By the time Robert had returned to the castle, the sun was beginning to set. Giving no one the time to speak to him, Robert made his way through the castle to his own personal chamber, where he hung his coat and hat, and then sat on the side of his bed. With his head bowed low, Robert looked at his hands, which rested on his lap, and he sighed.
"I would truly do anything to save my master." Robert said to himself. "Even dabbling in dark arts, and making pacts with those who are outlawed in our fair land. I just hope this all works out for the best..."
After a few moments more of silence and contemplation, Robert rose from his bed and left his chambers. Making his way across the castle, Robert finally found himself before the door to the Baron's room once more. With a soft sigh, Robert rose his hand to the large wooden door and tapped his knuckles against it, causing a knock to echo through the room.
Following the weak reply of the Baron, Robert opened the door and walked in, seeing that the Baron, propped up by his pillows, sat and watched the sun setting over his region. Weakly, he turned his head to see Robert who approached his bed side, and then crouched down beside the bed. Robert watched as his master, with all of his effort, swallowed and then sighed before resting his head back.
"It is, as always, a beautiful evening." Edward announced quietly.
"Aye, that it is, my lord." Robert replied with a nod.
"Robert," Edward then said after some minutes silence, "where is Selia? I feel this is my final night of life, and I do not wish to be alone. I want my wife."
"No one has seen her, my lord." Robert answered. "But, I do bring you news. This will not be your final night of life! I have taken steps to secure a cure for your ailment."
"What are you babbling about, man?" Edward asked with a sigh. "There is no hope left for me, now. I thought you understood that. Accept it."
Before Robert could issue a response, there was a knock at the door, catching both Edward's and Robert's attention before the pair looked over the door. Robert then walked towards it, and opened it.
"Who is it, Robert?" Edward asked, with a tinge of hope in his voice. "Is it Selia?"
"No, sire." Robert answered. "Far better than that. It is the one who shall provide you with your cure!"
Edward watched Robert step aside, revealing to him what Robert said would be his saviour. Edward's eyes narrowed to see the cloaked figure that Robert had seen earlier in the day. Dressed in a long red cloak, Edward watched the four foot tall sorcerer approach his deathbed, carrying a large brown rucksack over his shoulder. He stopped, and placed the sack down with a resounding thump.
"Robert, explain this." Edward commanded with a frown as he ignored the small sorcerer.
"Forgive me, sire, but this sorcerer has assured me that he can cure you." Robert replied.
"Sorcerer?" Edward asked with a gasp. "You know they are outlawed in this region...I do not know, or care what goes on in other parts of the country, but here they are forbidden. You know this!"
"But Baron Willd," the sorcerer then started as he began to pull back his hood. "There is nothing to stop me wandering about this region, should you die."
Edward and Robert looked on in disbelief as they finally saw the sorcerer reveal his face. Deathly pale and gaunt, the sorcerer was also bald, save from a few strands of white hair which draped down the back of his skull. Pupil less eyes bore a hole right through Edward, who looked back to see that the sorcerer's pale and gaunt face was marred with small black tattoos- they were symbols, but what meaning they had was lost on the Baron. Finally, the sorcerer opened his mouth to speak again, revealing a slimy tongue, and only a few golden teeth in his mouth, while small skulls dangled from his large ears.
"Hmm, I sense your fear, Baron Willd." The sorcerer then announced. "I can sense that death causes your heart to be gripped with fear. Well, do not be afraid, my friend. I can help you."
"I refuse." Edward replied affirmatively. "I do not take kindly to witchcraft being performed in my land, especially when performed on me."
"A noble sentiment, I'm sure," the sorcerer answered. "But a stupid one. Allow me to show you what awaits you, just around the corner."
The sorcerer took another step forward and placed a pale, tattoo covered hand upon Edward's forehead. After a moment, Robert watched in fear to see the Baron's eyes widen as he gasped. Red energy took over the sorcerer's eyes, and Robert could see that he began to place the Baron in some kind of trace. Robert rushed forwards to attempt to stop the sorcerer, but he simply held his free hand out to Robert to stop him.
"Trust me, I am not hurting him." The sorcerer announced. "I am simply...educating him."
Robert looked on, guilt overtaking his soul as he wondered what kind of situation he actually placed his master under. But then, the sorcerer took his hand away from the Baron, who gasped once more, and with a blink, looked to the sorcerer, and then to Robert. Robert noted that Edward seem visibly shaken due to the trance he had been under.
"I...I saw it." Edward said to Robert in gasps.
"What did you see, sire?" Robert asked, after he quickly began to towel the Baron's head with a moist towel.
"The end of life itself." Edward wheezed in reply. "The abyss...The circles of hell, all of it. Even the devil himself."
"Not a pretty sight, is it?" The sorcerer asked as he began to fish through his bag. "Now you know what waits on the other side, I have to ask if your opinion on my skills has changed."
"I-I do not wish to die." Edward announced with fear. "Robert, I do not care what it takes- I cannot die and spend an eternity in the abyss, I just can't!"
"Do not worry, sire, you shan't!" Robert replied with an assuring smile. "The sorcerer shall make sure you don't."
