One Nation, Under Goddess
by: Ken Williams
The ritual had completed its course. Daemon Scareye stood before him, far stronger than the legends had depicted him. A great scar went through his right eye, which passed over his body, down to his left foot. His scalp was covered in burn marks. He was covered in scales, with a missing hand and no ears or a nose. His teeth were gone and in their place were rusty screws about three thousand years old. His working eye was a dark green, the mark of a demon.
“My lord”, Mrdinar said as he knelt to the demon, “Gelondar welcomes your return.”
One of Mrdinar’s guards was pulled by magic into Daemon’s claw, a metal-covered hand. The claw pierced the guard, killing him almost instantly. Then he spoke, spitting blood with every other world.
“Don’t lie to me. Thisss world doesss not acsssept me. You tried to kill the Hydrosssian pup. Why?”
“The boy is a danger to me, to us. He must be dealt with.”
“No. The Goddesss sssaysss she needsss the boy alive. Hydropsss hasss power that she needsss.”
“His death will be mine! His destruction will cement my rule!”
Mrdinar would not let some old, broken demon boss him around. He was not Lord Darstromath, and he never would be. His two personal guards, Gragan and Tem, pulled out their swords and charged at the demon. He raised his stump and their metal boots started to liquefy. They screamed as not only the armor melted, but flesh, bone, and muscle as well. They still tried to run with fervor as they left trail of blood and molten steel, unmixed with the molten body. At the waist, they passed out and melted completely. Mrdinar looked at the remains, a near rectangular pool of Gragan and Tem. The armor was started to harden again. Scareye’s good eye looked at Mrdinar. His corpse dummy opened its blood red mouth.
“You have no power here, Mrdinar. Dobrahadra isss not happy with your rule. I will now rule here. The Empire of the Ssscarred Eye ssstartsss now. You will retain your title asss lord, but you will only rule the Black Atular. The ressst will ssserve me, Emperor Daemon Ssscareye. You are disssmisssed. Power without ssservice isss pain.”
Mrdinar kneeled bitterly. He was being usurped but there was nothing he could do. The demon was too powerful. He took his leave and went down the stairs from the roof. He went down to the infirmary to see his fiancée, Nima. She was horribly sick. The doctors had no idea what was causing it, but one guessed it was caused by a psychic.
He found Nima in her infirmary bed. Her ghost-white skin was green now. Her eyes were shut, and she couldn’t open them. Mrdinar walked closer and spoke softly.
She coughed harshly before speaking. “Mrdinar… Don’t look at me, don’t touch me, I’m hideous and sick.”
He tried to hold back his tears and put his hand on her stomach. “You are not hideous. And you’ll get better. I promise.”
She smiled. It was a sad smile, but a smile nonetheless.
“You’re a dirty liar, Mrdinar. I’m dying. It’ll be okay. You’re still Lord of the Black-“ another cough racked her, “Atular. You will avenge me. I love you, Mrdinar.”
Mrdinar couldn’t fight the tears any longer. They dripped onto her blankets and he grabbed her hand, “I love you too.”
Mrdinar heard a voice from the entrance, “Nima, do you need more pain meds?”
Gylnul, Orinar Glarigas’s second child, and first daughter, came into the room. She was taking care of Nima as the only family member with medical training. She had been Orinar’s choice to succeed him, and if his “lethal accident” hadn’t taken place when it did, she would have been named the heir and become Lady Glarigas after the war. Nima reached for a glass of water weakly and Gylnul gave her the pills. Gylnul signaled for her brother to come outside and shut the door.
“There’s nothing we can do,” Gylnul said solemnly. For the first time Lord Glarigas had seen in his life, her brown eyes showed sympathy.
“You can keep her from dying!” Mrdinar replied angrily.
Gylnul sighed, “No, there really isn’t anything we can do. This sickness isn’t anything we’ve dealt with. It’s sorcery. Some would even call it necromancy.”
Mrdinar’s fist clenched and he hit the wall.
“Necromancy hasn’t been practiced in three thousand years! Our people’s necromancers are showmen, hacks, trying to lie that our ancient traditions are still alive.”
Gylnul crossed her arms.
“That’s our diagnosis. We can’t do anything. Even our studies into it were futile. This isn’t Atular or demon necromancy.”
“Kakurl?”, Mrdinar had thought of them first. Some of the brutes to the East had learned necromancy when Scareye first walked the earth. No one knew if they still did. No one wanted to be seen by the savages.
“No, you moron”, Gylnul harshly said, “Hydrosian. We don’t have any resources on Hydrosian necromancy, but I know of one man who does.”
Mrdinar’s eyes widened, out of breath when he said the name, “Hydrops.”
She nodded solemnly. “Does it surprise you?”
Mrdinar shrugged. “Actually, yeah. He was always a cunt, and I like to blame him for everything, but I never thought he had this in him. He is brutal for sure, but efficient, and believes in quick deaths. He may be a monster, but I figure him an honest monster.”
Gylnul gave him a knife. “This is the best medicine we can give her. Straight to the head. She won’t feel a thing.”
Mrdinar nodded. He went inside and gripped the knife tight. He looked at her asleep, the woman he loved. He had to do it. For her sake. Tears formed in his eyes and he kissed her on the cheek.
“I love you.”