Serialized Original Fiction: "Neverdie", by Jon Wood
Editor's Note: Every Sunday we will release a new chapter of Jon Wood's novel "Neverdie" here on the site. This is an original work of fantasy fiction, not set in any MMO world. The story is the owned entirely by Jon and used here with his permission.
...and the Fallen Angel shall attempt to reign once more over beautiful Terria. The fires of his wrath shall burn as the fires of his home, and that Hell shall burn so brightly in those dark times so as to extinguish Terria’s own life giving flame...
...And six champions shall rise from the destruction to confront him. Their souls locked together, their fates linked by this prophecy, in defence of our home, they shall fight separately, as one. As the flame of NeverDie, ignites...
Arsin’s Chronicles, Volume II
"Could this be the Beginning, Sludge?" A small creature whined to its companion as they scuttled, much like all of those around them, through the unnaturally shaped caverns toward the Meeting Place.
"Why else would the Master summon us here?" The one called Sludge asked, its pig-like face twisted into scowl as it spat out each syllable. The hideous creature's leathery skin was covered by a thin coat of beady sweat, slight perspiration in these conditions was not so unusual for a member of its ugly race. However, the heat from the red hot stones around them radiated at a temperature that could easily kill a mortal man.
"Harumph." The first grunted in response, "I should have known. Why else would the smell of sulphur burn our noses so?" The question was redundant. It inhaled strongly, its jagged toothed smile spreading up its face to meet its yellow tusks. "Ahhhh..."It breathed as it exhaled in contentment, looking about at the glorious, if not repetitive scenery of his home. The rock covering the walls of the cavern glowed red hot, small cracks in the floor revealed streams of lava bubbling below the surface. The two continued, pushed along by the crowd. Their webbed feet slapped against the hot stone surface and mixed with the clopping of goat-like hooves, and the whooshing of leathery wings above to add to the delightful chaos that surrounded such an occasion.
It had been four centuries since there had last been a full meeting called. All would attend, from the lowliest creature, to the strongest Devil. They would all hear what Joharras, Fallen of the Angels, had to say.
The two creatures, now engrossed in their own conversation, did not notice the crowd as it came to a stop. Sludge, about to comment on the other delightful smells that lingered in the air, was cut short when he ran straight into the hairy goat legs of a Minor Devil. The creature whirled around in disgust, dropping its gaze down at the much smaller, and far more insignificant being. In one swift motion, the devil brought a strong fist down squarely into Sludge's jaw. The wounded creature squealed in pain. Clutching its jaw, the creature ducked and wove through the crowd so as to avoid its horrible assailant. With a glance over his shoulder, it saw that the being was no longer watching him, instead he was laughing with two other of his kin. From what Sludge could pick out, they laughed over the stupid thing, and its broken tusks. Feeling brave this day, Sludge loudly cursed in his own language. Which, to those who are not of its race, sounded more like a pathetic squeal of defeat than a horrible insult. Sludge was not a stupid thing however, and he darted out of the Devil's possible line of vision, soon finding himself standing on the edge of a high crevice.
Staring down over the edge, Sludge saw the grandest sight that he would ever witness in his eternally tortured existence. Below him, a lake of molten rock and metal proved a most effective lighting source. The lava cast an eerie glow in the cavern above as well as onto a single island of rock that seemed to float in the molten lake as it bubbled and boiled all around. Atop of this island sat a huge black throne, its surface carved in some kind of archaic symbols, their meaning lost long ago, even to the denizens of this hateful land. It was impossible for the small creature to see more detail from his vantage point so high above the sacred chair. Surrounding the throne were six smaller chairs, each was filled by a being that Sludge had never seen, nor heard tell of before. Some were small, some were extremely large. He could tell with near certainty from the dark silhouettes that at least one of them was female, and he could vaguely see the outline of what appeared to the pig-like creature to be the ears of an elf. This was curious. It was a rare occasion that found an elf in the bowels of the damned, and an even stranger occurrence that found one of the cursed creatures as one of Joharass’s honoured guests. The excitement grew as Sludge realised that he had been correct all along. This strangeness could mean only one thing. It was beginning. It was then that his beady eyes happened upon it, an enormous ruby brazier resting easily atop of a giant pillar.
The column itself was an impressive sight. Even from a distance, it was obvious that its stone had been worked and polished with the greatest attention to detail. There were images carved in an upward spiral on its surface, each minute image given life by its own evil craftsmanship.
"Silence!" The voice seemed to come from everywhere. It thundered up from the lava lake, it crashed down from the brimstone ceiling, the order was immediately obeyed. Not only by the small, insignificant wretches, but by each and every manner of Devil and Demon gathered on the cliff’s edge. Violent fights that had broken out among those gathered immediately ceased, and all was quiet. For the first time in known history; all of Hell was silenced, and all of its inhabitants now directed their attention to the plateau where their master sat imposingly on his great throne. It seemed that he was ready to make his address.
