On the first day, man was granted a soul, and with it, clarity. On the second day, upon Earth was planted an irrevocable poison. A soul devouring demon.
Of all the warriors in the imperial army, they had chosen him.
"Why me?", he thought, "Of all the people, they had to choose me? Why can't someone else be on the front lines?"
Everyone knew that those who were placed in the front of the army were almost always killed. They usually picked inexperienced but brave soldiers to go in the front. In other words, Dante was perfect. To put it simply, he was a human meat shield dressed in armor. He already knew he was going to die, but he had to. He had no choice. As the army was finally given the order to march forward, he was already dead.
It had all started when "King Allant the XII, by channeling the power of souls, brought unprecedented prosperity to his northern kingdom of Boletaria. That is until the colorless Deep Fog swept across the land. Boletaria was cut off from the outside world, and those who dared penetrate the Deep Fog never returned. But Vallarfax of the royal twin fangs broke free of the fog and told the world of Boletaria's plight. That the Old King Allant had aroused the Old One, the great beast below the Nexus from its eternal slumber. And that a colorless fog had swept in, unleashing terrible demons. The demons hunt down men and claim their souls. Those who lose their souls also lose their minds. The mad attack the sane and chaos reigns. Vallarfax spoke of the enticing power of the demon's souls. Each time a demon claims a human's soul the demon's own soul is invigorated by the life force. And the power of a mature demon's soul is beyond human imagination. The legend spread quickly. Mighty warriors were drawn to the accursed land, but none have returned. The colorless Deep Fog slowly creeps beyond Boletaria's borders. Humankind faces a slow and steady extinction. The Deep Fog will eventually swallow all lands near and far."
And so it was that Dante was marching into the frightening fog. He did not know what horrors would await him beyond the fog. But again, he did not have a choice. He knew he would die there, away from his family. And, as it happened, he did die there.
When Dante came to, he found himself greeted by a strange woman. She had hair as black as pitch and the attire to match it. However, her most unusual features were her eyes. Her eyes were occluded by wax.
"Welcome, brave soul," she said, "I am the Maiden in Black. When you died, I summoned you here. This is the Nexus. You are free to stay as long as you continue killing demons. You can not leave here. However, you can reclaim your physical body by capturing demon's souls."
Having finished their conversation, Dante turned around to see six pillars with mysterious engravings in them. He also saw a man resting by one of these obelisks.
"Oh, slipped through the fissure too, did you? Come for demon's souls, have you? Or the save this land and be remembered as a hero? Try one of the arch stones over there."
Following his gaze, Dante could see he was talking about the obelisk the he was sitting in front of.
"So, they want me to kill demons? Then I supposed I'll just have to kill every last one of them then. They must pay for what they've done!", he thought as he touched the arch stone.
There was a bright flash of light, then he was transported to what he recognized as the Boletarian Palace.
"And a shepherd I shall be, for thee, my lord, for thee! Power hath descended forth from thy hand! My feet may swiftly carry out thy commands! So I shall flow a river forth to thee and teeming with souls shall it ever be!"
And so it had begun, he would kill every last demon alive.
"And when I vest my flashing sword and my hand takes hold in judgment I will take vengeance upon mine enemies and I will repay those who hase me. O Lord, raise me to Thy right hand and count me among Thy saints.", he prayed as he slew another demon.
Having finished most of his work in that area he returned to the Nexus through another arch stone, that was once guarded by an extremely powerful demon. It had not even resembled a human.
When he returned he was once again greeted by the Maiden in Black.
"Ascend the staircase. There, you will find the last surviving monumental. She will explain the Nexus to thee."
When he had finished the ascent, he saw a lone candle, and behind it, an emancipated figure. When he walked towards the monumental, it spoke.
"We have long awaited you, slayer of demons. I am one of the Monumentals. We preserve the fabric of reality. There is something thou need'st to know. Once, we too, a scourge of demons faced. In the distant past, under a benevolent rule the world was united, owing the the soul arts. Until, a lust for power caused the awakening of the Old One. Across the land seeped a colorless Deep Fog and the world faced extinction at the hands of the demons. Thanks be, we were able to lull the Old One back to its slumber, yet only after the loss of innumerable souls and half the world, lost... erased by the fog. In order to mend the fabric of what land still remained, we entrusted six elders with six precious Arch stones. One to the king of a small yet diligent land, one to the king of the borrowers underground, one to the wise queen of the great ivory tower, one to the chieftain of lost and ill-fortuned souls, one to the shaman of the tempest worshiping shadowmen, and the last to the great giants of the Northern Lands. The arch stones were placed at nodes across the earth. We contained the Old One inside this Nexus, and banned the soul arts. Finally, we became Monumentals: half-living sentinels of the fabric of reality. Alas, the other Monumentals have perished, and only I remain. Now it is your turn, you must lull the Old One back to its slumber, and seal it away for all eternity. If not, the Deep Fog will absorb all that we know. Have you the strength to accept this mission?"
"Yes, I'll do whatever it takes!", Dante replied firmly.
The time of waiting had past. Someone had to act and he would do it. He would do it to save the world, to protect his family. He must.
"Yes, we are fortunate indeed to have you. Now, go forth and destroy every last Demon. The Old One, without demons to feed it souls, will a new servant seek, and lure you to its lair below the Nexus. But be warned, the more demon's souls you obtain, the more demonic you yourself will become. So I ask you again, do you have the strength to accept this mission?", the monumental asked him again.
"I told you already, I would go to Hell in order to save the ones I love! I accept your challenge!"
