Demon Lord IV - Lord of Shadows, страница 1
Demon Lord IV
Lord of Shadows
T C Southwell
Published by T C Southwell at Smashwords
Copyright © 2010 T C Southwell
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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Table of Contents
Chapter One – God Sight
Chapter Two – Mage Prince
Chapter Three – Fate
Chapter Four – Havoc
Chapter Five – Sanctuary
Chapter Six – Necromancer
Chapter Seven – The Seventh Ward
Chapter Eight – Trap
Chapter Nine – Fire Dance
Chapter Ten – Darkness Falls
Chapter Eleven – Dark Goddess
Chapter Twelve – Lord of Shadows
Chapter Thirteen – The Curse
Chapter Fourteen – Rebirth
Chapter Fifteen – Vengeance
Chapter Sixteen – Dark Temple
The Demon Lord travels through the God Realm with Kayos, Mirra, Grem and Mithran to free Lyriasharin’s enslaved daughter, Ashynaria. They come upon a dying blue mage who begs Bane to save her goddess from the dark god who ravages her domain. Bane agrees only to free the goddess, but then she persuades him to cast Vorkon down. Drayshina’s domain is dying, the great cities protected by walls of blue fire, but it is only a matter of time before the dark power consumes the land.
When she falls into the dark god’s trap, Bane tries to save her, and is injured in the battle with Vorkon that follows. Queen Kyan agrees to help him create seven blue wards to trap Vorkon below, and assigns her most powerful mages, foremost of whom is her cowardly husband, Prince Tygon. He must create the seventh ward while Bane protects him and the other mages. Then Bane will have to face Vorkon again and cast him down so the wards can be activated and trap the dark god in the Underworld forever…
Bane leant back as the carriage rattled along the rough road outside the City of Avadorn, already a pillar of blue fire in the distance. Tygon and Shrea were as taciturn as Bashir had been loquacious, but he found that to be less annoying. The fiery rain had forced them to raise the carriage's roof, but the dimness outside the city was more pleasing to him than the sunlight had been. The blue mages looked a little ill. The dark power that filled the air clearly made them nauseous. It had been present in the city as well, seeping up from the ground, but in far lesser quantities than it was here, for the sunlight held it at bay. He closed his eyes, then sat up with a jerk, opening them again. Tygon looked concerned.
"What is wrong, My Lord?"
"Nothing." Bane leant back and closed his eyes again. Within the blackness of his mind, two pale lights hovered where Tygon and Shrea sat, one tinged with red and the other with yellow. He opened his eyes, finding that the yellow-tinged one was Tygon. So the phenomenon in the village had not been a fleeting aberration brought on by his need; he could now see people's souls. Curious, he closed his eyes again and studied the dozen closely packed lights in the wagon behind them.
Several were yellow, one was blue, another was green and four were pink, while the rest were a mixture of two or more colours. Except for one. Bane frowned. One was almost invisible, because it was dull red, hidden by the brightness of the others. One of the soldiers in the wagon was a worshipper of evil. He opened his eyes, wondering if he should tell Tygon or deal with it himself, but the uproar it would cause might jeopardise the mission. The new power was disturbing, and he wondered why Kayos had touched him when they had first met, to establish whether or not he was tar'merin, when he could see souls so easily.
Setting the issue aside, he decided that enough time had passed since they had left the city, and became invisible. The blue mages looked uncomfortable, sharing a worried glance as if unsure of whether he was still with them. He resisted the dark power’s urging to amuse himself at their expense, and settled back to wait. The carriage rattled on, raising clouds of ash, and Tygon drew out a silken handkerchief to mop his brow. He studied the grey smear on it with a grimace of distaste, then tucked the cloth back into his pocket. The prince's cowardice irritated Bane, especially since he would be forced to work with the man.
Bane waited for the surge of dark power that would herald the arrival of the black mages. As they entered a belt of dead forest, six black-clad men leapt out from behind the trees, taking him by surprise. The warlocks wasted no time on taunting as the previous ones had done, having prepared themselves and recovered from their Move. Two of them flung bolts of shadow at the blue mages while the other four created shields. Tygon gave a girlish scream and threw up his arms, forming a shimmering blue shield, and Shrea gripped his arm, raising her own.
Bane gestured, and a black wall shot up from the ground, consuming the bolts of darkness. The carriage stopped and the soldiers in the wagons boiled from them en mass, pointing their silver tubes at the black mages. Beams of brilliant blue light shot from the weapons, struck the warlocks' shields and mantled them in coruscating blue fire, eating away at the black. One mage staggered back, his shield consumed, and the soldiers concentrated their fire on him, making him scream and collapse. The others swung their shields to protect him, foiling the soldiers.
