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The power has come so fluently, it flows through my veins. I am a coldblooded killer, and I’m the most powerful man in the world. I am forced to worship a man beneath me. I protect him from the darkness around him, but the darkness is me. I am the one who will cause his downfall. Uprising is coming. The noble men trust me more than they trust him. No one will hold me back.
Frederyk could smell the sharp scent of sweat on his opponents face, he could sense his fear, and he knew his pain. A distinct feeling of icy discomfort whipped across his face, the blade found itself digging into Frederyk’s flesh. Drops of blood began to trickle down his face mingling with the dirt. Frederyk considered the blow decent knowing it would have brought uneasiness to any other opponent; however he would not let fear control him. All of a sudden Frederyk had the sword ripped out of his hands. It was pressed tip first against Frederyk’s chest. Jumping back, he swung his gauntlet, connecting with his opponent’s chest.
The opponent relaxed himself, “Excellent resourcefulness Frederyk, I believe that your skill is improving. It will take days for this ache in my chest to heal.”
“Thank you Conand your kindest praise motivates me to improve.” Frederyk called over his shoulder as he twirled around on his heels and began walking away without another word.
Chivalry forces me to respect my “betters”. Ridiculous, I have proven myself a thousand times yet I still have to bow my head to an ignorant man.
“If you need me Conand, I shall be hunting,” Frederyk lied.
Frederyk walked the field alone for the first time in years. This green meadow overlooking the forest is where he had proposed to Julie, only for the king to accuse of her witchcraft days before their wedding. The very king that promised his kingdom protection and salvation, who was he to decide that the offspring of a noble was unsafe to the kingdom? The pain it brought not only him but the rest of the kingdom could be felt for many months after her death.
It is my job to keep this land safe, and it has been decided long ago that the king has walked alongside the Devil to long. Within a fortnight, there would be no more tainting of this land and its’ people.
At dusk Frederyk approached his home and through the windows he saw that a candle was alit. Isabella, his house servant, was still there. He entered his house and Isabella hastily placed one of Frederyk’s books back on its shelf.
“Isabella you were reading one of my books, when were you taught Latin?” He inquired warmly.
“I am sorry your highness,” Isabella said kneeling at Frederyk’s feet. “I should not have allowed my hands to lie upon your books, I am illiterate and there is no reason to think otherwise.”
“Isabella there is no need to speak lies in my presence, in my mind anyone who seeks knowledge is my equal no matter their social class. That includes you. I also know the difference from the truth and a quick lie” Frederyk gently helped Isabella to her feet and looked her in the eyes. “I am not God and I cannot and will not demand repentance for things that he would not.” His voice was firm but passionate; the only time Isabella had seen him talk to anybody like this was with his late fiancée.
“I do not understand, you are at the forefront of society and yet you will let someone as low as me defile your possessions. This does not seem correct. This does not seem normal.”
“What is not normal is for someone to think they are better than anyone else,” Frederyk looked down, pondering something. “Anyone besides me will say that I am a very noble person for risking my life for the protection of everyone else. I think I am a spoiled man, given what I want when I want it. I never take advantage of this, and I am not vain but if I did no one would give me a second glance, because that is what society expects me to do. But society does not decide what I do and how I act. It is beginning to get late; I would like you to rest here for the night.”
“What about the implications that people will come to? Even I know what that will do to you.”
“I told you, I do not care about my status in feudal society, I am my own person, and I am an individual free of the constant watch of men and women under me.” Frederyk replied walking to the door again. “Blossom meus flower, persevero cretum vel in meus absentis, Blossom my flower, continue to grow even in my absence. Frederyk walked out the door; even he did not know when he would return.
Bernard walked the Great Hall in silence as he always did every evening in monotony. Recently he always did things in monotony, because unexpected things can lead to death, just as disease stole his wife. So Bernard would continue to do everything on schedule until God called him home to be with his wife once more. The sun was setting over the stain glass picture of King Jacob. Unlike Frederyk, Bernard did not ridicule the vain styles of the king. He instead kept his place and only thought of his own protection.
He halted, hearing footsteps in the background; this very rarely happened in the great hall was normally unoccupied at night, with the exceptions of feasts. There were two sets of feet; the heavy footsteps belonged to Conand, tired from his arduous daily training. The other sets of feet were nearly imperceptible; they probably belonged to Frederyk who was always well composed, and just as paranoid for his own safety as Bernard was. They spoke to each other in hushed whispers that to anyone else would have been soundless. He took a step behind a pillar. He had already left his repetitive walk around the castle’s confines. He was close enough to the next intersection; he could easily walk away if confronted. He eavesdropped in a very inconspicuous manner.
“You have seen the great evils that King Jacob has committed. If it weren’t for his support of another crusade for the Holy Land, then he would have been excommunicated by now. So many of his religious decisions have been made and later recalled, because his views did not match the Pope’s.” Frederyk spoke in a soft tone that just barely managed to keep back venom.
“You have brought me here for yet another attack on the King’s character, Frederyk? You cannot honestly say that you believe something to be done on this matter.” Conand replied. “We risk beheading on the account of treason just for broaching this topic.”
