Tale of the Red Magister – Part 5

“…I had to try…” Liaskar whispered, blood trailing down his lips as he dropped his shield to the ground. “…I know you did, old friend. I pray that you find whom you seek where you both truly deserve to rest.” Anetho replied, drawing Orpheus from his midsection. He held the Paladin’s hand until he breathed his last. “…Dream.”

Nothing would hold him back. The Red Magister had severed every last shackle holding him back from this moment. His thoughts raced, his heart beat rapidly. His every nerve tingled. Past the forest where he’d buried his colleague were the elementium mines, and within them the depths of a sanctuary. He descended them, calling upon every malicious misdeed. The final hours of his vengeance were at hand.

Anetho smirked devilishly, as he strode down the hallway, his bright red overcoat dragging along the ground, kicking up small pepples. His boots, echoeing down the narrow tunnel, his large runeblade screeching it’s way alongside him, throwing sparks all over, as it traced a line in the stone. He opened his mouth, and a dark, reverberating laughter shook its way along the walls. Carried all the way to the center of the sanctuary he had just breached.

“He’s here.” Algolen looked to his mistress, his words indicating a desire for direction. “As I knew he would. Few things, our fair Elf, ever deigns to leave unfinished. Go to him, and offer unto his body, your blade.” Sariane crossed her legs, as she smiled gently to her liegeman. Her right hand resting against her cheek. “Let his blood be the sacrament to your loyalty, to the Twilight’s Hammer.” Algolen nodded, drawing his long hair into a ponytail and setting forth towards the source of the laughter. “….Your corpse, will grant all the time I need….” She sneered.

“The Thandol Span is falling down~” Anetho smiled, as he threw several shadowy bolts of mana at the cultists scattered about in the antechamber before him. “Falling down~” He raised his left hand and little comets of flame formed and began flying forth at the peons running towards him from the stairs. “Falling down~” His eyes flared with satisfaction, as the mass of corpses rolled down from whence they came, as he began his descent. “My. Fair. Lady.” He chuckled. What awaited him below was a collection of defenders, wielding both shield and sword. “Really, I haven’t the time to induldge you…. Belkresh….If you would?” From his shadow rose an etheral being, slowly forming in the shape of a beast. Long, midnight claws. Azure glowing eyes forming at what could resemble a head. The distortion’s lower half consisting of a tendril leading into Anetho’s shadow. A Voidwalker. It snarled. With his left hand he quickly formed a ritual circle in the air, and called forth. “Anriel.” The circle erupted forth with a deafening force, as it widened into a gate, and from it, stepped a succubus, with tattered wings, fair complexion, and luciously red lips.. “Master?” Anetho smiled. “Akor’shekai.” With those words, yet another beast was ripped from it’s realm into his own. An ear shattering cry echoed from above, some of the guardsmen looked forth to see a Doomguard, a massive imposing beast, with a blade larger than any one man flying from a conjured gateway at the top of the antechamber. It slammed down hard in front of Anetho, offering a minor shockwave. “Clear the field!” He commanded.

Algolen pierced the darkness of the hall with his eyes, at long last only to find a mass of corpses awaiting him, demonic entities ripping through what was left of the members of this particular sect of the Twilight’s Hammer. “By the Hammer!” He exclaimed at the sheer depravity of what was taking place before his eyes. The Doomguard gorged itself on the corpses resting at the ground, licking at it’s lips. The Voidwalker, content to rest near it’s master, and the Succubus lounging on Anetho’s shoulder. “T’would seem faith wasn’t enough to grant them immortality. Perhaps you’ll fair better?” He glared at the man in the hallway, bearing enchanted armor, and a large, two handed mace. “As milady predicted, you have arrived, and you’ve proven far more capable than when first you left the cause.” He fell into a battle stance, ready for any premeditated attack. “Left? Dear child, I would prefer the term, achieved liberation. Though, I suppose it would vary from the viewpoint of those in shackles, and those holding the reigns.” Anetho directed the tip of his runeblade at the male. “But, to explain it, would be a waste of time, and precious air.” He shrugged Anriel off, and walked towards his new quarry. “Shall we begin?” He raised the blade over head, and gave a sturdy overhead swing, which was easily deflected by Algolen. “I am Anetho. The Harbinger of Despair. And I will bleed you dry…..”

