Okay, this is more of an early character sketch I wrote a while ago for a story I'm considering writing than anything else. Please keep that in mind while reading it. :-). Based on Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, and the Expansion.
UPDATE: These characters and their story, over the many years since their conception and this particular short story, have since been fleshed out into what will hopefully be an original novel. The first three parts of Book 1 are posted on fictionpress, at www fictionpress com /s/2484195/1/Voidbringer(underscore)Book(underscore)1(undersscore)Death (remove the spaces and insert underscores where FF won't let me have them)- please check them out!
My brothers were characters to say the least.
I never spent an incredible amount of time with them, owing to the fact that Anubis, the youngest of the two, was himself 15 when I was born, Galen four years his senior. Galen completed his training the year I was born and was accepted into the Order, leaving home the next, but he wrote me letters that my father used to read to me before he fell and he visited whenever he got the chance. When I could write my own letters I did so, so I never really felt deprived of my oldest brother.
Anubis, on the other hand, never really left home – not back then anyway. He moved out of the house and out into the jungle somewhere, but he was back everyday to talk to our parents, show me whatever new disgusting things he'd found (I was his replacement for Galen in that respect), and to eat; cooking was something he'd never quite gotten the hang of. It didn't involve blowing things up, and/or raising them from the dead. Generally speaking he had no interest in those kinds of things.
Anubis wasn't his real name of course. Mother had been told by the old mage Ormus that her second pregnancy would result in a girl. Alkor had laughed and muttered and told Mother not to pay any attention to Ormus, but Mother put great stock in the things Ormus told her, and had her heart set on a girl by the time Anubis was born. Completely unfazed by the fact that Anubis was a boy, she named him Anni anyway. It was Galen that gave him the name Anubis. Galen spent a large part of his childhood beating up the people who threatened to beat up Anubis because of his name. He got tired of it finally and picked a name from one of the fantasy stories Alkor used to tell him: Anubis, God of Death. He said it was suitably imposing and that it fit Anubis anyway: his obsession with dead things started young. Everyone thought he'd grow out of it . . . everyone was wrong. The name, and the obsession, stuck.
The two were almost inseparable when they were young – oftentimes to Galen's chagrin. Though he didn't always enjoy the role of the older brother, he took it, and himself, very seriously. He used to get mad at Anubis for following him around all the time, and never once understood Anubis' interest in death and magic, but he'd jump to defend him if someone else tried taking offence to it. One of mother's favorite stories about the boys was the time Galen had come home, with Anubis on his back piggy-back style sobbing over something one of the older boys at Galen's school had called him. Galen had dropped him off at home and left again without saying a word, returning later that day with a set of split knuckles. The kid who'd bothered Anubis hadn't been seen for the next two weeks, and when he finally did come back, he flinched every time Galen looked at him. Galen, to this day, will furiously deny having done anything to defend the 'whining, foolish, cry-baby.' Anubis just gives him one of his patented foolish grins and lets it go.
Galen always had a thing for protecting people. Mother had always wanted a Barb for a son. She got a Paladin. She was disappointed until Father pointed out that a Paladin was essentially a Barb with class. That had more or less put things into perspective for her, and she took heartily to the idea of Galen being a Paladin.
Anubis had always looked up to Galen with the typical little-brother complex. He was a loveable, enthusiastic, excitable little kid (who didn't every really get big), and who was never quite able to grasp the fact that Galen didn't get excited over things like severed unraveller heads, chipped skulls, and other assorted items that made wet, squishing noises. Anubis liked the noises; they made Galen turn green. Galen's seen a lot of gore in his time as a Paladin, but never as much as what Anubis used to bring home from the swamps. We never could figure out where he was finding this stuff. It's not like he killed the things he brought home . . ..