“How can you say that this is not an honorable course of action? Even the nobles believe that the king has become untrustworthy. If someone took control it would not be as unscrupulous as you seem to believe.” Frederyk said looking Conand directly in his eyes. A quiet gasp escaped from Bernard’s lips. Frederyk raised one finger to his lips and motioned to the last pillar to the right of the hall.
“So Frederyk, you are saying that the king should step down from the throne or be executed,” Conand said taking Frederyk’s hint and continuing the conversation.
“Along with all of his close followers,” He said, only a couple of feet away from the pillar Bernard was hiding behind.
Bernard’s heart was beating a mile a minute as Frederyk and Conand’s dialogue continued. All of the sudden he felt warm breath on his shoulder as Frederyk whispered in his ear. “So Bernard if the king hears about this I know who his closest follower is, and I will kill him before the king. I have monitored your monotony; I know where and when I can kill you.” Frederyk spoke in a mesmerizing voice. “I hope that is not you Bernard. Better yet I know that is not you.”
“Of course not,” Bernard spoke successfully under Frederyk’s control.
“Very good Bernard. Now I want you to go back to your chambers and sleep, by tomorrow this will all be a bad dream,” Frederyk continued.
“Yes I must sleep, and forget. I shall leave now.” Bernard said walking back to his room.
“Now Conand I believe you were about to inquire about excommunication. If so I hope that this scene has taken away your worries.” Frederyk said in his normal voice.
“No actually I wasn’t, I was going to question you on why Bernard listened to you so willingly.” Conand said drawing his sword.
“I do not wish to hear you spit lies from your enchanted lips. You must be a pawn of the Devil and in that case I must ask you this. Why should I join you in a worldly pursuit when you will only lead me to eternal suffering? If you, a demon, are against the king then I must surely protect him.”
“I am sorry you think that way Conand. The last thing you think is so far off that you will be disappointed when your heaven provides you answers. I am apologizing but this is not the type of thing where I can tell you my side and let it marinate. There is just too much at stake and you will either see eye to eye with me or you will die,”
“So be it, if I die for the Lord, then I shall surely be rewarded in heaven. I will not die now; I shall banish your soul to eternal fire.”
Frederyk drew his sword very slowly letting the movement taunt his opponent.
“Obsidian, the sharpest mineral on Earth, hand crafted by the finest blacksmith in Europe. I wanted the king’s blood to be the first to stain such a masterful blade but yours shall suffice. You will go down in history as the beginning of a revolution.”
Infuriated, Conand took a side swipe at Frederyk missing by only inches as he leapt back. Frederyk retaliated with a quick and powerful kick to the chest.
“Second time I have dodged your blade today.” Frederyk chuckled
Conand recoiled after the insinuating blow.
“It will be the last.” Conand yelled. With a cry Conand swiped at Frederyk’s right leg with a force enough to cut through the toughest armor. With a slight back step, Frederyk avoided yet another major blow. Conand staggered forward, the miss surprising him. Frederyk whipped his fist out, his blow connecting with Conand’s nose. The crack echoed across the hall. Conand bent over with pain as Frederyk slammed his knee into his forehead. Conand fell to the floor, unconscious. God had let him avoid the pain to come.
Isabella awoke from her slumber and mumbled a call for Frederyk. She still felt guilty even though she had accepted what he had said. She began to think. If only he knew what I read… His journal was full of plans for uprising and the downfall of Jacob. It was written in the same beautiful script as the letters Julie showed Isabella before her death. She couldn’t resist reading on; she continued to examine his journal and found that the alliances involved included even her brother, John. The shock of this new fact scared her but as she began to think she noticed the tyranny behind the king, every word Frederyk wrote about him was true. The kingdom needed protection not from the outside forces looking to destroy them, but the inner beast that sat on the throne, an evil force waiting to explode. Isabella heard the door open one more time and this time instead of rushing to place the book back on the shelf she approached Frederyk looked him in the eye and held up the book.
“What may I do to serve you King Frederyk,” Isabella said bowing to Frederyk
“I must blame myself for this, I should not have given you access to my whole library,” Frederyk muttered to Isabella.
“You lecture me on not depending on the social status, and me being your equal yet the second I even think of risking my life for the well being of my king...”
“Do not call me king again. I am not your king and you will not mention the kingdom in my presence. I will not involve you!”
“You will steal my brother away from me and not even decide what is best for me!”
“How can you say such a thing—I only have your best interest at heart!” He paused and spoke once again. “I can’t stand to lose another...”
“Another what? What can you possibly lose now that you’ve lost your beloved? You like to make everyone think that you were not affected by her death, but everything you are doing is in her name. What can I possibly be in comparison to someone that will inspire you to overthrow a kingdom! You do not love me. You are just playing my emotions to get what you want, and since you are a noble why shouldn’t you. I apologize for having thought otherwise,” Isabella choked, tears streaming from her eyes. “I am going back home to my brother.”
“You are my beloved, Isabella. I cannot stand to lose you, and I refuse to let you destroy yourself.”
“If you can, why should I not?”
“What are you talking about Isabella?”
