A few carrion crows flew above a burning village. Their flight patterns erratic as the noise escaping their beaks gave way to the fate below. The smoke releasing into the air from the few wheat fields nearby, created a gray screen in the sky for all to see. A whole village and its contents were being offered as tribute to the great cause of the Scorn. Among the offering a long line of prisoners stood silently, as they approached a make shift altar, tenderly hiding a freshly dug ditch behind. An all too eager preacher stood with arms open wide, his robes of black and red adding to his station. The soldiers and guards dressed in a more combative, but similar fashion responded to his words and moved the line on with each passing request. Taking an unwitting effort in the task presented to them, they moved the prisoners clad in chains onward.
“Rejoice my children for you are in the graces of the Scorn, your saviors.”
A body was thrown off the altar as a woman in line fell to her knees crying in horror. Chains hung around her neck and hands bound together as others in line behind her remained silent.
“But do not falter, for your sacrifices will better the cause, this I swear.”
A few soldiers grabbed the next person in line as she fought valiantly. With uneasy faces they lifted her up and sat her on the altar. Attaching the chains from her hands to a hook above her head as they held her feet in place. They gave a quick nod to the preacher as he smiled and raised his hands lifting a knife and white globe relic to the woman’s chest.
Beren closed his eyes as the screaming stopped and the sound of a rib cage was opened. The crunching of bone breaking had slowly began to numb his senses. Each minute it grew louder as the line in front of him slowly inched forward. Grimacing he kept his eyes averted down, his legs quivering in utter anger and despair. From the corner of his eye he noticed a few guards taking their helmets off wiping their brow as the heat of the sun bore down upon them.
“And it is with each sacrifice that we ascend the Scorn into new heights.”
The line shifted forward once more as the whimpering of a kid could be heard ahead of the line. Beren lifted his head and attempted to shout but nothing but blood came dribbled out. Taking notice a guard came over and smiled with vile intent as he leaned forward and whispered into his ear.
“What is it? Hard to speak with no tongue?” The guard asked as he walked up and pushed him forward. “Not so resistant and talkative now are we. The suspense of seeing so many people die before you must be exhilarating. Last in line and all.”
Beren hung his head in defeat. He lost track of the hours that went by as he became lost in his thoughts. They had raided his village in the morning, as the soldiers killed most of the warriors, and chained the rest of the villagers. Beren’s resistance slowly befell him as the guards abused and tortured him. Too many times did he count that he would be next to die but was tormented and sent to a random place in the line. And each defiance was met with more torture as the line pressed on and the bodies beside the altar grew. The smell of fetid flesh basking in the sun and the strong smell of blood in the air left his nostrils blaring.
“As we near the conclusion of today’s tribute, the Scorn would like to thank you for your utmost cooperation.”
Beren spat on the ground the taste of blood almost making him gag. He glared malevolently at the ground, the sound of the preacher driving his senses insane. Fear no longer gripped him, it was the powerless exposure to the situation that harassed his well being. Lifting his eyes upward he noticed but a few in line were left and he was nearing his end. The gleam of a knife flashed as the childish whimpering ended with flesh ripping, bone crunching sounds. Gripping his hands he watched in horror as a body of a small child was thrown off the altar into the ditch behind. With fight in him still he stepped forward, but stopped suddenly as he eyed one of the mages present approach the preacher in a rather worried tone.
“The relic has beyond reached its limit, we might break its contents if we push it any further.” The mage stated as the preacher shook his head with an unholy smile.
“There are but three left let us finish the sermon, one hundred souls should be enough.” The preacher stated as he caught Beren’s eye. “Besides there are some who must ascend to greater heights!” He exclaimed as he picked the relic and knife back up motioning for the next in line.
Beren’s fingernails dug into his gripping hands as he spat out blood once more, the anger in his eyes growing as the line inched closer as another victim was laid to the altar.
“By the grace of the Scorn, we accept your sacrifice.”
The line stalled as the last one in front of him fell to their knees crying. The preacher shook his head as guards came and grabbed the victim and sat the them on the altar. The feeling of suspense filled Beren as he bore witness to knife colliding into the chest cavity of the villager. Yet not before realizing, that a blue essence escaping from the pommel of the knife and quickly entering the relic in the preachers other hand. Beren stood alone and vulnerable being the last living villager. The eyes of the dead villager before him staring out as if pleading for mercy. The guards slowly heaved the body off of the altar as they tossed it into the ditch behind.
“And we have reached our final conclusion, come child let us adjourn with grace.”
Beren grimaced gripping his hands as he eyed the guards closing in on him. Taking in a deep breath he crouched and sprung towards the preacher attempting to head butt him. But was caught mid plunge as a sword impaled into his shoulder by one of the guards. Beren let out a pain stricken groan as the sword lifted up severing his shoulder bone, leaving his arm to dangle from the remaining muscle tissue.
“Valiant effort my child let us end this, your soul essence will soon join the rest and we will put you to good use, this I swear.”