During this time, the sorcerer had pulled out some things which he needed to prepare to save Baron Willd from his fate. He had retrieved several small resin red pentangles, and scurried about the room, placing them in several places, before he then retrieved a large, worn leather book from his bag, which he opened to a certain page, and then placed on The Baron's bed. The sorcerer then took some more items from his bag- small skulls, with red candles in them, which he placed about the room and lit, before then withdrawing something covered in brown hide cloth from his bag. Robert then noticed for the first time since the sorcerer entered that he carried a quarterstaff on his back, which he then removed and held in his left hand.
"Everything is in readiness." The sorcerer announced. "Baron Willd, all I need you to do now is relax, and allow me to to read from my book. Both of you, do not be alarmed if...strange phenomena begins."
Robert stood at Edward's bedside, and the pair watched while the sorcerer began to read from his book, chanting the scriptures aloud in a strange, unrecognizable language. While he continued to speak, Robert noticed that the pleasant scene of the sunset outside was suddenly taken over by a dark, blackened sky. The trees just outside the castle grounds began to thrash violently, leading Robert to believe a great wind was picking up, and then suddenly, there was a crash of thunder, and a flash of lightning, followed by rain, which began to pelt against the windows of the castle which such force they almost threatened to break through the glass.
"I have opened the channel!" The sorcerer cried aloud, his voice now echoing. "All we need to be granted an audience with he is a blood sacrifice."
"Blood sacrifice?" Edward wheezed. "What do you mean?"
The sorcerer opened his pupil less eyes and looked towards the two men before him once more. His lips curled greatly, while his hairless brow drooped, giving away an evil smile as his few golden teeth sparkled from the lightning storm which continued outside.
"Why, I need the blood of a mortal to pacify my Lord, so that we may be granted an audience with him."
"You didn't tell me to bring someone." Robert then stated to the sorcerer. "Who are we supposed to use for such a purpose?"
"I would have thought it would be obvious." The sorcerer said with a glare towards Robert.
Robert's eyes widened after the realization had hit him. He took a step back, and then looked down to his lord, the Baron, who simply now looked up to him with anticipation etched on his dying face. Robert could sense that the Baron Edward Willd had no qualms with the proposition that the sorcerer had just implied, and with that, Robert began to back away from the Baron's bedside and made his way towards the door slowly, now in fear for his own life.
"Sire, you can't be serious..." Robert gulped. "I am your most loyal and obedient servant. If I die, who shall replace me and cater to your every need?"
"Robert," Edward began softly. "I have just seen things- things that no man should pay witness to. I was scared of my death before, but now I know what awaits me, I cannot accept that. I must escape it. You said you would serve me, no matter what the wish was, you would always do it. You have been such a good servant to me for many a year, and now I wish for you to continue with your faultless servitude. Give yourself, so that I may live, like a good servant to your master!"
Robert whimpered, and then quickly turned as he began to make his escape. But, before he could, his eyes widened in fear to see that the small sorcerer had appeared before him in a flash. Gripping the object covered in cloth, the sorcerer, with his small, pale hands, tore the material from the object, revealing it to be a blood stained, rusty blade. Seeing the blade, Robert turned around and attempted to run, but before he could, the sorcerer leaped into the air, grabbed Robert by the hair on the back of his head and plunged the blade through his back, allowing the rusty dagger to pierce the man's heart, not stopping until the blade poked out of the other side, through his chest.
Robert gargled and his eyes became lifeless as blood now spewed from his mouth. Blood also spurted violently from his chest, covering the Baron's bed sheets. With Robert now dead, the sorcerer released his grip of Robert, and landed feet first on the floor as the Baron's servant dropped to the floor. Quickly, the sorcerer began to gather up some more blood on his blade, before he then made his way over to Edward, who closed his eyes upon seeing Robert's dead body collide with the floor.
"Do not feel remorse." The sorcerer announced to Edward. "One life for another. It is the way life is. I can see you wish to avoid death, and this is the only way."
The Baron continued to lie in his bed, now frightened for his own life. Even though this sorcerer had promised that he would save his life, Edward couldn't help but wonder if it was a ruse to simply to get to him? He had outlawed sorcery under his rule, and this could be the perfect way to extract revenge, or maybe even take his region from him...But, such thoughts were pushed from his mind, when Edward watched the sorcerer smear Robert's blood over his face. Edward tried to resist, but the sorcerer pushed Edward down into the bed and continued to allow Robert's blood to run over Edward's face, before he then used the blade to smear the blood into small symbols on his withered features.
"What are you doing?" Edward wheezed. "Release me!"
"Shut up, fool." The sorcerer hissed. "This is part of the ritual! If you wish to be saved, then let me do what must be done!"
Edward now felt a surge of panic, as well that of concern rush through his body as he looked to the sorcerer, who stepped up onto the bed with sandal clad feet, where he stood above Edward's torso, with his feet either side of him. With his panic continuing to build, Edward attempted to sit up so that he might try to escape, but the sorcerer kicked him back down onto the bed before he raised the bloody blade up into the air.
"No, no, stop!" Edward weakly exclaimed. "I cannot do this."
"You must," the sorcerer replied coldly. "The ritual is already underway. Besides, we wouldn't want your servant's sacrifice to be in vain."