Laughter and metal echoed throughout the sanctuary.

The victory wrought from the legions of Twilight aspirants, left him empty. Even slaying the liegeman brought him no comfort. No joy. No happiness. It was the mirror that he lacked. Now in the final hour, he could see himself for what he was. His facades were slipping away as surely as the man’s consciousness beneath him. “…There is but one left…” He reassured himself.

Anetho looked upon the fresh corpse of the liegeman who’d layed his life down for the High Priestess of Twilight. The battle replaying itself in his mind. The resolve the man carried. The dedication. The loyalty. His every intentional movement, utilizing the mace that now lay shattered in two, at his feet. Was this pity, brewing within Anetho’s dark heart? He looked toward the hallway from which the nameless man had emerged, before stepping over the body, staggering along, using the imposing runeblade, like something of a cane. Belkresh, Anriel, and the Doomguard, followed silently behind him. His contract, nearly fulfilled, and soon, his soul to be forfeit. The Succubus held a solemn expression upon her face, as she looked to the Voidwalker, linked forever to the Warlock, slinking along where his shadow would be. The Doomguard, placing one hoof in front of the other, maintained a satisfied grin. Blood coated it’s ashened black breastplate and blade. With the hope of more to come.

Fatigue, wore upon Anetho’s features. His illusions were fading. His crimson red hair fluctuating and falling into a dead, gray-blonde, as though his soul were already slipping away. His beautiful, flawless features, replaced with a rugged, scarred face, cracked lips, tired eyes, and a jagged left ear. His forth and fifth fingers at his right hand, faded away as if they had never existed. Anetho saw himself, stripped of the facades, and decadent eccentricities. To the onlooker, it would be quite the reviling sight. He coughed, as he continued forward. The darkness offering little comfort, a single brazier in the distance, the only hint of his destination in sight. His footsteps, a melodic prelude to his own demise. His life played over in his mind. The torture…. The subjugation…. The murders… Freedom.

Escaping the Twilight’s Hammer, all those years ago, flinging himself from a waterfall, and arriving in his native land of Quel’Thalas… How far away, it all seemed. How many had he manipulated and cast aside for his own selfish desires? Tens? Hundreds? Perhaps even a thousand? The old sage… the nobleman… Even Cielane. Yes, his cherished vanguard. He pondered what she was doing at this instant, without his guidance, cast away into the world. Safe from this grim destiny, he had chosen for himself. Perhaps even his deceased lovers and children, were a stepping stone. Sorrow, filtered from his eyes. His sapphire tears, dripping along the ground. The light….. The light was getting brighter, and he was becoming heavier. “Ten Specific Souls, Shall I Grant You… When I Have Delivered Them Unto You, In Turn, Shall I Have Yours.” He thought back, had he really decimated so many lives, for ten individuals? Harper, the clever and enigmatic rogue. He recalled burning the young man to a cinder. Naught but ash and misery left. Melinda, and Azil. Even the little girl, her corpse cast alongside others. Faces came, and destinies faded. Nine souls, had he been offered. One more, resting a few more feet ahead.

