Lucifex Dirge: Awakening in Death

It was raining. This rain was like his emotional state. The hunter took off his gloves.

“Love!” he yelled, looking at the ring on his right hand. “Vengeance.” he muttered, staring at the tattoo of two dragons on his left. Which path should he follow? In the end, it did not matter. They both led to one place:

“TORMENT!” he screamed, raising both fists to the black sky. Lightning was nature’s only response.

“Sweet dreams, nightmare maiden.” whispered the man in the jet black fedora. He plunged another silver stake into the noblewoman’s heart. The fanged nymph in a blood-red dress turned to dust in his jet-black gloved hands.

“I’ll miss her.” the mysterious man said enigmatically. “At times, I wonder if I can balance my inner sensitivity with the violence my life demands.” he said with a soulful glance to the sky.

After blowing his kill’s ashes into the night, he closed the window of the gothic manor. The late mistress had owned the property for centuries, draining the commoner’s grain stocks and blood. Now, there would be freedom for them, even as he remained trapped.

They had made love before he’d slain her. The kind of love only possible between a seductive Vampiress and rebellious half-vampire warrior. But he’d remembered his duties post-coitus, and delivered her from this world. In a way, she was the lucky one. She’d escaped the torment.

Lucifex stared into the cracked mirror. A jet-black mask of iron hid his face from the world. But it also hid his face from himself.

“One day I will take off this mask. When the eye of shame and guilt turns away from me, I will  be able to look myself in the eye again. Damn this blindness of self!” he said emphatically.

He clawed at the mask in despair, and then punched the mirror in more despair. He then lifted the wooden frame of the broken mirror overhead and broke it over his knee, sending shards of glass flying like the pieces of his shattered life. He tossed both halves of the frame behind him, embedding them in the wall. He then drew both of his wands and shot twin bursts of Shadowfyre at the pile of glass at his feet. As it  melted, the wooden bedroom floor caught fire.

“Torment!” he shouted as the flame spread. “Tooooooormeeeeeeeeeent!” he repeated as he dived through the stained glass window, sending glass flying for the second time.

He landed with a forward roll into a garden of wilting jet-black roses. Thirteen weremummies already laid in wait. The hulking beasts drooled a mixture of saliva and preservative. As the rag-covered beasts formed a circle around him, Lucifex let out a mournful sigh.

“Poor misbegotten beasts of burden, miscarried into this beastly world. You were once productive members of mummy society. Now, you bear the curse of lycanthropy. What you need is understanding.”

He threw a silver stake into the closest weremummy’s eye. It howled in pain as it turned to darkstone, like all dying lycanthropes.

“I have none to give.”

The other twelve monsters charged. As he drew his twin wands, Lucifex felt the blood-red haze of rage take over his usual cool detachment. Why should the weremummies be free to enjoy the twin oblivions of death and lycanthropy, while he was trapped in his torment? When would he be reborn in death?

“LUCREZIA!” Lucifex screamed as he spin-kicked the lead weremummy. His bladed boots severed its head, covering his jet-black pants in blood-red viscera. However, his boot-blades were only half silver, so two heads grew to replace the weremummy’s lost original.

“Damn my overpowering rage!” Lucifex said, cursing his overwhelming fury. Every vampire hunter knew that mummies had the hydra’s gift for regeneration. He’d let the fire in his heart overpower the ice in his mind. Rookie mistake.

Lucifex held his two wands together, and whispered in the forgotten language of the warlock kings. They had been the undying rulers of the red wastes. Until he’d killed them.

The two wands merged together, forming a silver claymore. A skull with a lone tear adorned the hilt.

“Behold, NIghtwynd. You may notice a red gleam in its eye.”

“Grr.” responded the weremummies.

“That gleam is a shadow gem. A window to the soul. The blade feeds…on torment.”

With those words, two of the weremummies fled in terror. The other ten bared their fangs, their formation a decahedron of decay.

They danced the dance of blood to the symphony of the night. Lucifex bobbed and weaved to the rhythm of this aria, ducking under bandaged arms and preserved fangs. Before each stroke, he saw images of her. Lucrezia.

“Lucrezia!” Lucifex bellowed, bisecting three weremummies in one swing. The spray of embalming fluid blinded the others. He took the opening.

As he put the final weremummy to rest, Lucifex heard the sound of slow, dramatic clapping. It could only be one man.

“Lando Damocles.” Lucifex said coldly.

“E-yup. Nice guess. We’re as close as ever.”

“Close to the grave.” Lucifex said with a glare. He pointed his wands at his counter-part, who hung upside-down from an apple tree.

“Whatever. So, how’s the torment going?”

“What do you want, Lando? A final duel, traitor?”

“Duels? That sounds dangerous, I’ll pass. Now ruining your life, that’s fun. And easy. Let’s do that.”

“You cannot ruin what torment already rules.”

