Lord of Terror Chapter 7
Realization, the Butcher
By Iced Blood
Though sleep came quickly, it didnt last. I woke several hours later in the dead of night. I got out of bed, and walked silently out of my room and down the stairs. I walked outside and found Cain, who was sitting on the well, looking at the stars. I approached him.
Excuse me, Cain, but why are you awake?
Why are you, Janus? He returned, and I understood. I followed his gaze to the sky. I could see nothing of interest, and so I asked him what he was looking for.
It is said that a great man who dies in a state of evil, since he is not honored by we mortals, is honored by the angels of Heaven by giving a constellation in the stars to his soul, but it is not complete. The soul of the man himself must complete it. Until the mans soul is free of his burden, it shall never be complete. Your father, our king, was one such man.
Oh? My father was a great man?
Oh, yes. He brought with him a strange religion, but through his kindness, he was known throughout the country as one of the greatest men to live. Sadly, he did not die in such glory. It is my belief that Diablo himself, after awakening from his sleep, tried in vain to corrupt Leoric. Though he did not fully possess him, he left a lingering madness in him. He grew cruel, stonehearted, and our once beloved ruler became known as the Black King. When he was killed, he brought a curse upon us, and now he rules the legions of the dead as the Skeleton King.
I see. So, if I had traveled here a few years earlier, I would have been proud to know Leoric was my father.
Im sure of it. But Diablo changed that. He sighed sadly, and shook his head. I surprised him by drawing Demonslayer. I held it up and the light of the moon shone on the dark blade.
Then I shall destroy my fathers now cursed form and bring back the honor he brought to our name. He shall live among the stars and look down upon the death of the demon that took from him the glory that was his. I will assure that. I will restore honor, and the name Leoric will once again be associated with the light of Heaven.
You are so much like your father, Janus. He too had such ambition, and through that he brought prosperity to our country. I am sure you will fulfill your quest.
And when I do, I shall take my place as king and bring back that same prosperity. I now take my true name, Janus Bloodbane, in honor of my father. I said, sheathing my sword. Now tired and inspired, I went back to my room and went back to sleep, but remembered to remove my breastplate.
Garnet woke in the middle of the night, shivering from the cold. She slipped out of the blankets and opened the front door. She really didnt know where to go, but she decided she would figure it out eventually. She saw Cain sitting on the well, and the tavern was still open. Still freezing, she walked quickly inside and sought refuge from the wind. She then remembered that the inn was on the second floor. She caught the attention of the barkeep, Ogden.
Yes? How may I be of service? He asked.
Which room is Magus staying in?
Oh, him. Hes in room 198. He said. She thanked him and walked up the stairs, not quite knowing what she would do when she got to his room. She knocked silently on the door and it opened almost instantly. He must be a light sleeper.
Yes? He asked, His cloak covering his shoulders. She noticed he wasnt wearing his armor.
Um, hi Magus. Can I come in?
Sure, Garnet. He said, and opened the door all the way. She sat on his bed and looked up at him. He smiled. So, what brings you here at this hour?
I couldnt sleep. It was freezing.
Ah. So I guess you arent angry with me anymore.
No. I was foolish to be angry at all. I just didnt want to believe that my father wanted to kill me. She hung her head low, looking at the floor. Magus sat down next to her and put an arm around her. She leaned against him and reveled in the warmth. He pulled her close, smoothing her tangled hair. She almost couldnt believe he was this gentle. His ferocity and half-demonic anger in battle disappeared when he was with her. She returned his embrace and realized how tired she was. She fell asleep in his arms, and didnt notice when he lifted her up and set her on one side of the bed, climbed onto the other side, and used his cloak as a blanket.
I woke up early in the dawn, when the sun was barely showing itself. I looked to my right and saw Garnet sleeping peacefully under my cloak. I was still tired, and the others would still be asleep for a few hours, so I moved over, held her, and fell back to sleep with the scent of her dark hair fresh in my mind.
When I awoke again I saw everyone else was waiting for me in the doorway. Crono was applauding. That idiot. I leaped out of bed. In my frustration, I punched Crono in the stomach, and he doubled over with a loud
Dont let your imagination run away with you. Your brain isnt large enough to catch up with it. I said. He smiled nervously. I turned to Garnet when I heard her begin to stir.