Relaenia. He saw her face, her fiery hair, and demeanor. And he pitied her, as well. Lost to the world, and to her self. Not knowing what it was, she truly wished for. Caught in the tides of life’s journey. Did he even know what he truly wished for? Did it matter now? Astoreth, her fate nearly as dark as he perceived his own. Never knowing a satisfaction or moment’s peace. Her mind would always wander dark places, even if she could not perceive it.  He clutched the blade even tighter amid his two remaining fingers and thumb. He coughed again. Was it all for this? A dreadful dragon, scouring the Earth above of all life, and he should commit to removing ten individuals, who in the grand scheme of things, had no value at all? “Revenge….” The words echoed throughout his mind. The very same words he offered to the Succubus when he entered into a contract with her. The very same he’d used to justify every sacrifice. Every life ruined. Everyone harmed. “Revenge….is all I have left…” Was it really? Had he been to blind to see what he had before him? Wealth. Power. Influence. Love? Was it love? He fell against the wall, his breathing heavy. Sweating causing his hair to cling to his disfigured face. “Master. Surely you do not seek rest, when your desire is within sight.” Anriel cooed. “…What did I ever truly desire, Anriel?” He replied, in a solemn tone, as he dragged himself forward once more. “It’s called Orpheus. The Harbinger of Despair.” His thoughts drifted to the blade in his hand. The object through which he’d identified himself. A shallow attempt to give himself meaning. The enchanted Runeblade, crafted that he may wield Life, Death, and Mana, all at once. A shell, of it’s intended purpose. He recalled the blade, shattering as it pierced Azil. As the energies had manifest, and broken it apart. The reforging process, and the restructuring of it’s compositional mana. “Just a shell of what it was intended.” Indeed, it was Anetho’s personification. “Do you experience fear, Fool Mortal?” Belkresh asked, knowing the answer already. It’s azure eyes perhaps perceiving pleasure from it’s master’s suffering.

Had it all lead to this? Asleon’s body, and Marianne’s soul? Was this the fated destiny of the abomination that had become Anetho Dawnpride? “Can you hear me, Quel’dorei?” Sariane’s voice filled the hall. “…Or do you prefer, Sin’dorei? Oh, so torn, so lost, how helpless! Dearie me, the suffering! The suffering! Its exquisite! Watching you wander, and fret. Cry and rage. Thrashing about like a helpless marionette. With me pulling the strings.” He shrugged out of his tattered red overcoat, and pulled his tie away. His suit, now hanging open at the vest, the rose within his pocket bending slightly. “We’re the last, you know? You and I. Have you considered, what we represent? A prologue, to the destruction of this world, indeed, all life. You’ve surpassed our every expectation. Ever the murderous, malicious tool, we wished for. Ever the beautiful child, I pressed against myself at night. We’ve come full circle, haven’t we dear, beautiful, Anetho?” He waved his left hand, and the Doomguard faded away, borne back to it’s own realm. “Belkresh….” He whispered. “Fool Mortal. I bid you well, in your chosen endeavor. I pray that your end… is painful.” The Voidwalker seemed to chuckle, as it slipped into the nothingness that formed Anetho’s shadow. “You and I… have a contract to honor… Anriel.” His voice cracked, a little. Perhaps even he feared the end. The Succubus nodded, though no real pleasure or excitement wracked her mind at the thought of dining upon her master’s soul. How curious. “Anetho…. How did you ever come to name yourself? Did we perhaps steal it? Disregard my love of your body? My name for you? Was ‘puppet’ not good enough?” Her voice echoed once more. He was so close…. So close to the end…

