Chapter 3 - Darkness
By: Andrew J. Kolesar
It had been almost three years since the elves had won their victory against the goblins. Thanks to the intrusion of Jack Karde. If it hadn’t been for him, the goblins would be ruling the world, controlled by higher powers of course. It was just to bad that he had to be killed. Turning a man with his power potential would have benefited the cause greatly. But since he was siding with the elves, all that was left for him to do was die. With the elves in control, it would be impossible to search for the artifact. And with the artifact, one would have the powers of a god.
On the highest level of a darkened tower Cerubus Xanteran sat at his desk. He played with a small dark orb, rolling it in his open palm. A few years back he had discovered how to stop, and reverse the decaying effects that plagued a Dark Path follower. It wasn’t as easy as opening a bottle of aspirin but he once again looked like a normal man tall, dark, and handsome, thanks to the cure. Once a week, he had to absorb the souls of ten creatures. The beings had to be good and pure, and finding that in the worlds was difficult indeed. Children were what usually supplied the souls he needed. His agents silently slipped in and placed an orb over the child’s heart. Within a few moments the child would be a lifeless husk, and their soul now belonged to him.
Cerubus walked over to an orb on a stand. This orb was as large as a giant’s skull and was made from the blackest crystal. He took the smaller orb and touched it to the larger one. Black lightning crackled, the hair on his arms raised, then in a flash of dark light and the smaller orb had vanished. The soul inside was now with the rest of the collective. He needed just one more to begin his cure. It should be here shortly.
He sat back at his desk and began to write. He was sending out invitations for a conference he was about to hold. Only the most elite Children of Death and other contributors to the cause would be there. Those with their powers combined with his could destroy a world.
A knock on his door broke him away from his thoughts. He looked at the door with a look of perturbation and snarled. He snapped his fingers and the door opened. In walked a lovely dark creature. Her pale, bone white skin was radiant, it almost glowed. With her black eyes, hair, lips, and fingernails she was absolutely enchanting. Her voice was dark and husky, sending little signals of pleasure to his brain when she spoke. She looked almost human, but the black wings on her back said different. She was a succubus, a creature from the abyss; her soul was as black as it came.
“Good evening Cerubus. I bring you a gift.” The succubus said, holding out another small orb.
Cerubus stood and walked over to her, looking at the orb. Cerubus hated this bitch, being a male she had a power over him. Using her magical voice she could make almost any man do her bidding. With just her voice she could break a man, destroying his sanity. He didn’t fear it though, he had a deal with this slayer of men, and as long as the conditions were right for her, she wouldn’t “pour on the charm.”
He dropped to one knee, and kissed her elongated fingers. He looked up at her sexy body, barely able to see her face, her breasts hiding it almost completely. Sexual thoughts started to form in his mind, causing him to become aroused. He wanted her more at this moment then he ever thought possible. He had never wanted a woman so badly in his life. Lightly he began touching the exposed, soft flesh of her belly. Chills were coursing through his body causing an almost orgasmic feeling. With her free hand she stroked his jaw line, a wicked grin spread across her features. She helped him to his feet and placed his hands under her top, and unto her breasts. His mind almost exploded with delight. And then she kissed him.
The kiss of a succubus is death. They suck out a man’s life through the kiss, the man never knowing his fate. The succubus broke the kiss and Cerubus fell to his knees, unable to stand. Weakly he looked up at her, hatred burning in his eyes. He fell to his hands, head bowed he closed his eyes. He could feel his strength returning, slowly. When he could stand, she was dead! He’d blast her back to the abyss.
“Cerubus, don’t be mad. It was just a playful little game. Consider it my payment for this.” She said holding out the orb. She continued, “Besides, I didn’t use my voice, and I didn’t kill you. Next time you’ll learn not to get into such a compromising position. Face it, you know you’d miss me.”
“Adhimuktivasita, do not entertain thoughts of importance to me. NEVER! DO! THAT! AGAIN! Next time I will not be so forgiving.” Cerubus shouted, his strength just about returned.
“Next time I don’t have to let you live. Don’t threaten me, I’ve already warned you about that. And I do so hate repeating myself. You may be strong and all-powerful, but you are still a man. You have no powers that can counter my charms and their effects. So if you are done pouting you can take this, and start your antidote. Your normally attractive features are beginning to get real ugly.” Said Adhimuktivasita holding out the orb.
Slowly Cerubus got to his feet, glaring at Adhimuktivasita the whole time. He snatched the small orb from her out stretched hand, careful not to make contact with her skin. He looked at his hand and saw that the skin was pulled taut, looking skeletal, the coloration of a corpse. He touched his face, feeling the bone closer to the skin’s surface. He looked at the succubus again with a wicked smile of his own. She was right, it was time to begin.
He pointed to a plush sofa and indicated for Adhimuktivasita to sit. She glided over to the sofa and arranged herself in a way that only a temptress could. Cerubus took a deep breath, looking at the erotic creature. He noticed the way her breasts were rising and falling with each breath. Staring at her voluptuous breasts, and enticing curves. He closed his eyes and shook his head, remembering what had just happened. She was right about one thing; he had no defense against her. Not unless he somehow destroyed his libido. He may be a Death Child, but he still enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh. Turning away from her he walked to the large orb on the stand.
