Chapter III - The Great Demon
Kerberos looked at the two knights as they left, he thought of the young knight, Helga. He found her to be very beautiful although far too rash for his tastes. He started walking the other direction, opposite the way Helga and her father went. Suddenly, a thick black smoke emerged from below him, it smelled like dust. Kerberos hated it, but he knew what it is, a portal, he is being summoned. He closed his eyes for a few seconds and sensed the calm breeze of the foothills of Mount Mjolnir, the sound of nature. Suddenly, it was gone, and all he felt was the chilling sensation as if he was in a very deep cave. He opened his eyes, and there he saw three other sages clad in the same colors as his, all of them within an ominous room.
The four looked at each other, greeting themselves in silence. The dark room is small and has only one light source, a white candle burning with a bright white light standing on the middle of a ruined round table in the center of the room. There were no chairs and the walls were made of bricks with a shade of both gray and green. Iblis, Lilith, Strix, and Kerberos approached the round table at the center of the room and stared at the bright light. It hurt their eyes for a moment, but when it did not sting their vision anymore, a demonic voice greeted them.
"Ah, finally the red eye is complete once again, Iblis, Lilith, Strix, and Kerberos."
Iblis is a male sage with a bald head, his eyes are brown and is a sight to behold for he has a visage and body of a brute, he has scars all over his body including his face. He is the eldest of all other Silent Ones. Lilith and Strix, on the other hand, are twins and almost impossible to tell apart. Both of them have red hair flowing up to their breasts, blue eyes that mimicked the color of water from the purest of seas, and physiques of a seductress that even a holy man may find enticing. The twins are almost the same age as Kerberos at nineteen years of age. All of them continued staring at the candle's white light, remaining true to their namesake, silent.
"I sense a great evil descending upon us, the Dark Lord himself. Yes, I have sensed him once again, after all these years of thinking and hoping him dead."
"I thought I have killed him, but I guess no one kills a demon of his caliber for good."
"His soul simply lingers," the demonic voice continued, echoing throughout the dark room, "and now he has found another host."
"The Dark Lord is in possession of the most powerful wizard in the world, the King's adviser, Marcus Balmorus."
Silence fell upon the room once more, the four sages stared at one another, wondering what might be in store for them this time. Their master could not have summoned them all together for nothing, but from what the demonic voice has told them, the path seems clear.
"Kerberos," the demonic voice called his attention, "you've proven yourself quite worthy of being a Silent One."
Kerberos stared in the white flame, more focused. He fidgeted with his left hand, scraping his thumb and index finger against each other.
"However, you need to take our priorities more seriously, and one knight with petty follies isn't one of those priorities I'm speaking of."
Small droplets of sweat began to appear on Kerberos' forehead and temples. He swallowed hard and opened his mouth to speak, "I needed to."
"Silence, Kerberos!" Iblis exclaimed, still looking at the candle's white flame.
Kerberos looked at Iblis and replied with a question, "Are we not supposed to defend those who can't defend themselves?"
"Don't you dare-"
"Iblis, Lilith, Strix," the demonic voice said, interrupting Iblis, "leave us," he continued in a voice that almost whispered in the wind. At that instant, black smoke and dust enveloped the three others, and they were gone, leaving only Kerberos alone with the company of the candle with a bright white light.
The lone sage inhaled deeply, as if preparing for something, sweat started to run down his cheeks, and he wiped it off with his sleeve. He thought of what is going to happen next, thoughts came and went from his mind, but he settled for one, and he tried to prepare himself to hear it from his master's demonic voice. He wiped the sweat from his cheek again, and then on his forehead, the sweat made his sleeves wet, and made the color darker.
The demonic voice sighed and spoke, "I saw something in you, something Iblis, Lilith, and Strix will never have."
The demonic voice paused, as if waiting for a reaction from Kerberos, who remained silent instead. He found his master's words mysterious.
"Kerberos, you are bound for greatness, but you will not be a hero. You will find little affection, and a lot of hatred. Many will not understand you, and many more will not accept who you are. However, let no one change who you are, for you are bound for more than what I will ever hope to complete."
The white flame vanished from the candle as if it was blown away, and darkness enveloped the room. Kerberos panicked for a moment, his master's words echoed in his head, the words lifted his spirits but his sweat continued to drip slowly on his face. He was still afraid. Suddenly, he heard footsteps echoing in the room as if someone is approaching. His heart began to beat faster as the footsteps sounded nearer and nearer until the footsteps stopped. He felt a strange presence behind him, and his heart beat even faster than it did seconds ago, he felt light headed. He looked behind him a quick fashion, and with the same quick fashion, his eyes widened. He took three steps behind him until he fell down on his back.