Beren was lifted up as he kicked and flailed to escape but to no avail. They sat him on the altar as they tried holding his legs down. Getting one leg free he effectively kicked one of the guards in the face as he squirmed to the side. The preacher stood still with a raised eyebrow unamused by the futile resistance. Beren continued to squirm but immediately stopped as he felt blood splash over his face. Looking up he noticed one of the guards had cut off his free leg clear up to his thigh and was spraying blood profusely from its stump.
“AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH” Beren screamed as his voice echoed off of into the distance, the sound of blood gurgling in his throat apparent. What was left of his tongue flapping and falling into the back of his throat did little to ease the situation.
“Thus ends our sermon, may the Scorn your savior embody you.”
Beren eyed the knife as it lifted up. He awaited the final plunge as time itself seemed to slow down.
I will kill you
I will kill you
I will kill you
Beren thought in his head as anger and hatred filled his mind. No longer fearing of death but a devastating hatred for everyone around him. His mind fell blank as the knife plunged into his chest digging deep into where his heart was. Lifting his head in shock his eye sight grew dim as essence began to seep out of the pommel of the knife.
With anger and hatred still filling his mind his eyesight faltered as he saw a long gray tunnel suddenly appear before him. He felt himself floating in the tunnel devoid of all life and sound. Behind him he witnessed an infinite corridor of gray and on the other side an empty black hole signifying the end. Within the blackness a multitude of souls screamed at the end with a sound so deafening it made Berens blood curdle. Tendrils black as tar suddenly extended from the end and attached themselves to him slowly pulling Beren towards the relentless screaming. A small red dot could be seen in the middle of the blackness as if an ancient being but fetal in nature. Looking around he searched frantically for anything to cling to but had no grip, as his hands simply slid along the gray tunnel lining. Struggling with all his vigor he felt true fear and terror for the first time as his body stiffened hardly able to move. It was not death that captivated him but the being at the end bringing him slowly closer. Looking down he noticed an odd crack in the gray tunnel. It was devoid of any color, a state he could not describe; neither white or black simply nothing. Taking in a deep breath Beren stopped resisting and used the momentum of the tendrils and his speed to surge forward to the odd crack further down the tunnel.
“My choir we are finished here today let us retire to Drita, our conquest of souls has come to an end. Our masters will surely be pleased.” The preacher stated as he held the relic up, a white crystal with blue essence rolling around deep inside. “Take this one’s head and mount it on a pike, such defiance is breathtaking even in death.” The preacher stated as the guards walked over to the dead body of Beren and chopped his head off putting it into a bag, the blood soaking through dripping on the green grass.
“Preacher it has been an honor serving beside you, this week has been eventful I only hope your masters will keep their end of the bargain?” The mage stated as he eyed the preacher holding the relic with glee.
“If I swear by the Scorn it will come to pass.” The preacher stated curtly as his cheerful smile turned sour. “Mage...”
The mage stepped forward curiously as the guards chucked the body of Beren into the ditch behind the gory altar.
“What is this red tendril escaping the relic…”
Beren effectively slammed into the crack of the tunnel. He was near the entrance of his destination as the screams and sorrowful yells could be heard from within. Smaller black hands scrambling out from the black void as the red dot seemed to eye at him as if hunger was unbound.
I will free you all
Beren thought as he lifted his arm and began punching the crack exposing more of the gray tunnel. Eventually he was able to get his arm through, it felt cold and numb on the other side but he did not care. His vengeance will be his reckoning his hatred his judgment, and with a heave he pushed the rest of his body through the crack pulling the tendrils with him. All around him he noticed the odd colorless state as he began to plummet into nothingness, the tendrils following in suit still attached to his body. Looking up he noticed the large crack he made, as the grey tunnel began leaking a blue essence funneling out, filling the void around him. There were no longer screams but a sense of fulfillment and release, as if a sigh of utter peace and relief. He did not understand what was happening but he felt as though he saved them from the ancient fiend in the tunnel.
Examining his situation he took note of the tendrils beginning to disappear, their grip on him leaving. Taking note of his body he noticed it had began to dissipate as well, as if ash blown into the wind. He watched in horror as his limbs began to fade away into nothing-ness, his torso crumbling his senses escaping. Struggling in still motion the rest of his body vanished and all sound and sight ceased.
Am I dead?
Beren thought. But it was fragmented, it was as if his mind was slowly stretching far and wide becoming one with the world. He could not see smell or feel, but he could sense everything. Everything felt trivial compared to this moment. As if a blissful slumber with a loved one caressing into their arms. Grimacing he felt his anger and hatred boiling up from afar, remembering how he had gotten to this point. Slowly his mind began to collapse back into a singular point until it amassed into a red sphere in the great vast darkness.
They will die before I go
It hit him. The pain and everything that transpired. Letting out a growl his spectral body extended from the sphere glowing red as he did. Hatred and anguish filling his mortal heart. He did not understand what was transpiring but he felt his mind return as if reborn. He could not feel but new knew he had returned to the world of the living somehow. The image of the fiend still fresh in his mind helped him know he survived death. Reluctantly he slowly began to open his eyes taking in the sight of a fuzzy color of green and dark red. Coming into focus he noticed it was grass and blood, the sight no longer phasing him. He looked towards his feet and found himself levitating above the ground. Slowly raising his head up he caught the eye of the preacher and mage behind a fortitude of soldiers.
