The Unspoken Promise
of Andrakus, Lord of Evil, who ruled with an iron fist of cruelty.
A lord hated and feared by his subjects, but no-one dared to remove
him, as he was rich and had an elite bodyguard, dressed in black
like the heart of their master, whose loyalty was bought with
gold, and secured by magic from his court sorcerer, Prevan, a
known user of the black arts and collaborator with demons.
His castle, populated only by the
most trusted individuals, overlooked a land of famine and hardship.
Peasants were forbidden to own land, and worked in the king’s
fields for meagre pay, which was heavily taxed to pay the overseers
that kept the peasants in like and removed any that showed signs
of rebellion. Those who harboured thoughts of revolt were found
out, and slowly killed in the most gristly manner in the centre
of their village. The standard punishment was being tied to
a large circle, and slowly cut with small blades until they
died from loss of blood. Also, to encourage this system, anyone
who reported such an individual received a supplement to their
pay. It was this system that divided the community. Everyone
spied on everyone else, trying to catch a seditious comment,
and the people became suspicious of their own families.
Those caught on more slight charges, such as stealing, or looking
at an overseer in a funny way, were either mildly tortured and
beaten, or put in the cells until one of the dreaded mine trains
came, and brought them to work in the hellish conditions of
the gold mines in the Mountains of Sorrow. Thousands died in
the mines, given nothing but one meal of slop a day, and some
drops of water to drink.
It was a land of torment, ruled over
by the sadistic Churon on his lavish throne of gold forged in
the hate of his subjects. But he was not happy still, for Churon
was mad, a megalomaniac who seemed to crave power beyond that
of the gods themselves, and would not stop until he controlled
the world. So the armies of Churon marched ever onwards, overthrowing
kings and kingdoms, and butchering all who opposed the will of
their master. Whenever his armies conquered a new land, Churon’s
cruel system of economy and taxation would come into practice
immediately, and the brave were culled from the citizenry. They
would summon the leaders of every town, village and city to his
capital, Shansalow, and if they did not pledge undying allegiance
and fealty, with heavy annual taxes, they would be killed in a
most painful manner in front of the others, torn apart in a pit
of ravenous wolves.
Karl Imrax was a young prince in
a land by the name of Xanthis, a land bordering the pleasant
Sea of Pearls. It had lain, undisturbed for many hundreds of
years, protected both by its good strategic position between
the sea and mountains and the other kingdoms nearby that depended
on the ports of Xanthis for trade with far-off lands. It was
a peaceful kingdom, and his father, King Braxus, was a benevolent
ruler, well liked by his subjects and the local lords; Until
the armies of Churon came, and laid waste to the land. The armies
of Xanthis could do little against the armies of Churon, with
their siege engines and dark sorcery from the acolytes of Prevan.
Xanthis was taken in a week, and the capital burned by soldiers
as summoned demons raced through the palace, slaughtering on
a whim. The ruling family was taken to Shansalow to swear fealty
to Churon, along with all the surviving lords.
The first to be asked for the oath
was the King, Braxus, who refused harshly, and spat on Churon’s
robe. He was immediately grabbed by the guards and hurled into
the wolf pit. The assembled watched as he was torn apart by the
rabid wolves. All who saw the gruesome spectacle resigned themselves
to their fate, and sided for fealty under a cruel overlord for
the rest of their lives. Except Prince Imrax. Although he swore
fealty to Churon, on that day he vowed to himself and his dead
father that he would have revenge, on Churon, his lackey sorcerer
Prevan, his generals and his entire evil empire. Yes, revenge.
The Prince was given back his old
estate, and told to collect his taxes and obey any of the orders
of Churon’s traveling Magistrates. When he arrived, his old
lands were devastated. The soldiers had looted the houses, raped
the women, and burned what they had not taken, leaving the inhabitants
with nothing. The first few months of the Prince’s return were
solely concentrated on restoring the land to at least a fragment
of its former prosperity, but the taxes crippled the province,
and progress was painstakingly slow. Seed was bought and planted,
and the peasants were put up in shaky hovels. A few months later,
one of Churon’s Magistrates arrived to collect the Royal Tax
and appoint overseers to keep the population in check. The overseers
ruined the Princes hard work, and he grew angry at their presence,
besmirching his land. The final straw came when the Prince,
riding through a small village, saw an overseer administering
the death of a thousand cuts to a peasant. Bellowing in rage,
he leapt from his horse, drew his sword, and beheaded the overseer
in one stroke. After he had freed the peasant, the consequences
of his actions hit. He must gather the other overseers and imprison
them lest he be reported back to Churon! This was done in a
single day, and when they were safely locked away, Prince Imrax’s
mind turned to the vow he had taken of revenge on the evil man
who had destroyed his life, lands and family.
He began to research books on sorcery,
how to counter dark magic, and how to hide his form, or summon
tongues of fire, cold winds, and lightning. He toiled for a year
and a day, before he was confident in his abilities. He had planned
how to killed Churon. First, he would poison Prevan’s food, to
weaken him mentally, and make him unable to detect the works of
magic that the Prince intended to perform. He would gain entry
into the castle in Shansalow by disguising himself as a Magistrate,
find Churon’s throne room, and slay him by magic or his sword.
A Magistrate was due in his kingdom to collect taxes that very
week. The Prince invited him into his study for a drink, poisoned
him and took his clothing. Using sorcery, he gave himself the
appearance of the Magistrate, so that the Magistrate’s bodyguards
would be unknowing of the switch. He took the needed taxes from
the manor’s coffers, and journeyed to Shansalow, capital of Andrakus!