He looked at the small orb in his hand, marveling at the way the whitish light of the soul stood out in the darkness surrounding it. He thought it looked quite beautiful. He placed it on the large orb, the black lightning crackled, and the dark light flashed. He then took a deep breath and prepared himself for what he was about to do. The cure made his appearance more suitable, but the pain that coursed through his body during it was almost a good deterrent. If he could only find a way to make it permanent, or at lest last longer than a week.
Cerubus rolled up his sleeves and stared into the orb. Closing his eyes he began to chant. His words growing in volume. He then placed both hands on the orb. The bright white light assaulted his eyes, blasting through the retinas into his brain. Then his hands and arms tingled; he could feel heat from the orb. The pain was becoming unbearable, all the goodness and purity of the souls filling his. The pain was reaching its peek, if it kept up much longer it would surely kill him. He was rooted to the spot, crying out in pain when suddenly it stopped. Exhausted, he grabbed onto the lip of the stand and sunk to the floor.
Adhimuktivasita saw him pass out. She walked over and easily hoisted him up. She carried him over to the sofa and laid him down. She then lifted up his robes and looked between his legs. She thought to her self, ‘I’ve had bigger anyway.’ Then she left the room.
As she descended down the stairwell, she was met by another succubus.
“Did it work Vasita?” asked the new succubus
“Like a charm Vikalaratri, like a charm. I don’t think he ever even suspected.” Adhimuktivasita said.
“You know that Bali will greatly reward you.” Vikalaratri remarked.
“Do you think? Slipping a wraith like Njord into the orb was easy; it was getting it past Cerubus that I was worried. To keep him from noticing I turned up the charm a bit. I love to toy with men, twisting them into a puddle of lust. Then I kissed him; I did that for myself though. But unfortunately he passed out from the cure. So I don’t know if he noticed another, darker presence in the mix. So we’ll just have to wait and find out.” Replied Vasita
“If all goes as planned, Bali might even make you his personal succubus. You lucky bitch, can you even imagine how nice that would be?” Vik asked
“Always thinking with that hole between your legs aren’t you? Don’t you do anything else? Or do you prefer to be on your back, legs splayed in the air? Being a succubus means liking sex, but honestly, I think you fuck more than all of us combined. You slut.” Vasita replied.
Vikalaratri shrugged and flipped Vasita off. She smiled and then said, “Let’s get outta here, I’m pretty sure we can find something better to do than stand around here gabbing.”
Cerubus woke up, and rubbed his hands together. The treatment always made them sting for hours afterwards. He looked around and noticed he was on the sofa. Strange, normally he passed out on the floor. Then he remembered Vasita, he saw she wasn’t around. He sat up and looked at the clock on the wall and was surprised to see that six hours had passed. Normally he was out for only one-maybe two hours at the most. He got up and went to his desk; he really needed to get these invitations sent out.
Sixty souls, or six weeks later Cerubus sat at the head of a long table. All the major players in this war were here along with assistants and other such beings. The biggest surprise of all was the appearance of Kheti and Akasha. Though vampires they were, the world had thought them to have gone “soft”. Their attendance here made everyone nervous. They weren’t the oldest or most powerful at the assembly, it was their collaboration with the righteous that bothered everyone.
“Let us begin this, I have better things to do then sit around talking. If my warriors are to begin their attack they must be prepared.” Said Zurzan, the Bazuluka Master of the Third Gate of Hell and second in command of the Hells.
“These talks are getting tiresome. In the last several hundred years that’s all we’ve done. The only thing all of us here have ever agreed upon is that we need to join forces and attack, but yet we still sit here discussing what and how. If we do not attack soon, you can count me and my dragons out.” Grimsadevi, Lady of the Dragons said.
“Our children are ready, but even though they are timeless like most here, the smell of the blood to be drives them into a frenzy. Do not fear my friends, when the time to strike is near, the vampires, my wife and I will be on your side.” Kheti said looking at Akasha and their “daughter”, Kayla.
Everyone started to talk at once, some were for waiting, and some were for action. Cerubus sat at the table, head resting in the palm of his hand, while he drummed his fingers on the table. This is how it always went. He was growing tired of it as well. Lady Grimsadevi was right, if things didn’t change soon; they could count him out as well. He then felt someone massaging his shoulders, and closed his eyes. Whoever it was; was damn good at it. Then a voice whispered in his ear, “Not going exactly as you expected it to, is it?” He turned around and saw Vasita.
“What are you up to?” he asked
“Nothing, what do you mean? You looked stressed so I figured a shoulder rub would be appreciated. I guess not.” She replied
“Bullshit, you never do anything without an ulterior motive. Even if it’s something simple, like your own amusement.” Cerubus said.
“I’m really offended by that. Plus a little hurt. Someone I know and like is troubled and he tries to tell me I’m up to something. You know, even us abysmal creatures have feelings.” She remarked, pouting
Cerubus gave her a cold hard stare. He knew she was full of shit. But he didn’t have anyway of proving it. So for now he’d play her game.
“I don’t know why I thought this meeting would be any different. No matter where we meet, it’s always the same shit. Nobody can agree on anything, and it usually ends in a fight. How the fuck can we win a war against the worlds when we can’t even pull ourselves together? Do you have any ideas?” Cerubus asked.
“No I don’t, but why don’t you give that same speech to them. I don’t think they ever thought of it before.