He used to follow Galen around, chattering endlessly about things to which Galen would respond with non-committal grunts, and the occasional 'What will it take to make you go away?'. Come to think of it, they still do that. Not much has changed. Anubis' second-favorite person back then was a girl named Fara, from Galen's school. She and Galen had decided at some point that they liked each other quite a bit and started spending a great deal of time together. Anubis at first was horrified at this supposed breach in his and Galen's relationship, and he used to follow Galen out to where he had agreed to meet Fara and then play pranks on them the whole time they were out. Anubis, for all his cuteness, can be a real bitch if you get his dander up.
It was a camping trip that changed his mind about Fara. Galen had wanted to go camping with her, but Mother, concerned about what a young boy and a young girl might do alone out in the woods, had told him the only way he'd be allowed to go was if he took Anubis with him. Galen immediately tried to call the whole thing off, but Fara wasn't willing to. So Galen, Anubis and Fara went camping. The first day was miserable. Anubis was mean, and nasty to Fara, and Galen, in turn, was mean and nasty to Anubis. That night, however, Anubis had tried what he thought would have been the final straw. He found himself (with that remarkable ability of his) a decomposing demon head, at the height of its disgustingness, and put it into Fara's blankets. She didn't react the way he expected however. She climbed into her bed, blinked, and pulled the head out by the hair. She looked at it, then gave Anubis a serious look and told him that he'd found quite a remarkable specimen, then asked if he knew how to preserve it, and would he like her to write to her cousin Nhilathak, the Necromancer, and ask him if he could write to Anubis and tell him how. Anubis had tripped over his blankets in his excitement at the thought of talking to a real necromancer. The only problem Galen and Fara had had with Anubis from then on was that instead of being unable to get rid of him because he hated Fara, now they couldn't get rid of him because he loved Fara.
True to her word, Fara wrote her cousin and Anubis began his correspondence course in the magic of death. Mother had always wanted a Sorcee for a daughter. She got a Necromancer. There was nothing Father could say about that to make her feel any better, but Anubis was still her baby and she never complained in front of him.
Galen, naturally, was horrified, but unfortunately for him, Anubis had reached that age where your older brother is no longer a God, he's simply your older brother, and it wasn't long at all after I was born that Anubis was raising Stygian Dolls and siccing them on Galen when he wasn't looking. If nothing else it made Galen a better fighter, and it delighted Anubis because when Galen killed them, it just meant he could resurrect them again.
Those days are long since past, now, though. When I was ten our father fell with the rest of the Council to Mephisto's influence. If it hadn't been for Anubis (who, by then, was raising a lot more than Stygian Dolls) I never would have made it out of Upper Kurast and down to the docks. As it was, Mother didn't. Anubis took it hard. He foolishly risked his life, slipping out of the Kurast docks and into the Spider Forest, making his way through the jungle back to the spot where she died. He somehow found her body and somehow managed to drag it all the way back to the docks. Anubis wanted to bring her back with his magic. He wanted to resurrect her, hoping he could defy death like always. But it doesn't work like that. Things with souls are different than the demons he resurrects. He can bring the body back, but not the soul . . . but he was angry, and he wasn't thinking straight. I should have been. I should have tried to stop him, but I was only about 12, and I clung to the wild hope that maybe it would work like that. That maybe he could bring her back, and in doing so somehow make things the way they were again. It was foolish of me. If it hadn't been for Galen . . .
Anubis cast his spell, and brought her back . . . and she attacked him. Something had gone wrong and he had no control of her. She threw herself at him, clawing and biting and screaming like a thing possessed. She wasn't our mother anymore. I realized it before Anubis did, and I jumped at her, trying to help Anubis, who was too busy being frustrated with himself to defend himself at all from her attacks. She only spared a moment's worth of attention for me, slamming the back of her hand across my face and sending me flying backwards. I had expected to stumble right out the door, but instead I hit something cool and smooth. I couldn't register what it was at first – my head was spinning – but I got a look at it as it set me down and leapt forward, the fire glinting off of the steel head of its maul.
It was Galen. He'd come home.