Bane wondered if the soldiers would triumph and how long it would take, but decided that if they did prevail, the mages would flee to save themselves. The first two flung another barrage of black bolts at the blue mages, which Bane's shield consumed as easily as the first. Soon they would realise that their attack was futile, and Move, but for the moment the presence of his shield confused them, not knowing its source.
Bane raised an arm and pointed at the nearest black mage, whose shield held for only a moment. He fell, screaming as his skin blackened and smoke rose from his hair. The others gaped at their fallen comrade, then two tried to flee, drawing their shields back into themselves to power their Move. Bane waved his hand at them in the instant before they did, and they leapt into the air with agonised shrieks. One exploded with a thud, splattering his companions with blood and gore. The other fell writhing, his insides cooked.
The remaining three drew together, joining their shields into a more powerful, combined one. As long as they held it, none of them could Move. Bane shed the cloak of invisibility and stepped down from the carriage, gesturing to the soldiers, who stopped firing. Bane stopped before the warlocks and gripped the edge of the black shield. The mages eyed him, their grim faces filled with the knowledge that they were doomed. They were middle-aged, in the prime of life, their features sculpted to handsomeness by the dark power. Curious, Bane closed his eyes. All three had dull red souls, and the three on the ground were now empty cadavers.
A shriek from the carriage made Bane open his eyes and glance around. Shrea had shed her shield and tried to soothe Tygon, who cringed, his eyes screwed shut. When she touched him, he shuddered and shrieked.
"This is the man you would serve, dark god?" one of the black mages asked.
Bane faced him. "I serve no one."
"What do you hope to achieve?"
"I will free this domain."
The mage's cold grey eyes flicked over him. "You are mortal. Vorkon will kill you and destroy your soul unless you join him."
"This was a trap."
The mage nodded. "So you intend to kill us."
"We cannot fight you. We will surrender."
Bane smiled. "No."
"We will cast out our power."
"We will repent, become blue mages."
Bane shook his head. "You are evil."
"Perhaps the consort should decide."
"I have already decided."
Another shriek came from the carriage, followed by a slap. Shrea muttered fierce words, and Tygon's shield winked out. The dishevelled consort uncurled and raised his head, glancing around at his audience as he made an effort to pull himself together. He ran a hand through his hair and tugged at his tunic, then stepped from the carriage with all the poise he could muster. The soldiers were ranged behind him, their silver weapons lowered, and Bane closed his eyes briefly, locating the evil one amongst them. Tygon approached Bane, Shrea half dragging him.
"Do I have to watch this?" he mumbled.
"Better if you do not," Bane replied with a scathing look.
Tygon nodded and started to turn away.
One of the warlocks cried, "Mercy, prince consort!"
Releasing his portion of the shield, he dropped to his knees. At the same moment, the other two drew in the shield's power and the soldier raised his weapon, pointing it at Tygon. Bane spun, sent Tygon sprawling with a push and unleashed a lash of dark fire at the soldier with a flick of his hand. The man leapt into the air with a scream, but Bane was already swinging back to face the mages.
Both tried to Move, gesturing to aid their concentration. One faded, and Bane struck at him first. All movement around him became torpid, and he realised that he had taken hold of time again, but he did not know how. The dark fire struck the fading mage, and his scream echoed back as he vanished, certainly dead before he reached his destination. The other died before he could attempt to Move, and the third flung up his hands and formed a shield, which slowed Bane's power for a few moments, then the last warlock expired with a howl.
The Demon Lord lowered his hands, finding everyone frozen in place, and wondered if he had somehow stopped time, and, if so, how he could start it again. Then Tygon slumped in a dead faint, and the tableau shattered as people rushed to his side. Bane gave a snort of disgust, shifting his gaze to the soldier he had killed. A comrade knelt beside the body, staring at Bane with horror and anger. Bane walked over to him, and the soldier stood up, hefting his weapon.
"Why did you kill him?"
"He was a worshipper of evil; he was aiming his weapon at the consort."
The soldier eyed him. "I don't believe you. He was a good man."
Bane spread his hands and smiled. "So shoot me. His soul belonged to Vorkon. Worshippers of the dark are good liars."
"As are dark gods."
"True." Bane shrugged. "But if I am lying, why did I bother to kill him? I had enough to do at the time."
"I don't know."
"Ignorance is bliss." Bane looked down at the silver tube the man held. "I am curious about your weapons. How much damage can they do?"
"They did not seem too effective against the mages."
"They had shields."
Bane nodded. "And against a normal man?"
"He would die instantly, with a hole through him."
"Indeed? How interesting." Bane held up his hand. "Shoot me."
The soldier gaped. "What?"