"Very well, you may go.", the monumental said at last.
He knew what he had to do. He would have to continue through each of the arch stones and defeat the demons within. Not one could remain.
He struggled at first, starting with killing Old King Allant's finest warriors, he killed Alfred, the knight of the tower; Metas, the knight of the lance; and the brave tribesman, Long Bow Oolan and his fearsome legions. Then, he killed the Armor Spider and and then the fabled Flamelurker.
As their power invigorated his spirit, he could feel himself becoming stronger. He would need to be as strong as possible in order to defeat the enemies that lied ahead. But he could also feel a darker, more sinister intent in his heart. As the monumental's words about the dangers of the demon's souls echoed in his mind he pushed the thoughts aside. He must continue no matter the cost.
"If I am to become a demon in order to protect my family, then so be it!"he thought.
Along the way he met Ostrava of Boletaria several times, saving him from the terrible demons. He could even recall his words now.
"That was a bold jump! A surprise indeed! Well, now that you are here, pray thee, fend off these dreglings."
He had said that when Dante dove from the walkway above in order to kill the demons surrounding the frightened knight. After his rescue, Ostrava congratulated him and said he had matters to attend to with the king. Dante saw him on other occasions as well, saving him from almost certain death. The young knight was the son of King Allant, who had caused the baneful fog to engulf the land. He had refused to believe that the disparity that plagued Boletaria's people is what his father had wanted. Filled with grief and despair, Ostrava told Dante that he must continue his quest for he no longer could.
"My father is up above. Well, what's left of him, anyway. He's transformed into a fiendish demon. I began this quest in a search for truth, but it seems I was a fool to even try. Please kill my father. In his degenerated state, he can only bring peril to the lands. This key… fits the Boletaria mausoleum. Inside the mausoleum are my father's two swords, Soulbrandt and Demonbrandt. Use them to bring an end to this madness."
Having said his final words, Ostrava then committed suicide on his father's doorstep after offering Dante his belongings.
Following his death, Dante's resolve grew. He stormed the palace and killed the Old King Allant for what he had done and then the Dragon God of legends untold, a fool's idol, the maneater, the old monk who imprisoned his queen in the great ivory tower, the adjudicator, the Old Hero of myth, the Storm King, the leechmonger, a being named the Dirty Colossus, and finally, Maiden Astraea who gave her soul to the Old One in order the lessen the pain of the tortured demons.
At last, all of the demons were dead. Dante died many times, only to be revived by the Maiden in Black again. This did not mean he did not fear dying, because every time he was killed, it felt like he had died. It was real to him. Over and over again he would be put to the test when fear as cold as fire gripped him as he experienced excruciating pain when a spear or sword struck him a fatal blow. But he was fighting a war against time. He must stop the fog before it consumes the world, and with it, everyone he loved. Every time he died he could feel the time ticking away as more of the world was lost to the fog.
Having completed his task, the Maiden in Black made preparations for the journey below the Nexus. It was time.
"Hark, I hear a voice of yore. The Old One is calling for thee! Let us proceed below to its lair."
The Maiden in Black released a seal on the strange, glass portal from which he had been resurrected so many times. The Maiden in Black had come with the Old One and would leave with the Old One. Once they reached the Old One she would be able to lull it back to slumber and they would depart back into the fog.
With the seal gone, the glass broke, revealing an enormous hole that went down into darkness. As the Maiden in Black grabbed his hand and jumped over the edge, he had no choice but followed her. Dante would descend into the deepest layer of hell where the Old One awaited.
He found himself on a small beach with white sand and fog obscuring everything beyond the water. As he followed the Maiden in Black, he saw a gargantuan shape rise from the mist. It resembled and enormous worm encrusted with driftwood. It was a truly primeval demon, likely the first of its kind.
"Old One, I have brought thee what thou wisheth, thine new demon. Come now...be good..."
The Old One lowered its head revealing an opening at the top.
The Maiden in Black went in, seemingly undisturbed by the beast and Dante followed suit. As he hacked away at branches blocking their path, his mind wandered.
"What if I were to become a demon?", he thought, "I suppose it wouldn't be so bad, after all I would be king of the new world and obtain an enormous amount of demon's souls."
The enticing power of the demons souls was obviously having a profound affect on him. When they had found the end of the passage, there was a clearing with a large salamander blocking their path. He assumed it was none other that Old King Allant himself. He was very weak and could easily be killed.
"Don't you see? Our God is merciful. That is why he created the Old One." the salamander cried. "Because of humanity's own violence and suffering, the Old One is acting mercifully by putting an end to our tragic realm of existence!"
As the final blow was struck, Allant warned Dante for the final time.
"You fool...don't you understand? No one wishes to go on!"
The Maiden in Black ran forward now that the pitiful King Allant was dead. She began to lull the Old One back to its eternal slumber.
"The Old One and I will slumber interminably. That is the way it must be. Now begone, go back above to thine own world. The Nexus shall imprison thee no longer."
Now, he must make a choice. Has the land found its savior or have the demons found a new slave? And that was when Dante ran his sword through her back. He could feel the sword as it pierced her skin, then went deeper into her muscle and finally, her spine. She died almost instantly. But no so quickly so that she did not have time to turn her head around so he could see the puzzled expression on her face. When she collapsed he cruelly stepped on her head as he walked into the blinding light.
The Old One sensed a new and powerful demon by its side. The world would now be engulfed by the Deep Fog, but Dante would rather become a demon than become a wretched half-living monumental.
"Bring more souls!" said an unseen voice.