At first I thought that maybe he didn't know who it was he was attacking, but then I got a look at his face and there was know doubt in my mind that he knew exactly who he was fighting, and he knew exactly how she got that way. All it took was two crushing blows from his maul and our mother died a second time, crumpling to the ground, skull and ribcage crushed in. He stood there for a long moment, breathing heavily in his armor, shining brightly in the torchlight, his maul covered in blood, and looking down at her.
"It's your fault," Anubis hissed from his position on the ground. He pushed himself to his knees and wrapped his arms around his stomach, his long white hair falling in a disarray around him, his face twisted with grief. His expression disturbed me. He was usually so happy. "If you hadn't left . . . if you had of been there . . . you could have saved her . . . I know you could have . . . I wasn't strong enough Galen . . . I couldn't save her . . . I couldn't save either of them . . . I tried . . . we needed you . . . I . . . I . . ." His eyes were drawn inexorably to our mother's corpse and he shut them furiously against his emotions.
Anubis never really completely forgave Galen for leaving . . .
I don't think he'll ever forgive her for dying.
At least Galen came back.
I started to cry.
"Anubis . . . I'm sorry," he whispered, putting his maul down and moving to pick me up. He shook his head. "Why did you try and raise her?" He asked softly, dropping down into a seated position on the floor beside Anubis. I curled up against his shoulder. "You knew . . ."
"I had to try," Anubis whispered back, his voice hoarse. "I couldn't just . . . I thought I could . . ." He looked at her body again and seemed to shrink back into himself. It's funny sometimes how the things that fascinate us are the things that frighten us the most. For a long moment no one said anything, and then:
Anubis began a slow and painful retelling of everything that had happened since Galen had last been home, right up until the fall of Kurast. I nodded off as some point during the tale and when I awoke I was no longer in Galen's arms but wrapped in Anubis' cloak on the floor across from them. Our mother's body was gone, and the two sat where they'd been before I fell asleep. Anubis' face was paler than usual.
"The Prime Evils," he whispered, pressing his forehead against his knees. "This isn't good, Galen. This isn't good at all. Look at what one of them did to Kurast . . . if the other two are loose . . ." Galen said nothing. Anubis shook his head dismally, then looked up at Galen. "Did you really see an angel?" He asked. Galen nodded.
"Tyreal," he said. "An Archangel. He was trapped in Tal Rasha's Tomb. He's the one who told me all of this." There was another pause.
"Was he pretty?" Anubis asked.
"Beautiful," Galen said, his voice hushed. "I've never seen anything like it, Anubis. His wings . . ." He shook his head suddenly, as though freeing himself from a spell. "Anubis . . . that's why I came back. Mephisto is here. I . . . I'm going to find him and kill him." Anubis' head snapped up and he looked at Galen suddenly, mouth agape. "Don't look at me like that," Galen said in irritation. "I have to. He can't be allowed to live. Especially not after what you've told me he's done to the Council."
"You'll die," Anubis hissed at him, eyes narrowed suddenly.
"If I do," Galen said darkly, "don't you dare try and resurrect me."
"Galen . . . you can't be serious about this!" Galen's face said quite plainly that he was dead serious about it. Anubis shook his head and looked away for a moment. Abruptly his face hardened. "Then I'm going with you." He looked back at Galen defiantly, expecting some argument, but Galen had pressed his head against his knees. He gave a soft, sad laugh.
"Anubis . . ." He whispered. "I'm so glad." He looked up suddenly, looking at the wall above me and not meeting Anubis' puzzled gaze. "I shouldn't let you go," he said. "I should fight you on this, but . . . I can't do this alone. Not this time. I need your help, Anubis." Anubis actually managed a half-hearted foolish grin.
"Almost like old times, eh?" He asked. Galen smiled and laughed softly.
"I guess," he said, stretching his legs out and folding his hands behind his head against the wall. "Except you're not . . ." Before he could finish his sentence Anubis, reaching into his multitude of pouches, had pulled out a bunch of shrunken heads tied together by their scalps and tossed them into Galen's lap – complete with wet, squishing sound.
