It wasn’t long after he’d woken from the dream that the demons came for Sotiris. They took him back to the room where they’d found the dead monk, and since everyone Sotiris encountered was a demon the other monks were likely dead as well.
Such disregard for life. How could I have ever been one of them? Sotiris never had the taste for the wanton slaughtering of innocents, even when he’d been with the Society. However, where he once held no opinion on the matter, he now found it vile.
with the Society. However, where he once held no opinion on the matter, he now found it vile.
“Ah, brother, to see such a righteous look on your face makes me want to pull your eyes out, and feed them to my Bargh Hounds,” the man from earlier said, as Sotiris came into the room.
He sat on a bench, and leaned back with a slouch to the table with his elbows propped on it. Booted feet were crossed at his ankles, and he looked positively bored. The guards shoved Sotiris to his knees before the man, and he had to look up to meet his gaze.
“Orders are orders, though, and unfortunately I must keep you alive until the weapon is in our possession,” he lamented. “However, I have been given full authority to use anything at my disposal to see the task done,” he finished, detached, but the longing in his eyes burned into Sotiris’ soul, and sent a chill through him.
“I have no idea where the weapon is, and even if I did, brother,” Sotiris said scathingly, going for arrogance instead of fear, “it is unlikely I would willingly give it to the likes of you.”
The man’s laugh was cold and happy, as though Sotiris had unveiled a lovely present.
“I think you will find yourself begging me to take the weapon, in the end,” he replied, with fervent menace.
He switched his gaze to additional guards at a different door, and nodded. The door opened and Sotiris’ heart froze in horror.
“It took a while to find the body; you know how much the earthen plane can change over the centuries,” he said, as he stood and walked over to the chained, animated corpse. “And we were incredibly lucky to find the idiot villagers nearby had buried her with some of her personal effects, making the animation process much easier.”
It wasn’t because his mother’s decaying corpse hunched in front of him that his heart was breaking, it was because they’d gone a step farther and summoned her soul. Understanding, grief, and pain pooled in her eyes, but as she was trapped in a dead body the emotions could not escape them through tears.
“So…So-ti…rissss.” Her voice cracked and hissed. The man who held the chain connected to the collar around her neck yanked once, hard, and she collapsed to her knees.
“Ah, Sotiris’ mother. We have not been formally introduced as of yet, since I’ve had you locked away in that box, but my name is Kader, and I’ll be torturing you and your son today,” Kader cheerfully informed her.
She turned her face toward him and made a motion as though to spit on him, but as with tears she had nothing to use.
“I guess I can’t expect civility from your kind, filthy human that you are, or are you?” he questioned, and looked toward Sotiris with sadistic satisfaction then turned back to his mother.
“Never told this one, did you? Why his grandfather hated him so,” Kader teased.
His mother started to struggle, and noises came from low in her throat.
Kader laughed and moved back toward where Sotiris knelt, and dropped to a crouch at eye-level in front of him. “Did you ever wonder what made you so special that you could lead the Disciples to our presumed defeat, hm?”
Sotiris focused on Kader’s words, and he scowled. “What do you know of it?” he asked. It was something he’d wanted to know for so long—why him?
“Oh, poor little mushroom left in the dark and fed lies. They knew within days of you defecting why you could achieve this task: they just never told you,” Kader said, and remained in a crouch so he could be as close to Sotiris as possible for his next words. “Your grandfather, Elias, was once a Disciple. In fact, he was the older brother of your personal executioner should anything go wrong: Damien. Who is your uncle,” Kader laughed, and fell backward in a fit of giggles at Sotiris’ expression.
That made him part angel and demon. Though the half-angels and half-demons could not pass any powers on to their children if they had them with humans, (and he knew for certain his grandmother had been human), the demon blood must have done something to activate it. It might also explain why his demon powers never manifested; they’d been hampered by the angel blood.
He shook his head. In this moment it didn’t matter, and would only matter if he survived. Sotiris had to get through this to a time when he could process it all, but it was difficult getting past such a shock to think. Not to mention the betrayal he felt from any who had known but kept it secret. I wonder if Damien knew? He shook his head again, harder this time. Not the appropriate time.
“Let her go, Kader, your fight is with me,” Sotiris said as Kader wiped the tears from eyes and stood.