He looked at her and nodded, she was right. In fact she was right about a lot of things. She must be a lot smarter than she let on. He’d have to remember that in the future, but for now he had something to say. He stood up and shouted above the roar for silence. As was customary in these meetings, when the host stood to speak everyone was silent. Cerubus looked around; all eyes were on him. He said the same thing to the assembly that he said to Vasita, but continued it. He asked questions, answered questions, spouted off facts and quotes, and gave speeches. No one made a sound to interrupt. When he was finished the assembly started talking in turn to each other. They’d be here for many days, but if it all went well maybe they could at least form some type of plan.
Vasita whispered in Cerubus’ ear, “I knew you could do it.”
A shiver of excitement ran through him, he turned and looked at her. “I thank you for your vote of confidence. But I still believe you have an ulterior motive.” He said smiling at her.
It took six days, but when the meeting was over they had an actual date. In exactly one year from now the attack would begin. All beings would start their preparation, for the attack. When the time came, everyone was to be ready. They would need all their forces to achieve their goal.
Cerubus smiled, we was quite pleased with himself. If it weren’t for his out burst, then none of this would have happened. He hated being in someone’s debt, but he knew he owed Adhimuktivasita, and big. He knew the one thing he could do for her. Something she’d been playing at for years. She was a succubus, and the thought of sex with her was very exciting to think about. But she was a succubus, and having sex with someone who had her powers made him very leery.
The next day Lord Byron paced in his office. He had just come from the meeting at Cerubus’ tower. Now he faced an important decision. If he actually went through with it, it would be considered a treacherous move, and he’d be destroyed or worse. But only if he was found out. He would go see Arden one more time. Ah Arden, if only they had gone through with their plans. He missed Arden; he had never known such a good friend in his life. Lord Byron sat in the chair behind his desk. He leaned back, closing his eyes. He then thought back, way back, about three hundred years ago. Times much simpler and happier. Before he chose to walk the Dark Path.
London, England in the year 1698, He and Arden had just come back from seeing Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. Outside was the most gorgeous weather imaginable. Perfect temperature; sun filled, and cloudless. Even though both men were over a hundred years old, they both felt and acted young. Any beautiful woman who crossed their paths would of course get a polite comment on her beauty, even if a gentleman accompanied her. Byron had often been forced into a duel for such actions, Arden always his second.
As they strolled down the street they noticed a sickly looking man approach. He was wearing dark gray robes and was walking with a cane. They were about to pass him when with his free hand he reached out and grabbed the sleeve of Byron’s shirt. Byron stopped, not wanting to rip the new silk shirt he had bought in Paris. He tried to pry the old man’s hand off, but it wouldn’t budge. The old man looked him in the eyes and said, “Ye soul’s as dark as the midnight sky. Ye will destroy all that ye hold dear. When ye come to realize what ye have done, it’ll be to late. Now be gone evil one!”
Byron and Arden ran and stopped in front of an inn. They looked at the sign, looked at each other and nodded. They’d have a talk about what just happened over a pint. Byron turning evil was just preposterous; he was about as kind and light hearted as they came. He only dabbled in the darker side of magic for kicks. It was fashionable after all.
“Are you alright Byron? You look a bit shook up. Here, have a pint.” Arden said as he slid a pint over.
“Ay, I’m all right. It was rather odd though. Strange old bugger. He better watch it, one day someone’s not just going to walk away.” Byron stated.
“Byron, we sure as hell didn’t walk away, more like ran away. In fact I’d say we ran like a couple of school girls.” Arden joked.
They both laughed heartily, and the more pints they had, the harder they laughed. Then the most enchanting woman they had ever laid eyes on walked into the pub. Her walk was beautiful, the way she turned her head was beautiful, and the way she sat down at a table was even beautiful. There were just no faults they could find in this beauty. Then they saw something that wasn’t beautiful, she was crying.
Arden and Byron practically knocked each other over trying to get to her first. They fell into the seats next to her, both asking in unison “What’s wrong?” Startled she looked up at the two men. She dried her eyes on the sleeve of her dress and said, “My son was taken from me. He was in bed last night, and when I woke up this morning he was gone. My husband died about seven years ago, and my son William was the only thing I had left of him. Ever since he died in the war, I’ve had to take to working to keep my son and I alive. And now he’s gone!” she then broke out into tears again.
The two Magblo looked at each other, and nodded to a silent agreement. They’d help her look for her son. Arden asked, “First off, let me introduce my friend and I. I’m Arden, and this is my friend Byron. We’re gonna help you look for William. Now, what’s your name?”
“I’m sorry, my name is Alisabeth, but everyone calls me Alisa. I, I don’t know how to thank you or how I can repay your kindness.” She said
Byron was about to respond to her last comment when Arden kicked him under the table. He gave Byron a strict look. He knew exactly what he was about to say. Alisa went into a description of her son and shortly the three of them were out on the streets. They talked to anyone that would listen, but by sundown they still hadn’t found little William. Wherever he was, the small ten-year-old boy was probably scared.
They walked Alisa home, but when she walked in the door she burst into tears once again. Arden and Byron thought it best to stay with her. It was best if she weren’t alone. Late that night she had finally fallen asleep. Byron picked her up and placed her in bed then he joined Arden again in the common room. They sat in chairs around the fire, slowly dozing off.
