Walking the Blade

By William Hughes

The throne room was dark, the only light coming from the mystic blue fires that surrounded the dark altar itself. In the middle of the circle, was a chair carved of ebony and formed into its shape by the darkest of arts. Most frightening of all, however, was the man sitting in the throne. Strange shadows flickered across his chiseled face, highlighting his pale blue hair and sharp, cold features.

At his side, leaned against the chair, was a scythe, the weapon of the reaper. It was his weapon of choice, not only because of its sinister elegance, and the effectiveness with which he used it to slice his enemies to ribbons, but also because of the effect it rendered upon his victim’s minds, linking him, quite appropriately, with death.

"After all," he mused to himself, "what is death but the great settling?" And settling the score was all that the man in the dark had to live for. A beast from another world had taken his life, and Magus was only too eager to repay the favor. He had sent many to their deaths, and Lavos would simply be another corpse upon the pile.


Outside the throne room, three forms were huddled. They kept bumping into each other, elbowing to get a better view through the small cracks in the door to their master’s chamber. Finally, the third one, a thin, oddly feminine man, stood up and stretched his back.

"Hey Ozzie," whispered Flea, Magus’s chief magician and self-proclaimed most beautiful man in Guardia, "why are we spying on the boss?"

Ozzie shuffled his massive girth into a standing position and looked at the mage reproachfully. "Because we’re worried about him, that’s why. I’ve never seen the boss get this…" Ozzie searched for the right word to describe his lord. Gloomy would be wrong, because Magus was always gloomy, in a pleasantly malevolent way. "Depressed," was all the fat green blob could come up with.

Suddenly, the middle one, dressed in sleek, light armor, quickly kicked his boss in the knee. Ozzie turned around, about to give Slash a severe beating, when the swordsman whispered quickly, "He’s talking again. Shut up so I can hear." The trio turned back to the door, stooping to listen.


Inside, Magus was oblivious to his small audience, continued to reflect inward. Why did he hate Lavos? The answer was obvious, the monster had corrupted his mother, killed his people, stolen his sister, and stranded him in the far future. It had destroyed his family, his home, and his soul. It had committed mass genocide. It had killed merely for the sake of killing, to achieve its own means. In essence, it was evil.

The dark man’s eyes roamed across the room, and as they lit upon his scythe, a dark, haunting epiphany came upon him. For a moment, he could almost feel the hot, vile feel of fresh blood upon his hands. All the labels he had placed upon his nemesis came back to him, but with his name attached. His armies of ghouls and monsters had swept across the land, pillaging and murdering without regard for anything but their insatiable hunger. His dark magics had had ripped asunder the body’s and mind’s of the kingdoms greatest men, had left them shivering husks of their former selves. His cruelty had ended lives in more ways than one.

Suddenly, he thought of Glenn, the young warrior who had been bold enough to challenge him after Cyrus’s fall. With a casual flick of his hand, the wizard had doomed the boy to an existence of banishment from everyone he had ever known. It had become routine, his mindless destruction. Hatred was a habit, and one he was well familiar with. A single question struck him in what functioned as his heart. As his lieutenants craned their ears to hear him, he asked it out loud.

"How far am I from Lavos? Have I become what I once so righteously despised. Has my noble crusade fallen to the level of a petty mass murderer with a chip on my shoulder? What would Schala think?" He looked into himself and could see only one image: that of a solitary man walking along a blade as thin as moonlight, weaving to one side, and then the other, trying to find a balance between the two.

He stood, grabbed his scythe, and destroyed the chair in a blast of unholy fire. The time of the ritual of summoning was nigh, and he had preparations to make. As he stood, a strange feeling passed over him He was not particularly familiar with the emotion he felt, but he slowly recalled that it was known as regret. Regret at missed chances, at innocence lost, at a life wasted on revenge. He wondered how little Janus Zeal, carefree prince of the Enlightened Ones, would feel, knowing of the atrocities his small, child’s hands would commit upon the world.

But there was no time for such musings. The Black Wind howled, and the time of the final battle was almost upon him. For him, there would be no rest until his enemy was destroyed. For better or worse, he walked the reaper’s blade, standing on the edge of madness and sanity, good and evil. And heaven help us all if he should falter to the side of darkness.


Author’s Note: This is my first real piece of fiction I’ve ever written, and I’d be the first (but not the last, I’m sure) to point out that it is, in plain speaking, bad. But there must always be a first, and I hope to improve with time. Thanks for reading this, and send any comments to hughesmc@thnet.com Feel free to complain as much as you like.

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