“Sounds like a challenge. Will you bet your jet-black fedora? I’ve got a pretty heavy piece of info.”

“I would bet my lost soul.”

“You already knew you were a a half-vampire. Did you know that the other half is werewolf?”

“You lie.” Lucifex said impassively. He then glanced down at one of the broken shards of glass. His reflection revealed a hulking seven-foot man wolf in jet-black leather, clutching two smoking wands.

“No!” he shouted. “How dare you add to my torment?!”

“But I didn’-“

“You have added kinslayer to my list of sins!”

“But you already killed vam-”

“Prepare for death, Lando Damocles!”

In response, Lando climbed further up the tree. Lucifex’s bulky new werewolf hands lacked the dexterity to climb after him, as he couldn’’t reach fully over his head.

“You mock my torment? Face me!”

A  blood-red apple struck Lucifex on the nose.

“We are evenly matched. I shall face you another day, when I have mastered this fresh hell of Lycanthropy. For now…Lucrezia awaits.” Lucifex declared. He clenched a fur covered fist.

“You’re still here?”

Lucifex ran into the night on all fours, testing the limits of his new form. His beastly shape under the full moon complemented his unnatural strength as a half-vampire. He tore across Tartara at top speed as a mysterious blur through its dark forests. But the fury of the wolf merged with his natural rage, clouding his mind.

“I must learn to control the beast within.” he said to the night sky. “Otherwise, Lucrezia triumphs.”

He howled in torment.

As the sound echoed over the countryside, he had an epiphany. He was also a half-warlock. He simply had to use his arcane powers to suppress his animal passions. Lucifex whispered a brief incantation as he held a wand between the claws of his pointer finger and thumb.

He now had all the powers of lycanthropy, without the horrifying appearance, loss of control, or social stigma. His torment had a new facet, which threatened to drive him to madness.

“By the gods, God has betrayed me. But wait, does god not watch and judge? Do I betray weakness with my fear? God, who is God to judge me? Ye Gods!”

As the fur receded, he noticed he’d reached his destination.

As Lucifex stood stoically before the mansion, a raven landed on his shoulder. He raised a sensitive hand to pet it, in ironic contrast to his brooding nature when interacting with humans. One can only contemplate the depth this implies.

“Lucrezia Darc was once my Queen.” Lucifex said to the raven. “Now she is the Queen of Tartara’s vampire hordes.  In our youth, we loved. But her lust for power led her to try to turn us into vampires. I escaped, bearing half the curse. But the true curse is being alone.”

“Caw.” the raven responded.

“Fly, bird! Be free, like I can never be!” Lucifex cried. The raven fluttered off into the distance. Lucifex wiped a stoic tear from his eye. The bird was one more lost comrade in his war against the world….and himself. And vampires.

Five of the creatures stood between him and Lucrezia’s manor. While Lucifex only knew the torment of being stuck between two worlds, they had the merciful peace of undeath. But it was a peace that came with unending hunger for death. A hunger he would feed with their own deaths.

Lucifex contemplated his three blades. Each more cursed than the last. Evening, blade of the Blood Magi, which had been cursed by collision with Night, the sword of the Shadow Barons, which had been blighted by a clash with Dusk, saber of the Obsidian Void, which had been marked by Evening.

“The only friends I have left.” Lucifex whispered. “But will they be enough?”

“Can I help you?”

Lucifex looked up from Evening, into the face of one of Lucrezia’s slaves. His soulful words seemed to have drawn a small crowd of his half-brothers in unending night.

“It is too late for me.” Lucifex said before beheading him.

The teenaged vampire’s head glared at him from the mire. “It’s Dirge! Bring him to the mistress!” he shouted. Lucifex punted the head into the distance.

“No one shall keep me from Lucrezia!” Lucifex shouted. His eyes welled with the tears of torment.

A vampire in a jet-black dress stepped forward sheepishly. “We’re trying to bring you to her.”

The vampire to her left nodded. “No need for any fight-“

“ENOUGH LIES!” Lucifex screamed, taking both of their heads with Evening and Dusk. Night hovered menacingly before him, animated by his warlock telekinesis. As usual.

The two remaining vampires turned to flee. Lucifex stood still, offering them the illusion of escape. He then sent Night flying through the air, skewering both abominations. Heartshot.

Before he could contemplate the philosophical meaning of his victory, Lucifex felt a sharp pain in his left foot. Two vampire heads snapped frantically at his ankles, spewing curses between each bite. Both eventually settled on sinking their fans into his right shin.

“HELLSPAWN!” Lucifex yelled. He hopped determinedly towards the manor, shaking his right leg furiously. One head fell into a puddle. He had to pry the other’s jaws open with his gloved hands.

“Well fought.” said the hunter before hurling the severed head into the distance. “In another world, we could have been friends. Lovers even. But in this world…we only find torment.”