When they woke up the next morning. They noticed that Alisa was sick. She was pale, feverish, and weak. They told her to stay in bed and rest. They’d go looking for William. They’d spent the entire day out. A few times they had thought they found him, only to find that they were mistaken. Then just as they were about to give up, they saw something in an alley.
They cautiously walked down the alley and lying in the mud was a blonde haired boy. Byron went to lift him up, but he was stiff. Little William was dead. Arden looked at him; the boy was pale and looked bloodless. He inspected the boy’s neck, and sure enough there were two small puncture marks.
“Vampire Byron, the boy was killed by a vampire.” Arden stated.
“Holy shit Arden! Alisa!” Byron yelled.
“I know, how are we going to tell her? She’s going to be quite put out by this.” Arden said.
“Well for starters you can turn around and tell her. She’s standing behind you.” Byron replied
“What?” was all Arden said.
He turned around and sure enough Alisa stood there. She was pale, but no longer did she look weak or sick. She had a strong power coursing through her blood now. Byron and Arden looked at each other, and in unison again said, “She’s been turned into a vampire.” Then she started to advance on them. Her eyes red, fangs out, and claws extended she pounced. Arden quickly cast a spell and she froze. She wildly looked around her, her confusion was evident. Then they noticed a shadowy figure behind her.
“Hello Bloodworth. Why that was awfully kind of you to kill this woman’s child and turn her. What do you plan on doing for an encore? Killing an infants parents why turning the infant?” Byron said sarcastically.
“Take your child and get out of here before we destroy you. And her out of pity. And pray to whatever god you serve that we don’t hunt you down.” Arden growled out.
“Ah, Arden and Byron the Magblo twins. Inseparable friends from birth, and fearless warriors of good. Do you really think that you can destroy me? I have been around before your grandfathers were suckling at their mother’s tit, and I will be around long after your granddaughters have discovered sucking dick. I am eternal, there is no way…” Bloodworth was saying before he got blasted into oblivion.
Arden and Byron looked at one another, apparently they had the same idea at the same time. A good old-fashioned blast of flame spurt did the job rather nicely indeed. It was such a wonderful spell for slaying vampires.
“What do we do with her? To kill her would be merciful, seeing how her son is dead.” Byron said
“Should we decide that? She was a good-hearted woman before this. We’ve seen enough vampires to know that good ones exist. Granted it is rare, but they do exist. Maybe we should call upon Jerold. He could probably take her in.” Arden replied.
Byron cast a spell that took over Alisa’s mind. Unfortunately, no matter how good Byron was at the Man Path or Soul Path, there was no cure for vampirism. Telepathically Byron controlled her actions. She was a marionette without the strings. They took off down the street, heading towards the lair of Jerold. When they got there they discussed Alisa’s situation with him. He agreed to take her in. Byron and Arden left, feeling as if they had done a good deed.
The Magblo headed home to rest. It had been one hell of a day. They sat around the fire in their home talking about the future. They knew that no matter what, they’d always be friends.
Lord Byron decided it was time. He could never make up for the pain, suffering, and death he had wrought. But he could attempt to inform the other side until he was found out and killed. It would happen sooner or later. Of that he had no doubt. He got up and prepared for his unexpected and probably unwelcome visit to Arden’s.
Cerubus was in his laboratory when someone knocked on the door. He looked away from his experiment just long enough to watch it fizzle over, killing the entire project. Whoever was at that door was going to die! It had taken him over thirteen hours to get this far, and now it was ruined. He glared at the door, a ball of lightning in his hand, with his other hand he snapped his fingers. The door swung in, and standing there was a six-foot tall man with blonde hair and green eyes. Cerubus extinguished the lightning ball immediately. He turned to face the man, and bowed deeply.
“I hope I’m not intruding Cerubus, I know how disastrous failed experiments can be. I just dropped by to congratulate you on your successful meeting. For the first time in a long time an assembly has been a success.” Said the stranger
“Prince Artemis Taelestov of Ry, I am honored to have you in my home. Anything you require during your stay shall be my pleasure to retrieve for you.” Cerubus groveled.
Cerubus hated this man with the utmost passion. No hate wasn’t strong enough, he absolutely fucking loathed this man. Prince Artemis Taelestov of Ry was a soon to be king. He and his people were from a planet called Yaro. Yaro was many millions of light years away from Earth. Like Earth, the people of Yaro discovered the benefits of the nuclear age, and like the people of Earth they discovered the horror of it. But unlike Earthlings the Yaros destroyed their technology. They thought it wasn’t enjoyable at all the killing of your enemies from thousands of miles away. They preferred the good old way of slaughtering up close and personal.
The worse Yaro that ever lived was Prince Artemis. Not only was he a prince that was used to having his way, but he was unimaginable, if not the best assassin that ever lived. With his magical powers and assassin’s abilities he was not a force to reckon with. Cerubus would have loved to see an Artemis Vs Jack battle. He knew that in the end Artemis would have won, but it would have been incredibly interesting to watch. But unfortunately the Magblo best, just wasn’t good enough.
“Cerubus, I have come here for a specific reason. I have a purpose to my visit.” Artemis said, his tone growing dark and serious. The light of the lab played across his features giving him a menacing evil look.
Cerubus swallowed hard, he began to shake slightly. Trying like hell to think of his best defensive spell, he stammered out his question. “Y-Y-Yes my lord. What can I do for you?
