Sword of Eternal Peace Chapter 4- Eternal Peace
Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Sword of Eternal Peace
Chapter 4- Eternal Peace
The stairway of Breln’s temple was formed from the ruins of those he sacrificed. Blood and ash from the slaughter still marked the grey stone of the steps. There were patterns of footprints in the stains but mostly from those who climbed the temple. Few who went to see this new god ever came back down.
Narena wondered if her own prints would join the others who never descended. She was severely weakened by blood loss and the constant fight with Hunger. And she hadn’t even faced the god yet.
The sword hungered for her now more than ever. Each time its craving grew too strong, she gave of herself. And now the blade longed for her blood with fervent craze. It urged her to let it feed. It fought when she held it back. But if she gave it anymore, Narena knew she would collapse. Her vision was already dimming, and her legs threatened to give out any second.
Just one more task, she assured herself. All she had to do was make it up the stairs to Breln. The sword would do the rest. After that, she didn’t care what happened. It was doubtful she would have the strength left to resist the blade once Breln was dead. But it was a small price to pay for the vengeance she hungered for.
One by one, she climbed the steps of the pyramid-like temple. Breln’s throne sat at the peak where he could look out upon his subjects. She was foolish to have thought he wouldn’t see her coming. But he could never anticipate the nature of Hunger and what it meant for him. That would be the surprise that ended him. The Demorik promised the blade would end a god. And demon’s bargains always held as long as you paid the price.
Narena’s legs grew heavier with every step. Her sword hand cramped from the constant struggle. The other arm which bore the marks of Hunger’s feast had gone concerningly numb. But it was almost over, and her hatred for the god at the top carried her the final ascent.
In the world of Alithria, divinity wasn’t restricted to the beautiful or the virtuous. Monsters could be gods, and innocent maidens could rise as demons. Distinctions between demonic and divine were decided by their path of ascension alone. Once risen, god or demon, they could wield their powers however they saw fit with no repercussions to their status.
Breln was still the same slovenly brute he was before he stumbled into godhood. Nothing about his presence suggested the touch of divine had improved anything within him. In fact, there was likely little of him that could rise much higher. But he now had power at his command. And the smug look on his face revealed how eager he was to use it.
If they were in the tavern, Breln would have been indiscernible from any other drunken slob. His clothes were stained from spilled ale and other more unsavory fluids. His brown hair was greasy and matted. There was little about him that hinted at the threat he posed. But Narena had watched him consume the soul of her husband to feed his godhood. Somewhere, the fiend had stumbled on a source and ascended. And he used his gifts now to grow more powerful by consuming others. It had to be stopped.
“The blacksmith’s woman,” Breln’s nasally voice announced welcomingly. “I remember your tears well. Have you come to cry for me some more?”
“I have no more tears left to shed for you or anyone, you monster,” Narena spat back. Adrenaline alone fueled her strength. “I have forged those tears to end the pain you cause.”
“A mortal cannot harm me, fool.”
“I may be mortal, but my Hunger for your death is eternal.” There was no more time left. Narena could barely keep the blade from her own flesh, despite the nearness of her target. If she allowed it to feed from her anymore, she knew that would be the end. Her single-minded desperation to reach Breln had turned Hunger inward. It fought her now when she needed it most.
Breln rose from his throne and approached close enough for her to smell the stink of him. It awoke memories of when he’d held her close, forcing her to watch as he consumed Arnin’s soul. But
Narena wasn’t powerless now as she was then. She could strike back. And she used the rage of that nightmare to wield Hunger to its true purpose.
Narena swung Hunger with all her might, but Breln caught the blade effortlessly. The edge never even breached his skin.
“No,” she cried as the last of her strength escaped, and she collapsed to the ground. “It was supposed to kill you,” she panted in despair.
“Fool, this blade hungers for mortal blood. I am divine. You have been tricked.” Breln yanked the blade from her hand and held it up to the light of the rising sun to appraise the darkness shimmering across its length.
