“Welcome, night creatures,” she announced theatrically, in a voice that sounded nothing like her usual bubbly speech, “Welcome to the hall of the Red Rippers. I am please to say we have many new initiates with us tonight.”
She gestured at those of us who were new. I stashed the camera quickly as all eyes turned on me for a moment, but the gaze of the room quickly returned to Bethany without giving me a second look.
“Let us take a moment to recite the dark prayer,” she said, pulling a book that looked more ancient than any text I had ever seen from under the desk. She began to recite, and the other Rippers recited with her. Although I had never heard these words before I found myself saying them as if my voice wasn’t my own. I can’t honestly be said to remember the full prayer as it was quite long and my head was muddled with that horrible wine, which, in reflection, I suspect may have been drugged, but I remember this part:
“From the darkness which we come, into darkness go, and in the dark all battle’s won, and in the dark we know. We are the creatures of the night, the stories all made true, we hold the secrets to curse the light, we know the darkness true.”
We repeated that part several times at the end, and the shadows of the room seemed to grow deeper and darker in appreciation for our words. My head was starting to hurt and I could not keep my vision quite straight. I tried to stay focused as Bethany recited more things from the book, but the words seemed meaningless in my ears. Meaningless, but also meaningful in some dark way, like someone speaking in tongues or something. Eventually Bethany closed the book and one of the Rippers put something in my hand. Yet another glass of foul wine. Everyone was now drinking from these glasses in silence and I drank as much as I could stand to, but it made me feel sick, and not in the normal way like when I’d had a few too many beers at a friend’s house.
“Come now,” Bethany spoke after most of the people in the room had finished their drink, “It is time for the ceremony of blood. Sarah will lead this ceremony as tonight it is her bond that will be tested.”
This got my attention. I recalled clearly that Sarah and Adelaide were supposed to have a blood bond of some kind as a part of the game and I felt sure this is what Bethany was referring to. I followed, trying not to betray my inner feelings of revulsion at this whole evening’s events, as we filed out of the room and down a nearby staircase into a large basement, lit only by candles.