Players in the Darkness
In the heart of Venice Italy, the man in the suit known as Lord Hades walked into a medieval church that had been converted to a library at 2:00 am flanked by his bodyguard, Clarence. He plodded along with a scowl on his face as he made his way through the stacks. His bodyguard followed a few steps behind him. They reached the back wall and turned right, following the bookshelves to a corner where an elevator waited. Hades pressed the down button and the doors opened. He and his bodyguard stepped in the elevator and the doors closed. The control panel had the floors of the library labeled, yet an inconspicuous key hole lay near the bottom of the panel. Hades produced a key and shoved it in the keyhole, turning it. A small panel opened just above the main control panel at eye level, revealing a scanner that scanned his eye, and then the small panel closed. The elevator began to descend with hum. They stood there in silence as the elevator descended for three minutes before coming to a rest.
The door opened and Hades stepped out of the elevator with his bodyguard into a long hallway richly adorned with priceless art and treasures; a hall lit by elaborate crystal chandeliers. They walked the length of the hallway, passing by all manner of priceless artifacts. Jeweled swords and human-sized golden statues of the old gods lined the fifteen-foot wide passage. At the end of the hall hung priceless mahogany doors engraved with gold and silver and encrusted with all manner of precious stones. On the doors, the engraving told a story of the War in Heaven with the Prince of Darkness triumphing over the Light.
Hades pushed through the doors into a cavernous room with a cathedral ceiling. Million dollar chandeliers lit the room, which spanned fifty feet across and forty feet in height. In the center of the room sat a sacrificial altar made entirely of human skulls cemented together with gold, standing three-and-a-half feet tall. The top of the altar consisted of single flawless piece of the purest, darkest obsidian ever found. The ten-foot by four-foot obsidian altar top was trimmed with gold and silver. On top of the altar lay a hexagram in a circle carved into the obsidian with blood red rubies at each point of the hexagram. Blood grooves outlined the hexagram with four grooves penetrating the center of the hexagram culminating in a hole exactly in the middle of the symbol. Unlit black candles sat just outside the hexagram on one end of the altar and on the other end was the Atamé: the sacrificial knife. The long and slender knife spanned sixteen inches in length with a jagged ten-inch titanium alloy blade and a gold handle. Gold-lined archaic runes lay deeply engraved in the blade. Precious jewels encrusted the handle with a pommel shaped like a demoniac head with rubies for eyes. The altar itself stood in the middle of a giant gold pentagram emblazoned in the polished granite floor with archaic golden runes etched into the floor inside the pentagram.
At the far side of the room sat an enormous fireplace with an intense fire blazing in it. Additional archaic runes decorated the stones around the fireplace. Around the pentagram and the altar sat thirteen thrones with the largest sitting in front of the fireplace. Engraved on the wall above the fireplace was a golden symbol nearly ten feet high by seven feet across: a gold pyramid with the all-seeing eye in place of the capstone. The pyramid consisted of thirteen layers resting on what appeared to be a representation of the Earth divided into ten regions that sat in a clawed reptilian hand. Each block in the layers were identified with its own rune. Each throne bore a smaller version of the symbol on its back. Around the perimeter of the room hung black velvet drapes and fierce gargoyle statues stood guard with all manner of medieval weapons in their hands. An elaborate fresco telling the same story on the engraved doors decorated the ceiling. The room itself emanated a deep dark hideous evil.
“Stay here,” Hades ordered his bodyguard as he started walking across the room, heading toward the fireplace.
Clarence stood at ease just inside the main doors, watching the shadows suspiciously. The sinister atmosphere of the room unsettled him to the point he wished he were somewhere, anywhere other than here.
The room appeared to be empty as Hades walked across it. As he reached the altar, he saw a small man with jet-black hair in a white suit standing in front of the fire in the fireplace that raged supernaturally. A choking, smothering evil dripped off the man in white like a melting icicle. Hades walked up to the man in front of the fireplace and stood beside him.
“You summoned me, Lord Zeus?” Hades asked, standing by the man in white. At first, the man in white said nothing as he watched the fire. “Yes, I did, Lord Hades. Our plans stand on the edge of a knife. We’re poised to take the ring of power. Where is Beowulf?” Zeus asked after a moment.