“You are going out to kill yourself in a romantic attempt to show that you forever loved Julie! You don’t love me. I am just a pawn in a favorable position!” Isabella screamed as she continued to cry. “I can’t stand to lose you Frederyk. You know I love you, and you are taking that emotion and bending it to your will, making it easier for you to use my brother as a soldier in your little war. Am I not the intelligent woman you spoke to last night, the one who had respect for her master, or am I just a scared little girl to you? You will go off, and he will kill you, and I will be stuck here wondering what it could it have been like, for you to hold me in your arms and tell me you love me.”
“Don’t think like that, it is not what could have been, it is what will be.”
“Ha! Do not make me laugh, you are not immortal. King Jacob is a coward and he will keep himself guarded and he will kill you.
“I am very glad you are so optimistic, I figured he would have me tortured if I were captured. I must leave now my love.”
“Oh no, you are not leaving me right now,” she insisted. “I will be involved in this. As long as you plan to overthrow the king I will stand by your side.”
“Your brother is second in command, please converse with him. The king will be awakening soon, and I must speak with him.”
“Frederyk, remember you cannot avoid death. If it does not come now it will come in the future,” Isabella said giving up on her attempt to sway Frederyk.
“Immortality is a beautiful concept but I would trade it all for you. I will not chase immortality because God will have to have you eventually. But at the moment he cannot steal you. If you do join the resistance then you will be under the greatest protection available...”
Who can say how I will face the many trials to come? The blood of Conand’s body has been painted on Bernard’s hands, subtracting one more knight that could stand in my way Frederyk thought to himself as he walked into the courtyard. There stood King Jacob’s statue, another example of his vanity.
Frederyk went over the events of the morning, which he received from one of his spies. The King arose from his chambers seething with unbridled fury. He marched into Bernard’s prison and had him beheaded without trial. This was the king’s last mistake; the one that would make his death acceptable.
He entered the king’s chambers with the usual quiet steps. Frederyk took in the colors: his robes were crimson silk, and were lined with a golden border. His eyes blended with the color of his robes. The demon in him was now shown upon his face.
“Frederyk, my last faithful knight, your protection is needed. Last night Bernard slaughtered Conand, I had him executed early this morning. Today I need to knight their apprentices in order to keep the knights at three in central Adenia.”
“It would seem you are busy this morning, I hear you did not even let Bernard speak before you executed him.”
“You are correct Frederyk. What are you getting at?”
“His family was the last one I needed to join my side before I could successfully venture to overthrow you Jacob,”
“You will address your king with respect, first of all. And overthrow me? I do believe that is a very bad decision. I must ask you to reconsider. My family has had the throne for seven generations, who will allow this to happen?” Jacob replied calmly.
“You are not my king. You have not been my king since Julie died. You killed her, because she wouldn’t love you the way she loved me. She had a sense of morals, she had a sense of faith. You painted her image as a sorcerer of the Devil in the minds of the Pope, and got permission to kill her. I was the one with “sorcerers” powers, I was the one who could kill you with my mind. The people who have seen your wrongs are the people who will rise against you; trust me there are plenty.” Frederyk raised his hand in the direction of his statue busts; it levitated a foot off the ground, emitting a black aura. Frederyk proceeded to drop it, with a resounding crash. ”But in this case you are the demon and you will be ended, Jacob. Your tyranny is over. I will avenge my wife and I will turn the people who matter against you. Your death is imminent.”
“So why don’t you kill me now and take the crown, like you so dream?” Jacob inquired, voice cool and measured.
“You are not very smart are you Jacob?” Frederyk raised his voice. “I don’t want your filthy crown, in fact I don’t care if I drop dead the second the day comes. I want you to face the pain I did, but you don’t have a heart, so I will take away the only thing you love: your kingdom. I will keep taking away from you until you beg for death, and it will come to you nice and slow.”
“Well if we are playing this game I swear I will win. My position is undesirable and my opponent is swift, but I am glad you told me I was actually playing.”
“Well said, Jacob. I shall now leave you to think of your next move.”
He was distracted from his reading by a knock on the door. This was the king’s move and it was not a good one. The door busted in and Frederyk knelt to the king’s new men.
“What is the need for your presence in my house?
“We are here on behalf of the king—he has sent us for your arrest.”
“I don’t think you should take me in,” said Frederyk, his eyes once again red, voice mesmerizing. “You do know that the king will betray you. Look how Bernard and Conand ended up.” Frederyk then noticed that the knights were intentionally avoiding his gaze
“I told them of your ability given to you by the Devil. They will not be hypnotized,” the king announced as he entered the room. “Checkmate, Frederyk.”
“On the contrary. This game is not over.”
“I am meeting with the Pope and I swear you will be executed within a fortnight! I swear you will die!”
“Don’t lose your head too early Jacob; I would hate to not be able to kill you myself.”
“Take him away. Now!” Jacob barked. “I do not to share the company of this demon any longer.” Two of the new knights grabbed Frederyk as he was whipped by another one. Every fiery blow that connected intensified his hatred, but he knew he must contain it, for Julie’s sake.
