In the dim shadows of dusk, a small group of men wearing light gray shrouds make their way through the brittle plant life at the base of a mountain. The leader, a dwarven man with a thick black beard and eyebrows looks up at the rocks before them before looking back to his men and the squirming sack they held. He frowns briefly, looking up again,
“Men, lets stop here for a moment.” He pauses as the younger men come to a halt and then nods, “Good. Now, everyone can see the smoke coming from the top here?” The dwarf gestures to the top of the mountain, where gray steam filled with ash is faintly apparent, “That is where we are taking the girl. To the top and throwing her into the mouth of this volcano.”
One of the men lets his jaw drop,
"Wait, we throw her in? I thought...aren't we just to put her at the top? That way the elemental finds her when he's ready."
"No. Remember what the lieutenant said? His orders are absolute, seeing as he has ordered many sacrifices given." Raising an eyebrow, the dwarf continues, over the noise coming from the bag, "The one in command of this mountain, the elemental. He is made of fire, so it would make sense that he would prefer the sacrifice to be burnt." A pause, as well as an almost taunting smile, "There will be no repercussions if you feel you cannot do this."
"Not necessary, sir." The soldier adjusts his grip on the violently writhing sack again. With an encouraging smile, the dwarf nods,
"Very well. If there are no more questions, lets move!"
They begin following a trail, almost dropping the sack multiple times due to the woman's squirming. One of the men loses his hold again, and grumbles,
"Would it be bad form if we knocked her out?"
"It would. Very bad, in fact. One doesn't knock a calf out before the spring festivals, after all."
"A calf? It would be more cooperative..."
Despite the woman's struggles, the climb proves to be easier than expected, what with the trail not being too broken or having too many dead ends; even the steam pouring from cracks in the rock the higher they climbed turned out to be easier to deal with!
Finally they reached the top where the air was smoky and wavered in odd patterns from the intense heat of the firey, molten rock below.
"Good job so far, everyone." The dwarf wipes the sweat from his eyes, "Bring the woman forward."
With reluctant obediance, the younger men heft the sack to get a better grip as they took formation around the mouth. Just as they began to toss the sack in, a low and threatening voice growls from behind them,
"Purpose of what murderer and tra--trespassers on volcano of mine have?"
Dropping the sack to the jagged rock at their feet in fright, the men whirl around to get a look at the speaker.
"Pah! You hold cannot even what brought?" Before them was a man, no taller than they but with smoky tanned skin, ivory hair with plenty of ash, and eyes that smolder like coal in a fire. Losing a bit of patience, he frowns with a slight growl, "Business you have what!"
"We come to bring a sacrifice to the elemental of this mountain." The dwarf steps forward, kneeling. "Please forgive our trespass, we have tried to follow orders given by the Great Ones many years before in hopes that he will accept it."
Narrowing his eyes at the stocky dwarf for a moment, the elemental looks at the group one by one and then eventually regards the bag with some interest, "Sacrifice?" He pauses, seeming to search for the words, "Time is interesting, found me you have." He nudges the sack with the toe of his boot. Seeing some sign of life from it, a faint smirk comes to his lips, "Good, very. This you would sight allow."
Only when the dwarf made some violent gestures to his underlings did they begin untying the sack. As it finally is removed from her, the woman is forced to her feet despite tight bindings all around her. The elemental steps forward, apparently ignoring the barely masked fear in her green eyes as he looks her up and down and eventually murmurs,
"Elfo..." He raises an eyebrow, looking toward the dwarf briefly, "Elven she is? Forests of the south?"
"Yes, great Firelord." The dwarf stays on his knees, "She was chosen from their rituals."
The elemental raises an eyebrow and runs his hand across the woman's face, ignoring how she tries to pull away from the touch. He gives a faint, chilling smile before turning and walking to the dwarf, "Stand! Pleasing, this is!"
The dwarf gets to his feet and the elemental pulls him to his side in a gesture of friendship, murmering, "Telei not have sacrifice, years! Thought forgotten we were."
"N-no sir! Not at all!" The dwarf stammers some excuse that went unheard. Instead, the elemental takes a long look into the volcano, murmering almost to himself as he tightens his grip on the dwarf,
"Good." He then murmers, into the volcano itself, "...Haudu...Nānu Telei arthamāḍikoḷḷalu." His eyes then go into sharp focus on the dwarf's face for a moment as the elemental tightens his grip almost unbearably, "Command has Telei given." With one sweeping motion, he sends the dwarf over the edge of the volcano, shouting as the dwarf falls, "Sacrifice of you accept!"
The elemental stares into the abyss for what seems like an eternity. The men, too frightened to move, try to summon the will to flee before they share their boss's fate.
Finally the elemental begins to turn around, looking at the woman. The men, not seeing or caring that they weren't the focus, begin to move as fast as they can away, almost falling down the mountain with their hurried steps.
Now alone with the elemental, the woman's expression changes from fear to outright terror. Not seeming to see this, the elemental shakes his head,
"Guard that is what become? Wonder is it that stand towns still do." He glances at the woman with a faint smirk, "Say much now, though, you not able." Once he's removed the gag from her mouth, he touches one of the ropes to burn them all away.
Once the ropes are removed, the woman leaps to her feet.
"I don't want to die!"
"Why need? Pleased Telei is dwarf with." The elemental raises an eyebrow, standing a bit straighter, "I never kill you wanted, trouble you would have to find of..." He pauses again, murmering a few words to himself before testing, "Trouble you would have to element finding accepting sacrifice." Then he scoffs, "Sacrifice origin your people and other Mānsāhāri dhāturūpada, not element."
"Then why did you throw Thias into the volcano?"
"Thias?" A confused pause, "The dwarf? Insist Telei he punished." Something of a smirk comes to his lips, "Murder more than, right?"
"Wha--how did you know?" Turning away from him as her face took a blush of shame, the woman closes her eyes then accuses, "So you're going to send me back to the law. You should know what they do to...to people who don't obey the guard!"
The look on the elemental's face shows quite plainly that he doesn't. However, in response to her fear, he waves the notion away,
"Forced not to leave."