Cleansing

CLEANSING
a scene of the past

The meadow was quiet, not a sound could be heard. Strangely, even the birds kept silent despite the shining sky. Only the wind seemed to defy the stillness of the summer afternoon, gently ruffling the leaves of the surrounding trees.

In the distance stood the building, dark and tall. It was a place of worship where mortals thought they could communicate with their god by sending prayers from this sanctified place. Stones were piled into a square confining place, high enough to rival with the tallest tree. It was cold and dark, and didn’t seem very inviting at first glance. Somehow, every week, the small church would fill up. The followers of O’Rhan, god of light, would gather and pray for a better life, for a miracle.

They had been such an easy target for those who hungered for the souls assembled in this isolated place. These people had no idea they were being fed on, that their prayers never reached the one they called their Father. Instead, they were willingly offering themselves to a hidden creature of the dark, a lesser demon that didn’t mind defying the Laws of Hell for more power.

Kaetal was his name. He longed for enough strength to rival some of the greater demons. He had seen in these villagers an opportunity to rise and write his name in blood in the halls of Hell. For that, he needed energy and Kaetal craved the life force of human souls. And so, he had corrupted the priest of this isolated chapel of O’Rhan and taken him as his vessel.

While the people would pray, Kaetal would absorb this concentrated energy and make it his own, slowly draining them of any life in them. And now, after months of waiting, he had enough strength to challenge one of the demon lords. If he could overthrow his enemy, he would be able to take his powers and title. It was how one raised, in Hell.

It was quiet in the meadow, quite a walk from the closest village. And yet, they always came to him, eager to feed him. Today, though, there was no praying. Not a word could be heard. Inside the dark building, the corpses were still warm, their blood flowing freely on the icy stone. In the middle of them stood the demon with his mask finally off.

They were all dead, as Kaetal had taken every last drop of life from them. He had to hide within a vessel to gather power before, but now, he could take his true form. He had discarded the weak flesh disguise in front of the terrified humans, then he had slaughtered them all. A single blow with his newly acquired strength, it was all it took to slice their throats open. A single blow, and he could bathe in their blood as he grew taller and stronger.

The doors of the chapel opened, interrupting the victorious ritual Kaetal was holding. He dropped the cadaver he had been holding in his sharp claws and turned to face the intruder. He laughed as he saw the young man, looking almost like child with his smooth features. So small besides the beast he had become!

“Look who’s here! The Golden General in person to witness my ascension!” he growled.

Dantalian was used to being mocked this way by other demons. They called him the Golden General because of his blond hair and they all underestimated him because of his looks. They couldn’t see, they couldn’t understand. He had chosen this appearance to put his enemies at ease on the battlefield, so they would think of him as an easy opponent. When they saw him so youthful, they all forgot that he had 36 legions under his command and that he was a Great Duke of Hell. Dantalian crushed demons such as Kaetal with ease, no matter how big and strong they thought they were.

“You have defied the Laws of Hell, demon.”

Kaetal hissed and charged at the man, confident he could rip his head off before he could even unsheathe his blade. A mistake that cost him his life as his claws only slashed air, Dantalian simply vanishing the second he was about to get hit. Before the demon could look around for his opponent, a dark sword penetrated his chest from behind, cutting through his heart. With a groan, Kaetal watched the blade disappear and turned his head. Behind him was the Golden General, black wings spread on each side on him. In his hand was the famous obsidian blade, said to have slain thousands, blood dripping from the tip.

“Kaetal!”

The voice sounded solemnly in the chapel, echoing in the emptiness of it.

“You were sentenced to death by His Dark Majesty, the King of Hell, for taking souls that were marked as his.”

As the demon died, consumed by the flames of Hell, Dantalian wiped his blade before sheathing it and walked towards the exit. He hated to have to get his hands dirty for such assignments, but orders were orders. The Law was the Law, and only those who were allowed to take souls for the King could. No one was licensed to take souls for their own benefit, it was one of the most fundamental Laws of Hell.

The young General wasn’t a fool, he knew some broke the rules to gain power, to elevate themselves in the hierarchy. Aristocrats played that game all the time and the King turned a blind eye. They could eat each other up all they wanted, as long as they followed orders. Dantalian wasn’t one of those who hungered for more power, but he wasn’t known for his mercy. If one challenged him, he would destroy him.

No matter how the higher demons played, lesser demons weren’t meant to reach the noble ranks. They were cannon fodder, they were infantry the King could dispose of at will. The fact that some of them thought they could become close to powerful enough to rival with the aristocracy was preposterous. Only fools like Kaetal tried and ultimately failed. Even with all these souls, he would never have been able to lay a finger on the General. What a waste…

Dantalian stepped onto the fresh grass. It was almost uncanny to feel the warm sun rays on his skin after being in that cold dingy chapel. He snapped his fingers once and he could hear the crackles of the flames devouring the stones as if they had their own free will. Soon there would be nothing left of the building or the bodies, only ashes to the wind on a quiet mid-summer afternoon.

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