Stood awkwardly in a small, stone clad room that was illuminated by the roaring fire and the many glowing heatstones embedded into its walls, Verz, and her huntsmen gazed down on the pale, motionless body of Mors.
Ethemeusa, who had reverted to her natural form, curled her jade-green, snake-like tail into a coil as a small tear run down the side of her face. "I'm sorry captain. After losing my own to the cold, I would have thought I would notice the signs. I tried everything I could, even using my body heat and mana but I just couldn't get his heart beating again."
Verz's face was unreadable, and after a few tense moments, she let out a deep sigh. "It wasn't your fault Eth. His body was relatively stable before he used that fire ability and we all thought he was just tiring from the duel. Who would have known he was cold blooded? He was a monster to stay conscious up until the point where his organs failed and was probably dead before he hit the ground."
Rock scratched his head, making a loud grating sound. "With a personality like his, maybe it is for the best. I doubt he would of have lived a happy life."
"Least it was now before you got too attached," shrugged Kelora, "Besides, he was bound to get himself killed at some point, wrath demon or not."
Verz's shoulders slumped as she looked at the wall, where thirteen, yellow crystals were embedded symbolising the time. She had not know Mors long, but he still approached her for comfort, even when he seemed to know what she was and thus, had rapidly grown on her. "Eth, this must have brought up some bad memories, you stay here. We will be back after the... feast with Markek, and then we can cremate him. We don't want someone with his personality coming back as a revenant or undead."
Ethemeusa nodded and slid over to the fire where she curled up, twisting her body so she could hug her snake-like lower half and stare into the fire.
Verz took a final look at Mors before walking over to the door, followed by the rest of the Huntsmen. When she opened it, her eyes narrowed slightly as she glared at the blue demoness standing in front of her.
Looking like she was about to run away at any moment, Ryen, the demoness Mors had been duelling, stood awkwardly, her dishevelled, soft blue hair hanging over her face, barely covering her traumatised gaze. "Is it true? Is he really dead?"
Verz expression did not change. "Yes."
"May I... May I see?" Ryen nearly collapsed in relief.
Verz stepped forward causing the demoness push herself back and into the wall, avoiding eye contact, and let the other huntsmen pass by, into the dark corridor.
As Kelora passed, she placed her hand on Verz's shoulder and whispered. "She is attempting to get over the trauma he caused. Let her see his corpse... he is dead now, and if she doesn't get some closure, she will be crippled for life."
Verz nodded once before holding her arm out, indicating that Ryen may enter. "Do no touch his body. He may not have been a Huntsman, but his remains will be treated as such."
As Ryen entered, Verz looked at Ethemeusa, who nodded in understanding, before closing the door and proceeding towards the main hall chuckling to herself darkly. "Live on in their nightmares indeed. Hell, that last ability was almost enough to frighten me... Maybe I should have told him to survive no matter the cost."
Silence resonated around the room as Ryen stood by the door and cautiously gazed at the bed Mors' body was laying on, terror and a hint of madness dancing in her eyes as beads of sweat flowed down her forehead.
Ethemeusa watched for a bit, before sighing and returning her gaze to the fire. It was obvious the girl was so traumatised; she could barely approach the bed, let alone do anything sinister to Mors' body, but just in case, she thought it was probably best to give a warning. "Be respectful. His anger and lust for revenge knew no bounds. I am already surprised he has not turned into a Revenant. Get whatever closure you can and let the dead rest in peace."
After a few minutes, Ryen finally got the courage to approach the bed and, after staring at the ice white skin of the boy for more than half an hour, reached out, needing to confirm that he was truly dead.
Holding her breath, she tentatively touched his wrist, letting out a huge sigh when she could feel no pulse or residue magic, causing a warm, glowing smile to form on her lips. "He's dead... he is really dead. Ha, I can't believe I was so scared of such a weakling. As if what I saw could have been real. It was just a terror demons illusions, feeding on my weaknesses."