A period of twelve days had passed since Frederyk was arrested, and Isabella knew that the time had come to help lead the rebellion. She moved like a spirit, as she had seen Frederyk do many times before. Frederyk’s house was ordered not to be entered until after his trial. Not even guards could enter, making it the most obvious place to hide his armor and blade. She could now understand why Frederyk had chosen her brother. He was strong, having fought in the Crusades. John and Frederyk had been planning this for a year and half, and now it was time to actually execute it. She departed the cold, empty house, knowing that if all went well this house would never be used again. Isabella moved swiftly, understanding that if she were caught she would be beaten and arrested, and Frederyk stressed that he did not want her to be imprisoned. In about an hour, John was suited in the finest armor in all of Europe and he was ready to rise against the king.
The fire started in the largest farmland, as serfs gathered up there scythes and knives. The men towards the middle had swords that were brought home from battle, and on the front lines archers stood with stolen cross bows, all led by John. The king’s men rode in on alabaster horses and at the far end there was a catapult being loaded. The archers drew their crossbows with the skill of the knights and fired. The knights’ deaths were clean and painless, the arrows connecting with their throats, stomachs, or eyes. John approached the statue of King Jacob that stood directly below the king’s window and swung his gauntlet in the direction of the statues head, knocking it off into the hands of the serfs who were all screaming “Death to the king!”, then to the hands of the king’s servants who tossed the head into the great lake below.
The king stood and watched his seemingly loyal servants causing anarchy; they were being led by Frederyk. The demon was again ravishing the land. But how? He was still in prison!
“Jared, James! Go down to Frederyk’s chamber, if he is there kill him.” King Jacob shouted at his new knights.
“It shall be done.” The knights rushed off, swords in hand, to their destination of death.
The door to his chamber creaked open. Frederyk always expected light to blind him, and make his escape that much harder. But it was still dark, as Frederyk had gotten used to in the past twelve nights. Two people walked forward, pawns of the king.
“Jacob does not want to witness my execution.” Frederyk spoke. His eyes were still closed; he did not even examine his enemies. He did not have the strength to think, just kill.
“King Jacob is busy dealing with the riot happening in the courtyard,” one knight explained. As they moved closer, the other knight pondered something that even the king could not figure out.
“If you are here, how are you causing anarchy in the courtyard?” They moved closer, poised to kill.
“Ask God, when you see him in heaven.” Still blind, he lashed out with his feet. His first blow collided with the ear of one of his executioners. The blood loss soon knocked him unconscious. Jared, now afraid of Frederyk, thrust his blade at him. Sensing the blow, Frederyk swung his foot around Jared’s neck and slammed his head into the unforgiving wall that stood behind him.
The rusted chains snapped from all of the movement, as Frederyk knew they would. His last moments under Jacob’s rule were coming to an end.
Time was running long, and his knights had yet to return. Jacob approached his throne. Hanging above it was a blade. Grabbing it, he began to wonder if the time really had come. Was death really unavoidable? He glanced out of his window for one final look at his kingdom. Within minutes he looked up once more, right as the door opened. Death had arrived.
“Good afternoon Frederyk, I’ve been expecting you for quite some time.” King Jacob spoke in complete monotone.
“I can see that Jacob. The blade you are holding means you believe in some sort of mystical sorcery. Or maybe you have unraveled my byzantine plot; you have a right to believe it either way.
“You are a sorcerer just like your wife, evil flows through your pores and you are able to do things that no man of God can possibly do.”
“You are correct in some ways Jacob; I can do things that you cannot even dream of…” He paused as he laid his blade upon the ground. “I do have power, but I tell you I am no Pagan.” He raised his hand up in a slow steady motion; as he did so Jacob rose off the ground.
“Your wife deserved to die; you are both spawns of the Devil.” Jacob ranted in fear.
“Don’t you ever say such a thing about Julie.” He flung Jacob into the wall. As he connected Jacob let out a cry.
“Evilness is upon me; Lord spare me my life, please.” Jacob prayed.
“No, you are the evil one,” Frederyk snarled. “You had men and women executed without reason. Your days as king have been corrupt and unjust, and today you will receive judgment before God.” With a slight movement of Frederyk’s fingers, the hand that wielded Jacob’s blade was now upon his throat. “I could kill you right now Jacob, but here is a show of mercy. I shall fight you, without the aid of my powers.” He lowered Jacob to his feet and looked him in the eyes.
“I will win,” Jacob said softly, as Frederyk retrieved his blade from the ground. Frederyk nodded.
“Your move.” Jacob swiped the blade quickly at Frederyk’s throat. Stepping back, Frederyk quickly examined his opponent’s fighting style along with body dimensions and lunged forward, knowing he would miss. As Jacob made an attempt to parry Frederyk brought his knee up into Jacob’s diaphragm. He took several steps back, colliding with the window. Frederyk took several punches at Jacob, connecting every time. With one instinctive movement he avoided the next blow. Frederyk’s gauntlet shattered the window behind Jacob. Frederyk was suddenly hit with a severe blow to the face that nearly broke his nose. Looking down, he saw Isabella standing under the rain of glass, away from the riot.