Edward whimpered slightly before he turned his head to see Robert's bloody, dead corpse which lay in a heap on the wooden floor with blood continuing to leak from the heavy wounds to his dead body. Suddenly, a bright light filled the room, catching Edward's attention before he turned to look back to the sorcerer, who now held a glowing dagger over his head. He began to cry aloud words that seemed like gibberish to Edward, and as he continued to chant, the blade continued to glow with more power.
"Now, my Lord," the sorcerer began in a deeper, more booming voice, "with your sacrifice being given to you, I ask that you take this soul to the bowels of hell, so that he might be granted an audience with you, face-to-face!"
"Noooooo!" Edward cried with wide eyes.
But it was too late for the Baron Edward Willd to do a thing to stop the sorcerer from finishing his evil ritual. Keeping the blade held tightly in his hands, the sorcerer violently threw his arms forwards, allowing the blade to plunge from up above his head, down towards the bed where Edward's body lay, blade first. When he found his arms had reached as far as they could, he dropped to his knees, violently landed on Edward's stomach as he plunged the blade deep within Edward's chest. The terminally ill Baron let out a bone chilling cry, along with a final gasp of air. Blood spurted from his chest, where it splattered against the sorcerer's hood, as well as raining down onto the sheets of Edward's bed, with Edward now laying, dying in his own blood.
"Do not fear," were the last, echoing words Edward began to hear. "Once you meet my master, I guarantee you will return to the land of the living..."
The form of the sorcerer began to blur until it was nothing more than a blur to Edward, but as his eyes began to close for the final time, the dying man was sure he could see an evil red glint illuminate from in the darkness of the sorcerer's hood. Then, all went black and silent...
The tranquility of the dark, and the lull of silence seemed to last but a split second for Edward, for as soon as the dark had taken over his sight, a bright flash suddenly appeared before his sight, before the silence was broken by a terrifying sound. It was strangely alien, as Edward had never heard such a sound before, but after a moment, he considered that it resembled screams- screams of one being tortured, or perhaps killed? A moment later, his question was answered, for his vision returned, and what met Edward caused his body to quiver with the feeling that he was going to faint as he stood on a ledge, where he seemed to be looking down into a gigantic pit. Flames billowed up from out of the pit, where in between the flames, Edward could see the many twisted forms of mutilated bodies, as they were seemingly being tortured by strange creatures. Some were furry, others seemed to be made of metal. Some were completely black, as if they were beings of shadows, and others resembled gremlins. Whatever they were, Edward looked down upon them with horror, as well as loathing to see that they cruelly tortured their victims physically, while they tormented them verbally, or with false promises that the beatings would stop after one more lashing...only for the wicked creatures to snicker s they continued.
"Where by the grace of God am I?" Edward asked, seemingly in a trance while he looked down into the fiery pit of torture.
"You are where all the damned are doomed to come." A great, deep voice announced.
With his eyes widened in surprise, Edward slowly turned around, where the image that met his sight caused his legs to tremble for a few moments before they then gave way, causing the Baron to drop to his rear on the stone ground that he had been standing upon. With wide eyes, Edward whimpered as he looked to see that his surroundings resembled a rocky wasteland. Scattered among the wasteland were large openings, much like the pit Edward had looked down into, which spat flames out of them as screams and cries echoed from out of each pit. The sky was a blood red, but black and purple clouds bubbled in the sky, with white flashes of lightning appearing with no warning, giving the already dreadful place and eerie warm glow. Finally, Edward's gaze rested on the gigantic figure sitting what looked to be a throne, which was carved into the side of a large, fire and rock covered rock face.
The figure, the most frightening individual that Edward had ever seen sat in his large throne. He was a giant, at a height that Edward had figured was fifteen feet tall, or large. The body of this figure was heavily muscled from head to hoof, with a red covered skin. Horns protruded from his head, while bangs of thick, black hair hung over his horns, and the rest of his skull, while black eyes with red pupils bore a hole through Edward, still on his backside before this giant. The giant wore no clothes, but thick dark fur seemed to cover the area where his modesty would be, if, Edward figured, the giant was even a male at all. All Edward knew was that this being was the most fear inspiring being he had ever seen in his life- so much so, that he felt his blood seemed to run cold, despite the intense heat that the flames in this place generated. All the things that Edward could see- the fiery pits, the blood red sky, the fire, the brimstone, the tortured souls, as well as the giant before him allowed Edward to know exactly where he was...
"Yo-..." Edward shakily began. "I mean, this is...This is Hades?"
"Yes." The giant replied with a large grin that exposed his sharp teeth. "I doubt I need to introduce myself to you, peasant."
"You're the devil?" Edward asked while his body continued to tremble.
"Hm, indeed." The giant announced. "And you, Edward Willd requested an audience with me, didn't you. Your sacrifice has earned you this time with me, so I shall ask you...What do you wish from me?...You don't have to tell me, for I already know! You fear death, don't you, Edward Willd? Yesss," The Devil continued, licking its fangs. "Coming here is your worst nightmare. Well, unfortunately for you, the sacrifice you have given has merely ensured that your fate lay with coming to the very bowels of hell."
Edward felt terror grip his heart, causing him to tremble more violently than before. His mouth was agape, wide open as whimpers began to leave his voice. He sunk further to the ground, where his head touched the rock as he continued to whimper, while the Devil simply sat, watching Edward's suffering with great delight. He continued to observe Edward, perversely enjoying the man's terror for a few moments more before he spoke again.
