The End or The Beginning?

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Second Movement, "The final Serenade" Part One

The Fool! In every sense of the word, this "Demon", this D'vari, was a Fool.

The sheer audacity, even as he tossed another of their attackers towards the stone walls like the toys they were, had to admit to himself, this D'Vari had audacity.

He glanced over to the side, at his Magess, measuring her progress in turn. Admiring for a second even as he split open yet another demon her grace in dealing with three at once.

She was poetry and grace in motion, and she seemed to...almost, and a pity that, enjoy it. Almost, but not quite yet.

Magnificent in her cunning, beautiful in the pure viciousness of her attack, she showed herself everything she'd been trained to be. A living weapon for his leisure, a graceful dancer of death.

And yet, one small thing he could never train out of her, and was no longer sure he wanted to. Even as she drove her long poled blade through the last of her current challengers she whispered softly, "I forgive you."

Forgiveness, how he normally despised that, it was in so many weakness alone. A willingness, even a craving, to put aside the inevitable horrors live brought, rather than bring them to heel. Ah, but in her, her and so few others, he could count the ones he knew on the fingers of one hand and have fingers left over, it was a strength of another sort.

The Rin child had it, as did the Kchronaen, and the Rin child had taught it to Thirteen, or tried to. And for those rare few it was Strength in what it invited to follow, the swift and the clean. Wiping the floor, as it were, with an opponent, and then, upon those soft words, needing no further encouragement to move to the nest task or target.

And his Magess was focused on service and obedience, to him. But not completely, she harbored misgivings still. Misgivings on the necessities of violence, on the imposition of will. If he admitted to himself the "Uncivilized' ruthlessness he had brought to her land and life. Misgivings embedded deeply enough that it might well remain for millennium, a vestige of her once-ceaseless struggle, still unsubmissive.

He smiled, feeling the satisfaction in her performance against this weakling so-called demon, and in the thought of his continuing reshaping of her mind and soul. Be it days, weeks, centuries, it never failed to satisfy him.

Even as he savored the moment, the demonling's forces turned and fled. And that was puzzling. The tales his Magess borne him had called the land of the beings origins by a name he'd not encountered in travel. He had by now, little doubt that amongst the scant places it could therefore be. It was part of Elysia that best fit the description.

This D'Vari, one among those who hailed of darkness, but resented and despised the reality of what he was in turn. Despising what darkness itself was, and preferring to twist it instead to their own pettiness and whims, their own stupidity.

How much more satisfying, then, this crushing of the demonling's attack upon the most recent, yet longest lasting, of all his dominions. What better act of vengeance, then to show the weakling's incompetence and unworthiness to call himself one among demons, or among any Elysians at all?

Indeed, if it the title of demon being sought, more now existed in this very land to qualify, to say nothing of what had once been.

The shouts of his soldiers called his mind back to the battlefield. A route, now. The demonling's hoards beaten back, their magically laden defenses sapped by the Magess's power.

This attack, in and of itself, was clumsy, coming from seemingly no where, granted, using gateways of several forms. But meandering, no focus, no real goal. No inertia or force to speak of in the attack.

That was...troubling. From the few stories he had been able to pull out of her on matters, and the ones Diamond had been able to give him. The weakling had always been foolish in regards to grand strategy, Wasting power and influence, and on more than one occasion, to merely satisfy the never-ending, petty grievances that gave him no greater gain than to watch some opponent's demise. The foolishness of loosing presence of mind, of focus and drive, placing emotion above learned sense.

Such was unwarranted for one seeking to claim such a title as "Demon Lord". But in turn...for all the weakness of strategy, he himself had learned to much of such opponents' tactics often providing far more decisively comprehensive. Normally the demon was brilliant in terms of combat outpouring, as it were. Yet here, he was clumsy, and that was rankling. What he they...he...somehow missed?

The magess dropped to one knee, she was leaning towards exhaustion, that much was clear. Her sapping the defenses of the fodder sent and making sure she would stay at his side drained her.

He gave a single nod to numerous lieutenants, they themselves knowing full well the tast of cleansing a battlefield, and he turned with her, an arm around her waist to steady her and let her feel...if not there ever now being need for remind of...his presence, and dominance and control of her life.

Once, that had been ever so violently resisted, his presence anathema to her very sensibilities as a woman and mage. In resistance to his will and influence on both herself and her world. Sensibilities bordering almost on haughtiness, at times, when seeing to stare him down as best she could manage. And she could almost do it once or twice, almost.

Now, now her head leaned to his shoulder, her allegiance to him firmly established, and indeed still growing. This was an act, both knew and had no need to mull over, that gave her extreme comfort and even pleasure.