“My sources have informed me that we have a spy in our little family.” Retorted Artemis.
“S-S-Spy?” Cerubus stuttered
“Someone is an informant for our enemies.” Replied Prince Artemis
“Surely you don’t suspect me my lord? I would nev…” Cerubus was about to begin, but was abruptly interrupted.
“No Cerubus I don’t. You do not have the courage or guts it takes. No not you, but you will help to catch the traitor. You will send out agents, and report all activities to me in a weekly report. Is this clear Cerubus? Or do you have questions?” commanded Artemis
“No my liege, I understand perfectly well.” Cerubus accepted.
Bali looked into his scrying mirror. Bali was the demon lord of the abyss; he knew everything that went on in his realm. He was a large hulking thing with black scales. Horns protruded from the top of his skull in uneven rows. The leathery black wings on his back had a wingspan of over twenty feet. At over nine feet tall, he was a terrifying creature. Even his most loyal servants were terrified of him.
Thanks to the loyal wraith Njord he now knew all that Cerubus was up to. The information he was receiving was invaluable. He couldn’t have paid spies enough to get information this good. He didn’t realize though that Cerubus could normally be so dull. But hearing him squirm under Prince Artemis’ command was worth the boring hours he sat doing nothing.
A spy in the organized forces didn’t surprise Bali; he would have been surprised to learn that there wasn’t one. He’d instruct his agents as well. No sense in letting Prince Artemis and Cerubus have all the fun. He looked over his shoulder to where Razaluktia hovered in the air. Razaluktia was an imp. Moreover he was Bali’s personal imp doing whatever his master commanded. It was time to once again do his master’s bidding.
“Are you crazy! They’ll tear you apart if they find out. And they will you know! I wouldn’t say a word, but it won’t take them long to find out. You’re important enough that people track you. They notice when you leave your castle, and when you return. You need to find someone you trust to relay the information. But you can’t go yourself Byron, it’s to dangerous.” Alisa said.
“Dear sweet Alisa, we’ve known each other for so long now. For the first time in our history together you show concern. You were not concerned when I began to walk the Dark Path, and if memory serves me, you even helped push me onto this path. It still bewilders me why Arden and I fought over you. The two greatest friends this world had ever, or will ever know, torn apart by a woman. A vampiric woman no less. Our friendship shattered, and I turn to the Dark Path. If it wasn’t for the damn Tuatha guarding the time gates, I’d reverse my decision. But since I do not wish sudden death, I shall take my chances and inform my old friend. It won’t repair the damage that’s been done, but hopefully he’ll see it as a sign of good faith.” Lord Byron said.
“Byron the first time you run to inform Arden you might be caught. You might even be caught before you get there.” Alisa was saying.
“I’ve already been to see him once before. A few years ago, I went to see him. It was accidental, but what I told them caused Princess Samandra and Jack Karde to leave for the Elven Nation. We all know what happened there of course.”
“Great, you’ve already seen Arden then. He knows what’s going on, there’s no need to go again. It’s suicide and you know it. Unless that’s what you want. You’re not actually wanting to die, are you?”
“Don’t be foolish Alisa, of course not. But I’d like to repent for the damage I’ve done. These last few decades I’ve been questioning everything. But as we all know, once you’ve gone over and walked the Dark Path there is no way back to the light. What’s that saying? ‘Once you go black, you’ll never go back’?
“Hold on! What are you saying? That if you could you’d turn your back on the Shroud? That you want to walk the paths of the Fabric of Life? You’re mad Byron, all this inner struggle crap has thrown you in loony land.” Alisa yelled.
Lord Byron’s hand shot out and grabbed Alisa by the throat. The look in his eyes was insane, but Alisa could see the clarity behind them, she could also see the sadness as well. Still clutching her throat Lord Byron said, “Never question the state of my sanity! I killed your master, and I would have killed you then as well. I’d have no problems with killing you now. So if you wish to exist, watch your tongue.” He let go of her throat and stepped back, knowing he couldn’t kill her.
Alisa looked at him with rage in her eyes. She hated the sight of this man, everything about him. Everything except their past together. No, she didn’t hate Byron, just what he became. She wasn’t evil; she was just what her nature made her. It’s true that she encouraged him to take to the Dark Path. But she was a young vampire at the time, a fledgling. She didn’t know what the Dark Path would do to him. And even though she was a vampire he loved her, loved her enough to walk this path. He was right, if it could be done over, it should be. She still loved Byron in a way, and she certainly didn’t want to see him killed.
“You’re right Byron, I’m sorry. But listen, you can’t see Arden. It’s way to dangerous for you, let me go. No one would be watching me as closely as you. Tell me what you need to tell him and I’ll be the informant.” She offered.
“No, I can’t ask that of you. Because you’re right, it is suicide.”
“You’re not asking, I’m telling you. See it as I’m repaying a three hundred-year-old debt. I never even thanked you or Arden for helping me look for William. Instead I thank you by tearing you’re friendship apart. It’s time I ante up, and kick in.” she stated.
“Alright, but I’m doing this reluctantly.” Lord Byron said.