“Isabella, no, move out of the way!” Frederyk yelled to his beloved. Isabella dived, not knowing what was happening, and barely managed to avoid the downpour of glass. She looked up at the window to see Frederyk and a bloody Jacob. It was almost over. During the time that Frederyk was distracted by Isabella, Jacob unsheathed the poison knife that he had slept with for the past twelve days, fearing that Frederyk would kill him in his sleep. Frederyk turned back to prepare for any blows that Jacob would land. Jacob threw his knife, hitting the mark point blank. Frederyk gazed around, confused, not knowing where the knife had hit. Jacob walked to the window and turned around slowly to face Frederyk.
“Checkmate.” He leaned back falling out of the shattered window to the cold ground below.
Frederyk continued to look, and there, lying next to Jacob, was Isabella’s body. A knife protruded from her chest. Isabella just lay there, her breathing heavy. Blood trickled from her mouth, which hung agape. “ISABELLA!” Frederyk screamed. He jumped from the ledge, slowly coming to a halt where the ground was.
“I will take the pain away, and after that you must make a decision. Blink if you can understand me.” Isabella blinked once, and then spoke.
“Now I see why you would not let me help you. However, I am still so glad I did. I’ll tell Julie of the things you did for her,” Isabella gasped, starting to nod off.
“No wait, Isabella you do not have to depart now! Remember when I spoke of the concept of immortality? If I could give you immortality, would you trade heaven for it?”
“I do not believe wishful thinking will save me Frederyk.”
“It is not wishful thinking, your mind is always aware of your soul. It cooperates at every turn of life, it is healing, it is your conscience. But your body stays as filthy as it can possibly be, not able to be cleansed by the purity of it. Your body spends its life eating at itself and becoming more and more unclean until the body cannot hold it anymore, and finally your soul leaves. But what if your soul was aware of the condition of your body, what if your soul could heal your wounds like it does your mind. Would you let it happen?”
“Frederyk, I believe I understand you. Entering immortality, I have more of a chance to become a better servant of God. I can help to convert those who need it, and I can live life until kingdom come. But is it really your soul that keeps your body alive or is it some sort of enhanced state of mind that we enter? Does our soul leave our body, and travel to heaven? Is living forever really living?”
“Time is short, Isabella. Please make your decision,” Frederyk pleaded, beginning to sob. “I can’t stand to lose you. I love you.”
“Can you not tell that time has not been moving? Together we are the only ones in motion.”
“She is right Frederyk. Time has stopped. I am responsible,” a new voice intruded.
“I do not have time for this Damien; I have a life on the line.”
“Time is nonexistent at the moment, but since you are in such a hurry, let me finish this; I have more experience with this. I am also in a hurry.” Damien looked at Isabella “Are you living to give your life to live forever, Isabella?”
“Yes, but only because I have something to live for. Frederyk I love you and I will stand by you for all eternity in both mind and soul.”
The transformation was invigorating; energy flowed through Isabella’s blood; her soul was allowing her wounds to heal at lightning speed.
She was becoming immortal.
At her side there stood an angel, magnificent in his beauty. He stood watching her, observing, waiting for something.
“Are you an angel from heaven?” Isabella spoke aloud to the one standing at her feet.
“Yes I am. I see that your soul will not be accompanying me like I expected. I have enjoyed being your guardian,” the angel said in a slightly sad tone.
“What is wrong?” Isabella asked, seeing that the angel seemed depressed. “Is my soul to be lost?”
“I have watched you grow up into a beautiful lady, you have always been a servant of God, and now you enter the unknown.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“The future of the immortals is undecided. God is watching always for a reason to keep you alive, most of you serve Him well, but like His original creations there is still great evil in the immortals. In fact, that is what Damien and Frederyk are talking about now. A rogue immortal is killing people at a massive rate; he is cooperating with the Devil. They are unleashing demons upon God’s followers, most call it the Black Plague because they have no knowledge of the real damage.”
“Frederyk and Damien plan to pursue this Reaper, don’t they?
“Yes they do, and despite what you may think, you can help them accomplish catching this killer.”
“How do you come across that idea?”
“You are the only immortal besides the Reaper to ever converse, or even see, their guardian angel. That will help because when dealing with demons you will be just as transparent to them as I am. The Reaper is currently North-East of this specific position, about a five day journey. I must leave now, new children are being born and I must be there to protect them. It has been a pleasure, Isabella.”
“Wait, one more thing: please promise me you will tell me if God makes his decision on the standing of our souls. We will do anything possible, even live through the Tribulation that is bound to come in these trying times.”
“Times are not at the worst, the Rapture is farther than you think. You are well studied. Yes I will tell you if God decides. Who knows, you may be the salvation of the immortals. I bid you farewell. You are in good hands.” The angel did not fly away as expected; he just disappeared
Awakening was difficult, not painful, just difficult. Why was her body so stiff? She had only been lying there for minutes. Her eyes refused to open, yet she could see so clearly. She wanted to call out to Frederyk, but her mouth felt like it was sown shut. Her ears felt muffled as she struggled to hear.