"Hmm, although," The Devil began, "perhaps you don't have to be bound to an eternity here."
"I...I don't?" Edward stuttered as he looked up towards The Devil, who grinned.
"No." The Devil answered. "I do not grant such opportunities to anybody, but you seem as if you could be...useful to me, Edward Willd."
"What do I have that I could possibly offer you?" Edward asked, now on his knees, while he motioned with his frail arms towards the one whom he feared.
"You may have a lot to offer me, old one." The Devil replied. "I am bound here for eternity. I am unable to leave, which is a pity, as these mortals who walk the living realm do not deserve such a luxury. Since the beginning, I have strived for a way that I could accomplish my ascension since being banished here, but there is no way for me to do it...But that doesn't stop me sending a soul back to the mortal realm if I so choose. However, no one has ever seemed to have the...resistance to come here, nor the desperation. But you- you have proven how desperate you are to escape death's cold hand as you sacrificed a dear friend, and doomed him forever. Also, your resistance to me is strong, I can feel it. Yes, Edward Willd, you my chosen one. If I were to grant you life once more, all I ask for in return is that you fulfill my mission in the land of the living for me. Make every single being in the other life suffer immeasurably! Torture them unrelentingly, give them no quarter, and quite simply, make their lives a living hell! Their suffering would nourish me, and the more souls sent here to be subjected to my wicked ways would make my legions stronger also! Perhaps someday, I would gain enough strength to break free from my shackles to rise up and conquer the other world, as I had attempted to once before. Yes! It would be glorious, and you, Edward Willd could be the one to make it happen! All you have to do is agree."
"Work for you?" Edward asked in breathless awe.
"Indeed," The Baron replied with a grin. "If you agree to it, I will let you return to the living, and you will never have to see this dreadful place ever again."
The Devil's promise was like music to Edward's ears! He could cheat death, escape the fate that he was destined to face and all he had to do was say yes. His soul was alive with eagerness, but as he stood to agree to the terms, Edward then frowned before he looked towards the ground. He thought about his subjects in the land he ruled, as well as his close friends, and most importantly of all, his wife, Selia. His heart sank with the thought, and so he looked to The Devil sadly.
"No..." Edward sighed. "No, I cannot accept that offer. While I do not wish to remain here, your bargain would mean that I essentially take Hell with me, correct? I do not wish to subject the people of the world I know and love to such a fate. Most of all, I could never do that to Selia. It would be wrong of me to allow her to suffer such a horrific thing, just so that I may escape your clutches, Devil. The vows of my marriage are too strong for that! No, you will simply have to subject me to your infinite damnation like all these other poor souls. I cannot help you!"
The Devil sighed with a close mouthed, which instead of a sigh, it resembled a low, booming growl. The Devil leaned back in the throne, thinking quietly for a moments before a small grin crossed his lips again, then The Devil leaned forwards out of the throne.
"Ah, that is quite a selfless act. I must say, I respect your bravery, you poor soul. But, I do ask you to reconsider and think again, Edward Willd. Are you sure this woman you call your wife is worth an eternity of damnation?"
"There is no need to think." Edward announced with a frown. "I would forfeit my life for her, as well as my very soul."
Now The Devil frowned, before another sigh echoed through the air. The Devil looked to the sky, seemingly deep in thought before The Devil's gaze was fixed back on Edward with a look of regret.
"You poor, pathetic human." The Devil said with a look of disdain. "I'm afraid she cannot say the same for you."
"What do you mean?" Edward asked, as the grin returned to The Devil's face.
"What if I were to tell you that the reason you're here is because of her?"
"I don't follow." Edward said quietly.
"Very well." The Devil said with a sigh. "Let me show you."
Raising a hand into the air, The Devil then waved it in circles, and with that act, a part of the red sky seemed to literally tear, making way for a large black abyss, circular in its form. Edward looked up to the hole, flinching from the loud, tearing sound that the act had made. Suddenly, pinpricks of light appeared in the abyss, before the small drops of light began to expand, filling the abyss with a bright white glow. Then, a blurry image appeared in the hole in the sky. There were a mixture of colours now filling the void also, and Edward watched on with confusion as he saw the image before him become a bedroom. On the bed, a woman sat, wearing nothing but white silk underwear. She unrecognizable to Edward as her face was hidden from view, instead facing another person's face as they were pressed together in a kiss. The other person, a man, who was also half dressed had his hands resting on the woman's hips, while moans of pleasure came from her. Edward watched with puzzlement for a few seconds more, before his eyes widened. A gasp escaped his lips, and once again, the Baron fell to his backside, for when the two seeming lovers took their lips away from one another, Edward could see that the pair were in fact his wife, Selia Willd, and his most loyal knight, Guyn. Tears began to fill his eyes while the pair began to have a short conversation.
"I feel uneasy about this, Guyn," Selia began. "He isn't even dead yet."
"But he will be soon." Guyn announced with a grin. "The poison I administered to his food and drink won't keep him alive for much longer. Then we can become open with our relationship, and along with that, I shall take my place as the new Baron."
"We cannot simply announce it as soon as he's dead." Selia replied. "What would the subjects think? It would seem rather obvious, wouldn't it?"