Although she made such statements, if one were to look in her eyes, they would be able to tell that she was trying to comfort herself and that she did not believe her own words.
Silence once again filled the room as Ethemeusa chose no to respond, her silky smooth scales reflecting the firelight as her eyes closed, trying to banish the haunting memories that Mors' death had awoken.
Forgetting that the lamia was in the room, a small, crystal-like tear appeared on her demoness's face and, just as it reached the bottom of her jaw, more followed. "How could you die? How could you leave me with no way to break this damn curse? Even for a demon of wrath this... this is too cruel. I will be cast from my family and looked down on by my entire clan because of you. Every time I close my eyes, all I can see is you staring at me with that hateful smile."
Ryen glared at Mors' body as she raised her small, delicate hand into the air and curled it into a fist. "How dare you die before I could kill you. You..you... take responsibility for this."
Mors slowly sank downwards, the sinking feeling the only distinct sense available to him in the void.
After his initial acceptance, Mors was overcome with varying emotions but after he had exhausted those, all he could feel was boredom.
Eventually, he attempted to look around and was surprised to find that the void like space he found himself in was not barren. Below him, were countless, small grey spots, continuing endlessly into the distance.
As time passed and Mors continued his decent, they started to grow, but the new discovery quickly became annoying, not knowing what they were, and Mors had long since retreated into his mind.
If I am dead, I wonder where Grim is? He said that when I died, I would be reincarnated into a new body, but it has already been... what seems like a decade. Urg, what if he was lying? Why did I trust him with no proof?
After pondering most of his life actions, which did not take long as he was so young, Mors realised that as he drew closer, the orbs had started to morph into the silhouettes of many different people and animals. Most of them became more defined as time passed, while the others remain hazy as if there was not much substance to them.
If there is such a thing as the afterlife and this is it then maybe I can find fa-
Mors knew that he could never meet his daughter ever again. Due to the Sun Clans actions and his ignorance, he had inadvertently shattered her soul, wiping her from existence. But that momentary lapse caused his to feel despair, causing him to fall at a much faster rate.
How... how could I have been so idiotic? Somehow I knew that my actions were causing her pain, but I ignored it, for my selfish greed. Because I couldn't bear to let her go, to be alone.
Without realising it, Mors was now around the chest height of the ghostly figures as they watched him with emotionless faces.
As Mors' emotions continued to rampage, his despair was replaced with rage and anger causing all but one of the shadows distanced themselves from him.
NO, I will not die like this
As he let his rage course through him, Mors felt himself start to slowly rise.
I'll never let them get away with it. Yes, I may be just as guilty and deserve to be punished, but they are getting away with it. They have gotten away with it.
The shadow that did not move away glided forward, his tall, muscular frame displaying a large hole carved into his stomach, like some wild beast had torn him open to feast on his insides. "It seems you are not ready to become just a memory, like the rest of us."
The figure's lips did not move, but Mors knew he was the one that had spoken.
Who are you?
"Me... I'm you. Well, more accurately, I am the personification of single life's memories that you have yet to remember and... integrate with. Names did not exist when I lived, but our descendants often referred to me as Adam, though at some point, they added some religious connotations to it. I was the first 'human', just as you are the first of your kind."
How do I return? bellowed Mors, though no matter what emotion he felt, his voice carried the same, icy tone, never changing.
The figure continued to smile. "Whether or not you can return is up to you. First of all, why do you want to return?"
Easy. To rip those responsible for summoning me to this infernal world, causing me so much pain, limb for limb.
"Good start, but why do you really want to return?" Adam seemed to be enjoying this conversation as his face hovered closer, his smile widening.
Mors floated in silence for a bit, wondering what the apparition in front of him was getting at. After what could have been as short as five seconds, or as long as five centuries he responded.
For revenge, my pride and because... I... don't want to be alone.
Adam lifted his hands out and spun around dramatically. "How can you be alone, when every single personification here, Man, woman, child and animal are you?"
