Cold. That was all he could remember. Utter, unforgiving cold.
The world was opening back up to him, the slightly flicker of light behind his closed eyes. He groaned softly as he began to pull himself back to consciousness, his senses sparking back to life. By Faera’s Darkness, did his body hurt. It hurt like it had never hurt before; a deep pain that seemed to resonate deep into his soul. There was still a chill within his body, like he’d swallowed ice water by the gallon. He mumbled incoherently as he realized that he was swaying back and forth, stuck on a pendulum’s rocking tempo. There was something hard around his midsection, that clung to his body tight. He reached up carefully with one arm and felt the strange object, surprised to find a firm limb covered in soft skin. An arm – it was wrapped around his waist. The hard object that he felt himself hitting every moment or so was a body. He was being carried.
“He’s awake,” a deep, bass-line voice rumbled out of the darkness of his semi-consciousness. Yet it was oddly familiar. A single eye managed to open itself partly, the world a blurry mess filled with low light and menacing darkness. He was just about to lift his head further when the arm wrapped around him snapped forward and released him, send him sprawling over the ground.
Archimedes hit the floor hard, a pained yelp escaping from his mouth as he rolled over himself. Well if he was sore before now he was in downright agony. His hand went to his chest, where the worst of the pain seemed centered. Adrenaline rushed through his veins, forcing his eyes open wide as he gasped and choked down his ache. Down he looked, his vision clearing enough to see the odd crater that was in his chest. An imprint of a fist, that had collapsed his chest cavity in a solid three or four inches. He could barely make out the indentations of the spaces between the fingers, the deeper gorges where the knuckles had impacted him.
That punch. Mythal had hit him with such force that it had dented his body. He hissed in pain and anger as the memory came rushing back. He seethed between clenched teeth as he rolled himself over onto his knees, his hand clutching the hole like it was the last cliff edge keeping him from falling. It stung for sure but it was a painful reminder of the embarrassment that had been rendered upon him. A shifting figure out of the corner of his left eye caught his attention and his head snapped to look up at it.
A humanoid creature towered above him, one that was made of muscle and seemingly nothing else. His deep chocolate skin glistened in the dim light provided, revealing the sculpted musculature of his bare chest, arms and the combination of his shoulders and neck. He wore tight white gloves over his hands, each one curled into a tight fist. His legs were covered in a tight black spandex-like material, that ran down to the white boots that covered his feet. A glowing red symbol sat neatly over his chest, a perfect circle in the center of his pectorals and three arms reaching down underneath it. His white, fluffy mustache covered a good portion of his face, hiding his cheeks and jaw from sight. Glowing purple eyes glared down at Archimedes, the protruding veins on his head throbbing just a tad more and his pointed ears flexing.
“Ruman…” Archimedes muttered, his voice ragged and sore. “What…”
“’Ruman… what?’ Look at how pathetic he is,” a sharp female voice caught his attention from behind him. His head swiveled around to find a young woman standing there, glaring down at him with the same indignation as Ruman. She was a lovely looking woman, looking like she was in her early twenties, with hair like a tropical ocean. It cascaded down over her shoulders and locked together over her bosom with a hair pin, while a thin brooch wrapped itself around her forehead. She wore a very tight and revealing dress, that put the top of her breasts on display while a white silk material covered the rest and her stomach. The gown turned pitch black as it ran down and covered her legs, a long slit running up the right side to reveal her toned leg. Detached sleeves, kept on her lower arms by golden bands, billowed about her forearm and hands, moving as though a wind was constantly blowing through them. A fabric-crafted belt of leather straps and silken bands wrapped around her waist and joined together at a red jewel that nestled against her hidden stomach. She was clutching a blue book in her right hand, with intricate runic symbols painted across its face.
“Izrael…” Archimedes gasped out. He turned his body to look around, now seeking to find the fourth of the Trumpets, since the other two were already here. “Where’s Sheperd?”
“None of your concern,” Ruman said passively. He reached down and put a hand on Archimedes’ shoulder, his fingers pressing tight against his bare skin. “I suggest you focus on your own predicament.”
“Predicament? What are you…?” Before he could finish his though, he felt a deep, dark chill run across his spine. His eyes widened and his breath caught in his throat, the frigid chill that had made its home in his chest now even colder. His head turned slowly to face the front, his mind now realizing where he was. The dim lighting, the obsidian floors… of course. He was in Sanctuary Castle, more importantly; he was in the throne room. As his eyes ran up the staircase leading to the throne, he could feel her gaze upon him, boring through his very being. Though the shadows clung to her heavily, he could just barely make out the form of Faera, seated upon her throne of power and staring down at him through the dark.