He then went into great detail about the actions the assembly was planning on, dates, key locations, key players, and so forth. When he was done Alisa was swooning with information. But as she left, she wasn’t thinking about the new information. She had another reason to visit Arden. It wasn’t as important to the world, just more important to two old friends. She had every intention of telling Arden how Byron wanted to reverse his actions in the past. Alisa was slightly worried that Byron might even get desperate enough to take on the Tuatha.
There was no way back from the Death Shroud to the Fabric of Life. Not because it was impossible, only because it had never been attempted before. And Alisa planned on finding out from Arden, or anyone on how it could be done.
Cerubus sat in his library pouring over books on spies, and the best ways of detecting them when his servant Lamerus walked in and announced the visitor. The person walked in and sat in front of the desk. He was wearing black robes with a deep cowl that covered his face almost completely. The only visible thing was the tip of a sharp hawkish nose.
“While you are in my home you will remove your hood Soren.” Cerubus said.
“As you wish Cerubus. But tell me, am I here for business or pleasure? You do not often call upon my services, but when you do there has never been a succubus in the room. Have I been such a good boy that I get to be relieved by your pleasure slave?” Soren said in a mocking tone.
Adhimuktivasita was about to jump in her defense. She was quite offended at being called a slave. Before she could though, Cerubus interjected. He gave Soren a hard look, and said. “You did us a great service by fooling your sister into killing Jack Karde for us. But don’t think that, that little success will last a lifetime. When you hand us the Elven Nation, then you might have more sway. But for right now I need to know what’s going on in your nation. Then after that I have a job for you.”
“Very well, but I do not wish to discuss such matters in the presence of a succubus. They are not trustworthy, and I will not jeopardize my work or life.” Soren stated
“It doesn’t matter, she knows everything I’m about to tell you anyway and more. Consider her my confidant, for even though I don’t fully trust her, she’s the being I trust the most. Now begin your report.” Cerubus commanded.
Soren looked aggravated by this. He thought of getting up and leaving, but he knew he’d probably be dead before he reached the door. He sighed in defeat and began. “My father’s health is failing, within a few months he’ll be dead. Even now Latharous takes over most of the duties. The human barbarians have started their small up rising as per instructed. Tarian of course is in the battle there. No guns this time, even though we have them, Jack died before he could create more ammunition for them. Try as they might, they can’t recreate it. So they’ll have to fight this battle the traditional way.
“Samandra is either traveling or when she’s in the palace she’s in her quarters. She poses no threat to us. I believe she’s still blaming herself for Captain Karde’s untimely death. As you well know she wasn’t incarcerated for killing him. After she was questioned it was decided she was bewitched. What makes me want to vomit is that hideous statue they erected in his honor.”
“Let them have their statue, they believe he was a hero.” Cerubus said
“Don’t elven legends speak of someone who will come and save the Elven Nation from destruction anyway?” Vasita put in
“Yes, there are legends that speak of it. Considering the shape it was in when he arrived I can see how those fools believed in him. Mourning his death I can understand, they think he saved the nation. But erecting a statue is asinine.” Soren spat
“I have more important things for you to do than to worry about a damn statue. Destroy it after we’ve taken over, I don’t care. But for now you will find your sister, Samandra. When you find her you will bring her to me. Is this understood?” Cerubus said
“Why do you want her for? I told you she is rarely home, and when she is she’s locked herself away.” Soren asked
“Do not question your orders Soren. I have my reasons, and at a later date I shall clue you in as to what they are. But for now do what you are told, or I shall have to find someone to replace you. Is that understood?” Cerubus threatened.
“Yes my master, it is crystal clear.” Soren submissively said.
“Good, then as long as that’s finished, let us head to the dinning hall. Soren, I trust you will stay for dinner. Since I knew you would be here tonight I had my chef create an elven feast in your honor. So come, let us adjourn to the dinning hall.” Said Cerubus.
This was the first time they had met on Yaro. Nobody liked the idea, but they couldn’t afford to lose his support. Prince Artemis had just joined the cause only a few decades ago. But with him he brought an unbelievable amount of power. He was important to the cause, and even though most hated him, they had to endure him. His position in the cause was as an enforcer. He was responsible for the espionage they needed. The skills he had made him the premium aspirant for the job.
Cerubus looked around the massive table at which they sat. It didn’t seem that long ago, but it’d been almost six months since they last met at his castle. Lord Byron was here along with his vampire sidekick Alisa. Kheti Athribes and his wife and “daughter” were here. Lady Grimsadevi, Zurzan, Bali, Soren, were amongst the several here. Then there were the Children of Death. There were only a few even worth mentioning: Lady Erin Carrdwen, Lady Adika Cerasvatri, Lord Cernunnos, Lord Yurri Rosovich, and Lord Kim Ho Chin.
Artemis stood and the room went quiet. “I appreciate all of you coming, and I hope your stay on my world will be towards your liking. I have accommodations set up for all of you. Stay if you like or travel back and forth, it’s up to you. If everyone is ready, we can begin.” Artemis waited a few seconds, then signaled his servant to bang the gong. The ringing of the gong symbolized that the meeting had begun.
“The High Lords have informed me that the dragons are ready. They anxiously await for the day to strike.” Lady Grimsadevi stated.
Then a being stood, a creature that was so large he barely could stand in the room. The ceiling was at least twelve feet tall, and yet he had to slouch slightly. Deep red leathery skin covered his entire body, except for the black wings on his back. His eyes resembled those of a viperous snake, his hands and feet were claws and talons. When he spoke his voice caused the room to shake.