He walked with her to the music of his fanatics victory cries. These men deserved it, they had survived the creatures' rampage. Their joyful boasts that nothing and no one, Army, divinity, force of nature, or now force of hell...could stand against Nivian might, against the power of it's Emperor-King who personally lead it's soldiers more often than could be counted, and every time to victory.

And to these warriors it mattered not if the victory was easy, or as it was this time, difficult. Never of any concernt to them because they knew without doubt of it's inevitability. Any price was worth paying to be one of his soldiers, to watch as yet another enemy, another land, bowed before them.

But even while it pleased him, he didn't care. What was another kingdom fallen, another land ruled by force? He had over four dozen such lands under his control with another two about to succumb.

Ah, but ruling another's desires and needs, challenge more satiating, even to him. And challenge indeed, in his magess. For centuries now, since first conquering her, this woman once avoidant of conflict as if disease, of fame as if torture, now fighting tooth and claw against forces grim as death.

her desire for peace, for gentleness, near constant in her, as always, but now...now lessons in satisfaction in power and lust, also taking equal root. Lust for him, granted, and by now "Love" in turn, mixed thoroughly throughout...but lust regardless.

And when in opposition, the need to please him easily holding sway of draw over the other. Let the soldiers savor the bloodbath for now. She never did, once the need for fighting was over.

He reached with his left hand up and behind her back, coming to grip the back of her neck firmly, turning her to face him. He savored the texture of her hair against his skin, her sweet scent, and pulled her body up against him.

So much about this woman was worthy of attention, especially from one who knew how to handle her, rather than those rank and pathetic weaklings that had once ruled. A quiet exterior hid a fire he was only begining to tap. And he dispised those fools to blind to see it.

So many things about her deserving of having one who would earn her loyalty. Treat her as more than the weapon he made of her, or a the trophy she had first been. So many fools who only saw her as a servant and ment to keep her there.

In those color-changing orbs of hers he could see them all, and more. Love, lust, compassion, ruthlessness...All that a woman needs to be...and she was becoming.

His fine heirloom blade, more dear cherished than Sicarra. With that blade he could conquore worlds, with her, he could conquor souls.

They walked the long avenue to the palace together in triumph, their honor guard around them, chanting peons of praise for the might of their Emperor-King and his Jishin, his mercy.

With deep bows, they opened the doors to the palace and he lead her in, smiling once more as he bent to kiss her sweet lips again. She stiffened and suddenly her powers flared and he felt himself forced to the floor.

He growled then, "Ji..." and he saw it, red and running down his arm, blood with little pieces of flesh in it. He looked up and saw demons, two of them holding dead servants in their arms, the others preventing the surviving servants from crying out.

Then he looked at his Magess. Was it one hundred years or only a single second. His mind he knew would never know the difference. The entire right side of her chest was missing except for a few ribs straining valiantly to keep her lung intact, he could see her now struggling heart.

By all that was dark and unholy, who had DARED, how had they.... His blade was out and before the demons could react he slew them all. Yet he was surprised with himself, he felt NOTHING.

His soul was cold and numb as he returned to her side, kneeling and lifting her head so gently into his lap. So much to say, so much to ask, but all that would come out of his throat was "Why?"

He needed to know, wanted to know. He was Immortal, unkillable. He saw her struggle to touch him, comfort him, he took her hand and pressed it to his cheek, willing her to live, to save herself.

But her eyes told the truth, the light in them was fading fast, dimming. Nothing he could do would halt it, he was powerless. Then it came, so softly he almost missed it

"I lo..."

It never finished, her breath gave out and her eyes burnt out. Death took her from him so quietly he couldn't even strike it, couldn't tear it's throat out!

He held her to him, not caring about the blood that soaked him to the skin. She was, was...SHE COULD NOT BE! He wanted to rise, to strike at the Kchonean's god for this...ABOMINATION.

He found he couldn't, the pain he felt was worse than anything he had ever felt in his life. His soul burned, his vision tinged as red as the flagstones of the courtyard.

and the source of that pain was nothing, he couldn't feel rage, hate, fury. His soul had gone cold, and that had NEVER happened to him before. He leaned over and pressed his hands against the stone, trying to push himself up.

Another wave of that soul killing pain, she was GONE, his fists clenched, clenched through the very stones. He could see the servants who survived this backing away, their faces masks of pure terror.

LET THEM FEAR. Jishin was DEAD. HIS MERCY KILLED. But with it also seemed to go his hate, his rage, it was all there draining out with her blood on the floor.

For the first time in his entire existence he was actually tempted to pray to the Kchronaen's idiot god, if he could just BRING HER BACK. But he didn't, he couldn't. He didn't want to hear him say "No" he knew it would destroy him.