"Like 'em?" Anubis asked, a hint of his old boyishness playing around his eyes. "I found 'em yesterday in the swamp. Alkor says they're really good quality and they'd be worth a lot, but I'm not selling." He mimicked Galen's pose. "I figure I can use them as a shield or something." Galen stared at him in disbelief for a long moment, then looked back down at the heads in his lap.
"I hate you," he said flatly, his mouth curling in disgust.
"Whatever," Anubis said, curling up on the ground. "I'm going to sleep now." Galen made a face and gingerly picked up the heads, dropping them beside Anubis, who immediately grabbed them and used them as a pillow. Galen shook his head and sighed, curling up as well.
"Good night, Anubis," he said.
"G'night," Anubis answered. Then, a moment later: "Galen?"
"Hmm?" Galen said, his eyes closed.
"I'm glad you're back . . ."
"Go to sleep, Anubis." He responded. Anubis couldn't see it from where he was, but Galen was smiling when he said it.
The next morning they left me with Alkor and said their good-byes before disappearing into the jungle. Two weeks later they returned. Mephisto was dead, but they couldn't stay. There were other Prime Evils they had to fight, so they kissed me goodbye, and Galen and Anubis headed back into the jungle. I felt really bad for Anubis. He'd never set foot outside of Kurast before and now they were off – they wouldn't tell me where. He was going to be so lost . . . Galen promised to take care of him though, so I felt a little better about that.
Over the next few months we started to rebuild Kurast. With Mephisto's influence gone, the city was ours again and we intended to make it what it had been; but it never would be for me. I received only a brief scattering of letters from Galen and Anubis; rushed epistles oozing with fake cheerfulness to cover up what they were doing. They were purposely vague about what they were planning, giving me details only on what they'd done, but it was enough. It meant they were alive, and that's all I cared about. At some point they defeated Diablo, the youngest of the three prime evils, but they told me they couldn't come home yet. There was still one left to find and destroy.
It's no mean feat, destroying two of three Prime Evils, and their successes gave me hope that they could defeat the final Evil and return home. I wanted things to go back to the way they were, and that couldn't even start to happen until they came home. But one day I received a letter from Anubis (an excited, four page rant about actually meeting Nhilathak, the necromancer, with a shorter note from Galen at the end with other news and admonitions about behaving for Alkor). It was the last letter I received. I waited for months for another one, but none came. There's no feeling in the world worse than helpless panic, but I went through it, and worse, waiting for those letters.
Other news slowly worked its way to Kurast. Someone had defeated Baal, last of the three Prime Evils. The Worldstone had been destroyed. Some saw it as an ill omen, others as a blessing. I didn't care. I used to wait down at the docks. Every time a boat docked, and a traveler got off I'd ask them about my brothers. No one had seen them.
A year came and went, and everyday I'd wait at those docks, until one day, Messhif's boat arrived. Messhif stepped onto the gangplank and beckoned me over.
"There's someone here who wants to talk to you," he said. I wanted to hope that it was Galen and Anubis. I wanted to believe that he'd brought them home. But something in his face said otherwise. Trembling with dread I stepped onto the boat and looked up as a bent old man came towards me, dressed in plain brown robes, and carrying a gnarled staff in his hand. He shook my hand gravely, looked into my eyes, and said:
"My name is Deckard Cain. I –" But before he could say anything else I interrupted him.
"Do you know my brothers?" I demanded. "Do you know where they are? Why haven't they written to me?" Cain's eyes were sad, Messhif averted his gaze from me.
"I know your brothers," Cain answered. "They are heroes, both of them. They defeated Baal at the Worldstone Keep. You should be proud of them. They saved the world." I shook my head. I didn't care about that, but before I could ask him if he knew where they were, my question was answered. Coming up out of the hold behind him were four men, carrying between them two long, wooden boxes – just big enough for a person.
"I'm sorry," Cain had whispered, but I hadn't heard him.
My brothers had come home.