"Not if you don't give them any suspicious." Guyn stated as he rubbed the sides of her torso. "Come now, dear, do not be afraid. I thought this is what you wanted."
"It is!" Selia cried with no uncertainty in her voice. "I have longed for you for years, Guyn!"
"And I you." Guyn smiled. "The people will understand. A young woman cannot be a widow forever. They will be happy for you that you've found another. Give it a month after his death, then. Will that do?"
"Yes." Selia replied with a smile after a short pause. "Yes, that is what we'll do."
The pair kissed once more, and with that, the image disappeared, while the abyss closed up, allowing the sky to show in its wake once more. Grinning from the throne, The Devil looked at Edward, who was once again face down in the stone, his hands clutching his head as he whined incoherently. The revelation had been too much for him to bare. The very fact the one person he loved most in life had seemingly conspired with one of his most trusted friends to callously end his life so that they could have their own selfish way shattered his soul.
"What do you have to say now?" The Devil asked.
Edward's whines ceased, before they turned to quiet chuckles, which after a few moments more, the chuckles turned into a crazed laughter. The Devil watched to see Edward rise to his feet, now a ghostly white as dark purple bags surrounded his eyes. He seemed to lose all mental stability as he laughed, looking to The Devil with an unnerved look on his face.
"My life is over..." Edward laughed to The Devil, who simply grinned in response. "Very well! You want me to become your servant, then I shall. Do what you will! I choose to side with you now. Damn Selia, damn Guyn, damn everyone!"
"Then we have an agreement." The Devil announced.
Edward watched with a twisted, crazed smile as The Devil rose from the throne, glaring down at Edward. With an arm now raised, The Devil pointed an index finger towards Edward as a beam of red light flew from the finger, where it collided with Edward's body, causing the old man to let out a scream, louder than any of the others in the pits of hell as it echoed. Edward felt as if the fires of hell themselves were coursing through his body, while The Devil looked on to see that Edward's skin began to slowly peel on his body, before flakes of it began to fall to the ground.
"You are now my agent of darkness, Baron Willd," The Devil announced. "In return for your service, I grant you with a sum of my powers, which will be more enough for you to carry out your mission. Go now, return to the living as you wished, but ensure you serve me well!"
Flames washed over Edward's sight, while The Devil began to laugh, with the laugh soon echoing as the flames engulfed Edward before a flash fell before Edward's eyes. Quickly, his sight returned, but in place of the fire and rocks of hell, Edward saw the familiar ceiling of his room, where he let out a gasp before he sat up in fright, expecting to see the sorcerer standing above him with a still bloody blade, but Edward sighed with slight peace when he noticed that the sorcerer had disappeared.
"Just a dream..." Edward softly spoke. "It must have all been a feverish dream."
Edward rested his head back on his pillows before he then closed his eyes once again, preparing to return to sleep, but when he closed his eyes, he puckered his lips in irritation as the inside of his mouth dry- dryer than it he had ever known it to be before in fact. He also seemed to have the taste of ash in his mouth, which caused him to open his eyes with a frown, and with his head resting on the pillow towards the left of his room, Edward let out a scream after he opened his eyes to see that the bloodied corpse of Robert continued to lie on the wooden floor beneath him.
"Oh my God!" Edward cried, now unhinged. "It was true! All of it..."
Edward rolled out of the bed, quickly crawling across the floor to the corpse of his friend before Edward took Robert's limp head in his hand. Robert's eyes were wide open with terror, while his mouth lay open also from the scream that came from his lips as he met his end, leaving an exact horrifying image of his last seconds alive for Edward to see. With a sigh, Edward pressed his fingers against Robert's eyelids, pushing them down so he closed Robert's eyes shut. Then, he began to pull his fingers back, only for shock to hit his soul as he saw some of his skin, which now seemed more withered than before stick to Robert's eyelids so that it peeled off his fingers.
Edward's hands began to tremble while he inspected them. Curiously, he ran the fingers of his right hand over his left palm where to his horror, he saw that his skin came off easily under his fingers before Edward once again let out another scream of terror from seeing his skin literally tear away from his body. Quickly, the Baron rose to his feet, where he scrambled for the mirror that stood in his bedroom, not realizing that earlier on, doing such an action would have been impossible for the ill man, but with the horror of his skin falling from his hands and fingers, Edward had no time to ponder how he had regained his strength. Now standing in front of the mirror, Edward noticed that the skin on his face was also as withered as that on his hands. Slowly, he lifted his right hand to his cheek, allowing his fingers to press against his cheek, dragging them down his face where once again, skin peeled from his face. He expected to see blood and muscle underneath his skin, like he had been taught by his teachers when he was a boy, but Edward was astonished to see nothing by bone lay underneath his skin. Nausea washed over Edward, who lowered to his knees, resting his head against the mirror. In a panic, he felt like he should be breathing hard, but suddenly realized that he was actually no longer breathing air through his nose or mouth.
"What's...what's happening to me?" Edward asked himself.
Then, Edward lifted his forehead from the glass of the mirror, so that he could to his reflection once more, but at the exact moment he did, he caught sight of his mirror image twisting, transforming into the evil face of The Devil. With a scream, Edward leaped back from the mirror, landing harshly on his tail bone before he lifted an index finger towards the mirror, his finger trembling violently.
