Chapter 12: Aran Strikes
The Hades Gate glowed as a small, shallow hole appeared in its centre. Cracks spread slowly out from it, until they reached the five corners of the pentagonal wall. A deep humming resonated as this happened. Melodramatic much? Tahkshi thought, before he turned back to Aran.
"Sorry, what?" asked Tahkshi politely, "I wasn't listening?"
Aran drew himself up to his full height, which was most impressive. "I said," he said, "just what is going on here?"
Aran was quite a tall man, although not quite as tall as Foton. His face was ghastly and gaunt, his cheeks pulled back into his skull as if someone had stuck a miniature black hole in his skull, which sucked all of the skin inwards. His eyes were also an area to fear; he had no pupil, or even whites to his eyes, merely a blood red window into his mind. Literally.
"I say again," he said again, pointing a long spindly finger at the Hades Gate, "what is going on?"
An awkward silence followed. Just like the sort of awkward silence a child would have when being caught doing something wrong, before they hid what was broken/stolen behind their back and saying, "nothing!".
Gold broke the awkward silence by saying bluntly, "We're opening the Hades Gate."
Aran placed a finger on his small, black goatee. "You are, are you?" He swept his black leather cape back, revealing his chest, scarred with some sort of tally chart: four lines, strike-through, repeat. Tahkshi winced at it; each line was cut into his skin and sealed as a scar. "One line for one murder." he boasted in his hoarse, scraping voice. "Think you can really compete?"
Tahkshi drew the Terran Blade. "I've defeated likes of you before, Aran. And worse. I have defeated the power of Olympus," Gold looked guilty, "I have slain Hydras, Cerberi. And you think that you can beat me? Beat us?"
Aran smiled animal-like, revealing a set of canine's teeth set in a corpse's mouth. "I believe so." he reached into his cape and brought out a black scythe: the stereotypical weapon of Death.
"Gold. Foton. Pandora, Naarl, Maria and Cody. Protect the Gate." Viretta ordered as she moved forwards.
"And you, Viretta." Incarnate suggested.
"What? No!" she responded.
Then Tahkshi stepped in. "Do as he says. This guy is dangerous."
Viretta stepped back, feeling secretly quite relieved to not go up to the psychopath Aran.
Incarnate, Tahkshi, Tao, Devilclash and Hurricane stood before Aran, who was sniggering at them.
"What?" asked Devilclash, impatient.
Tahkshi looked at the Terran Blade, before ramming into Aran's chest. Aran winced as Tahkshi removed the blade from his chest. Curiously, no blood seeped from the wound. In fact, the only thing that did escape was a slight hissing sound. Tahkshi surveyed the wound with a look of disgust and wonderment. "What...are you?" he whispered.
"I am Aran!" Aran said correctly, "And I died two hundred years ago."
Humans, equipped with burning torches and pitchforks, which were not burning, advanced on Lord Aran's castle. Aran chuckled, his guards at the gates, ready to ward off the intruders. The humans advanced on the gates, whence upon the guards drew their blades. They lashed out at the crowds, killing few, as most carried weapons and stabbed and hacked and burned the guards, their flimsy armour no match for the ferocity of blood-thirsty citizens. The gates were torn down when the guards were dead, falling with a clang. They stormed inside, Aran retreating to a corner where the crowd advanced, drawing his scythe. He swung at the villagers, killing a few, but they eventually overpowered him and knocked him unconscious. They dragged him out, into the village square, where a bonfire was waiting, next to a crucifix. They took each of his hands and each of his fists and nailed them to it, before throwing it into a fire. Blood spat from the fire, gallons of it.
The morning after, the fires were gone, but the body was still there. Its eyes opened fractionally, then fully as he rose from fires, tearing his hands and feet from the crucifix. He bled not and his heart beat not. The new village leader came up to him, gazing in wonderment. Aran smiled, showing yellowing, dead teeth. The village leader froze in fear, before Aran walked towards him and placed one hand on his forehead. Small tendrils on his fingers entered the leader's skull, draining blood from the poor man. His skin changed colour and he began to fall to the floor. His skin wrinkled as Aran drained his life as well, causing his age to accelerate. Aran rose, a young man once more. He knelt down to the village leader's body and tore out his heart.
"So, what, you're undead?" asked Devilclash.
"No, I am alive. I had learnt the way of necromancy, and brought myself back to live again!" His eyes bulged in his madness. "The chant was made when I was thrown into the fires, and I was back, and truly immortal!" Hurricane could actually hear the exclamation marks. "There was just one catch. I had to absorb the life force of one every week, or I would age and die, quickly, yet painfully."
"Interesting." Tao said, monotonous. "So, what you're saying is, all we need to do is seal you in somewhere for a week, or crush your brain."
"What?" yelled Aran in outrage.
"Well, that way you can't get your life energy if you're sealed away. And it seems to me that the only organ in your body that should work is your brain, so...yeah." Tao explained, before crossing his arms smugly.
"Smart one, eh?" Aran remarked, leaning in close to Tao's face, so that Tao could smell a vague smell of gone-off meat. "I hate smart mortals!" Aran barked, before swinging his scythe.
Tao's metallic arm opened at the wrist, various probably sharp appendages on the end of some thin, but long, hydraulic arms. He swung them in the way, various machetes and knives blocking the path of Aran's scythe. Hurricane ran at Aran, who kicked out at Tao, flooring him, before swinging at Hurricane. A twister erupted from Hurricane's wrists as he dodged the scythe, but Aran leapt over it, only to go headlong into the Terran Blade, wielded by Tahkshi. A lock of Aran's hair fell to the ground, but other than that, he was unharmed.
"All of you together still couldn't take me." Aran remarked, "You poor fools."
"Not really," Devilclash remarked, sending a burst of fire straight at him. Aran leapt away, fires searing his skin. Tahkshi swung, slicing at his arm. Aran winced in pain, before leaping up into the rafters above.
"Stay here!" Tahkshi yelled, as he saw Aran's shadow move across the floor. He ran, following it out of the door, which slammed shut behind him. "Shit..."he swore quietly.
Aran was above him, in the rafters, noticing his fear...
A crack ran down the centre of the Hades Gate, splitting it from the topmost point to the bottom edge. The humming stopped, a vast clang stopping it, like the sound of an annoying humming guy being hit with a hammer. Viretta, Naarl, Cody and the others turned and moved away from the Gate as the two sides along the line swung open, a bright light emanating from inside.
One foot emerged from the gate, the tip of the boot, a silver elongated skull that seemed to engulf it, leaving only a hole for the leg to poke through.
The leg came next, easily as thick as a medium sized tree trunk, in length, yet probably slightly thicker. They were covered in black and silver scales, as was his body and arms. The armour followed his muscle contours perfectly, whilst seeming far too large to be truly following them. His hands were huge; if Charon's were door-sized, Hades's was slightly larger than the average door. His helmet was pure silver, with a black vent comprised of a tinted glass window, with four black bars running down it from just below the eyes to the chin. Two holes were there for the eyes, revealing only blood red lights within. A sword hung loosely at his side; a sword that was even larger than Charon, whose massive build was impressive enough, but Hades dwarfed even him.
Cracking knuckles, Hades asked quite politely, "So. Where the fuck is Aran? I wish to destroy him."
The true God Of Death had returned.