Woe: A Collaborative Novel

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The Imaginarium


After numerous problems relating to formatting, this chapter is finally complete.

Chapter 16 (v.1) - Rise of The Darkbringer - C.A. Exline

Submitted: October 11, 2017

Reads: 212

Comments: 4

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Submitted: October 11, 2017

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Mythryl fingers tapped the armrest of the Stygian throne, where Sul’Ma Corr sat as he had sat for ages, thinking the dour thoughts he was wont to think.

I was a man, once, he mused. But perhaps such things were best forgotten.

Yet he could not forget. Memories, fractured and disjointed, swam through the vaults of Sul’Ma Corr’s awareness, clamoring, gnawing, as if struggling to escape—like a diver fighting his way to the surface for air.

“You are the chosen one,” Mallovek had cackled.

#

“Master.”

His reverie was interrupted. “Yes, Voynich?”

“The mer, our…convert—she has been slain.”

“How did this happen?”

“One of the Praetorians of Old Atlandea, her former partner—”

“Find a replacement,” Sul’Ma Corr ordered. “Engender another Mer-demon, or enlist saboteurs; I don’t care. Do what whatever is required. We must have the Proteus Shard.”

“Yes, Master.”

“And, Voynich, dispose of that troublesome mer.” Sul’Ma Corr dismissed his Seeker with a wave, sinking back into the brooding recesses of his broken mind:

“It is time, Corrous. You must go.”

“Aye, I know. And Garr is coming with me.”

“No, you mustn’t take him!”

“It is not your decision, old man.”

“But he is my son…”

“And I am the chosen one.”

The vision faded, to be replaced by an echo of the past that had haunted him for aeons:

“We will destroy you,” Corrous asserted.

The archfiend chuckled. “No, no you won’t.” It extended an accusatory finger toward Garrous. “Watch, mortal, and learn. Learn what happens to those who oppose us.”

Garrous drew back an arrow, shouting at the monstrosity that stood, wreathed in shadow, before them. And yet the shout of challenge transformed into a cry of pain. Garrous’ arrow flew harmlessly from the string as he collapsed to his knees.

Corrous rushed over to his brother, and yet there was nothing he could do—nothing but watch, helplessly, as Garrous’ flesh necrotized before his eyes, the meat dripping away, putrescent, from the skeleton until nothing remained: nothing but dust and bone.

“No!” Corrous screamed.

“Yes,” the archfiend sneered.

Tears streamed down Corrous’ face even as his features contorted in rage. He unleashed a wild yell and charged forward only to crash into an invisible barrier.

“You are pathetic,” said the archfiend. “You and your kind.” The archfiend laughed mirthlessly. “You, who are their champion, are impotent against me.”

“No, I will defeat you.”

“You delude yourself.”

Corrous struggled against the forces that held him. “I am the chosen one. I am the Ju’la Sur!”

Mallovek cackled again. “Indeed, mortal, indeed…In part, we are in agreement. You are the chosen one, but you are not Ju’la Sur.”

“I will fulfill the prophecy.”

“Yes, you will...eventually—for you must. You have no choice. Your fate has already been woven by the Norns; however, it is not the fate you believe it to be.”

“I will not countenance your lies, demon…your trickery.”

“You are the chosen one,” Mallovek had cackled. “But chosen by whom?”

“I was chosen by Leukhtam.”

“Nay. You were chosen by me.”

Corrous roared. “You speak falsehoods to deceive.”

“Evolution is a painful process, human. You tamper with forces you cannot comprehend. You claim to be righteous; and yet, what of your empire?”

“What of it?”

“Have your kind not enslaved the Elves? Do you not destroy the forests and subjugate all who stand in your way? You are a cancer upon this planet. A cancer to be extirpated. And your capitol shall sink beneath the waves of the Whyart Sea.”

“I will not hear your slander, demon.”

“Slander? How can it be slander if it is true? Do you deny my accusations, human?”