Mors was stunned as he suddenly realised why the figures crowding around him, but still keeping their distance, were so familiar. Countless entities surrounded him, but, even with that and what Adam was saying, he still felt utterly alone.
As if he could read Mors' mind, Adam continued. "Still feel alone? That's because we are nothing but memories, reflections of your past self and nothing more. What you seek is companionship."
"Mors, let me give you a small bit of advice, one progenitor to another. We have tried many times throughout our existence to distance ourselves from everyone completely. It has never worked and only led to unbearable pain and suffering. We have also tried the complete opposite, to surround ourselves with as many as possible, only to suffer the same, or sometimes an even worse, fate."
"Every man... or in our current circumstances, demon, is an island that cannot survive alone. To survive and prosper, we must join other islands, developing them into small fortresses that can withstand the whimsical nature of God... Gods. However, like any good fortress, those who are allowed to enter must be chosen carefully and kept to an absolute minimum, for once they are inside the keep, they can bring it tumbling down in a matter of moments."
If Mors had a face, he would have frowned.
What are you getting at?
Adam ghostly eyes glinted in amusement."Although we have already accepted one into our 'inner circle', we need the support of many if we are going to more than just survive in this world. The woman called Verz, the one that we have chosen her to be our parental fig-"
NO, I HAVEN'T
I was forced to by some unknown force, probably a spell or something. What other reason is there for me to be so drawn to her in such a small amount of time. It was probably that bastard, Grim or that angelic pact they keep talking about when they thought I was out of earshot.
Adam continued to smile, irritating Mors. "Although many would try to deny it, including a few of the memories here, having a single primary bond is crucial and, in all honesty, we are woefully incomplete without one."
Mors felt like growling. However, the only noticeable change was that the darkness around him slightly warped.
"Currently, we are nothing more than a child with a few memories and innate reflexes and wisdom. We subconsciously know this, and this is why we have latched onto that woman. This is also why, since accepting her, we have consistently fought and sought her approval. She may not be related by blood, but for all intensive purposes, she is our mother."
Sensing Mors' intent to kill him, Adam couldn't help but roll his eyes. "Look, it's not all one-sided, she wants to use us for abilities and, if the memories acquired from that so-called death god are right, then it will help her find some small semblance of peace. I don't think revenge is the only thing that made her return."
Mors' brain suddenly jarred.
Wait... Of course! There has to be a way I can return.
Adam's shoulders hunched, and he shook his head as if dealing with someone incredibly stupid. "Come on, we know that returning that way would be counter-productive, and we would probably find your sorry arse back here the moment you opened your eyes."
A slight, grey glow started to envelop Mors causing Adam to soundlessly clap his hands together. "Well, I guess it's time. The fact you have not turned into a memory yet is proof your body isn't completely dead."
Suddenly Adam's gaze turned mocking as if looking down on something filthy and disgusting, his speech pattern changing drastically. "You are the reason our daughter's soul was destroyed. You caused her unbearable pain before destroying everything she ever was, or could have been."
Even though he had thought it earlier, hearing someone else saying it, even if it was supposedly just a memory, enraged Mors.
What do you kno-
"You fucked up, you destroyed your own daughter, the one you promised to protect no matter what, and then.... you allowed two of the main instigators to escape because you were too busy being pathetic and succumbing to the desire flaunt your strength, killing weaklings with borrowed power."
FUCK YOU, Roared Mors, the darkness shaking and twisting as it was alive.
"Then, after declaring you would have you pathetic, misplaced revenge, you basically got killed by a granny and a few farmers. Literally how stupid do you have to be?
YOU SO OF A B-
"To get beaten to a pulp and then burnt at the stake. That takes some serious intelligence and strength there... doesn't it? Ha. To make it even better, you had to get a god to help you. A manipulative, unknown ball of conscience had to help you, the mighty Mors, TWICE. For what? Just so you could be his pawn? Where is this so call pride you spoke of earlier?"