"I demand silence!" The voice thundered again. It was a redundant statement considering that all of those gathered had learned anything but total obedience, and sometimes even that, would lead to the most painful of tortures.
"The time of purification is at hand," the Fallen Angel sneered, his voice still echoing menacingly throughout the cavern. "Millennia ago, the Gods banished me to this Hell," he said, standing, "they sent me away so that I would no longer be a threat to them, nor to the precious world that they watch over." Now, risen to the fullest of his height, he stood nearly nine feet tall. Joharras felt the eyes of the gathered upon him. He knew that they all feared him. They looked upon his muscled physique in horror, the black wings that jutted from his shoulder blades inspired fear in all. Running a confident hand through his jet black hair, he continued, "they banished me here, and I found you. You needed my guidance. You needed my wrath!" The crowd erupted in wild cheers and grunts of approval at his Dark Majesty's words, Feeding his ever-hungry ego, as they always did. "Now... Now my children, the time for glory has come. The time of mortal reign on Terria has come to an end. Soon, I shall have my revenge on the Gods for what they have done to me!” There was a pause as he revelled in his own words, hearing them echo through the rocky caverns that had so long imprisoned him. Then, as though remembering the crowd before him, almost reluctantly, he continues, “And to you as well. You shall have vengeance, you shall have all of that filthy world as your play ground. The souls of pathetic mortals will be yours to torment and enjoy!" The mob once again thundered its approval. This time, it became wild. Joharras watched as a number of his handmaids erupted into violent fit, tearing through smaller and weaker beings in the elated crowd. Holding up a hand, he brought the display to a halt, a crooked smile lining his wickedly handsome face.
The Fallen One stopped, his heart beating rapidly in his chest. He knew that what was to be done here was monumental. He paused a moment for effect before continuing. After all, presentation was an Angel's pride, be he protector of the righteous, or fallen and banished from the realm. Finally, he drew forth from his throne a great book. Its tanned cover was bound by what looked like the stretched hide of some long dead being. Perhaps human, maybe elven, but most likely bound by the thick hide of one of the hearty Dwarven race, whose skin, when properly treated, created a leather that would last for centuries longer than the skin of the other fine-skinned races. It didn't matter to him. He ceremoniously opened the book, and began to read from its pages. "... the fires of his wrath shall burn as the fires of his home, and that Hell shall burn so brightly in those dark times as to extinguish Terria’s own life giving flame. And this world, plummeted into weakening darkness will fall to ashes and her people shall be sickened and death shall come to the world..." There were no thrilling yells from the brimstone balcony this time, those few passages were read in the tongue of humans. Those who even understood the words balked and wondered why their Master had spoken them. The Dark Angel knew quite well the next lines of the passage. He knew that those lines prophesied his own destruction at the hands of mere mortals. As foolish as the words seemed, Joharras had absolutely no intention of taking risks. The six creatures who sat patiently and silently at his side, were his protection, his eyes, ears, and most importantly, swords. They would find these six mortals, six so-called champions, and destroy them.
Joharras’s command over his audience began to wane in his moment of inattention. Already, the more dim-witted of the denizens of this Hell had begun to move away. "Those were words written long ago by a human prophet. Many years ago, he saw what was to become of his precious world. The miserable wretch had even tried to warn his kin. Yet, they, being foolish mortals, did not heed his words. Instead, my sources on the surface tell me that it is used as a human fairy tale to scare their young." He paused once more, as the crowd cheered. He closed the book loudly, far more loudly than necessary, the noise echoing off of the stones around him. "My subjects..." He said, mimicking the regal tone used by kings in the world that he once protected. Reaching down to the ground, the Dark Angel produced, a long bow, its shaft crafted from the spine of some unfortunate being. Holding it up for all to see, he plucked a single, two foot long black feather from his own wings. It glowed dully with some unknown evil enchantment. With one swift movement, he bent down and dipped the quill into the lake of lava that surrounded his island. It erupted immediately into blinding yellow flame. In the blink of an eye, Joharras placed it into the bow and pulled the string taut. “Today, you watch as the flame of Neverdie... ignites!" He said the words as a crescendo, his voice rising to a climax. At the peak, he let loose the macabre arrow. It flew swiftly, nearly to the roof of the cavern, and then arched downward, coming to rest in the middle of a waiting brazier. Within seconds, a small flame sprang from the pit, growing even as the mob watched, cheering wildly for their master's coming triumph.
Holding out a commanding hand to silence the mob, the Fallen One spoke again. "Now, the flame will grow, and when it reaches its peak, the flame of life which is so coveted by the mortals, shall be forever extinguished.
Remember, check back every Sunday for a new chapter.
You can comment on the prologue of Jon's story here.