His monologue was cut short by the sound of maniacal laughter. He looked up. The Moon of Pain had almost eclipsed the Moon of Agony. When they met, Lucrezia would be invincible.

There was no time to waste. He’d have to finish his next monologue quickly.

“Time runs short, and there is no time to waste. This time, Lucrezia must die. There was a time when I would have wept at the thought. But the time for mourning is past. Now, it is time to fight, die, or both.”

Lucifex threw his grappling hook up the mansion’s wall. It landed on the wing of a two-headed gargoyle. One head looked wistfully into the distance. The other wore a mask of rage. Lucifex saw his torment in both heads as he reached the top floor. He swung in through a stained glass window, scattering shards of glass throughout the throne room.

“Predictable.” Lucrezia sat on her jet black throne of painted bones. A goblet of blood red blood rested in her left hand. In her right, she held a pair of direwands. Blight and Defile, every inch the equal of his wands, Blacken and Destroy. Lucifex cursed. She’d predicted his every move.

“Lucrezia.” Lucifex uttered. He charged towards his opponent.

“Lucifex.” she replied mockingly. She rose from the throne of the night and followed suit.

“LUCREZIA!”

“Lucifex?”

“…Lucrezia…”

“Lucifex.”

Their wands crossed, twin blood-red light in the jet-black darkness. Darcflame and Shadowfyre collided, and Lucifex could not distinguish the heat of battle from the heat of passion. Or fire. But he could distinguish the heat of his torment.

“Here in the heart of darkness the darkness in my heart burns. Keeping you in my heart is the heart of the problem, you heartless queen of damned hearts.”

“Love can rule us again, Lucifex, if you let me rule you. The rule of nature is of passion, and the rule of the land is mine. Let my love rule your soul…forever.”

“Never! Our love is dead, and I would rather die again than love you in undeath. You must die so that this dying land may live. And I will join you.”

“There is nothing that can defeat love, Lucifex.”

“There is one thing…”

“What?”

“TORMENT!”

Righteous shadowfyre overwhelmed Lucrezia’s darcflame, throwing the seductive seductress to the ground. The victory brought Lucifex no joy.

“The death-dance ends for us both.” said Lucifex. “After delivering you from this world, I will follow. The torment dies here.”

“No my love. As a last curse, I leave this world alone.”

Lucrezia grabbed one of the wooden stakes she kept lying around on her wall. She gave a final arrogant smirk before plunging it into her own heart.

“NO!” Lucifex cried as his arch-nemesis died. As he ran towards his nefarious love, he was gripped with torment. Torment that would soon increase thrice-over.

His cries went unanswered as jet-black nyteblood gushed from her wound. As he reached for her hand, his jet-black boots slipped on the nyteblood. He fell beside his lover, weeping for the first time since that fateful day. Naturally, as a half-vampire, he wept nyteblood. And then drank it.

“So ends our communion of sorrow! As you drink from death’s cup, I sip from the chalice of torment! Let us remember the feasts of plenty in our youth, as you slip away into the famine of the void!”

Lucrezia’s eyes closed for the last time. Before they opened again.

“FOOL!” she shouted. You seem to have forgotten my zombie half!” She grabbed Lucivex by the throat.

“On your mother’s side?” Lucifex said between gasps for air.

“The same!” Lucrezia shouted before throwing her avenging lover with supernatural strength. Lucifex broke several ribs as he collided with the wall, but his silent stoicism and werewolf regeneration brought him back to his feet.

How could he have forgotten? Lucrezia’s zombie mother had been their shared secret, their silent bond. And every bounty hunter worth his salt knew that zombies had super strength. Especially half-zombies.

Lucrezia strode slowly and dramatically toward the shaken hunter. Her aura of double undeath grew stronger with each step. Her dire approach was punctuated by one of her minions playing a pipe organ.

“Do you choose death alone, darling?” said Lucrezia, taking special care to pose seductively.

“We all die alone, Lucrezia.”

“You first.”

Before Lucifex could respond, Lucrezia’s smooth zombified fist collided with his stomach. He was sent flying through the stained glass window of her bedroom, which was also the top floor of the castle chapel, which overlooked a haunted countryside, beside an unnatural blood-red river fed with water from the Ocean of Languish. He fell into the water, the sting of impact was followed by the sting of a thousand psychic piranha. The ghostly fish dragged him underwater.

The current dragged his defeated body for miles. The River of Torment earned its name. Lucifex was dragged through psychic pihranha, nightmare reefs, and spectral whirlpools. Each paled before his heartbreak. His broken body washed up on a riverbank on the outskirts of Tartara.

Fueled by rage and torment, Lucifex rose from the nyteblood stained mud. Against all odds, he had survived.

Miles away, the Vampire Queen smiled. “No one could have survived that.” Lucrezia said before collapsing into maniacal laughter. Her cackling echoed across the ruined countryside. She was now unopposed as queen of the night. A night that would never end.

 

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