“The Black Plague is yet another attempt on our lives, Frederyk. He crafted it with the Devil, and now he uses it on our people. There only seven of the original immortals left. This Reaper has broken all the rules and you are the only one strong enough to kill him.”
“Just as I would not kill him before, I will not now. I did not want the original position, so I gave it to James, what he does with it is his decision.”
“James has long been dead, my friend. We tried to find you, but it seemed like you simply evaporated.”
“My brother is dead?”
“Who killed him?”
“The current Reaper. No one knows he is or where he is at, at the moment.”
“You have drawn me in. We shall begin preparations immediately. My brother’s death will be avenged.”
Isabella listened to the conversation and knew that the angel was right; this Reaper was killing immortals and damning their souls to eternal hell. She was now wrapped up in a completely different world than before. Isabella fell back into her original sleep.
“Let fire rain on the cities of Earth, and the souls of their people shall burn,” Satan said to the shadow standing next to him.
“And may the flesh of the immortals be skinned from their twitching bodies,” the shadow sneered, his figure changing into that of a traveler. A third person came into the room and knelt at Satan’s feet.
“Follow James’s orders to the letter and you will be rewarded,” Satan intoned. The figure laughed manically and rose.
Their departure from the kingdom was quick and effortless. Isabella’s brother would take the throne, and the people would prosper.
Traveling would be no problem. According to Damien the journey would be three days to any normal person, but with their strength and endurance they would be at their destination by nightfall of their second day. Like any forest night brought with it an ominous feeling. The Reaper would be bound to continue watching him until confronted by the party.
During the late evening of their first day Isabella finally broke the silence that had shrouded them since leaving. “Who is The Reaper?”
“I do not know, but whoever he is, he’s a dead man,” Frederyk growled through his teeth.
“I do not believe she is speaking of the man, but the position itself,” Damien spoke flatly. “Is that so?”
“Yes Damien it is, I would like to know the nature of this villain.”
“The Reaper is not evil, the people who hold the position are,” Frederyk commented. “In all honesty the whole point was to reap the souls of the people who were not good or evil. It fell upon The Reaper to determine the destination of those souls after death.”
“This has happened only a few times, because only the most powerful men can take the position, and that is by killing the previous Reapers. Power tends to cause lust for more, that is when deals with the Devil are made.”
A figure materialized behind Frederyk. Leaning forward he whispered into his ear, “I would know about deals with the Devil.” Frederyk whipped around, darkness flying from his hand. The figure slammed into a nearby tree. His face was covered in nearly decomposed flesh, eyes flashing from black to red.
“Before I kill you I will ask your identity,” he informed the figure.
The creature laughed, reaching for his cloak. Upon removing the hood, the face of a skeleton was replaced with a man of about twenty-five years of age. “Frederyk, I am disappointed. Has it really been that long?” Suddenly a knife was at Frederyk’s throat. “Now Damien, I have some family business to discuss. Demon, secure the girl!”
Frederyk brought his elbow into Damien’s stomach. Turning around he slammed his knee into Damien’s head. “You have until the exact count of three to get your hands off of her,” he said to the demon as he drew his sword. “One…” the demon brought his hand to Isabella’s face.
“I think the master will enjoy this new edition to Hell. What about you James?”
“Two!” Frederyk said raising his other hand.
“Three!” An entire inferno was unleashed from the area where James was standing. It struck both Isabella and Frederyk. They felt discomfort, but not the searing pain of being burned alive. Both collapsed, unconscious.
Frederyk awoke still in the forest, charred grass surrounding him. Yet he did not notice that, what he did notice was that Isabella was not there. Frederyk looked up and carved into a tree was a message:
Follow me to Hell.
Damien’s eyes flickered open to see a pair of boots planted firmly on the ground directly in front of him. Looking up he saw the scarred, twisted face of Frederyk. Frederyk’s hand shot down towards Damien’s neck, the grip not that of someone with murder on his mind.
“You led me here, into this trap. You lied to me; you told me my brother was murdered. However, in this forest I came face to face with him. You attempted to capture Isabella and myself. An explanation is in order. Remember that I hold your life in my hands and I will not hesitate to kill you.” Frederyk raised Damien just an inch higher, causing him to let out a gasp for air.
“My tongue is cursed; it cannot tell you anything about his plot or his reasons. However, I can tell you the only way to save Isabella,” Damien whispered the words desperately. “I cannot tell you these things unless I can breathe Frederyk. Please put me down.”
“Yes, I will do that, but I want you to sit. Any attempt to rise to your feet and I will kill you,” Frederyk let go of Damien’s neck and the moment he touched the ground Frederyk’s sword was drawn. “Now speak… NO lies!”
“There are groups of immortals who exist in many of the great kingdoms. They are called soul stealers by our kind, vampires by the mortals.”
Frederyk raised his blade high above his head. “Do you think I am not a man of my word? I told you to speak the truth and you spit a myth in my face.”
“Most people believe that we are myths. You must believe me, it is the only way to save Isabella,” Damien implored.
“Continue,” Frederyk allowed, realizing this was his only lead.
“It is believed that by splitting your soul, not only will you live forever but you will have unmatched power. However, it is impossible to split your soul by yourself and no other human mortal or immortal is able to do it for you either.”