“Sotiris, you know I won’t do that. It was damned difficult to pull a soul from Paradise, and even more so for one with angelic blood. Cost me quite a few demons in the process, and I intend to get my worth from her,” he said suggestively, and walked over to Mirinda. He laid a thin, almost skeletal hand on her hair, and just as Sotiris tried to stand, his mother quickly turned her head and tried to bit Kader. “Ooh, feisty. Won’t you be delightful?”
He motioned toward the door Sotiris’ mother had come out of, and another demon came in with his grandfather in tow.
“It took even more demons to get someone such as him from the clutches of the Light, though once I explained my intentions to the Dark King he agreed their sacrifices were worth it.” Kader chuckled.
Elias looked worse for wear than Mirinda, likely because of having more angel blood. No wonder they never try to pull the Disciples’ souls into any of the corpses they animate. It makes them next to useless.
“Getting a touch crowded in here, eh? Well we aren’t done yet, folks,” Kader said and motioned at the door.
As the door opened, Kader pushed the heavy table toward the back wall, indicating his lean frame was stronger than Sotiris might have guessed. Strength was not always a guarantee with the demon or angel blood, and those like Kader who used magic usually were not blessed with both.
Just my luck. Sotiris spat as more demons filed into the room, along with his companions. They were considerably more chained than they’d been in the room, especially Damien. Sotiris could not help but stare at the man, trying to find some resemblance between them. Damien merely scowled at the room, until he caught sight of Elias.
Though his grandfather’s body was badly decayed, it was not difficult to see who it was if you knew the man.
“E-Elias?” Damien faltered at a complete loss.
Elias raised his face toward Damien, and though one eye was rotted and useless, the other flooded with comprehension. He didn’t try to talk, though, just nodded.
Rage and power flooded the room, and the currents caused the flames of the torches to sputter in protest.
“None of that, Paladin of the Spear,” Kader said, and the demon who led Damien prodded his lower back with the wooden butt of a cruel, double-edged axe.
Damien’s face flashed with pain, and it momentarily eclisped the anger, and his power settled down.
“Line them up along the wall,” Kader said to the demons. It was then Sotiris noted the rings on the floor, which opened and allowed the demons to put the jingling chains between the metal cuffs on his companions’ wrists, in them. It barely allowed them enough slack to rise from the floor, and not enough to come to their knees without hunching their shoulders.
“Here is where the fun begins,” Kader fairly tittered with excitement. Without making any particular motion another demon walked forward, (How many of the damned ones does he have?), and gave Kader a weapon wrapped in oiled cloth. From its shape it could be nothing else. When he unwrapped it, it was a plain longsword, and a pulse of recognition like a single beat on the drum went through his body.
It was the sword from the vision. It didn’t look like much; in fact it seemed almost humble compared with other swords he’d encountered over the years. The two-handed grip had worn, dark leather as though it had been used for years, and the cross-guard was simple and unembellished. The blade was a hexagonal shape, but was not dull despite the age of the sword. The most amazing and decorative part, though, was the pommel—it was exactly like the pendant he wore around his neck.
“Glad to see the two of you finally introduced.” Kader laughed, and pointed the sword toward Sotiris’ right eye. “Now what I want from you, Sotiris, is simple. In exchange for the lives of your friends and family, you’ll do what needs doing to make the sword the weapon it’s meant to be. Until you do, I’m going to torture said friends and family to help persuade you to see our way,” he said, a mockingly apologetic smile on his face.
“To make the game more fun for me, you get to choose who I torture at any particular time. If you refuse to choose I’ll have my demons help and torture them all at once. To make it fair for our unwilling participants I’ll change it up every once in a while. However, I’m sure we’re all hoping you just cooperate and none of that will come to pass.” He tilted his head to look back toward Sotiris’ mother. “Well, maybe just a little torture to keep things lively.”
Sotiris scowled at Kader when he turned his eyes back to Sotiris, but he knew it did him no good. They were at a clear disadvantage, and a strategy to get everyone out alive and/or with their souls intact was daunting, and more impossible by the second.
“Choose wisely,” Kader said, a mocking echo of the words from his vision.
How can I choose? Only now the stakes had significantly risen, and Sotiris didn’t like his odds.