“It hurts me, Anetho, truly. To know that after we were so close, that we’d now rest so far apart… It brings me to tears. Crafted in my image…. And held dear…. Is this how you choose to repay me?” She cackled, her laughter now unnerving him. He paused, but a moment, but proceeded. He emerged from the darkness, into a small, well lit room. Where the last obstacle, sat upon a throne of stone. One leg crossed over the other, scantily dressed, that little could be left to the imagination. “…Do you like, what you see? Would you deign to stand alongside it, once more? To fulfil that which you were crafted to be?” Anetho looked upon her, she was older than he remembered. So much older. Yet, he could not see that change in himself. “My, you look positively ragged. Have the years not been kind to you? The fire in your eyes, has all but died out.” She smirked, standing herself upright, and slamming her staff upon the ground. “…The fires of destruction. The ones you seeded me with, shall this day, become the flames of your own creation, that carry the last stigma of your sect, into the Ether.” Anetho stated blankly. “…To much to hope….” Sariane directed the tip of her staff at him. It glowed with a sickly green aura. Anriel moved to stand at Anetho’s side. “Demonic, and mortal alike, all that stand before the Hammer, shall be driven back from whence they came.” Anriel bared her fanged teeth. “I’d love to see you try.” She said, as she lashed out with her fel-infused whip. It wrapped about the woman’s staff, and sundered it, as she jerked her wrist back. “Oh my….” Sariane quipped. “…Its over… Sariane…. Ten years of agony, and it’s over….” Anetho stared up at her, with tired eyes. The green fel haze parting, and revealing his sapphire blue’s. Those tragic eyes…. so full of suffering. “For us, perhaps. But the Twilight Hour, still dawns nearer, with every passing second.” Anetho readied his blade, as she stepped down the stairs towards him. “If that is what is fated, then that is what mortality must contest.” Sariane smirked, as her bare feet touched against the stone floor, and the light hit her at every angle, revealing her finer features. Piercings, adorning her ears, and the left side of her lip. Two along her right eyebrow, and one at her left nostril. She looked so Human, for all her underlying malicious traits. She held her hands up, as if in surrender. “I’ve no misgivings about triumphing over you. After all, I made you.” She sneered. Anetho lowered his blade. “And you know how it must end….” He looked at her. Was this truly the object of his malice? Surrendering? Then it happened. With a flick of her index finger, a bolt of darkest night, found itself upon his left knee, completely shattering the bone, and cauterizing the flesh. He fell the ground, without so much as a cry of agony, though surprise was upon his face. “Was it so unexpected?” She laughed, as another bolt found it’s way upon the breast of his Succubus, sending it against a nearby wall, and relieving it of it’s lash. “Really, Anetho… I thought you better than that…” She cast another bolt at his sword, as he reached for it, sending it spinning into a brazier and knocking it over. A banner taking to the flames, and casting smoke all about the room. Another bolt, his right leg burning, and offering a sickening crack. He stared up at her, now cast in a sillohette of gray. “…This, is the end. I bid you fai-” Anriel tackled Sariane, mid-monologue, and proceeded to claw at her face, and hands. The woman, now in a panic frantically held her hands about her face, and tried to push the demon from her to no avail. Anetho, given a burst of adrenaline and purpose, crawled his way over to the females, and slammed his right hand down on Sariane’s face. “I do not fear death!” She screamed. “…And that is why I grant you, eternal life.” He snarled, as he filtered her soul from her body, and into a dim gem, resting in his satchel. The life, fading from her eyes, as her hands slipped from their posture to the floor. Anriel stood her full height, and looked to her Master. The contract had been fulfilled. He peered up at her, before the strain upon his body, and lack of oxygen in the room thanks to the smoke, caused him to pass out.

Perhaps hours later, he awoke, deep in Silverpine forest, with Anriel tending to him. “…Did we?” She nodded in reply, as she placed a wet rag upon his forehead. “…Will it hurt?” He asked, knowing quite well, that the end was near. She nodded. “It does. A soul seasoned with agony and torment, tastes…. so delicious.” She smirked, as she bandaged his legs. “Do take your time.” He smirked sarcastically. “…However, I believe our contract to be void. I fail to see how a bitch like her, even has a soul to take. Therefore, I’ve failed in your service.” She kissed at his cheek. “You…what?” He was surprised. Had this been her intent the whole time? “Even those who reside in the fel, have hearts, Anetho… As do those who hide theirs in Darkness… You may not see it, but I have. And I enjoyed keeping it close.” He blinked. “So then, your released from my bindings?”  “Yes.” She replied simply. “….However, when the end comes, t’is I, who will greet you. For I still have a taste for you.” He smiled grimly. “How reassuring.” She giggled. “I’ve got to go. Another mortal awaits, trying to call forth and entreaty a contract…. The past six years, were entertaining…. Master.” She kissed at his lips once more, and walked towards the doorway. Offering a single glance back, before spreading her wings, and taking flight. Never to be seen again.

He was truly left without purpose. Crippled. In the middle of nowhere. In the cold. And he did not mind. For he was, at long last…. Free. This was the rapture, given unto him.

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~ by anethodawnpride on May 19, 2013.

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