It looked like a man and a beast combined, horns protruded from its head, a glorious white mane covered its neck and shoulder, its feet cloven like a ruminant animal, and golden brown fur covered the entirety of its body. "Go," it said to Kerberos with a demonic voice.
The young sage was stunned, and can only whisper to himself, "It can't be."
A bright flash of light blinded him, he instinctively swung his arms in front of his head, and when it was over, he laid them down and opened his eyes. He saw Iblis, Lilith, and Strix in front of him, back from wherever they came from, if they left at all and if the vision was not an illusion. The three stood behind the round table with the candle still burning with its white light, while Kerberos, still sitting on the cold floor, obviously stunned. Iblis went around the table, grabbed him by the shoulder, and forcibly raised him up to stand.
"Now you've seen him too," Iblis said to Kerberos, unintentionally interrupting the latter.
"There is no turning back now," Lilith told Kerberos, who looked at the ground, and then to Lilith, then to Strix, and finally to Iblis.
Kerberos in his shaking voice asked bald sage, "Was that, really him?"
Iblis replied with a nod.
"The Great Demon and the Dark Lord battled for hours in the great castle of the undead, Glast Heim," Strix spoke as she approached Kerberos, "the Dark Lord used to have dominion over the undead in that place, but he wanted more, he wanted to sap whatever is left of their mind but the Great Demon wouldn't have it. He told the Dark Lord that the undead are tortured souls with only one purpose, to redeem themselves, and he wouldn't stand to have the poor souls mindlessly follow anyone for any purpose other than the one they have."
"And?" Kerberos asked, wanting more from Strix.
"The battle claimed much from our master, the Great Demon, but he was able to destroy the Dark Lord's physical form-"
"But not his soul, and now he has found his way inside Marcus Balmorus, his preferred host," Kerberos said, lifting off from what she has told her. Strix smiled at him.
"We must kill Marcus before the Dark Lord takes complete control over him. With the vessel gone, the Dark Lord will not be able to physically manifest himself," Iblis said in a serious and heavy tone, he took a deep breath and continued, "the master will take the four of us in the King's Hall in the Capital, be prepared, he also told me to tell all of you that he sensed fourteen entities in the hall, including the King and Marcus Balmorus."
"Wait, how do we strike, do you have a plan?" Lilith asked.
"There will be at least twelve guards stationed, you and your sister shall keep them at bay but try not to kill anyone," Iblis replied, to which Lilith and Strix gave him a look of agreement, "I shall strike down Marcus."
"Hear me, Iblis," Lilith called his attention, "Marcus Balmorus may be old and probably senile, but he is still quite formidable."
Kerberos looked at Iblis and opened his mouth to say something, but before any sort of sound came from him the bald sage looked at him, as if trying to pierce him.
"You, Kerberos, shall be assigned the most difficult task," Iblis paused for a moment before approaching the young sage, he placed his hands on his shoulder, "keep the King alive at any costs."
Kerberos nodded as a reply.
"Careful now young one, if for any reason the Dark Lord is able to manifest himself, you must be ready. He will surely kill the King first."
Kerberos nodded once more, and then swallowed hard.
Iblis tapped Kerberos' shoulder, trying to shake out whatever doubts the young sage has in his head. Lilith and Strix prepared themselves, Kerberos grabbed the hilt of his knife, grasping it very tightly. Soon enough for them, a puff of black smoke and dust appeared around them, slowly enveloping the four as they closed their eyes. They allowed the black void to enter their mind, showing nothing but darkness, but it was blissful for all of them. Lilith and Strix believed this peaceful feeling to be a testament to their master's wit, small things that make a lot of difference, unlike the sort of portals opened by acolytes, monks, and priests which are horribly nauseating for the twins. Iblis took this time to meditate, for even a second of meditation could provide him useful insight and strength to press on and fight against the greatest of odds. Kerberos, on the other hand, used the darkness to contemplate which spell should he cast second, his obvious plan of action was to encase the King inside a Safety Wall, but he could not clearly decide what he should do next. It matters not anymore though, the darkness in their eyes and minds slowly turned gray, and then white.
Kerberos was the first one to open his eyes, the first thing he saw were knights charging towards them and crusaders preparing to defend the King. Lastly, he saw two faces which seem familiar.