“The Hells are prepared as well. The Bazuluka and lesser demons are ready to strike, but Master Zurzan has informed me that if we are to attack the Heavens, we will need aid for a swift and complete victory. I ask the assembly and Lady Grimsadevi if we might employ the aid of the dragons in our strike. For as we all know because of the Qualinalti the Seven Heavens will be the toughest location to conquer. We all know the power the dragons have; Zurzan and myself feel that they would be the best choice for our attack.” Said the supreme lord and master of the Hells, Tetzahautonatiuh.
The assembly discussed the request presented to the body. Cerubus looked over at Vasita, who was seated next to him. “What do you think? Let the dragons fight with the demons for the heavens?”
“Why ask me, my vote doesn’t matter. I may be in charge of the succubae but that’s not big enough of a position to earn a seat.” Vasita mentioned.
“I know, but seeing how I don’t really care, I was wondering your mind on it. The votes are yes or no, there isn’t a ‘who cares’ vote on the ballot. So I ask you again, what do you think?” Cerubus asked again.
“Sure why not. If the heavens are gonna be that hard, then might as well give the demons some extra fire-power.” Vasita answered.
When it came time to vote on the question at hand, not only did Cerubus vote in support, but also so did the majority. Even Lady Grimsadevi supported the question. It was well known that the dragons hated the Seven Heavens almost as much as the masters of the Nine Hells. The next topic was the Earth.
“I think this body needs to discuss Earth. The powers we have on our world are strong, but may not be strong enough. The werewolves and the Magblo are a formidable force but the humans will also resist. Since we want to take this planet with little casualties as possible, we need to strike and destroy key cities. Once these cities are utterly destroyed taking over the planet will be elementary.” Said Kheti
“I agree, but I also think we should use Bali and his denizens to help. Death Children and vampires are enough to destroy these cities, but the mere sight of an abysmal creature will make the humans cower in fear.” Lady Adika Cerasvatri added.
“I to shall offer my warriors to help in the conquering of Earth. We have technology that will help protect us against the weapons those Earth people have. I can offer 500,000 warriors in support of Earth and any other world that needs aid in conquering it.” Prince Artemis stated
“As the representative of the Death Children on Earth, I express our thanks and gratitude of your very generous offer Prince Artemis. Now I suggest we discuss the cities on Earth we should strike. I think the ten cities we should strike are as follows: Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Rome, and Baghdad. With the absolute destruction of these cities the world will fall to it’s knees.” Cerubus said.
“I concur, the destruction of these cities will show Earth it has been defeated.” Kheti retorted
The assembly went into further discussion about Earth and other matters. When the assembly was done for the day Cerubus retired to his rooms, with Vasita following.
“Has Soren found the princess yet?” she asked
“No and my patients are wearing thin. How hard can it be to find her? He’s had six months. I have the mind to go find him and throttle the bastard.” Cerubus growled.
“I’m curious to know why you need her. She has no real power in the Elven Nation, and she’s nothing spectacular.” Playfully Vasita added, “Should I be jealous of her?”
“Jealous? Don’t worry about her. I have my reasons and they aren’t sexual. Let’s just say that life will become a bit easier with her around.” Cerubus said smiling.
“Thanks, thanks a lot. Not only didn’t you tell me what you needed her for, but also you’ve managed to increase my curiosity. Now come on, no more games.” Vasita said
“Alright, but just for you. Simply put, I turn her on to the Dark Path, get her to kill her father and brother Latharous, Soren catches her in the act with a few witnesses, Soren is then crowned ruler of the Elven Nation. Princess Samandra then becomes the Death Child the palace was worried about. In effect making my life easier. I now have a patsy. Now do you understand why I need her as soon as possible?” Cerubus explained.
“Yeah, but does it matter? I mean that once Tymerian dies, Latharous will officially take over. Then couldn’t Soren just kill him then? Make it look natural or accidental of course.” Vasita asked.
“Yes it could be done that way. But the palace and possibly the nation are already looking for a Death Child. Samandra killed Jack, many a warrior saw it, and the nation knows it. But they all believe she was under a spell. She gets caught killing the lord and a prince of the nation, it won’t matter to them if she was bewitched or not. They’ll have their Death Child, and it’ll be over. Soren moves in and we now control the nation. And most importantly, can begin our search for the artifact.” Cerubus said.
“Sounds like a great plan. The hardest part will be getting her to walk on the Dark Path. How do you propose to do that?” Vasita asked again
“That’s my secret. Don’t worry about it.” Cerubus stated in a final tone.
For the rest of the week the assembly discussed farther plans, and gave reports on the state of their readiness. When just as things were wrapping up Prince Artemis stood. The gathered crowd went silent.
“My friends, I have waited for the end of this meeting to make an announcement. Amongst us we have a traitor.” He paused as the assembly started to talk. When they died down he continued, “I am not sure who he or she is as of now. I do have my suspects however. But I shall not disclose them. I don’t want anyone embarrassed or offended. It won’t be long until they are found, and executed. Rest assured, they will be found, and they will be executed.” Artemis said looking directly at Lord Rosovich.
With that said the gong sounded, symbolizing the end of the meeting. In another six months they’ll have another meeting. This time at Lord Byron’s castle.