“Where are you going with this? You are just talking in circles!” Frederyk shouted his anger escalating.
“The only way for a human soul to be split is for one of the great powers to do it for you. Those powers are…”
“Good and evil, God and the Devil. Please get to the point, I am becoming impatient,” prompted Frederyk.
“God does not split the souls of his creations, so the only other power willing is the Devil. Most people do not know this. They try to find this amazing source of power, and the Devil begins to weave his web of deception around their minds.” Damien looked up at Frederyk. “You must understand that these people believe that this person is God, and once your soul is split, the person who holds the other half is your master. You can only avoid your master if you have a full soul; this is where myth begins to join with truth. The first vampires discovered that the soul is contained in the blood…” Damien stopped. “You see where I am going with that. By satisfying the need of your own body, you create a new vampire with only half a soul. Therefore every time a vampire feeds the Devil gains a new minion. Vampires are the only beings that can physically walk the pathway to Hell.”
“I must become a vampire?” Frederyk exclaimed. “That sounds absolutely absurd! Do I have no other choice? What will give me the power to stop James, let alone the Devil?”
“We shall ask the vampires when we arrive,” Damien said, smiling as he rose to his feet. Frederyk glared at him. “Don’t look at me like that Frederyk. I am your only ally at the moment, you won’t kill me yet.”
“Trust me, I’m very tempted,” he muttered.
Fire burns but no light can be seen, the inferno whips around with the cold embrace of the souls suffering inside. One cannot help but scream, though no one hears. No sound can be heard from the fiery inferno of Satan’s realm…
Isabella awoke to an icy discomfort on her face and the sound of a sharp voice. “Never thought you would be here, did you? Julie did not think she would be here either. Frederyk did not tell either one of you that his love comes with a price,” James said gleefully, no longer wearing his Reaper guise.
“And that price is Hell, is it not, an eternity dwelling in evil, despite my undying loyalty to God. Even here I will remain good. I may be surrounded by the corrupted but I will come out of this as clean as ever,” Isabella whispered. James chuckled and squatted down to Isabella’s level.
“Yes, that is the price. However, who’s to say which is which? Is evil really evil? Is good really good? Yes it is at the moment but only by description of the highest being. If he were not God what would the standards be?”
“I no longer wish to converse with you.” Isabella spat in James’ face.
“You arrogant fool! How dare you even suggest I would waste my time coming down here just to speak with you? Get up! You are wanted by my master,” James demanded.
“And if I refuse?”
Fire leapt from James’ fingertips and struck Isabella, not on her flesh, but on her soul. Isabella cried out in pain. The fire scarred her soul with a mix of emotions. Death would have been better than experiencing the evil clutches of this dark power.
“You are honestly not foolish enough to resist me a second time are you, Isabella?” James asked chuckling to himself. Isabella slowly picked herself up off of the floor. “That is what I thought.” James conjured up a chain of fire and secured it around Isabella’s wrists.
“I never said I would obey you. In fact I will defy you until I die,” Isabella said through clenched teeth. “There will come a day when Satan no longer needs you, and you will reap what you sow. Even then Frederyk will continue to love me after my death.”
“You realize it only took Frederyk a couple of years to get over Julie and move on to you. He is immortal, he will move on. I bet he has already given up,” James hissed venomously. The fire swirled up around them. As the fire faded she found herself in a throne room of sorts.
“Good evening Isabella. I trust that your room has met your expectations,” Satan greeted warmly.
“I do not understand what you wanted with me and Frederyk,” Isabella said aloud. “I expect even you think in rational terms. What is the meaning of my presence here?”
“What Damien spoke of was correct. He came to you telling of my plot to spread a plague across the entire world. It was really quite an accident that Frederyk became involved with this,” Satan explained with detached sympathy.
“What do you speak of?” Isabella questioned, growing angry.
“Jacob was a key part of my plan. He was also an immortal. Since his rebirth he was finally able to speak directly with God.”
“You tricked him! You made him believe that the voice he was hearing was God’s, not yours!”
“Exactly, and I told him that no other immortal should be in existence; that they were not of God. For some reason he came to believe that Julie was immortal, and you know what happened from there,” Satan laughed.
“He believed that he would ride into war during the beginning of the next Crusade and spread God’s Judgment. He would have watched only his soldiers die, and James would ride in on a pale horse and bring his soul to me.” Satan’s laughter became hysterical.
“I cannot wait until Frederyk kills you,” Isabella said flatly.
“Kill me? What punishment would that be? Killing me would send my soul where exactly?” Satan asked, rising from his throne. He struck Isabella on the face. “Hell is my kingdom; if he killed me I would remain exactly where I am. God is the only person who can defeat me. But if he loved any of you, you would not live in such a dark age, and you would not be here with me.”
“The proof that he loves me is Frederyk,” Isabella stated.
“Well your savior fights in vain because by the time he finds any way to reach me, I will have broken you, and he will beg me to kill him.” Satan motioned to James. “Take her away.”
“I need to return to Adenia for supplies. When we were attacked our horses ran away,” Frederyk told Damien.