I doubt anything happened anyway. Glenn said. Magus isnt that type of man.
What type of man? He asked.
The type of man you are. He replied, grinning. Garnet was awake now. She kissed me lightly, and climbed out of bed. Luckily, she had fallen asleep with her clothes on. Crono was wide-eyed with anticipation until my cloak fell off, then his shoulders slumped. I socked him in the jaw, and he fell backward into the hall, hit his back against the wall, and fell down the stairs. I chuckled and retrieved my cloak. I followed Crono but instead of rolling down the stairs, I floated down. Crono was dusting himself off as I reached the floor, and I smiled as I saw his bruised jaw.
You have a balance problem. I told him as I passed.
Ha. Funny. He returned. That was uncalled for.
So was the look on your face. I said, and he shut up. I ordered a mug of coffee from the barkeep. Then, with my back turned to Crono, I drew Demonslayer in a flash, swiping backwards in a deadly arc. All I hit was his blade.
Good. Very good. I said, sheathing the sword. At least you have brains in the battle department.
As I heard Glenn descend the stairs, I decided to test him as well. I drew out my dagger and threw it with the accuracy of an assassin as he reached the bottom. He drew his sword and deflected the blade and sheathed it again in one motion.
Good. I nodded, took the Blade of Elements from the wall where it had stuck, and sheathed it. Youre also prepared. Glenn nodded in understanding, and ordered a mug of ale. Marle came bounding down the steps taking leaps of three stairs at a time. I pointed my dagger at her throat as she reached the bottom. As soon as her feet touched the ground, she spun on one knee, and her crossbow was aimed at my head. I sheathed my dagger and walked to the bar, where my coffee was waiting. I was in a mood for testing people. I gulped down the coffee, and as Garnet came down, I flung the glass mug in her direction. She used her staff to deflect the glass, and it shattered. I used my magic to bring it back to one piece and gave it to the barkeep, who smiled in appreciation. With Schala I tried a different approach. When I could see her, I shot a magical beam of shadow at her chest. She brought up a barrier of Holy energy to deflect it. It seemed everyone was ready. I smiled, acting as if I was unprepared. I turned my back, ducked as the Holy beam shot towards me, drew my sword and turned to deflect Glenns dagger, rolled to one side as Garnets staff flew towards me like a spear, and blocked Cronos sword as I stood up.
Were ready. I said, smiling as Garnet snapped her fingers in frustration. She picked up her staff, and Schala fixed the hole she had left in the wall with her magic. Glenn picked up his dagger, and Crono sheathed his sword. Outside, it still seemed like night, and I had a feeling it was Diablos work, making Tristram into one eternal nightmare. As fast as I could, I made my way into the dungeon, and the others followed. Luckily, since wed cleared out most of it, until we reached the point where the crack was located, we didnt run into anything. I was glad when I saw a pack of Fallen coming up to us. I drew Soul Harvest, and used my old technique to dispose of them. Soon, it was like a sport, and I was having fun killing them.
Twenty points. I said to myself as I sliced off a head and it hit the corner of the wall. I laughed. I win.
So wheres that Butcher guy, anyway? Crono asked, swinging his sword like a pendulum, holding it with two fingers at the pommel.
Dont know, but hes somewhere on this level. I said. Garnet huddled next to me, frightened at the thought of a demon able to slaughter so many people. I held her hand. I was nervous, too, to tell the truth, but I didnt admit it. I walked casually, still holding Garnets hand, through corners and curving pathways, making a mental map of everything I saw, planning to draw the map later, the next time we came into town. I hoped my artistic nature applied to pen and parchment and not only wood and blade. Thinking about that, I remembered that I always kept three or four blocks of wood in my cloak for carving. I took one out, drew the Blade of Elements, and began to carve a new piece of art. I stopped walking, and concentrated fully on the wood block, which began to take shape in my mind as a claw. I carved quickly yet efficiently, and gave a chance for the others to rest, since I was the only one who didnt notice how long we had walked. I sat down against the wall, and kept working. Garnet sat down next to me and watched, and Schala did the same, and took out her rose, which I had carved earlier and stained it with my blood. The wood quickly began to take shape, and I concentrated on the small details, like the scales of the dragon claw that was forming. The claw soon mesmerized me, and the only thing I could see was the blade working its magic on the claw. I didnt notice that anything existed until I was finished, which happened about midnight of that night. Everyone was still awake, watching me as I carved the final scale into place. I saw Garnets staff next to me, and inspiration struck again. I took the staff, and some silk off the handle of the dagger, tying the claw to the top of the staff. After I was finished, I used my magic to create a crystal, swirling with varying shades of red, orange, and yellow; the colors of flame. I inserted it into the grasp of the claw, and used magic to tighten a grip around it. I smiled with satisfaction. Pointing it at a Fallen who had ventured towards our camp, I said the trigger word.
