Bonus Chapter - The Boy
The boy fell through the blackest of night, monsters tearing at his flesh as he fell, cries of pain only drawing more. He beat at the monsters with his fists, kicking and screaming. Fighting desperately against the ferocious hordes that peeled the lanky muscles from his bones, the boy fell deeper and deeper. Consumed by terror the boy begged for rescue, for someone or something to save him from his fate and spirit him away to safety. And if not that, let death come swiftly. As the boy tumbled through the dark barely conscious of the whirling fury of teeth that reduced him to nothing voices spoke,
We will protect you, they hissed, we will save you. The boy reached out pleadingly, First you must pledge yourself to us. Anything, the boy would give anything, Give us your blood, fire seared his veins, Your soul, thoughts that were not his own ravaged his mind, Your body, his limbs twisted, warping and mutating into black scales and cruel claws, Everything.
The Demon grinned.
Darkness crushed, kneaded, pushed, and pulled the boy. Twisting and breaking him in ways he could not fathom, the maddening sensation of flattening, re-inflating, warping, and flattening again accompanied by a mountain of pain drove him insane. Voices screamed, small creatures scratching, biting, clawing, consuming him in a maelstrom. Body aflame with agony the boy could do nothing against the Darkness. Promised swift death, voices soothing and alluring, he had instead been damned for eternity to never-ending agony in atonement for his selfish desire to die. The boy had none to blame but his own desperate stupidity.
He had allowed himself to be so blind, willing, and gullible, gladly taking the hand of any he considered greater than himself to follow them in whatever fate it was they would lead him to, naively expecting the same faith and trust in return. Over and over he was scarred and used until he became a broken husk of his former self. Though his hope never faded. The boy believed that eventually a savior would come, no matter how many times he was hurt. Someone would eventually come to him and fix all of it, delivering him to paradise. He was a fool, and deserved no more second chances.
A voice cried out, different from the mad screams in the darkness that tore at his ears, a soft voice that struck a loud chord within him. The boy felt the faintest warmth in the flaming agony and saw, through his tainted and warped eyes, a tiny glint of white. A single soul struggled nearby against the infinite dark. Another serving a punishment meant only for him? To damn others for his mistakes was the most grievous of evils, and for him to allow such evil a greater sin that the entire sum of all those in the boy’s past. The boy realized he was not atoning, but running from his mistakes. The boy was not paying back the pain of others, he was allowing more to fester and spawn while he turned his gaze to the side and feigned weakness in the crushing Dark. Others were not to pay for his sins, they were meant to live on, to watch from above as the boy squirmed in his pit of despair, not join him.
He burned to break free, to destroy the Dark, to hurry to the lone soul bravely fighting against certain death, but had no strength that could be considered his own. The boy had sacrificed everything to the Dark and the Demon, nothing left of himself. No light or flame could be found in the Abyss, no force of good or bane of evil to make use of.
The screams of the lone soul began to fade.
The boy could not move, frantic to reach the soul he abruptly realized that he was not powerless in the slightest. In fact he held power so vast and infinite even Gods trembled in fear. The boy seized the Dark and its everlasting strength, bending it to become his own.
Legions screamed at him from the maddening Dark,
"Blood! BLOOD!" The boy forced them back back, pushing through the thick swarm of biting and ripping creatures, resisting the darkness, ”BLOOD!" They screamed, "WE DEMAND BLOOD!" The boy paid them no consequence. Tenderly reaching out he cradled the innocent soul in his arms, shielding it against the terrible maelstrom. The small soul fought blindly against this new entity that was the boy, struggling weakly to shake his grasp,
“Peace,” The boy boomed, voice stronger than a mountain and louder than the great drums of thunder, “The innocent need not fear the judgment of the guilty.” He assured the soul. It refused, fighting even as he held back the Dark. Voices screeched, unable to accept such rebellion as the boy remained stalwart,
"YOU WILL SERVE!" The boy shook his head slowly, a deep voice not his own booming over the millions screaming in the Dark, silencing them with its strength,
“No.” The darkness quivered, soul cradled by the boy filling him with soothing warmth that chased the agony from his body and freed his mind of black emotions ravaging it, “I will not.” The boy stood tall, a bastion built from pure Dark for the soul he protected,
"WE WILL NOT YIELD TO YOU, YOU ARE NOTHING!" The Darkness charged, breaking upon the boy like locusts, "WE HAVE SPENT YEARS TO CLAIM YOU AS OUR OWN, KINDLING YOU SINCE YOUR WORTHLESS BIRTH! WE GAVE YOU PURPOSE! WE ARE THE REASON YOU LIVE!” The Darkness wailed, frantically clawing for the soul held safely within the boy’s arms.
“No.” He growled, “You are not my purpose.” The Darkness quivered as the boy swelled, dwarfing it in size and rising above its pitch black aura, “You are not my master.” The boy seized the Demon and its Darkness with a hand that possessed judgment and authority rivaling Fate itself, “My life is my own.” He squeezed the black slime ruthlessly, crushing the Demon into oblivion between his fingers. It’s pitiful screams faded.
The frail soul, now rescued, flickered, and its heartbeat stopped. Overwhelmed and spent from resisting the Darkness, it gave a final breath before dying in the boy’s hands. Grief struck the boy and he refused to allow one he had fought so hard to save die. But how?! What could possibly bring back the dead?
Using the remaining essences of the Demon and Darkness, the boy fused them with the soul. The soul grew ten times its original size and burned with abyssal black flame. Heart silent and warmth gone, caught between life and death, the Hollow soul looked up at the boy.
The Dark Soul.
The boy then realized what he had done.
Regret split him in two and he wept, wailing and screaming. Falling to his knees the boy looked down at the lifeless soul in his hands and, out of pity, crushed it into oblivion. Yet when he opened his hands the soul still remained.
The boy had unwittingly created a Hollow.
“Go, little one.” Rumbled the boy, tears in his eyes and True Dark in his heart, “Live the life taken from you.” Emotionless and indifferent the Dark Soul complied, vanishing into the world far above. The boy knew it would grow to hate its undying life and Hollow existence of nothing. Filled with tainted power and strength the boy swore to, knowing it might take eternities upon eternities, kill the Dark Soul and grant it the death it would undoubtedly come to yearn.
And so did the boy wait.