“I am sorry sir,” Damien hesitated, “but that is not the best idea.”
“Why might that be, Damien? Are you saying it would be better to take a month’s journey on foot, rather than a three day journey on horse? Frederyk snapped.
“The way that the trap was set allowed us to lay siege to Adenia before society set back up,” Damien replied. “They are most likely waiting for you right now.”
“Well then, I guess we must give them something to wait for,” he muttered, taking off on a middle paced run.
“What has the girl been doing as of late?” Satan asked James. “Is it time to begin?”
“Of course master, we must begin our war on her mind. She already battles with herself.” James replied.
“She refuses the food or water that is given to her and she will not sleep. She is beginning to show serious signs of deterioration. If we introduce the sickness to her system we could probably begin to break her.”
“James, I want to you to introduce the plague to her system immediately.”
“Yes, I will allow it into her system by water. I hope I do not have to use force,” James replied.
“Explain yourself.” Satan said curiously.
“Of course master, Isabella is obviously a key component to your plans. I do not know how at the moment, however I do know that there is evil intent behind your ‘mercy’. Am I correct in my assumptions?” James asked concluding his explanation.
“Yes James, you are. Leave my presence,” Satan commanded. James silently bowed, then left the throne room.
“Frederyk, as we draw nearer, we shall see defenses almost triple. Many of the fighters directly outside the gates are weak. However, they are telepathic,” Damien warned, standing at the edge of the forest with Frederyk.
“This means that we must not make a show of killing them,” Frederyk replied.
“Exactly, one thought is like a siren. We would be dead in just moments.”
“Moments?” Frederyk asked.
“Yes, moments, what are you getting at Frederyk?” Damien asked, annoyed.
“You can stop time for up to five minutes, correct?”
“Yes, I see what you are getting at, however that would be way too convenient. The telepaths would still be able to think, and my powers only work for a certain radius. I would not be able to use the power again for another twenty four hours either.”
“We are leaving this forest now. You will stop time exactly when I tell you, no sooner, no later. Do you understand?” Frederyk asked, after giving the remainder of his orders. “We will retrieve Adenia, and make these minions of the Devil pay.” Frederyk concluded his speech.
“You are way too confident,” Damien said into thin air. Frederyk was already gone. Damien quickly got to his feet and scanned the area that would soon to become a battle field.
The area between the gates and the forest was covered with many areas that would be inaccessible to an army. To Frederyk these areas would provide protection and concealment.
Frederyk motioned to Damien, who was still standing in the outskirts of the wooded area. He emerged from the forest and quickly beheaded one of the guards, then stripped him of his crossbow.
“Now!” Frederyk yelled to Damien. The carnage was quick, there were only three other guards.
“Do you have the ropes?” Damien inquired, rubbing his head.
“Yes I do. Are you prepared for our two man siege of Adenia?” Frederyk said dryly, using the grass to clean his sword.
Damien threw the rope over the castle walls. “You have about five minutes to get over the wall and hold the rope. The lapse of mental communication is bound to attract attention. “
“James, I am still human,” Isabella declared when James suddenly appeared by her bedside.
“Immortality still has all the human feelings of mortality,” James explained, shocked that Isabella had actually spoken.
“I am an intelligent woman James. I know what your master plans.”
“I also know your secrets, James.” Isabella stood up and looked James in the eyes. “You want everything God has given Frederyk: his power and his intelligence.”
“Clever girl, you have been thinking.” James returned Isabella’s glare with a warm stare. “You are definitely a person worth talking to.”
“You plan to infect me with your plague,” Isabella stated. “You plan to break my will.”
“You are correct,” James said drawing a knife tinted pale green. He moved towards Isabella, pushing the knife through her. When he pulled it out it was once again silver.
“You have infected my soul with an evil essence,” Isabella said again, clutching her stomach.
“What happened to your philosophical tone? You only seem to be stating the obvious.”
“I am preparing you for exactly what will happen when the demons weaken me. Even then I will only tell you what you already know.”
“I guess we will see about that,” James replied.
“Let the war of endurance begin.”
“Well the war for Adenia begins,” Frederyk muttered to Damien as he caught up with him.
“I became immortal to avoid encounters with death Frederyk,” He responded.
“You should not have gotten involved with me. You have only yourself to blame for your involvement in this predicament.” Frederyk said, looking from house to house. The serf division seemed completely devastated. “They expected me to save them from tyranny, and I let it reach our land once again.”
“The Devil is a coward, he lets other men fight his battles,” Damien muttered to Frederyk.
“I will kill every one of them until I can hold his heart in my hands.”
“We must take back routes to the central point. They have set up a fortress in the middle of Adenia.”
“What? It has only been a month since we left!” Frederyk exclaimed.
“His slaves, the souls that inhabit Hell, were charged with the task of building the fortress with their own decaying bones. To an unaided eye it would appear that it was made with stone.”
“So the inhabitants of Adenia do not know that the Devil is at work in their lives? It is just a siege to them?”
“To most they are. However, there are other men who stay in hiding, waiting for your return. They are few and they seem untrained.”
“I do not think so, Damien. Follow me.”