The space around Mors started to cackle as tiny, grey tears appeared.
"And then... when I thought you couldn't be any more pathetic... you were killed by the cold... Of all the things a new 'super species', the first of his kind, a being that comprised the most powerful bloodlines, could die of, and you died because you got too cold. BHAHAHAHAHAHHA totally, utterly pathetic."
I'LL KILL YOU, seethed Mors. I will make you beg for mercy before watching the light fade from your eyes.
"Oh, you'll kill me? Apart from being a more than a couple of millennia late, please tell me how you will achieve such a feat? If you didn't realise it, you're dead. Killed by your own stupidity. You don't even have enough substance to define you. What are you going to do? Bore me to death?"
"You know what makes it even funnier, that someone the weather can kill is threatening me. You're not just weak; you're pitiful, less than nothing in my eyes."
ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRHHH, roared Mors no longer focusing on Adam, even though he had no arms, he willed his being to reach upwards, forcing himself to rise.
I WILL SHOW YOU WHO'S PATHETIC.
I WILL ERASE YOU FROM EXISTENCE.
I WILL DESTROY THOSE THAT STAND IN MY WAY.
The void shuddered as it continued to warp, large bolts of grey lightning flickering downward.
I WILL BECOME STRONGER. STRONGER THAN YOU. STRONGER THAN EVERYONE.
Without realising it, Mors was already high above the Adam, who was now revealing a sly smile.
I WILL PROTECT WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO ME, AND I SHALL NEVER FALTER, EVEN IN DEATH.
*Lub-Dub* *Lub-Dub* *Lub-Dub* *Lub-Dub*
I... SHALL... NEVER... DIE
By this point, Mors was already close to where the grey lightning was emanating from. Feeling that he was close, Mors drew on everything he had and released a tyrannical, wrath-filled roar that would have put even the mightiest dragons to shame, echoing outwards into the void.
The roar caused the edge of the darkness to ripple before tearing apart, bathing Mors in blinding light as he continued to struggle.
One by one, the other ghost-like figures, fell to a single knee, raising their fists to their chests as their stared upwards, their eyes glowing a dark, menacing red.
"I am lucky he died so nieve and easy to provoke."
An insurmountable distance below, Adam stared up at the small hole as it rapidly closed, his body starting to disperse as a small thread-like stream lead upwards to where Mors had been moments before, similar threads exited from every phantom, but they were much brighter.
Moments later, with a jubilant smile, Adam faded from existence, the memories from his life soul energy completely absorbed by Mors, his voice echoing throughout the dark expanse. "The king is dead, long live the king."
In response, a deafening roar of voices responded in unison. "Long live the king."
Back in the small, heated room, Ryen let out a wailful shriek as a small, gaunt hand wrapped itself around her throat, lifting her slightly into the air as a blast of grey energy exploded outwards, shaking the room violently.
Snapped from her thoughts, Ethemeusa rose high as she pulled two small daggers out and prepared to attack. "So his soul could not rest."
A warm sensation ran down Ryen's leg as she stared into the blood red, draconic eyes that she had come to fear, her heart beating so hard it felt like it was going to crack her ribs. "I DIDN'T MEAN IT, STAY DEAD! STAY DEAD. PLLEEASSE MOTHER OF DEMON'S, JUST STAAAAYYY DEAAADD."
A slow, unsteady smile spread on the Mors' face. However, the look in his eye's caused Ryen's soul to quake. "Just the person I wanted to see... I believe we have some unfinished business and some raving lunatic has put me in a pretty bad mood."
- He who stares into the abyss
Bio: Company Director, Software engineer, gamer, snowboard instructor, proud father of two insomniacs and all round philomath. My Works: The Book of Mors: Summoned [http://royalroadl.com/fiction/8312/the-book-of-mors-summoned] The Summoned: [http://royalroadl.com/fiction/11348/the-summoned] The Forgotten Hero: [http://royalroadl.com/fiction/11721/the-forgotten-hero]