“We’re unable to find him, sir,” Hades reported. “We have searched the Far East looking for his lair and haven’t found it. I just received reports from western Sumatra where the Indonesian government claimed he had a dig. We’ve searched every square inch of that area and found no evidence of any dig. We don’t know where he is.”
“Beowulf is clever,” Zeus declared. “He was the best we had. You’ll not find him unless he wants to be found. How long has it been since he’s been seen?”
“Almost three months, sir,” Hades reported. “The last time he was seen was when the botched attempt to take him occurred. We were close. Somehow, he’s managed to consistently elude us.”
“Any idea of how he’s doing this?” Zeus queried.
“No, sir,” Hades answered.
“Tell me about Tiamat, Hades,” Zeus ordered. “Has he found the Temple?”
“I don’t know, sir,” Hades answered. “The rumors claim that he has and our investigation into recent digs of his took us to western Sumatra. We have combed that whole area and found nothing. I can’t say with any certainty whether he has or not.”
“You’re a fool, Hades,” Zeus snapped frigidly. “He has indeed found it and has accessed the ancient technology inside before we could secure it.”
“How do you know this, sir?” Hades inquired. Just then, the flames in the fireplace roared and Dezarcus stepped out of the flames. Darkness shrouded him like a great cloak, making him look like a living shadow. Only the lower portion of his face and his glowing red eyes showed along with the lower portions of his arms, which were scaly and very reptilian, making him look like a fifteen-foot reptilian Grim Reaper that towered head and shoulders over Zeus and Hades. He move forward and stooped down to look the little men in the face.
“He has the Temple, Hades,” Dezarcus snarled, looking him in the face. “You walked all over it and didn’t see it, you fucking brainless ape. That was my domain until he came there. Now, it’s a damnable fortress of light. I cannot penetrate it, even with my infernal legions. He has accessed the machinery and has used it with impunity against us. It’s pointless to attack him there. He has the Temple cloaked and shielded with the ancient machines. You’ll not get to him there. Besides, he’s no longer there.”
“What?” Zeus exclaimed. “Where is he then?”
Dezarcus blew a foul cloud of sulfurous smoke into their faces and answered, “He’s in Argentina on his way to meet the Black Prince. Two attempts to kill him have already failed. But never you mind; Beowulf is mine. I’ll deal with him myself. I’ll have his soul again and drag it into the blackest pit from which he’ll never escape for what he’s done. He not only escaped me, but he exiled me from my own fortress. His ass is mine and mine alone.”
“You leave him be,” Zeus snapped at Dezarcus. “The Black Prince will deal with him now. You have a more important job to do right now.”
Dezarcus leaned towards Zeus’ face so that only a couple inches separated them. “Who do you think you are to order me like that?” he hissed venomously. “I’ll tear you apart and still have Beowulf.”
“I am the Lord Zeus…the Black Prince’s contact in this world. You will do as you are told, demon! Touch me and you’ll answer to him!” Zeus snarled back just as venomously.
Dezarcus snarled and raged. “Very well,” he finally hissed, rearing up to his full height. “Have it your way, you pestilent little piece of ape shit. But you can be sure of this. I’ll get Beowulf back even if I have to destroy everything to do it.”
“You know the plan!” Zeus snapped. “Do as you’re told. Now go! You have a job to do!”
“Be careful, little man,” Dezarcus snarled. “Your master won’t protect you forever.” At that, Dezarcus disappeared into the flames.
“Hades, don’t worry about finding the Temple,” Zeus ordered. “It’s not feasible to go after them if they’re using the technology. We presently have nothing that’ll be able to breech their defenses. In time, we’ll discover a way around it and retake the Temple. But for now, what we need to do now is to implement Phase 3 of our plans. America has to come down. As for Beowulf, I have the perfect way to deal with him. If it fails, you’ll get your chance to deal with him. Now go. We have a world war to foment.”
“Yes, sir,” Hades said with a bow. He turned and began to walk back to the doors where his bodyguard waited patiently. As he walked, Zeus called out while facing the fire, “You know what to do about that fucking treacherous President of the United States. That maggot has failed us for the last time. Make an example of him. Show him the price of betraying our great cause.”
“Yes, sir,” Hades answered icily as he walked away. He got to the doors and his bodyguard opened the doors for him. “Come, Clarence. We have much work to do,” Hades ordered as they left the room.
“Yes, sir,” Clarence answered, relieved to be leaving the stifling evil of the secret room.