Prologue in the works of a possible book, The Archer of Death. Sci-Fi fantasy work
|Candles lit the cavern-like room in a dull glow. Each flame flicked shadows over the walls of the room. In each well of light glistening blood echoed horrors and atrocities that had been committed over the centuries. Lowen, the God of Death, sat upon his obsidian throne staring blankly out across the open space. Shrouded in a crimson cloak, his eyes pierced the darkness, waiting.
The smallest movement was all the poor soul could afford, strapped upon the rack. The God's skeletal fingertips slid from under the confines of his red sleeve, curling upon the skull-covered throne. Long dead were the owners of those skulls, and yet blood and sounds of pain slipped from each socket and facet of their features. His jaw clenched as he shifted upon the throne staring at his victim. He reveled in these moments of uncomfortable silence. The man would know he was not alone in the room, but strapped down tightly to the stone table, he would not know who shared this space.
“Please, ”the man said into the darkness. “Please release me. I have wronged no one, worked no evil, I am but a simple man with a family.”
In that weak statement, Lowen reveled in the mans pain. He stood up slowly, wrapping his crimson robe about his form, facial features tightening. Slow, measured steps took the divine one by a candle, to the table upon which the man was bound. Slowly, his skeletal finger traced along the mans bared skin. The touch of the God sent chills of pain across the skin of the poor man. Without space enough to move away from that which pained him, his victims skin twitched trying to escape the pain. The same fate would fall upon all of those who carry the Archer's blood.
"Please?"He repeated, with his tone deep, dark."You speak such a word. When you know naught of what will come of it.” His hallowed eyes flickered with vindictive amusement. "Hush. Speak not a word more." Lowen’s presence filled more than just the room it clenched at his victims’ soul. The man attempted to move, pulling with all of his power at the straps and bonds that held him to the table though nothing gave way. The fear this poor man felt showed upon his face and echoed through every miniscule motion he made to break free.
The candlelight wavered around the shroud that covered Lowen's face, but the prisoner knew his captor. Lowen, God of Death and Destruction. Pain Bringer. The Scoundrel. Countless names were used to describe the God who now stood above him, each name recalling childhood threats and campfire stories. From the cold stone table that he lay upon, there was no freedom, no chance of survival.
With a wave of his hand, the candles went out around the room. Lowen's eyes glazed over, a smirk curling at his lips. Straightening, he waved about him: An image formed, hovering in the air of the cavernous temple that was his home.
"See?"His thin lips brushed across his victim's ear with each word."My minions. They come for the ones you love most." He gave a rich, deep chuckle.”Pain will be shared by all on this night. What you will bring into this world is stopped now. There will be no Archer to stop my flight to omnipotence. Alyssia will not have a new hero.”
The image showed the prisoner what was happening leagues away: A lone woman in a bed, squirming, caught in her dreams and unable to wake. His wife, the mother of his unborn children. Somewhere in his mind he knew better than to speak, so he prayed silently to Alyssia, Goddess of Life and Love, to spare the soul of his beloved. He knew it was a futile attempt to save her, yet he prayed in hopes of saving her the pain he knew was to befall her.
The demons materialized and crept upon the sleeping figure. Five they stood, each to a point on the compass, the fifth mounted by clawed hands and feet to the ceiling above. In unison each of the black skinned creatures unsheathed obsidian blades and placed their tips upon critical life points of their victim. A blade for each, the brain, the heart, the liver, the lungs. Death would be swift for her, painful, but swift.
The restrained man thrashed about violently. Lowen placed his hand upon the mans imprisoned body, and he stilled immediately. "Please--Just leave her. Please. Take my soul . . . just not . . . please don’t." Through the pain the Death Gods touch gave him, the man pleaded for his wife to be spared.
His plea’s struck a note in the twisted God's ear."Why should I not take what is already mine?" Dark eyes turned toward the prisoner's, piercing his very soul. "You think life shall keep you from me? With each breath you take, it leads you to my warm embrace."
The man's bone-chillingly cold fingertips slipped across his skin to press hard upon his forehead. The victim's brow furrowed as a pool of blood appeared under the divine finger. He squirmed as Lowen removed his fingertip. The wound which had appeared under the God’s extended digit began to swell and spread into a lengthened gash down the features of his face. The ropes and leather straps that bound the man loosened without a touch, giving its prisoner scant inches to writhe in pain.
Lowen moved behind the elevated stone tablet that held the prisoner."Yes. Yes, fight," thought the God. Gurgling sounds emitted from the throat of the man, Lowen was filled with an overwhelming sense of pleasure. Long moments hung with sounds of the strangling moans from the dying man. The single gash that had begun as a simple touch worked its way down the body of the man, ripping him from head to toe.
Lowen lifted the solemn fingertip toward the prisoner's body. The magic and power of his stead gave the God dominion over flesh and blood, and now his newest victim melted at its seams. Numbed with the pain, the unfortunate man did not contest the bloody death that had come for him. Instead his mind gave up its fight, and the body relaxed as its portions fell away, destroyed.
"Now, Betrayer," Lowen spoke as he stood, skeletal form shielded by his waving cape."Come to me."
His hands lifted, cape falling away to reveal a shirtless torso, ribs protruding, scars riddling his form---His flesh, white and almost translucent. Slowly, a mist began to form about the man until his life ceased. The mist, a hollowed form of its embodied keeper crept out from the now dead body it had once owned. Silent screams stretched the translucent, misty features. Gnarled hands curled up, pulling the soul of his prisoner toward his chest. The mist, the soul, fought fruitlessly to stay away from his torturer, but a moment later it was gone, taken into the grasp of the God of Death.
No remorse was present in Lowen's hallowed eyes: His hood was drawn up about his own head, head turned down, and he retreated to his throne, pulling the crimson cloak back around his body.
"Minions of Death, raise yourselves,"He murmured.
Instantaneously, creatures appeared, red-socketed eyes bleeding, anorexic flesh clinging to the bones of the malnutritioned followers, each of them appeared exactly the same as the last.
"Take care of the man's family, all of them. No seed of the Archer should be left alive."
Settling into his throne, Lowen threw his hand up waving them away to their new mission. Each of his minion fell to one knee bowing, and then disappeared into the darkness to do their master's bidding.