Lord of Terror Chapter 5
By Iced Blood
A few days later than I had expected us to leave, we were finally ready. Looking up, I could see Nightsong, fully healed, patrolling the night sky. We were in the tavern. Glenn, Crono, Marle, Garnet, Schala, and myself, were all prepared to enter into Diablos lair.
We ready, guys? Crono asked rhetorically. I pushed my drink away, drew Soul Harvest, and left through the front door without saying a word. Schala and Garnet followed me, and behind were Glenn, Crono, and Marle. As instructed by Cain, we followed a small path in between the tavern and blacksmith shop. I broke into a run as I followed the dirt path. I could see the cathedral in front of me, and lying in a pool of his own blood at the entrance, a soldier waited for death. I reached him in a few seconds, and kneeled by his side. He looked at me through eyes that probably wouldnt see anything in a few minutes.
Please, listen to me He moaned in such a low voice that I had to lean closer to hear him. The Archbishop Lazarus, he led us down here to find the lost prince. The bastard led us into a trap! Now everyone is dead Killed by a demon he called the Butcher. Avenge us! Find this Butcher and slay him, so that our souls may finally rest
Where is this Butcher?
Second Level He drew a few ragged breaths into his shattered lungs, and closed his eyes. His chest stopped rising, and he lay still. I put my hand to his neck. No pulse, the man was dead.
Your death will be avenged. I said, bowing in respect to the dead soldier. The others reached me soon after, and stopped at the foot of the cathedral, looking at the bloody corpse near me. Even Crono was silent, for a moment.
Lets go. He said, completely serious for a change. We have to avenge the poor man. He was the first to enter. I smiled. Apparently he did have a hint of respect under that palm tree of hair. I followed his lead, saluting the dead man as I passed. Then I ran into the cathedral, disappearing into the red haze that beckoned all to enter.
The labyrinth under the ruined cathedral was much darker than I expected. I picked up a peace of wood from a broken barrel, and snapped my fingers. A small flame sparked from the wood, making a torch. I moved it from side to side, inspecting the interior. It was extremely well built and sturdy. I was surprised Diablo had the patience to make this. I could see Crono in front of me, sword drawn. He was much more tolerable when he was preparing to battle.
Needing both hands to effectively wield my weapon, I threw the torch into the air and shot a magical bolt at it.
Suspended in the heat of battle, light the way for those blind to the true path. I said softly. The torch disappeared in a flash, and instantly, the entire labyrinth was bathed in light. Looking back, I chuckled as my comrades looked around in suspicion. Now, in the light, the labyrinth looked even more menacing than it had in darkness. The cobwebs in the corner of the room now held a black spider, a tyrant, capturing an insect in its web, anticipation for the kill coursing through its small veins. I once was the spider, the tyrant. I now imagined myself as the helpless insect, and Diablo the spider, just waiting for the right moment to sink his venomous fangs into my soul, tainting it forever with the doubts that his terror always brings to those who meet his wrath.
I was so caught up in my thoughts that I only came back to reality when I heard Cronos sword clang against the cold steel of another blade. Trying to cover up for my carelessness, I took up my position as bodyguard, moving protectively in front of Schala and Garnet. I let down my guard, however, when I saw what we were up against. These things did have swords and shields, but they couldnt have been more than two feet tall. Wielding my weapon in one hand, I swung downward and smacked them upside the head, sending them flying into a wall. I had to try to keep from laughing as Crono tried to attack the few that remained with his sword. Behind me, I could hear Schala snicker. Apparently she was watching too. I could almost hear Nightsong saying: Hes funny.
Frustration finally overtook amusement and I shoved Crono away, and used my tactic for the little nuisances. I picked up the pouches of gold, which were smaller, much smaller, than the ones I had found on the goat demons.
Cheapskates. I muttered. I placed the smaller pouches into my pocket, and moved up front. Thered better be something harder to kill around here or Ill be disappointed.
Dont say that, please. Garnet said softly as she moved up next to me. Im paranoid enough as it is. She put a hand on my shoulder to steady herself. Holding my scythe in one hand, I put an arm around her and gave her a hug. She smiled and took a deep breath.
