As Mors' tyrannical aura swept over the villagers, sending a cold chill down their spines, the priestess locked her jaw and stepped forward. As someone who was at the peak of the copper realm and respected as a leading power in this, and the surrounding villages, how could she allow her reputation to be tarnished by a crippled demon on the verge of death?
After taking a few moments to compose herself, the priestess' voice rang out in a calm and collected manner, as she cast a defensive spell that covered the villagers in a warm golden light. "Do you think your pathetical parlour tricks can scare us, demon? We are followers of the Goddess of light and thus, our resolve is stronger than you could even imagine. There is nothing you can do to postpone your execution. Give up and accept your fate."
The woman's spell, along with her confident words reassured a lot of the villagers and, as the few that had fainted were carried back to their homes, they started shouting out in support of the priestess, condemning Mors for being foolish enough to try and intimidate them and tarnish their Goddess' name.
As the villager's shouts steadily intensified, mainly to reassure each other that they were safe and in control, Mors sniggered and coldly replied. "I have seen and committed terrible acts in the name of many gods, and I highly doubt any of them were sanctified or even endorsed. Spare me your pathetic excuses and finger pointing and get on with it."
As the priestess's face went crimson in anger, an ancient, overbearing yet familiar voice echoed in Mors' head. "Well, you're half right. Elathe despises the atrocities done in her name and goes out of her way to make sure those responsible are reincarnated into lesser beings, but not all Gods are like that."
A wicked smile crept on Mors' face causing the villagers shouts to falter as they collectively swallowed at the demons fearlessness. I have been expecting you, oh great God of Death.
"But I wasn't expecting this," chuckled the voice. "After having this role for so many aeons, I had given up listening to the stories of the dead as they pass through limbo but can you imagine my surprise when I overheard that a reptilian-eyed, demon boy had been killing guards at some remote village not far from the place I had just visited. Thinking I better check that you were not distorting the balance too much, I find you beaten to a pulp, chained to a stake and about to be executed by a bunch of fanatical zealots," chuckled the voice, clearly amused with the situation.
What can I say... I seem to be quite popular for some reason. Now although I have an inkling, why don't we stop with the pleasantries and you tell me what brings Death himself to my humble skull?
"Seems like you have regained some of your memories and... humour," replied Grim. "I have to say, the few that I saw were relatively amus-"
Lost in his own world, Mors did not notice both the priestess and the villagers taking a step back, their faces paled and were covered in a light sweat as his emotions instantly darkened.
Realising his mistake, Grim let out a tired sigh. "Death, pain, loss. These do not epitomise life. They are only a small part of something that is much, much larger. When you regain your other memories that are linked with... nicer emotions, you will feel much better. Urg, talking to you mortals, even one as old as yourself always gives me, what you would call, a headache."
Get to the point before I set myself on fire and come 'visit' you personally.
The voice chuckled. “Now that you have started to regain your memories and unlock the power of your soul, I will pass, but thanks for the offer. Cernunnos would have loved to make you her apostle. You're literally willing to go to hell in order to hunt down anyone or thing that angers you. A bit childish, but at least you’re honest and comfortable with what you are."
Noticing Mors' rapidly decreasing patience, Grim decided to get to the point. "Well, seeing as you were about to run off and abandon our deal, I guess this was a good chance to give you a helping hand and by doing so, earn your trust. Not that it really matters but gauging by your past lives, you hate being indebted, and once someone earns your loyalty, then until they do something that you interpret as betrayal, you will never go against them, which is exactly what I need."
"I will awaken your second affinity and your three bloodlines. Typically you would need to wait until you evolve, meet the requirements and acquire the needed strength before you unlock them, but you seem to have got yourself into quite the predicament and it's come to an all or nothing gamble. To survive the flames imbued with light energy, I must awaken your secondary affinity, fire, and your draconic bloodline. To heal you so that you will not remain a cripple until you evolve, I must awaken the angelic heritage. And to ensure that you survive, as I doubt you will leave before this village has been crushed into the dirt and every soul, innocent or not, has been sent to the afterlife; I will awaken your devil bloodline."
"BUT, I must warn you. This will be the most painful event in all of your lives combined. I have faith in your soul's power to keep you from becoming completely insane but if you do and spiral out of control, know that the Gods will be forced to act and you will be imprisoned in a soulstone."
There was a pause, in which Mors took the chance to interrupt. What’s in it for you, apart from gaining a 'lap dog'. I doubt I am that much of a prize no matter how much you try to flatter me.
Grim laughed. “Not even flinching at the threat of pain and eternal imprisonment. Forget Cernunnos; Bellona would start an eternal war to get you on side... looks like for my first apostle, even if it was forced, I truly lucked out."
Mors noticed vague movement in his vision but ignored it as Grim continued. "Although the woman called Verz has become something I despise, she has lived a good life, and I owe her clan for… favours in the past. You will become her apprentice, and then inherit the Moon Clan's abilities, giving her peace of mind, as well as aid her in her tasks until her body finally returns to the earth in which it escaped.”
Hmm, from our last meeting, I thought I was the ‘important’ one, reflected Mors, but it seems like you are putting more emphasis on Verz this time round.