“I will end this. I swear upon my immortal soul, I will end this, even if it spells my own doom.”

“You speak more truth than you realize.”

“It ends now.”

“Very well. Come. Let us conclude this farce. Destroy me if you will.”

Corrous inhaled deeply, glaring balefully at Mallovek. He stepped into the realm of shadows, and the restraining forces lost their hold upon the Champion of Mankind.

Yet the archfiend roared with malignant glee. “Umbramancy is a double-edged sword. Know you, mortal, what happens to one who dies in The Shade?”

#

Corrous darted amidst the shadows, weaving—spectral—through that curious dimension of immaterial existence—a curious dimension in which the archfiend, Mallovek, was even more terrifying to behold.

“You cannot win, mortal.” The archfiend’s voice reverberated through the underpinnings of the universe. “You are ignorant. You know naught of what you do.”

Corrous did not relent, did not succumb to dread or discouragement. He would be victorious.

#

The peal of laughter emitted by Mallovek rattled Carrous’ spirit. The horrid monstrosity, the shifting mountain of flesh and tentacles and horn, pulsed with the sound. And then the earthly likeness of Mallovek emerged. Like filth being excreted from some foul orifice, his head and torso emerged out of the gelatinous mass, protruding therefrom as might a rancid growth. “You see me now in my true form, mortal. The time has almost arrived.”

Carrous lunged at the archfiend’s shadow, that strange and atrocious manifestation that occupied the umbral plane. He lunged, attempting to drive his spectral sword into the fiend, to vanquish the demon from Midgard…and yet he was stayed by the profoundest pain. It coursed through his phantasmal body. Boiling lead surged through his veins; acid ate at his brain; the marrow of his bones turned to magma; and his flesh and nerves were bathed in gelid darkness.

#

He awoke from death.

His faculty of reason was expunged, his body tortured by the diabolical resurrection that was the curse of those slain within the shadows. Nevertheless his unrelenting passion drove him onward toward his goal. The creature that had been Corrous, Scion of the Throne of Atlandea and Champion of Mankind, leapt upon Mallovek, rending and gnawing and thrashing with all the fervor of Hel.

“Your will is strong, and your hatred of me is stronger. It is why I chose you,” Mallovek declared. “But it will be many centuries before your infernal might may mature. You are merely a neonate, your demonic form having only just emerged like a butterfly from its chrysalis.”

The demon that had been Corrous was cast away from the archfiend, striking the far wall of Stygian steel with an impact that would have reduced a human being to wet paste. Crumpling to the floor, his augmented body commenced to repair itself.

“You will put an end to my rule; it is true,” Mallovek stated. “But only because you will don the mantle yourself. You are not heir to the throne of Atlandea; your” The demonic form of what had been Corrous froze in place, wracked by all the pain of hell. “You shall be reborn once again, remade once more,” cried Mallovek. “You who are the chosen one, you shall be no mere demon. You shall become such as I. You shall become an archfiend, and you will be known as Sul’Ma: The Darkbringer.”

The champion’s left arm melted into a gangrenous slime. His face sloughed from its skull. Slabs of muscle disintegrated, leaving only puss-filled cavities behind. Bones turned to powder and eyes deliquesced, streaming like vitreous rivulets from the hollowed sockets in the demon’s face.

#

Sul’Ma Corr’s memories descended into fleeting glimpses, a montage of horror that existed only as vague fragments on the edge of his ruined consciousness.

He remembered the Vimana that descended from the heavens. He remembered the strange beings that occupied it, and the strange artifice which they wrought upon him. It was they who gave me this, he thought, flexing his mythryl hand. And this.

He touched the Stygian mask mask that had become one with his face.

But those who chose me, those who condemned me, those who offered me up like a sacrifice—they will know my pain. I shall bring a new order to the Lands of Men, to Midgard. They may fear the reign of elves, but they do not yet know the reign of Sul’Ma Corr.



© Copyright 2019 C.A. Exline. All rights reserved.

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