Good. I said, then moved up in front of her again. I wondered, as I walked, how deep this labyrinth went. A mile? 2 Miles? I had no clue, and I hoped it wasnt that bad, but then again, this was Diablos Lair, so it could go down forever if he wanted it to.
So, Son, You decided to bring your new toy down, too, eh?
Dont call her a toy
Huh? Garnet asked. I shook my head.
And, why not? Thats all she is, a toy.
Shut your trap, Leoric.
You call your father by his name?
You are not my father. I said, spitting on the stone floor to emphasize my statement. I smiled evilly and waited for his reply.
Ill kill them both. And Ill do it in front of your eyes.
Oh? How so, Leoric? I asked, my hands gripping my scythe reflexively.
Slowly. Very Slowly.
And what if I dont let you? You know damn well that I wont take this alive. Ill die before I let you kill them!
That can be arranged rather easily.
Not if your skulls cracked open. Though I doubt there will be anything inside for you to arrange with. I waited for his response to this, but it didnt come. He stopped talking.
Good. I thought. The last thing I need is a servant of Diablo as a father.
Who are you talking to? Garnet asked.
Who did he call a toy?
You. I said, watching with anticipation as a small band of skeletons sneaked up to us. My grip on my scythe was one death couldnt release. As the first skeleton walked up and was about to strike with his sword, I brought down the scythe on his head with such force that the skull cracked in half. The others suffered from broken ribs, limbs falling off, and heads flying into the wall and turning to dust.
Looks like you havent lost your touch, eh, Magus? Crono asked.
Theyre just easy. I returned. If these are what Diablo and Baal used to fight the angels of Heaven, its no wonder theyre losing the Great Conflict. At least Mephisto had some brains.
Seems to me youre giving them too much credit. You want them to win?
No. Thats why Im going with you. With Diablo out of the way, Mephisto and Baal will have more problems to deal with than banishment from Hell, and Heaven will have the upper hand.
What exactly are you talking about? Garnet asked, confused.
Havent you read the legends of the Great Conflict?
No. I didnt even know there were other evils besides Diablo. I thought he ruled Hell alone. My parents wouldnt let me research it.
Well, no. There are 3 Prime Evils who rule over the whole of Hell. Theres Mephisto, the eldest, who is the Lord of Hatred. Baal is the Lord of Destruction, and the youngest, Diablo, is the Lord of Terror.
So what is the Great Conflict?
Glenn took over. The Great Conflict is the eternal war between Heaven and Hell that has been in existence since the beginning of time. Whoever rises the victor will decide the fate of all Creation. When Man arose upon the Mortal Plane, the war came to a halt. Each side tried to bring Man to their cause. However, since Man has the gift of Choice, the war has not been yet won.
So what did Magus mean when he said banishment from Hell?
When Man came into the picture, the Prime Evils used their power to attempt to force us to their side. The Lesser Evils, who didnt have the brains of the Three Brothers, thought that they were afraid, and turned against them. In the fierce revolution, a third of Hells denizens fell to the Three, but they were weakened and were banished to the Mortal Plane by the strongest of the Lesser Four, Belial and Azmodan.
Oh. So even after Diablo is dead, we still have his brothers to deal with?
Thats correct. And if we do succeed, Heaven will have an advantage. First of all, Belial and Azmodan have taken up arms against each other, causing many of Hells armies to fall. And if we were able to destroy the Prime Evils, that would allow Heaven to concentrate fully on the war.
But havent others tried to do this?
Yes, but they were fighting for power, whereas we do it for the good of the world. Plus, we fight as a team, not alone.
Oh, okay. Garnet seemed satisfied with this information. I kicked open a door, unnecessary but fun, and looked inside. A pack of zombies came shuffling from one corner, and skeletons came from another. The two-foot demons were swarming within the two packs.
Take up arms. Marle, Glenn, take out the small ones. Crono, Garnet, take the skeletons. Schala, you come with me. Move out! As the strategy came into action, the monsters started to fall. Schala used her magic on the zombies to great effect, while I sliced the remaining few in half. After the last of them fell, I ran to help Garnet, who was surrounded. Crono was using the blunt end of his sword. At least he had brains when it came to battle. Doing the same with my own sword, the skeletons fell rather quickly. One, however, had Garnet by the throat and was about to thrust its sword into her face. I pulled out my spell book and flipped to a spell.
