Ysalane's steps faltered on the black basalt. She trespassed in the feathered serpent's sacred temple, but she'd had to come when she'd heard the rumors. Kukulcan, the high priestess, guarded the entrance to the room like a simple warrior. Ysalane grasped her left wrist with her right hand in the formal greeting. "Your highness."
Kukulcan wore a ceremonial cloak, its black vulture feathers gleaming in the torchlight. "You intrude where you don't belong."
"I heard a rumor --"
"Rumors are like a flock of swifts, swooping through the air, separated into two kinds, bits and pieces of truth, and the misunderstandings of those who don't understand. It is best to ignore them."
"But, Chiam..." Ysalane hadn't seen her husband in a month. Something had happened in the Bolonchén vault.
"Is not here."
"In the city, they speak of a disaster in the vault. They say the survivors are being nursed in the temple. I didn't mean to trespass. But, I needed to see."
"Do not worry about Bolonchén. The water flows. Kukulcan's energy suffuses the sacred city even now." The high priestess gestured at windows in the temple wall and the flickering of lights could be seen in the city. "Go home and return to your life and offer the sacred prayers at the prescribed times."
"It is not --"
A voice moaned from the room the high priestess guarded. Ysalane knew Chiam's voice. Quickly, before the priestess could block her way, Ysalane darted into the room. She gasped. Chiam lie glowing on a bed. She ran to his side, taking his hand.
The high priestess shouted from behind the wall. "Do not touch the man that glows. He is not your husband. He is other."
Chiam's blood glowed like sick starlight, sweat staining his sheets, his skin sloughing from the body, leaving bloody sores. Ysalane dropped to her knees, pulling his hand into hers. "My love, my love. What have they done?"
He moaned again. Ysalane pushed the hair out of his eyes. "You're so hot."
"Don't touch him. A false god's energy poisons him. The poison spreads through touch and can traverse through the air infecting anyone not protected behind rock. You must leave before it is too late."
Ysalane pulled Chiam's head towards her. He wasn't dead yet even if his skin was peeling. "No. Someone must ease his passing."