A Dark Lord's Penance

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Summary

Long ago, after being tricked by the silver tongue of an unspeakably depraved being made of the stuff of shadows, a man was given power and fell to evil. After pulling the world into a millennium of darkness, the man was freed from the shackles that bound him and bettered himself. Now he finds himself in a new world and form. Will he repeat his mistakes or forge a better future?

Genre:
Fantasy / Drama
Author:
SoundOfThought
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
8
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

Prologue: Asleep

"I’m so tired,” he thinks.

The significance of this self-admission is not lost on him. It leads him to reminisce over the days of his youth – long since passed – that he had spent in grueling, will-shattering training to eventually achieve knighthood, once his ultimate goal. Such a thought had never crossed his mind then. His nights and dreams in those days were dominated by notions of ambition and self-improvement, never his own exhaustion. He recalls the countless hours of fighting on the front lines for his kingdom, the restless nights standing guard for enemy attack. Back then, his thoughts seldom strayed from that of concern for his fellow soldiers and kingdom or strategy on how to defeat his foes. He had no time to entertain enervation. Recollecting the immeasurable time and effort fussing over logistics, training regimens, safety precautions, etc., as the captain of the guard, he finds no memory of fatigue hindering him in such a substantial way.

He is shortly removed from finishing his dinner, a modest meal consisting of potatoes, sausages, peppers, onions and water, and he has just finished cleaning the mess that remained from both cooking and eating. Running his right hand across the fair skin of his forehead and through his messy, short blackish hair, he ponders the issue further as he begins to amble toward the staircase leading to the second floor and his bedroom. Ascending the stairs, he smiles as he remembers the sleepless nights spent talking to his friend, the king’s advisor, and immediately grimaces, clutching the handle of the large bejeweled sword hilted on his back, even in the comfort of his own home, when the thought evokes the memory of his ultimate betrayal. His grip tightens on the blade, the object of the deceit, that which had enslaved him to he whom was thought to be a treasured companion, as he remembers how it had forced him to launch a coup d’état on the kingdom, how he led it to ruin and darkness.

Upon reaching his bedroom, he takes a quick detour to the adjacent bathroom, where he begins to wash his face, hoping to jolt himself awake. Scrutinizing himself in the mirror after splashing his face with cold water, he instantly notices how haggard he looks. A pallor has come over his face, and there are heavy bags under his eyes, sullying his complexion and serving as proof of his exhaustion. He peers into his piercing emerald green eyes, recalling the centuries of war he was forced to conduct in the name of his old master, his even older friend. His eyes reflect the endless suffering, the absolute depravity, the countless horrors he wrought in the world, but he cannot find a single instance of such fatigue from which he now suffers within them. Resigning himself to this stupor, he resolves to get a good night’s rest and consider it further in the morning if it still lingers. As he practically limps to his bed, he fondly remembers the fateful day – so long ago now! – when his master was defeated by that ragtag bunch of adventurers who took advantage of his master’s hubris and latent vulnerabilities. He remembers the young woman, she who would become his now long-dead wife, that, against all odds, was able to hinder him, allowing the others to perform their own subsequent feats, and he recalls the ecstasy of finally being free of the shackles which bound him for so long once his master was finally defeated.

With this joyful thought, he removes the fell blade from his back and collapses onto his bed, immediately beginning to drift. Never had he so easily been lulled to sleep. As he lay there, drifting, his thoughts flutter to how he had spent the remainder of his life helping the world and all its people as penance for his evils. One thousand and two hundred years he had spent as an agent of evil, and four and one half thousand he has spent as an agent of good, adventuring wherever evil rears its ugly head, performing anything from the simplest acts of kindness to the most dangerous, most crucial of quests.

"How ironic…” he muses. The power that his old friend, his old master had gifted to him for the propagation of evil was now being used for its eradication, the spread of good-will. But neither while performing acts of evil nor while adventuring for the good of others had he ever been reduced to his current state.

"How curious…” he thinks, as sleep finally reels him into its warm embrace.

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