is roughly quadratic, with more powerful magicians possessing a greater radius of influence.

However, as people tend to assign prejudices to things, light magic is heavily favored to the point of religious fanaticism - and dark magic is considered heresy. Traditionally, they are burned at the stake. However, there is a more severe punishment reserved for the most petulant criminals.

Only living beings (organic cells) contain consumable energy, so the most horrible way to kill a dark-mage is simply to lock him or her far enough away from other, living beings. Their black blood is the single bodily aspect that does the actual energy absorption. Tissue contains energy. So, the blood will eventually erode the tissue to extract its energy, effectively killing the mage by eating them from the inside out and reducing their body to a soup.

This is super not how Rivek wants to die.

Rivek could not tell if his eyes were open. It was so dark, closing them would not have made a difference. Light could not reach six feet under ground. The last thing he remembered was Sorian gloating in front of him - and being hit squarely in the back of the head. He gingerly touched his hairline at the back of his neck. It was sore. How long had he been here?

He knocked his fist against the roof of the coffin.


That was worrisome. It smelled like dirt and dead wood. He coughed. How long before he ran out of air? He needed to shift. A bird form would buy him time to think, conserve his energy. He tried to focus, and a few feathers sprouted at his wrists.

A cough broke his concentration, but this time it was wet and burning. His lungs felt heavy. He tasted iron and acid.

He heard a whining sound that faded into high-pitched ringing. He twisted his arm up to touch his ear lobe. Something wet. It trickled down the side of his skull. The trail it left behind stung.

He writhed. He felt something warm in his chest that slowly built to a fiery burn. Every heartbeat was just a minute shudder away from an explosion. What was happening? He counted his breaths, trying to keep them slow and shallow so he could think.

This was an execution.

His father once told him that dark mages needed to take energy from living things to survive. Unfortunately, when buried alive, the only living thing would be the mage themselves. Their insides would boil, and blood would leak from every possible opening, often carving its own exit wounds. When the bodies were exhumed, there would only be a skeleton floating in red soup. Bury them underground until their own demonic souls ate them alive. He would die alone, in the last place a bird would ever want to be, enclosed in a box with no sky above. Being burned at the stake now seemed comparatively humane.

He blinked away something wet and stinging from his eyes, and he knew it wasn't tears. The air began to smell like iron. No. Please, no. He whispered a prayer as the blood burned through the thin skin on his fingertips. He dragged them on the coffin lid, leaving a sizzling, black trail in their wake that he could smell but not see.

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