Burn. And the flame shot out from the crystal. I laughed with satisfaction. I handed the staff to Garnet, who was overjoyed with the new addition to her weapon. Looking at the staff, my creativity sparked into an inferno.
A dragon I said.
Huh? Schala asked.
A dragon! Ill use a large block of wood to carve a whole dragon Crono took out a piece of parchment he had folded in a pouch and handed it to me along with a pen.
Show me. He said, and I spread the parchment on the ground, letting my mind take over my hand until I had drafted a sketch of a wooden dragon holding a crystal in its claws, its wings spread out. I was surprised with my talent in the arts, noticing the detail in the sketch.
It will be my greatest work to date. I said, re-folding the parchment and placing it in my own pouch. Ill work on it as soon as we get into town. I hope to get out a rough indentation of it until we set out again.
Itll be great. Garnet said optimistically. She studied the detail of the claw atop her staff, and nodded. It will definitely take a while, though.
Sure. Maybe I should go up now and start. I said. Garnet giggled, and took my arm.
Honey, you arent thinking straight. You should go to sleep now and clear your head. She said, putting an arm around my shoulders. I nodded, too tired now to argue, and leaned against her, closing my eyes. That was when the dream started
I wake up in the middle of the labyrinth. No ones around so I get up and start to wander. I notice a trail of red on the ground, so I follow it, not sure where I am or even who I am. Then, I come across a large door. Its in the distance, and I see a bloody figure huddled near it. I run up to it, and trip over a sharp rock, sliding up to the figure. I stare into empty, cold blue eyes, and a strand of green hair falls over the lifeless face. A huge gaping gash leads from the shoulder blade to the waist. Glenn
I rise to my feet, and move the corpse away from the door. Opening it, I suddenly grow fearful of whatevers behind it. I draw Demonslayer for reinsurance. With the door opens, I look inside and, not seeing anything immediately, walk into it. The large room is actually full of skeletons, but not live ones. The dead, unanimated skeletons that one might find in a dungeon of a castle. There are skeletons on the walls, hanging from shackles. There are skeletons against the walls on the floor, and even skeletons suspended on posts. Most of them, though, hang from the ceiling on crude nooses.
One however catches my eye. This one isnt a skeleton, but a newly dead body. Its a woman, a beautiful woman even in death. Jet black hair makes a veil over the face, and a staff lies on the floor beneath her dangling feet. Upon closer inspection, I notice theres a dragon claw atop it clutching a crystal of flame. Her noose breaks, and she crumples to the ground. I take a step back as I see her push herself up. Looking at this curiously, I watch as her head slowly rises. A jolt of paranoia courses through me as I lay eyes on what was once a beautiful face. Cold, pale chalk white skin replaced the warm, soft glow of life that once graced her. Eyes that once looked at me with admiration, love, are now sunken, dark. Dead Instead of full red lips, hers are pale blue. I begin to run, pushing past the hanging skeletons, flesh still hanging from their bones. After aimlessly running through the forest of death, I at last see something at least living, though demonic. A huge, hulking demon wielding a jagged cleaver. I notice a person battling with it. A woman with blue hair wielding a simple long sword: Schala
As the demon raises his cleaver, I rush forward. With a jump, I cover the rest of the distance, slashing at the demon. As my sword is moments away to connecting, the demon runs out of the way and pushes Schala into the path of my attack. Her body drops in two as I land and drop to my knees. I begin to cry. Even as the Butcher brings up his cleaver and slices my head off, the only thing I can think of is Schala, her life cut short by my blade, my hand
I woke in a cold sweat, waking Garnet and startling Schala, who was on watch. She walked to me and kneeled at my side.
Janus? Whats wrong? She asked. I turned and clung to her.
Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me I whispered over and over in a chant. She held me like a mother holds her child. Looking at Garnet, who had sat up, I saw her raise her head and look at me. The dead, cold face of my nightmare flashed in my vision, and I once again clung to Schala in fright.
Shhh Its okay, Janus. She said soothingly. After several minutes, I was able to overcome the fear. I stood up, drew Demonslayer, and began to walk.
Im going after the butcher. Alone. I said this so that no one would follow me. I needed Glenns skill with the sword, and Garnet and Schala were too important to me to let die. Making my way through the dungeon with the knowledge left over from my dream, I found the butchers chamber easily, and I tried opening the door. Angered when I discovered it locked, I punched through it and ripped it off its hinges. The pain in my fist was excruciating, but I didnt notice.
Ahhh Fresh meat Came a deep, rumbling voice from beyond the dark doorway. The huge demon of my nightmare came out with huge, slow stomps. He held the same cleaver as he had in my dream. I stepped back and awaited his move. When he did nothing, I sheathed Demonslayer and resorted to Soul Harvest. This guy had skin tougher than leather and I knew I would need a jagged edge to take him down. He ran at me with surprising speed, considering his size, and slammed into me, knocking the air out of my chest. I landed flat on my back, and had to roll backwards into a somersault to avoid the crashing blade of his cleaver. I decided Id need to use all my best tactics for him. I ran at him in a zigzag pattern, from left to right and back to left again, to confuse the hulking beast. Luckily, his mind was slow, and he couldnt keep up with my movements. Caught in a daze, he was vulnerable to my attack, and suffered a gash to the chest. He roared and began to swing the cleaver in wild arcs, moving forward and forcing me to back up into the wall. Ducking to avoid his blade, I rolled to the side and made a run for it, reaching the doorway to his chamber. He turned and growled in frustration. He walked slowly but deliberately in my direction, his huge feet causing tremors in the ground and keeping me off-balance. When he reached me, he used the flat of the axe blade to slam my head against the wall. I landed on the floor with a thud.
Any last words? He asked mockingly in his deep voice. I said nothing, ashamed at my being beaten by such a stupid creature.
Burn. I heard a female voice say from behind the butcher, and he dropped to the ground, covered head to toe in flames. He roared a horrible death cry as the flames licked at him. I stood, walked up to him, and raised my scythe.
Time to meet the Reaper I said, and with one slash I severed his body, leaving a pool of blood that flowed through the cracks in the floor. I picked up his axe, and put it under my belt, wincing when the jagged blade dug into my side. I looked up at Garnet, who apparently had followed me
I told you not to follow me. I said coldly.
You needed help, Magus. And I wasnt about to sit around and let you die. I need you. We all do.
I smiled warmly, and walked swiftly to her. She returned my smile and embrace when I reached her. I had to choke back my tears as I held her.
Thank you, my love. I said softly. She smiled and kissed me. And then, hand in hand, we walked back to the encampment, where the others had all awoken and were awaiting our return. Schala was the first to notice the huge bruise on the side of my face.
What happened? She demanded.
Damn butcher hit me on the side of the head. Hit the wall, too. I told her. She gasped, but I waved it off and she let it go. I was about to put Soul Harvest in my belt, but the butcher's cleaver had claimed the space, so I put it on my back.
Okay. Were not going to find the entrance to level three by just sitting here, so lets move out. I said, turning on my heel and walking the path back to the butchers chamber to look around. When I did reach the place, I noticed that the bodies that were in my dream werent actually there in reality. In fact, for a bloodthirsty beast with the intelligence of a flea it was pretty well kept. I found nothing of interest in the chamber, though, and so I looked around the surrounding area. I kicked over a few barrels, found a few bones, but other than that there was nothing interesting. That is, until I noticed a figure in the shadows. I couldnt make him out very well, since he was concealed in shadows, but he showed me the way out. I followed him and found myself in a long corridor. The man was gone now, and there was no indication that he had ever been there. The only thing that indicated that anyone had followed me was the echo of my comrades footsteps.
Though I couldnt see the man whod been my guide thus far, I also couldnt see another way to go, so I walked forward. After a few minutes, I broke into a run. Soon enough, I found what I was looking for. The stairway down to level three, where I would meet the demon my once-proud father had become. Without hesitating, I climbed downward. I could sense a great evil there. I had a good guess what it was.
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