Short story competition entry - Official WDC Contest entry (#1221635)
|For nearly two millennia the priests of darkness had met inside a cave, high above the cauldron of the volcano, at the temple dedicated to the worship of their Lord, Beelzebub. The cave had a magnificent view of the fiery lava below. For two millennia they had waited for Satan's command, to release the powers chained there.
"Why must we continue to wait, hidden away in this desolate place?" said Portunus, restlessly striding backward and forwards, in his long, black robes.
"Know your place and be still," said the older man, Harpocrates. He was similarly dressed, and named, aptly enough, after the god of silence.
He was the High Priest warlock in charge of this temple. Just like Portunus, he was possessed by a powerful demon, that gave him superhuman powers and magical abilities. He fingered the gray, metallic sun, that hung on a pearled necklace around his neck. It was the symbol of their order and was only worn by the High Priest of the temple on special occasions like this. He glanced into the sky, through the window, drilled through the rock of the roof of the temple. It was a clear night and the new moon was just five minutes away. It would be then that the ceremony would begin, with the scream of the sacrifice that had been prepared.
"Our Lord invested his powers in the ring of fire, that circles this volcano's cauldron, just below its lava line. His wisdom crafted something, that has drawn the power of two millennia of geothermal energy into itself. We all know it is charged and ready for the task for which he created it," said Portunus.
Harpocrates gave him a look, that would have frozen a lesser man into silence. But still, Portunus spoke,
"We know that the six covens require six leaders. When the ring of fire is activated, six spirits will be released, start the process, whereby our Lord will conquer the creation of the One, who sits upon the throne. Then, we shall reign the universe with him, enjoying all of its pleasures and dominating all."
Harpocrates was becoming more and more annoyed with his second in command. "This will be a ceremony of praise to our Lord, for which we have prepared a goat to sacrifice, and that is all. It is our Lord's policy to delay the end times. This here is only an emergency backup plan, should all else fail. Six spirits to counter the seven spirits of God, the seven churches of God, and the seven angels that guard them."
"Why would our Lord wish to delay? The church is weak, disorganized, and lacks our powers. The time to strike is now!"
"You are a fool! You do not know what you speak of. You have not yet been entrusted with all the secrets of our Lord."
Portunus's eyes darted with anger, eyeing the necklace and wanting it for himself.
"What is the secret I do not know?"
Harpocrates laughed and looked away for just a moment. It was a fatal error, as Portunus drew the ceremonial sword, around his waist and plunged it into Harpocrates. Harpocrates looked up into his killer's face, who was savoring every one of his dying moments, with a look of profound contempt and satisfaction in his eyes. Portunus ignored Harpocrate's last words, though he heard them clearly, as did all the priests.
"Liar, you are just in the way of our inevitable progression to the throne itself", said Portunus.
He ripped off the man's necklace. Then, with his eye on the clock, at the exact moment that the sacrifice of the goat was meant to occur, he hurled Harpocrates into the cauldron of the volcano. He left the sword inside him, as it too was an essential part of the sacrifice. The volcano gulped him down into its fires, like a gaping maw that led all the way to hell itself.
Portunus fastened the necklace around his neck and then he turned his thoughts to the activation ceremony. The priests of the temple fell to their knees. They sensed the moment had come which they had all waited for. All of them had made great sacrifices in expectation of the rewards their Master would shower on them when he was ruler overall.
"Now the time has come to release the fire demons."
Portunus started to chant, in some ancient language, that only a privileged few could join him in uttering. They chanted together and as they did so the circle of the sun, around his neck, started to glow. Then, after a mighty shaking, the roof of the temple was blown away. The black sky was revealed, and they felt the ground continue to quake, beneath the floor of the temple. The ring of fire, carefully constructed by the Dark Lord himself, began to move. Portunus turned his back on the cauldron and continued to chant, feeling the power surge through his hand from the necklace and feeling the ground vibrating beneath his feet. He loved the looks of open-mouthed fear on the faces of the priests, kneeling before him. The ring of fire rose behind him and cooled into a strange circle with words, from the ancient language he chanted in, written around its rim. These words praised the Dark Lord and praised him with the same titles that Christians gave their God.
Finally, the gateway, now turned into a vertical position, was in place, hovering above the fires of the volcano, so that it framed the High priest in the eyes of the priests. Something began to happen in its middle. A wind began to blow out from the gateway as if just opened to another dimension, and what looked like a dark whirlpool formed, opening a pitch-black hole through which suddenly six enormous spirits, with faces like human skulls, rushed out They moved at speed onward and outwards to the six covens scattered around the world.
Portunus turned flushed with power and success.
"Hail Lucifer, who will sit on the very throne of God!"
The priests of the temple also rejoiced, that they were here, to see the beginning of this new era. But then, as they looked on, the ground continued to quake and the gateway fell from the sky, plunging into the fiery cauldron. The volcano exploded with an eruption of such magnitude, that the world has scarcely experienced. The lava rose, consuming the temple, and just before Portunus burnt alive, still clutching the glowing necklace, he recalled again Harpocrates's voice in his head, and the last words his master had spoken finally registered.
"You fool! We did not start because we cannot win".
The temple and all its devil-worshiping priests were turned to ash, by the molten rock that covered them.
And so the end begins!