One week later Lord Byron sat at his desk in his office. He was waiting on Alisa to return. Against his wishes she went to Arden’s castle to inform him of the new events. And as usual she was late. Lord Byron got up and started to pace. He looked at the carpet and noticed how worn out the thread was. Did he pace that often? He was beginning to think of replacing it when a knock sounded on his door.
“Enter” he quickly said.
Alisa walked in, and she was smiling. Byron gave her a queer look, and told her to have a seat. He then sat at his desk, poured himself a glass of wine, and went to offer one to Alisa, but caught himself before he did.
“Well, did everything go alright? Did you see or hear anything?” Byron asked.
“Everything went fine, in fact I don’t even think you’re on Prince Artemis’ suspect list.” She said.
“Why do you say that? Do you know something you’re not telling me?” Lord Byron could feel himself getting hot. If this bitch had set him up, there’s no telling what he’d do to her.
“No and yes. I’m only guessing you’re not on the list. I’ve had a few close friends watching your estate. They haven’t seen anyone. But there is something I do know that you don’t. In fact I went through a lot of trouble to do this, and I hope you appreciate it.” she said.
Lord Byron’s eyes grew to slits. Suddenly he felt very nervous, something was up, he could feel it. His voice heavy with suspicion he asked, “What is it?”
At that Alisa stood up and walked to the door and opened it. When she did Arden stepped in. Lord Byron shot out of his seat and stared at Arden. He then looked at Alisa and said, “What are you doing? Have you gone mad? You can not bring him here. If the assembly finds out he’s here we’ll all be killed! Lord Byron screamed a note of panic in his voice.
“Well it’s nice to see you to Byron.” Arden said dryly.
“Arden I am grateful you would come all this way to see an old friend and enemy, but you being here would only confirm to the assembly that I’ve gone treacherous. I give them about five minutes before they burst in here, spells blazing away.” Byron said in a calmer voice.
“I trust you still have that anti-scrying spell on your home?” Arden asked.
“Of course I do. Plus I check for any type of spell used for spying regularly. Why?” Byron asked.
“Well with your anti-scrying spell and regular run through for spying spells, and the fact that I used a portal to get here makes us safe.” Arden answered.
“I have anti-portal spells, how’d you break it? Or get passed it?” Byron asked again.
“Well when you have Alisa here listening to you cast them it wasn’t hard. I told her what spell to counter it with. Before she left here tonight she countered it. After I came through the portal I put it back in place.” Arden answered again with a bit of a smile.
“You dirty old bugger. Just one problem, how can she cast a spell you gave her? The Fabric of Life wouldn’t let her do it.” Byron stated.
“You’re right, that’s why I gave her a Dark Path spell. Ever since you went to the Dark Path Byron, I learned everything I could. I know more about it than you would imagine.” Arden said.
“That’s very clever, but why would you study the Dark Path? I know you hate it, and I know you wouldn’t practice it. You couldn’t or else you’d be a follower.” Byron replied.
“I learned as much as I could because of you. I wanted to know what you were getting yourself into. I’ve hated you for a long time Byron, almost three hundred years now. I saw killing you as an act of friendship, a way to release a friend from a horrid existence. You don’t know how many times I thought about seeking you out for a challenge. But then I’d always remember our duels, and remember that I was your second. I couldn’t challenge you.” Arden retorted, a note of sadness crept in his voice.
“I’m sorry Arden for all that’s happened. I know that gathering and giving you the information on the Dark Forces isn’t going to repay anything. It won’t change the past, but I can make a difference now. As you know, in six months the attacks will begin. I only hope the Council is prepared.” Byron said.
“No Byron we’re not. Even three and a half years after your first warning the Council is still quibbling over it. The only way I think they’ll take it seriously is if you showed up.” Arden said then held his breath.
“You want me to show up? Arden you’re as mad as she is! Upon my arrival the Council would destroy me. I’d never get a word in.” Byron replied.
“What if I could grant you safe passage? Would you do it then?” Arden asked.
“I guess so, if it would make them take this whole mess seriously, then sure, why not.” Byron answered.
“Good! Then the other topic I have to discuss with you is about your wish to reverse your path. I know a way to do it. It took me six months to research it, but I found a way. The main thing you’re going to hate is, well you’ll have to start all over again.” Arden said excitedly
“T-There is a way? How? I thought that it was irreversible?” Byron said then added, “Besides, how’d you know I wanted to go back to the Fabric of Life?” he said while looking at Alisa who only smiled.
“I think we both know the answer to that.” Arden said.
“It’s so good to see you two talking again! I knew that things would work out between you guys. But I must say, I didn’t think you’d let three hundred years go by.” Alisa interjected.
Both Arden and Byron looked at her. Part of them wanted to choke her, and a part of them wanted to hug her. Byron turned his eyes back on Arden and said, “I told you that killing her would have been merciful. But oh no, we had to take her to see Jerold instead.”
All three of them laughed. In a way it felt like no time had past at all between them. They continued to talk for hours. When the sun came up Alisa was gone, but the two friends remained seated. Arden would call the Council together, and Byron would show. Then after that they would begin on the ritual to bring him back to the Fabric of Life. They knew that Byron would be hunted for it, but neither of them cared. For as long as they were friends again, nothing could touch them, not even the entire Dark Forces.