“Mage get me out of here or you won’t get your payment!” The preacher exclaimed as he held the bloody stump of where his hand once was, shards of white crystal littering the ground around him.
“I told you the relic was at its limit. As for this rare event I think it would be wise to retreat.” The mage inclined as he pulled out a book from his robes and began citing a spell, his fingertips blazing with a blue aura.
With glowing red eyes Beren glided towards the preacher with an out stretched arm, but was met however with a barrage of loyal soldiers standing in front of him barring his way. Beren quickly slashed at the group but faltered as his hand simply phased through them. The soldiers eyed Beren with disbelief as they swung at him with their swords only for them to phase through unencumbered.
“It’s just a ghost he can’t harm us.” A soldier stated as he walked up to confront Beren curiously. Staring back at the soldier he remembered it was the same one who been torturing him all day before he eventually became a sacrifice.
“My my you gone and rose from the dead as a useless ghost, well done.” The soldier implied as he sarcastically clapped his hands with an unimpressed smirk.
Anger and frustration immediately boiled deep within Beren’s being as a red aura began to rise from around him. Letting out a sudden snarl he plunged directly into the mocking soldier letting his very essence invade the body. It was stiff at first and confined as if wearing a new shirt drenched in starch. He felt heavy and blinded momentarily as he visualized himself putting the host’s soul to the back of the mind imprisoned.
Opening his eyes in the new body Beren knew he had possessed the soldier somehow, it even felt natural as if breathing.
“Boss you ok? That thing, it flew into you.”
Turning around the soldier possessed by Beren glared back at the group with red glowing eyes unblinking with a glare that would sever the aspect of courage itself. Slowly walking forward Beren unsheathed the blade on his hip and made a quick slash at one soldier before him. Reveling in the soldiers shock and awe Beren quickly struck another down unphased by the events that had begun to transpire before him. Red blood gushed from their necks as their eyes rolled back in a lifeless heap.
During this time the mage still citing his spell put his hands to the ground as blue light erupted and flashed around them.
“Covon, you damn mage hurry this spell and get me out of here! Or I will have the wrath of Scorn set upon you!” The preacher exclaimed almost screaming at the man while clutching his bloody stump of a hand.
Anger filled Beren once more as he roared within the body of the soldier and began striking down more before him hoping to stop the escape. With both confusion and brutality Beren swung at the last remaining soldiers advancing on him. They were trained for combat however and were quick to retaliate raising their swords, the reflection of the sun gleaming off of them. Not wanting to kill their possessed friend they quickly circled around and cut the arm off of holding the sword. Beren felt the pain but it was minuscule and irrelevant to him. But the original inhabiting the body cried out in sorrow unable to control his body as blood gushed out soaking the grass beneath him.
Moving his bloody arm toward his free hand he cupped it and held it filling his hand with the warm substance. Then quickly as a flame to water withdrew his hand and threw the blood at the nearest soldier temporarily blinding him.
Using his other uninjured hand Beren picked up another sword off the ground and stabbed the neck of the soldier, blood spraying out of the neck as his possessed body became lathered in the mans gore. Eyeing the rest of the group with a slow turn of the head a few broke ranks and began running for the forest in utter fear and pandemonium, the crude symbol of silver lions on their backs resembling their empire. The few brave left standing charged at Beren as one, their soldier ranks apparent by the black and silver uniforms of the Scorn empire. Anger and anguish filled his mind once more as he remembered the screams within the tunnel from whence he escaped. Opening his mouth he let out a wail from deep within himself. A sound so menacing it caused the soldiers to fall to their knees holding their ears unable to perceive the chaos. Beren watched in satisfaction as a few pissed themselves from the utter shock of what was transpiring. The lungs of the body he inhabited suddenly burst from the sheer force and sound. Beren continued still, only up until blood was flowing out of his throat and all sound ceased. Finishing his wail he wiped his mouth and forced the unwilling body he possessed to walk forward and slice the veins in the necks of each victim he passed. Each deceased falling to the grass in shock and horror stunned and oblivious to what had transpired before them, helpless and confused as their souls slowly escaped their bodies to the afterlife.
“Please! Have Mercy!” The soul within the possessed body exclaimed. Closing his eyes Beren peered into the body within and noticed he had put the soldier’s soul into a figurative cage. Without uttering a word he re-opened his eyes and peered before him. The blood oozing from his mouth and destruction of the lungs preventing him from uttering a word. He eyed the forest and took note of ten guards running in fear. The body he inhabited would die soon and he would not be able to chase them down. Eyeing the blade, he gently lifted it to where he presumed the heart was. The soldier inside the body struggled valiantly as the body became stiff once more. But it was no use, the sword gently touched the leather breastplate easing its way in. Into skin and then flesh. The solider inside grew frantic as he experienced a slow excruciating painful death. The sword only slowly reaching his heart before it ineptly stopped beating, upon the puncture of the blade.