“You?” Humour was evident in Grim's voice but also a hint of irritation. “Initially I thought that I could… control you by giving you a purpose, an agenda, but it has only been a short time and judging by your thoughts and actions, it’s clear that you will follow no one’s path but your own. You're an enigma that should not exist and are not chained by fate. Even though they go against my policies, the Sun Clan’s actions at summoning were preordained by... certain gods, and those chosen, including your daughter, had parts to play in the grand scheme. Even me deciding to wipe the Sun Clan out due to their actions was something set by fate.”
"You are not the hero, a villain or even a side character in the grand play that is this world's destiny. You are an error, an anomaly that should not exist. The only reason your continued existence is allowed is that in all honesty, not even us gods can destroy a soul as old and as powerful as yours. If we were to try, you would likely fully awaken and bring our dimension to ruin. Initially, I thought about imprisoning your soul like that damned female, but after taking a brief glance at your previous lives, I realised I would me making an eternal enemy and one that would never forgive or forget and given enough time, seeing as we have infinite amounts of it, you would surely seek your vengeance and destroy everything I have every worked towards."
Grim had paused for a moment before he started muttering to himself. "I still can't believe you two are linked. If you were not completely outside of fates plan's, I would be certain that this was some ploy by one of the dark gods to shake things up. Maybe it's because you're both fallen or the fact she had the unfortunate luck to meet with you in your old world and you warped her fate somehow... Why does this have to happen on my watch as guardian?"
"I would tell you to say your prayers Demon, but no God would be willing to listen," shouted the priestess as she finally gathered the courage to summon golden flames into the palms of her hands and approach the pyre.
Mors chuckled lightheartedly, snapped from his conversation with Grim, as his eyes locked onto the woman with extreme killing intent. “Why would I need to pray? I am already speaking with Death, and it doesn't bode well for you I'm afraid. He is offering quiet a good deal."
The priestess pointed her empty hand at him and muttered a chant before a thin ray of light shot outwards and pierced Mors shoulder, causing him to hiss in pain.
Enough talk Grim. If I don’t rip that bitch apart soon, I am going to lose it.
The god sighed. "Due to needing huge amounts of energy, not just a God's intervention, I must wait until the priestess ignites the fire. Also, because your primary affinity is darkness until your second affinity is fully awakened, you still will suffer severe surface damage so you... never mind, it's not like you care about your looks as long as you get your revenge right?"
Good, thought Mors as his aura, already terrify, continued to increase in strength, resonating out far enough to be felt by the Huntsmen over thirty miles away. All I need is the power to crush that woman; I care for nothing else at this moment.
“Death?” muttered the priestess, before realisation appeared in her eyes. “YOU STILL THINk YOU CAN THREATEN US? DIE HEATHEN!”
The woman stretched out her arm and the golden flame was sent hurtling towards the pyre at an incredible speed. "Let's see how you fair against the purifying flames of light."
"Don't make me regret my decision to help you," sighed Grim as Mors felt an icy darkness fall over him. "You may be nothing but a weak imp now, but by helping you today, in the future, there will be few that can stand against you in the mortal realm."
Mors’ terrifying, reptilian eyes locked onto the priestess as a cold, haunting smile crept across his lips. Don’t worry Grim, I always remember my debts and those that have helped me.
“Good, then remember that the Huntsmen have helped you and fulfill your part of the agreement. I will not be able to help you in the future as the other Gods have already noticed,” said Grim as his voice started to fade into nothingness. “Oh, and try not to procreate. All I need is mini versions of you running around the place, messing up our divine plans.”
Once the golden flames hit the pyre, they instantly combusted, engulfing Mors with a blinding flash of light. The villagers burst into cheers, expressing their relief only to fall silent a few moments later. This was not their first demonic purge, and the absence of the demon's screams, as well as his confident demeanour, caused them to feel uneasy.
The roaring fire, its towering flames licking the air tens of feet above the pyre, slowly started to diminish as it was sucked greedily towards the centre.
After less than thirty seconds, dark, blood-coloured, tribal markings appeared from inside the fire and formed the shape of Mors' body. At first, they were so faint that many of the villagers rubbed their eyes to make sure they were not seeing things but, as the golden flames died down and were slowly extinguished, the runes glow intensified and became clearly visible. As they watched in horror, loud, bone-crunching noises resonated outwards as Mors shattered limbs started to reform painfully.
Everyone present stood with slack; horrified expressions plastered on their faces before a few of the stronger willed villagers turned and fled as fast as their feet could carry them.
The priestess, who had a grin on her face moments before, slowly backed away and with shaking hands tried to pull charms and artefacts from her long, flowing cloak. "How... How can a devil be here... they are extinct, we purged every last one from the face of this world but... those rune markings can only bel-"
The woman's nervous ramblings were cut short as two, jet black, draconic wings burst through the flames and stretched into the sky, snapping the remaining villagers from their daze as they screamed in terror and fled in every direction only to be drowned out but a deafening, roar that extinguished the fire and sent visible shockwaves outwards..
The old woman fell to her knees in disbelief at what she was seeing. "May the light protect me."
A cold, malicious laugh rang out, not that any of the villagers could hear it as they cupped their bleeding ears. “Oh, how I am going to enjoy this.”