"Oh, come now," The Devil began with a glare. "Don't tell me you've already forgotten the deal we made."
"It wasn't a dream..." Edward breathed.
"Correct. It wasn't." The Devil spat, the glare now becoming a furious gaze. "Therefore, you have something to do for me, and I won't stand for this nonsense."
Edward looked towards the reflection to see The Devil's hands come towards The Devil's face, with he evil features in the mirror changing to false upset as The Devil then spoke in a whiney voice.
"Oh gosh, what's happening to me? Oh no, mother, help me. Protect from the nasty mirror, wah, wah, wah! Shut your cowardly mouth, idiot! I put you back up there so that you may serve me! Don't make me remind you what awaits you if you need to come back...Besides..." The Devil's furious look shifted back to its usual evil grin. "I believe that head guard of yours is currently in his chambers, fucking your wife. Why don't you ponder that for a moment and see how that makes you feel."
Slowly, heeding The Devil's words, Edwards look of fright slowly and smoothly slipped into a glare of his own. With his eyebrows sloping downwards, while his now ash coloured teeth gritted together, Edward tightened his fists as he felt anger begin to bubble up within the pit of his stomach. The Devil noticed the change in Edward, then allowed the evil grin to grow.
"Yes, that's better isn't it, Edward? Perhaps we should allow you to test out that new found power I gave you. Come, enough with this nonsense. Rise, my pet, and see yourself in your true form!"
Edward watched The Devil swipe an arm across the mirror, before the image of The Devil turned into a red flash of light as he disappeared. Now standing, Edward looked to the mirror, and was shocked to no longer see withered, ash coloured skin. Instead, standing before him in his bed wear as an evil, grey skeleton laying beneath the silk of his garments. The strands of hair that remained on his head were now completely gone, along with any and every speck of skin from his body. He tried to blink, but noticed he couldn't, and for the first time, he realized that his eyeballs were gone also, instead a pair of large, red orbs, which bubbled like thunder clouds hovered in the eye sockets. Edward half expected himself to scream, so he was surprised when he felt he didn't. Instead he simply peered at his reflection for a few moments longer, then he looked towards his hands, seeing them to be nothing but a collection of bones. Wanting to see his arms, Edward gripped the left sleeve of his night shirt tightly, then pulled it, where it easily tore off, which caused Edward to laugh when he saw the bones that formed his arm, run allow the way up to a boney shoulder.
"Well now, this is interesting." Edward spoke softly to himself, now noticing his voice was deeper. "But how are these 'powers' supposed to work?"
All you need to do is think about what you would like to do... a voice whispered through his head.Think it, and it will happen...
So that is exactly what Edward did. As he rose his right hand up into the air, he though about how he would like to see a ball of fire appear in his palm- only it couldn't be just a ball of fire, it had to be a green ball of fire. Then, with a poof, a green flicker whisped just above his palm, which caused Edward's red eyes to glow in surprise as he watched the whisp ignite into an illuminate ball of green flames.
"Ahahaha!" Edward laughed. "It works!"
Amazed at the green ball of fire, a realization hit the lich while he stood in the middle of his bedroom. A pair of traitors were currently in his castle, believing to have gotten the better of a poor old fool, but the Baron wasn't prepared to allow them to think that they had bested him for a second longer. Without care, Edward thrust his arm out to his side, causing the green fireball to fly from his palm, where it struck the dead Robert's body, engulfing Robert's body in a green glow, before Robert's body quickly turned to dust, allowing a clear path for Edward, who left his bedroom with no remorse.
Finding himself out of the privacy of his chamber, Edward suddenly wondered what may happen if his subjects were to see an animated dead body walking through about the corridors of his castle. No doubt, he though, if one was to scream at the sight, Guyn would no doubt investigate the matter, which would spoil Edward's plan of vengeance. No, he wanted to catch the traitors in the midst of their treacherous deeds, so with thought, Edward wished for himself to disappear like a shadow engulfed in the light. Slowly, his appearance faded, until he had fully disappeared from view, then he swiftly walked through the castle, passing his former subjects, who walked with no idea that they were even being watched by their former master. Eventually, Edward arrived outside of Guyn's chambers. Looking around he noticed that he didn't have even a single guard outside of his door, which Edward figured was because he didn't wish anyone, even a loyal subordinate to see him enter with Selia in tow.
Thinking that he needed to be stealthy in every possible way, Edward imagined himself to be able to walk through the large wooden door that blocked his path to Guyn's room. So, as he walked forwards, his body simply phased through the oak of the door, where he now stood, still invisible just in front of the door. His eyes surged with power to see the traitors- his wife and his loyal guard lying on the bed together, their bodies locked together as they continued to celebrate their triumph over the old Baron, blissfully unaware that Edward watched. Anger burned through Edward's body to the point he almost shook from he fury, but he didn't want to make himself known just yet. Instead, he simply stood, watching them, until they finished their ill deed.
As Guyn and Selia sighed happily, Edward watched Guyn roll off from Selia's body, where the pair lay on their backs, naked, glistening with sweat. Now was the time Edward decided to make his appearance, so he quickly made himself visible to all mortal eyes once more, only to scoff slightly as the pair hadn't noticed him yet. However, a quick word from his mouth caused them to jump in fright.