It took almost a month to reach
the city, and the Prince, still disguised as the Magistrate,
entered the forbidding castle of Churon. He first went to give
the taxes to Prevan, as he was also the kingdom’s treasurer.
While there, he spied a goblet filled with wine, and, while
Prevan’s back was turned, he dropped in a few beads of black
liquid from a small vial on his person. Prevan turned, and took
the goblet, emptying it in one gulp. The Prince left the room.
Listening at the door, he was rewarded by the sound of Prevan
being violently sick. Shedding the Magistrate’s robes, Prince
Imrax intoned the words of a spell that would bend light around
him, rendering himself invisible to men’s eyes. In this state,
he padded softly passed the bodyguards and came across Churon
in his throne room, empty of guards bar those outside the door,
whom he quickly dispatched with a knife.
On entering the throne room, he allowed
his spell to dissipate, so he could be seen by Churon. The throne
room was ruined, tables and chair legs strewn about in a chaos
of broken furniture. Churon sat on his throne of gold and watched
the Prince enter. “GUARDS!”, He shouted, and the Prince ran forward,
screaming in hatred. Halfway across the room, the Prince threw
his sword, the sword of his family, last used by his father. The
sword described a scintillating arc across the room and came to
rest embedded up to the hilt in Churon’s chest. But the madman
just laughed as he slumped down, his body pinned to his throne.
As the Prince was turning to leave,
he heard a bestial roar from the mouth of Churon. Surely he was
dead!, thought Imrax. The body heaved itself upright, an unholy
light burning in its eyes. A voice, not belonging to any human,
PUNY MORTAL!! YOU THINK YOU CAN DESTROY A DEMON SUCH AS I??!!
I SHALL SHOW YOU MY TRUE FORM!”
Churon was a demon! Come from hell
to subjugate the world of men to endless cruelty. The Prince watched
as Churon’s back split, and a pair of huge bat wings unfolded,
he grew larger and bulkier, losing human form, and his face became
a bestial, snarling rictus of hair and sharp teeth. The demons'
eyes burned with fire, and smoke escaped at the edge of his mouth.
It took the sword stuck in its chest and pulled it out, hurling
it against a wall where it broke in half.
I WILL CRUSH YOU LIKE AN INSECT!! FEEL MY WRATH, PRINCE OF XANTHIS!”
The Prince screamed as he was engulfed
in a river of fire. He frantically shouted the words to a counter-spell,
and the fire dissipated. The demon, cursing the sorcerous skill
of the Prince, pulled his hands together to release another fireball,
but before he could, a bolt of light arced from the Prince’s hand
to burn a hole in the demons left wing. Screaming in anger and
pain, the demon let fly another surge of flame, but it too was
deflected. As the Prince gathered the power for another lightning
blast, the demons long tail slithered across the ground to trip
him. Tendrils of flame held him to the ground as the demon closed
to rend him limb from limb. The demon was about halfway across
the room when the double doors creaked open, and Prevan staggered
in, holding a wicked, black-bladed dagger.
MY TRUSTED SERVANT”, said the demon, ”REMOVE
THIS INSOLENT PEST.”
Prevan, “Too long have I been in your control,
too long have I watched people suffer at your hands. You may have
given me great power, a place by your side, but I regret the day
I summoned you.” He waved the dagger. “Remember this? Yes,
it is the dagger that brought you here when I sacrificed my father
in your name, and it is going to be the dagger that will banish
you back to the Nether Hells from which you came!” He threw the
dagger at the demon, but it bounced off its skin, not having the
power to penetrate. The demon bellowed at this betrayal, and leapt
to his former servant, holding him and engulfing him in black
fire from his hands! The dying sorcerer uttered the most piercing
scream the Prince ever heard. With the demon occupied, the threads
of flame holding Imrax down faded, and he got up, seized the black
dagger, and plunged it into the space between the demon’s wings.
With an unholy scream, a pillar of white fire from the heavens
engulfed the demons evil form, and when the flame lifted, there
was nothing. The demons entire form and essence had been destroyed,
the power of the dagger venting all the hatred of all of those
that died because of Churon’s evil. The monster had been banished,
and the blight on the world had gone.
In due course, Karl Imrax, called
Demon-Slayer, was elected King by the surviving Lords, who willingly
swore fealty to him, and the nation’s name was changed to Xanthis,
in honour of his fathers old realm. Churon’s castle was torn down,
and the overseers and Magistrates banished. All symbols of Churons
rule were destroyed, his statues, effigies and portraits. The
people in the mines were freed, and the acolytes of Prevan hunted
down and burned for their practice of evil magic. The land was
restored to peace again, and none such as Churon were to threaten
the new nation of Xanthis for a very long time.
And in the lower regions of the Infernal
Pit, a pool of molten laval slime bubbles with the primordial
stuff of evil and chaos. An especially large bubble rises to
the surface, and another, then another, then a cloud of bubbles
emerges. A blob of blackness gathers in the redness of the pool,
and slime explodes into a pillar of black flame. The flame dies
down to twice the height of a man, and begins to form shapes.
The form of the hell demon that was once Churon, mighty overlord
of earthly realms, coalesces out of the black flame. The demon
roars in the pain of its satanic rebirth, and steps out of the
pool to begin its plan of returning to the mortal realm, to
deal death to his slayer's decendants and take back the empire
that was once his.