"Shoot me. In the hand. I want to see."
"You have shields too."
"I am not using any. That would be pointless, would it not?"
Bane tilted his head. "Why not? You do know how to use it, do you not?"
"Of course. But without orders, I would be in trouble."
"I am giving you an order. Do you see anyone here who outranks me?"
The soldier stepped back. "No, My Lord, but if you were hurt..."
"I will take it as a learning experience."
"You would be angry, and strike me down."
Bane smiled. "If you do not obey, I will just make you do it."
"You can do that?"
The soldier glanced around for support, but his companions averted their eyes and sidled away, the officers stood blank-faced. Shrea, who knelt beside Tygon, grimaced and turned away. The soldier gulped, then raised the weapon and pointed it at Bane's hand, backing away a few steps. Bane closed the gap and pressed his hand to the end of the silver tube.
"My Lord, at that range..."
"Just do it."
The soldier hesitated, then screwed up his face, turned his head away, and activated the weapon. Brilliant blue light flared at the end of the tube, and a sharp pain lanced through Bane's hand. The dark power beneath his skin turned the blue fire away, and it shot back into the weapon, which melted. The soldier dropped it with a yelp, and Bane hissed and snatched his hand back, shaking it. The man spat on his reddened palms, trying to cool them, and Bane examined the slight red mark on his hand.
The soldier backed away again. "I'm sorry, My Lord."
Bane frowned. "Interesting."
One of the officers strode up. "He was only doing as you wished, My Lord."
"I know." Bane cast him an irritated glance. "Perhaps you should tend to him, not pick on me."
"Yes, My Lord." The officer took a canteen from his belt and poured water over the soldier's hands. Bane strode back to the carriage, glancing at the comatose prince consort.
"Put him in the carriage; we must return to the city."
When the soldiers had remounted the wagons, the little cavalcade turned and headed back to Avadorn.
Kayos sipped his ambrosia and chuckled, gazing into the Eye, which followed the three vehicles along the road. Syrin, who had been watching over his shoulder, moved back to the bed and sat down, smiling. Mirra continued to watch the scene within the Eye, standing on the other side of the Grey God. Mithran and Grem peered over her shoulders.
Kayos waved his cup at the Eye. "He is a child. He still experiments, like a baby testing the end of a pin with a finger. His power fascinates him, and he plays with it. And he is curious about you, little angel. Beware that he does not decide to toy with you, to see how you react." The Grey God shook his head. "So much power in the hands of one so young."
"You fear him?" Syrin enquired with a slight smile.
Kayos looked pensive, and a little sad. "Anyone who does not, be he mortal or god, is a fool."
"But you are far more powerful than he, great lord."
He snorted. "It is not a matter of how much power we have, but what kind, silly child. I have the power to create all this." He gestured expansively. "But he has the power to destroy it. Which do you think is more dangerous?"
"You could kill him."
"His mortal body, yes. But once he rose as a true god..." He shook his head again and sipped his ambrosia. "Dark gods have ever plagued us and destroyed us, all but the Seven. Fortunately they destroy each other far more often, so as many as rise from dark realms, others are destroyed, keeping the balance."
"Has a light god never been able to kill one of the dark ones?"
"No one has ever been able to wield the white power in a destructive manner, though many have tried, including myself. Some have created mortals and channelled it through them, but always at the cost of the mortal's life. But Vayter did destroy a dark god once, many aeons ago. They met in the God Realm, and the dark god came upon Vayter so suddenly that he could not flee, so he cast up his shields and hid within them. The dark god hammered at his shields for many years, but could not break them.
"Vayter, growing bored, put himself into a deep slumber. In his slumber, he dreamt, and unknown to him, there was a Realm Seed within the sphere of his influence. It was buried in solid rock
"It did not disintegrate and free him; it closed like a mighty fist. A god cannot pass through the boundaries of a domain, they contain powerful wards much like those that the blue mages will create between the Lightworld and the Darkworld in this domain, except far more powerful. Nothing can pass through it. The dark god was trapped, and so was the Oracle. When the domain crushed the Oracle, it unleashed its power, and the dark god was destroyed." Kayos shrugged and sipped his ambrosia. "At least, that is what I heard. I have not seen Vayter for aeons."
Syrin gazed at him raptly. "Amazing."
Kayos grunted, watching the three vehicles enter the city.
Bane stepped down from the carriage before it stopped moving, impatient. Tygon tottered after him, pasty-faced and downcast, Shrea at his side. Bane stopped within the hall and turned to the prince consort.
"I want Bashir and Kimera brought here, and bring me a map of this domain."
Tygon gave the order to a hovering officer, and then gestured towards a door in the side of the hall. "There are maps in here, My Lord."