"Well now, I didn't realize being the Baron's leading guard gave him these kinds of privileges."
The pair sat up in the bed, with Selia immediately letting out a cry of fright before she gripped the silk sheets of the bed tightly.
"Oh my God, what is that?!" She screamed.
"Hm, it's nice to see you again too." Edward said softly.
Guyn quickly leaped from the bed, catching Edward's attention. While he noticed that Guyn had a look of intensity on his face as he reached for the foot of the bed, where he grabbed and unsheathed his sword, Edward could actually feel he fear in both of them- with Guyn perhaps having more fear in his soul than Selia.
"Do not fear darling, I shall protect you!" Guyn roared.
Immediately, the guard, still naked, charged for the lich that stood before him as he raised his sword high into the air, preparing to attempt to take the evil creature down with a valiant strike. However, he found his plan of attack to be for nothing due to the creature raising a palm towards the charging guard. Within a second, a ball of blue energy shot from his palm, where it collided with Guyn's running legs and exploded. The force of the explosion didn't damage the floor beneath him, but Guyn found himself thrown violently off his feet, where he collided with a painted which adorned the southern wall, then slowly dropping to the ground painfully.
"How admirable that sentiment was." Edward scoffed , looking towards Guyn. "Such sentiment will be your undoing, traitor!"
"Wh-who are you?" Selia asked with a tremble in her voice.
Edward focused his attention towards Selia. He looked to the woman, seeing that she had quickly slipped herself under the silk sheets so that she was no longer completely before this strange, evil creature. Edward saw her eyes were almost popping from out of her head, with her body trembling violently from the fear which Edward could feel strongly coming from her as if radiated off of her. Curiously, Edward felt as if the fear seemed to empower him in a physical sense, actually making him feel stronger than before. But, he didn't pay any mind to that for the moment, instead, he had a question to answer.
"Oh come now," Edward spoke before he took a pace forward, causing Selia to cower further. "You should recognize me, my dear. After all, what I am is simply the machinations of your own bastard treachery!"
Selia looked towards the lich for a few moments more, before she gulped.
"My God..." she began. "Edward...Is that you?"
"Mmm-hm. In the flesh," Edward began, "or perhaps, more like out of it, hahaha..."
"What has happened to you?" Selia asked. "You...you look dead."
"That's what you and the bastard were looking to do, isn't it?" Edward asked. "Well, I must say, you succeeded...somewhat. Unfortunately for you, the only person in my inner circle who seemed yo actually look out for me was my faithful servant, Robert. He saw to it that if I died, I would return to the land of the living. I made a little deal with the Devil, my dear, and now, even though you poisoned me, I have cheated my fate. But you won't be so lucky..."
"How did I know?!" Edward snapped in interuption. His anger was such that thunder seemed to boom outside the castle. The door to the bedroom seemed to open, then slam shut while Edward's eyes glowed brighter with power.
"I know everything, you betraying bitch!" Edward roared. "I know all about your sordid affair, as well as your plans to reveal yourselves as the new Baron and Baroness of my land! Well, while you were close to succeeding, I'm afraid I have news for you. Your destiny shall take a different path now. One that I shall personally see to!"
Guyn groaned. Shaking his head slowly, the man raised his head, only for his eyes to widen in horror to see Edward walk towards the bed, which made Selia let out a terrifying shriek as she hunched up against the headrest of the bed, attempting to put as much distance between her and Edward as possible. Guyn looked on to see that with a wave of his hand, Edward somehow caused the silk sheets of the bed to fly off the bed and Selia's form, where they hovered up in the air then seemed to stick to the ceiling. Edward lashed out, grabbing Selia tightly by the throat with a skeletal hand. With a violent jerk, Edward pulled Selia from the bed, where he held her up in the air, simply glaring towards her, with Selia kicking, crying and screaming in reaction to it all.
"The only man faithful to me was served with death," Edward callously snickered to his now estranged wife. "If Robert received that, what do you think lies for you?"
Guyn couldn't take it any longer. Despite being wrapped in terror, Guyn rose to his knees, grabbed his sword once more, then he sprung from his knees, rushing towards Edward again, his sword poised and ready to strike. What happened next shocked the guard as he didn't see Edward look to him, but with quick reflexes as if he had watched in wait, Edward snapped a hand out into Guyn's face, with the palm slamming into Guyn's nose. Immediately, Guyn fell on his back to the floor. A tingling ran from his face, where it began to travel through his body, before the feeling increased one hundred fold so that it felt as if his entire body was on fire. Quickly, the naked man began to writhe on the floor in agony, which drew a laugh from Edward, who continued to look up at his helpless victim.
"Goodbye." Was the single word to come from Edward's mouth.
Selia looked down towards the evil being that was now her husband. She closed her eyes, fearing the worst, which immediately happened. Even though Edward's hands or arms were free from her body, she suddenly felt a great pressure begin to press down onto her body. Her diaphragm was compressed, tighter and tighter, until it went past the point of safety before a loud shattering of bones could be heard. Selia wanted to let out a scream of pain, which would have only revealed but a fraction of the true pain she was currently being forced to endure, but she found herself unable to let out any air to scream. She opened her eyes for a final time, while Edward looked to her as his hand glowed a dark red. He continued to look to her, noticing a red shine taking her body for a moment, before her now deformed body, due to the broken bones began to change. Immediately, he hair fell from out of her head and her skin began to turn grey, turning a darker shade with every second, until her skin was finally as black as coal. Her open eyes began to melt, dripping in a vile white substance down the front of her now black body before Edward released his grip of her, and her body dropped to the floor, where it shattered into a million bits. With Selia now dead, Edward turned his attention back to Guyn, who was hunched over before Edward on the floor.