Akt Taras-shalan Dradaxt! I shouted. The skeleton dropped its sword and released its grip. Die. I said, pointing to it. A pile of bones was all that was left. I smiled in satisfaction. I could work Necromancy.
Thanks. Garnet said softly, holding her shoulder and wincing in pain as she walked up to join me. I found this. She said, and handed me a staff. Then, reaching into her pocket, she put a scroll in my other hand. Looking at the scroll, I figured it could tell me if the staff was magical. I looked over the scroll, recited the chant, and listened as the identification flooded into my mind.
This staff holds the power of Fire. When the target is struck, the staff begins to burn with a magical flame that is harmless to the wielder but deadly to the target. This can only be used 40 times, then the weapon becomes a normal quarterstaff until recharged by an experienced sorcerer.
Really? Thats what it does? Garnet asked.
Yes. Use it wisely. I gave her the staff.
I can use it?
You found it, you keep it. Besides, youre the only one who uses a staff in the group.
Okay. So I dont have to do anything?
To use the staffs magic, say the word Burn as you hit the monster. If you do not, it will be a normal blow. Either way, I suggest using that instead of yours. Its crafted better.
Sure. She said, and as we walked over the corpses and bones of our enemies, picking up gold and such, she used the staff as a walking stick, holding her shoulder with her other hand.
Youre wounded. I said.
No, its okay. Im fine. She insisted. Reluctantly, I let it go and began to explore the remainder of the room. A large chest was in the corner the zombies were situated in. I opened it and looked inside. An ornate long sword lay in the center. I picked it up and examined the finely carved hilt. The handle was wrapped in fine black leather, and the pummel was a skull. The hilt was two demonic wings. I grasped the handle and unsheathed the sword. The blade was made of obsidian.
Glenn! Look at this! I shouted, beckoning him to me.
What did you find?
Look at this sword. I handed him the sword and waited.
Demonslayer, a blade designed specifically to kill any and all unholy beings. Any demon or undead creature that comes within range of the sword is weakened considerably. This must be what they were guarding. I suggest you keep this. It will help. He explained, and handed it to me. I nodded, and took my own sword out. I placed it inside the chest and closed it with my foot, attaching Demonslayer to my belt.
What did you find? Schala asked as I approached her. I smiled and unsheathed Demonslayer, holding it high.
Fear me, Leoric! I shouted in challenge, then let out a haunting laugh. Schala shrank back. Your threats will bring your downfall, Your Majesty. I put emphasis on the last words with a sarcastic tone. I will prevail! In a flourish, I sheathed Demonslayer and turned on my heel, walking toward a door. After a few seconds, I heard the others begin to follow. I waved my hand and the door opened, revealing a set of stairs leading downward. The entrance to the second level The home of the Butcher
We set up camp near the staircase, and Schala and Garnet decided to take first watch. I tried to argue, but once Schala set her mind to something, nothing short of death would stop her from achieving what she wished. I decided to take advantage of this and sleep. If anything posing a threat arose, they would wake us. This was my last thought before drifting into a blissful sleep.
Schala? Garnet asked, sitting next to her, tapping her staff on the ground. Is he always that dramatic?
I couldnt say. I havent seen my brother since we were children, but he was a bit dramatic when he was young. I suppose it stuck with him. Schala explained, then chuckled. You know, its funny. Janus never knew how to work magic when we were little. And now he has so much power. Im surprised that hes my brother. He sure has changed.
Im sure he has. And yes, he definitely has quite a lot of power. From what I heard, he rules over the Mystic Armies.
Is that true? I thought they had a king already, some man they call Magus.
But he is Magus. Didnt he tell you?
Well, yes. But I thought he was joking. Hes really Magus? The man who has killed so many innocent people? She had absently unsheathed her sword and was drawing a picture in the dust that had settled over the stone.
Yes. Hes the one. But it seems to me, since youre so important to him and all, that he would probably quit the military if you asked him to.
Maybe I dont know. I dont think I know anything about him anymore. Hes changed so much. When he was little he wouldnt kill a fly. How could he go from being squeamish at the sight of blood to shedding it without thinking?