“I made the bargain,” Narena exclaimed disbelievingly. “For a weapon to kill a god. I paid so much.”
“Demons always keep their bargain, girl. But you have to pay the full price.” He circled her, with the blade held rigidly in her direction. “You failed. And your blade wishes to claim a reward. It hungers for you like no other.”
“Then end me, you monster. I am done with this world.”
“I intend to, dear girl. But first, I should thank you. Your gift will make me even more powerful. Imagine the lives I will take with this once you’re gone. Because of you.”
“No,” Narena attempted to utter, but Hunger split the breath of her words as it sliced effortlessly through her chest. The cold emptiness of its touch filled her as it drained what little blood remained. It drew ravenously until her heart ceased. But Hunger didn’t stop. And as Narena’s spirit slipped the
mortal bonds, the sword fed from her essence too and grew to crave something more than blood.
“The price is paid, the bargain kept,” the Demorik’s words whispered to Narena as her existence vanished into oblivion.
If Narena still lived, she would have seen the confused look on Breln’s face as Hunger’s nature turned and the strain in his arm as he fought the blade. Since its creation, the sword was fed on blood alone. It was all it knew. But Narena’s soul was something new, something it desired even more than blood. It was the power of life, of potential, of the divine. And the hand that now held it seethed with the essence it craved.
Hunger turned on Breln before he knew what was happening. The power of Narena’s soul imbued it with a surge of strength, and it struck its wielder swiftly. One bite of the weapon was all it took. Hunger drew fiercely on Breln’s divine essence as it did a mortal’s blood. And though the god fought, he grew weaker with every second while Hunger grew stronger.
Stripped of all potential, Breln’s form withered to dust. The blade that ended him clattered to the temple floor. Narena’s bargain was fulfilled; the mad god of Paroma was dead. But an insatiable Hunger remained.
The old drunk Horbus was the first to dare climb the temple steps in the days after Breln’s fall. He
had been kicked out of the local tavern for fighting with Dornin the owner for probably the hundredth time that year. But he was sick of it. Everyone in Paroma treated him like garbage. It was this mood that drove him to climb the stone steps and admire the god who once tried to give the blasted town what they deserved.
His thoughts grew darker as he climbed, as all the horrible things Dornin had said to him over the years returned. Drunkard, slob, garbage, all the names he had been called rose from the dark recesses of his alcohol-soaked brain. But it wasn’t just Dornin. Everyone in this town needed to be taught some respect. It was the one thing Horbus hungered for above all else. He was contemplating that very desire as he ascended the last of the stairs. Then he saw the dark glint of a sword in the moonlight.
Paroma fell in a single night, with no drop of blood to mark its demise or soul to escape its carnage. Horbus was slain quickly. He was a stumbling drunkard. But Hunger was too powerful by then. No hand could lift the hilt without granting the blade a feast. It called to the animosity of mortal, demon, and divine alike to take it up in service to their dark whims. And each time its wielder fell in service, another came to sate its longing. The sword was gluttonous and fed until no one remained to heed its call. And with the death of any who would dare raise a sword, the land of Alithria fell into eternal peace.
Centuries ago, a wizard used those words to cast his spell. In a war-torn world where anyone could ascend to god or demon, a concept such as eternal peace was an impossibility. So, setting a prison to hold until such time as eternal peace rose was in his mind as good as binding it eternally which would have taken much more power. His shortcut created a loophole. And the Demorik exploited it.
As peace settled across Alithria, the wizard’s runic bonds dissipated. The Demorik rose from its prison after centuries to a world undone by its own dark desires. Hunger had consumed them all. The vengeance and spite in the hearts of the populace was its undoing. And the world now waited to be remade by the Demorik’s hands alone. A demon’s desire would now lead Alithria, for the others could clearly not be trusted with such things. The Demorik had no need to fear the call of Hunger. He had everything he ever wanted. His greatest hunger was fulfilled.
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I do plan to return to Alithria again. A past era of course.