"You...you evil bastard," Guyn groaned panfully. "You really must have gone to hell to come back so cruel."
"Don't you talk to me about such things." Edward sneered. "You have no right to judge me after what you've done."
"Well...Go on, get on with it." Guyn announced. "Kill me, like you did her. That's what you want!"
"Is it?" Edward purred. "Oh, I don't know about that, Guyn. She got off easily, in my eyes. But you won't, oh no. You see, she was a passionate young woman who had needs, so I suppose I could have seen that if I had chosen to. But you...Oh, I know that you knew what you were doing. You were manipulative, and you calculated every move before you made it. It takes a true piece of filth to do such a thing to a man who gave you everything- including his wife, obviously. You shan't escape your penance by dying. Come here..."
With that, Edward, stronger than ever reached down for Guyn, who was helpless and continued to stay hunched before his former master. Edward wrapped his bony fingers around Guyn's throat tightly, forcing Guyn to look up towards him, as suddenly, a new pain began to wash through his body. Strangely, he felt as if his body was being pulled from head to toe, as if he were on a torture rack, but as he felt that, he also felt as if his arms were being melted into his torso as his legs were almost being melted together, as best as he could tell through the pain. He felt his skin begin to change, somehow. This process lasted for several agonizingly long minutes, with Edward forcing Guyn to look at him for every second, then finally, Edward released his grip from Guyn, who landed on the floor with a thud. Guyn felt different, but he was too dazed for the moment to look at himself, as instead, he heard Edward talk to him.
"You treacherous snake. Death would've meant that I was merciful on you, and I don't intend to ever show you mercy, you sickening creature. But, you can atone for your sins against your master. The first step to your redemption has begun with the changing of your skin. Why don't you see for yourself?"
Guyn opened his eyes for the first time, looking to see that Edward held a mirror before him. Guyn blinked then looked into the mirror, but saw nothing unusual. His handsome facial features were what they once were, caused Guyn to frown with confusion...But then, The Baron began to pull the hand mirror, allowing Guyn to see his body in full, where his eyes widened tearfully to see that his body had changed. He no longer had arms, nor did he have legs. His body had become long and tubular, with his legs being replaced with a tail. His skin was now replaced with scales, everywhere, except for his face, which have remained normal. Involuntarily, Guyn felt his tongue flicker from his human face, to see that it was a forked tongue. Edward had turned Guyn into a perverse amalgamation of human and snake.
"My lord, what have you done to me?!" Guyn cried tearfully. "I'm a freak!"
"Well now, snake, I thought might like your new appearance." Edward snickered before the giant form of Guyn, who was now actually a creature known as a Naga. "Actually, you vain little shit, I knew desecrating your 'beautiful' body would be a painful blow to you. So, I turned you into what you actually are- one big snake in the grass."
Edward looked away from the crying Naga before him, turning his attention to the room as he placed his hands on his hips, seemingly scrutinizing the room.
"This entire castle needs to change. It needs to reflect the rebirth of Baron Edward Willd."
With a wave of Edward's hand, he and Guyn watched as the interior of the room changed. The walls began to decay, with damp stains immediately running over the stone walls, along with fungus which sprouted up from the drab, damp walls. The same happened to the wooden floors, with cracks appearing in the floor. Paintings turned into smudged, horrific forms, with the glass of the pictures shattering while the frames turned to splinters. The drapes, furnishings and flags that adorned the walls became torn and turned to tatters as the entire room seemed to turn dreary and dark. As his process happened in the room he currently stood in, Edward knew that the same thing was happening through the entire castle, as if a wave of death surged through the castle unrelenting, turning the castle into nothing more than a dead shell of what it once was, as each of the servants and other people who were in the castle immediately dropped dead, along with the brickwork and everything else in the castle, with their bodies immediately turning to dust. Sensing that the evil force had finally run through the entire castle, Edward looked back towards the still sobbing Naga below him.
"It is a new day in my Kingdom, worm." Edward began. "I think with a new day and a new form, you need a new name. Hm...Ah, I believe I have it- the name Serpantus will do. That is what you shall be known as from now on. You are no longer the bastard Guyn, he died with that bitch over there. Do you understand, Serpantus?"
Feeling powerless before his master, and with his soul crushed over what he had become, Guyn, or Serpantus as he was now known felt he could do nothing but quietly nod before Edward, who emitted an evil grin in return.
"Excellent." Edward looked out of the window of the bedroom. Plans began to dance through his new, evil mind as he realized that he needed to begin work on the labour that his own master, The Devil had charged him with. He would the world suffer in the name of the Dark Lord, and he would do so with no quarter given.
Then, through the twisted deeds he began to concoct, Edward had a thought. His eyes glowing brighter from the thought, Edward looked back to Serpantus once more, the grin never leaving his skeletal face.
"One more thing, Serpantus..." he began. "You will know me as The Baron of Darkness..."