I think its because he lost you. The Mystics probably took him in and taught him to kill. If hed stayed with you, maybe he wouldnt have changed so much. I blame the Mystics.
I suppose youre right. But I dont know if he really loves me anymore.
Thats ridiculous! Of course he loves you. He needs you. The way I see it, if he were to lose you again, he would never be whole. Youre basically half of him.
Yes, I suppose so. He does love me. Its just not the same, and it never will be again She trailed off, and didnt say another word until Glenn and Janus relieved them of their watch, later that night.
The first thing I noticed when Schala and Garnet settled down to sleep was that Schala had her sword drawn. I was going to ask her why, but she seemed so tired that I didnt. I sat down next to Glenn and started to look around. I noticed a drawing in the dust where I was sitting. Looking closer, I saw that it was a small portrait of me as a child.
Oh, God I murmured.
What? Glenn asked, moving closer to look.
Its Schala. She misses me. The old me, before we were separated. Ive changed too much.
Well, you have changed, but Im sure it isnt as bad as all that.
No, it is. She doesnt even know me anymore.
Can I help?
Yeah. When I was young I was an accomplished sculptor. Do you have a dagger?
Sure. Here. He handed me his dagger. I took out a block of wood from a pocket, and started to carve. Through the night, I carved, until around dawn I had a wooden rose. After adding the final details, I used the dagger to cut open my palm. Using my blood, I painted the rose red. I then looked at my work with a critical eye, searching for flaws. Satisfied, I gave the dagger to Glenn and closed the slash in my hand with a small spell.
You are good. Glenn said, looking at the rose. Where did you learn to carve like that?
Just a childhood hobby. I guess it stuck with me, huh? I smiled proudly. Glenn nodded, then snapped his head back as the others began to stir. I tucked the rose into my pocket, and started to pace around, looking at the staircase every few seconds to feigning nervousness. Schala rose to her feet and stretched.
I know that you dont exactly know me anymore. I said, smiling as I saw the guilty look come across her face. But there is some of the old Janus in me, still. I tossed her the rose.
Oh, my She gasped, holding the rose with both hands. Th-Thank you, Janus. Its beautiful. She smiled. I returned it, then walked toward the staircase, and was about to step down, when a crash caused me to snap my head back. There, in the doorway, stood a knight in black armor and a horned helm. He wore no sword. His armor was stained red in certain spaces.
Bartuc, the Warlord of Blood I trailed off and grasped Demonslayer, drawing it slowly as I walked toward the infamous lich.
You have stolen my sword, Mortal. I have come to retrieve it.
And how do you intend to do it?
I may be a being of Hell, but I am still a man of sport. I propose a duel. You and I. If I am the victor, I take the sword. If you are the victor, you may keep it. That is highly unlikely, however He let out a laugh and held out his right hand. My long sword, which I had left in the chest, floated into his grasp. He dropped into a battle stance, his red eyes gleaming with bloodlust from behind his great helm. I nodded, then rushed at the knight. Though the Warlord was more skilled than I was, my sword had much more power behind it. The force of my blow sent him reeling backwards, but he quickly regained his footing and retaliated with a swing to my left shoulder. I sidestepped to the right quickly but suffered a small cut. It didnt hurt, so I paid it no heed. I jumped backwards in a back flip as the Warlord thrust forward into what would have been my chest but ended up just air. I heard an evil chuckle and I blocked an attack that never came. Instead, he swung sideways and caught Garnet in her wounded shoulder, opening the wound to twice its size. I clenched my teeth, gripped Demonslayer tightly, and rushed forward as his attention was on his victim. I hit him in his side with the full weight of my body that sent him into the wall. I stepped back and plunged the sword into his neck.
Ha. He laughed. You cannot kill me, Mortal. But you have proven yourself worthy of my weapon, and therefore, I shall let you keep it. However, you wont be so lucky when next we meet.
I never rely on luck, Warlord. I replied, taking the sword. Skill is my savior.
Very well. He said, rising to his feet. You have proven yourself a worthy opponent. Farewell, Son of Leoric. With that, he disappeared into the blackness. I sheathed Demonslayer and walked to the staircase, and descended to the second level, where the next challenge lay.
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