Laughter reached his ears, cold and mocking. He turned his head towards it, so cold now, he had never felt so cold. The figure was lovely, in a totally inhuman way, beautiful, graceful, but NOT Nivian, not Arrahn. And it looked down at the shattered body and smiled.

He forced himself to his feet then, ignoring the green blood that flowed from his hands as his fists clenched tighter, driving his nails through the flesh. He could feel SOMETHING growing in his chest.

"So the Nephilim bitch is dead."

Those words triggered it, whatever lay buried in his heart and suddenly he could feel all his rage, hatred, anger, fury pour through him. but it was a colder version, he didn't feel the fire, didn't see the green glow that usually came.

At his back he could sense the servants dropping to the floor like they hadn't since the first days of his reign. Why were they suddenly so terrified of him, he hadn't needed to discipline a servant in...over one hundred and fifty years! They obeyed perfectly.

The creature before him DARED to smile into his face! "You have lost her, and will NEVER find her again." He felt his fists clench tighter, the pure hate in his soul grow stronger. he had never felt a hate like this, it was "Cleaner' more "pure' than any other hate he had felt before.

"Hope..."
"less..."
"ness..."
Each syllable was torn from him like throwing up shards of broken glass. Each syllable tore his heart and soul a little more, "Hopelessness." He could hear his voice cracking in a way it never had, not even when the Kchronaen had driven that damned blade into his body. "You bring hopelessness to me, little demon? You think to TAKE from me what you Know i VALUE?" He turned his head and saw his reflection in one of the mirrors, no sign of power in his eyes, only the burning of the words in his mouth and the blood on his flesh. "This is well...Little D'Vari..."

The demon inclined his head and then said, "You Value HER? Not even Elohim values HER, she's NEPHILIM, an ABOMINATION and WORTHLESS." And then he laughed.

"Bold words, calling her, of all creatures, an abomination. I remember long long ago, Abominations, Abominations and desolation. Darkness that comes in Wrath. I have heard it ALL, Little D'vari!" he tries to breath, "ALL! I have..."
"...Lost..." he closes his eyes against the pain, shaking with it.
"...h...her...and...w...w..will..."pain became agony
"...NE..NEV...NEVER...G..G..GET...H...H..HER..B..B..BA..." he can't finish, it hurts him to much, he's NEVER know this level of pain. How could she be GONE. She wasn't SUPPOSED to be GONE. That DAMNED pretender was supposed to take him away from her. NOT ALLOW HER INNOCENCE TO BE KILLED!

The voice that speaks to him is sickeningly sweet with false sympathy, "Indeed, she is FINISHED here. Finished on so many worlds."

And he felt something in his soul break, absolutely and completely and his eyes come to life, the glow reflecting off the marble walls, "THEN YOU WILL DIE, D'VARI!"
"EVEN..." it would mean breaking the laws of his parole.
"If I..."And the next words he expects the pretender to strike him down with lightning for as he challenges EVEN him to keep his beloved from him.

"HAVE TO TEAR DOWN HELL AND HEAVEN!"

He can feel things changing, the green glow on the walls is now mixed with silver, gold, red, purple, more colors, the windows glow. But his foe, his foe only laughs, "And Condemn yourself back to hell? Maybe even my part of it?"

"HELL? WHAT IS HELL TO HER!" and he points to the still and silent form on the floor, "LET ME TELL YOU, MINOR DEMONLING...SHE...IS...WORTH...IT! AND A THOUSAND TIMES OVER!"

The look of SURPRISE on that face..."That little Nephilim bitch WORTH it? THAT MISTAKE!"

He DARES to call her a MISTAKE, she wasn't, she was the finest clay, the purest marble, the rares of metals. He had shaped her with an artists hand, spoke to her with a poet's voice. He CARED about her more than anything else he had known. And in his hands he felt something.

At first he didn't know what it was, then the threads made themselves known to him. The Forest that the Magess had cared for was giving him power. The wolf pack she talked him into sparing, the mountains, the plains, and then, the MAGES. ALL of them, feeding him power and spreading the word.

He can see the power forming around his hands as he prepares to call his full old self to him, call Sicarra, call the Darkfire, the Darkheart, Darklust, all his old powers to himself, the demon's words confirm his intentions, the price he will pay to punish this FOOL for destroying HER. "Do it, Do it and DAMN yourself."

The power around him hits a crescendo, he can feel the storms, the beasts of land, sea and sky, the mages of fifty worlds give him nod and agree with him as he readies the strike that will send him back to hell, but even THAT will be less painful then trying to live on without...HER.

And he HOWLS, "SHE IS WORTH IT!"


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