“My… My Dark Mistress,” he blubbered out, dropping his head in a bow. No answer came immediately. Just the dreadful silence that seemed to speak volumes more than any voice or tone could match. Swallowing down his fear, Archimedes spoke up. “You must forgive me, my Mistress. I did erry’ting I could to capture and contain the vessel. If it hadn’t been for the intervention o’ that infernal mortal woman, he’d be here ‘fore ye, primed and ready. She couldn’t have gotten here of her own accord…” What had Jihl said? She had a destiny that was beyond them. Celestial plans? It couldn’t have been Zalona that had blessed her. “Ozorith. A-And Ruzatz! Only dey could gift her with such power, my lady. They’ve moved against us and—“
A magical force smashed into his cheek with such strength, it sent him skidding across the ground. He was only stopped when Izrael put her foot out, causing the archangel to smash into it and bend at a sickening angle. As he recovered from the hit, a new pair of legs was standing just before the throne. His eyes rose to find Jihl standing there… yet she was different. Her long black hair was gone, replaced with short and stark white hair. Her dark eyes had been filled with color, now as gold as metal. There was also the magic power that resonated off of her – Faera’s magical energy.
"It was by your hand this was done, Archimedes,” she spat at him, her tone authoritative and sure. "The vessel was deemed lost and the new one, our daughter, was meant to take his power and become Faera’s. But your pride and stubbornness allowed misfortune to come upon yourself, this kingdom and our Dark Mistress.”
“Jihl… Lass…” Archimedes started.
"The legend of the Darkness King was just that – a legend. Or so it was meant to remain, until you brought the lost vessel into Kingdom Darkness and gave him an opportune moment to make mythical, reality. Now the denizens of the realm question; there are sparks of light within Kingdom Darkness which now must be purged,” the former human explained sickly, casting her gaze up to Faera. It was as if the two of them had become of one mind, one process of thought. Perhaps they had. She looked back at Archimedes. "You’ve brought war where there was meant to be victory and for that you will be punished.”
“Punished?” the archangel asked quietly at first. When he repeated it, his anger rose like a simmering flame. “Punished?! Don’t you threaten me, ye human wench! I’m the one that commended ye to the Dark Mistress! I’m the one that convinced her that ye were wort’y of the Immortal T’irteen. I am Archimedes, the Trumpet of Despair!” He lurched to his feet, his rage compelling him up. But Izrael’s hand caught him and pulled him back down onto his knees, pinning him there. He tried to push his strength against her but found it lacking – worse, he found none whatsoever.
Jihl regarded him for a short moment before she walked up to him, staring down at the infuriated archangel. Slowly she sunk down to crouch before him, her gaze as heartless as Faera’s. "You were the Trumpet of Despair. But your own pride cost you your immortality,” she explained softly. She reached out and pressed her hand against his concaved chest, causing him to hiss in pain. Her drew a circle against the imprinted flesh, her golden gems never leaving his emerald’s. "You can feel it, can’t you? The spot that woman imbued her magic on fully.” She cocked her head slightly and a wicked smile pulled itself across her lips. "You believe you can be healed? That this is temporary? You poor fool,” Jihl said, chuckling. "Serilda Sinclair didn’t coat your magic in some magical barrier of frost. She froze it completely – as solid as stone. Your Blessing is gone. Your immortality is fleeting and soon this realm will poison you and swallow you.”
All Archimedes could do was stare back at her. He wanted to protest, rail against her words and call her a damn fool. But deep in his heart he knew she was right. The glimmer of hope he had clung to in his consciousness fell back into the dark of reality and Jihl got to watch it fade away. She continued to chuckle as she rose to her feet. "But that death is far too suited for you. You, a denizen of Kingdom Darkness, eaten by the very realm he calls home. No… our Dark Mistress has a far better punishment in mind for you.”
“What?” He spat at her softly.
"A sentence of absolute torture; to live the life of a mortal man. You will be sent to the realm of light and there will you be left.” Jihl pronounced the sentence evenly as she turned and walked back towards the royal staircase.
“The door is shut. There is no one else on the other side that can open it!” Archimedes hollered, though his throat was scratchy.
"The emergence of the Darkness King has changed the game. Our Dark Mistress kept back the worst of her rituals and spells, in hopes that the painless transition of our realm to the one of light may come to pass. But your failure has created new opportunity and now our Lady is ready to swing open the gates with full force. Do not doubt her, Archimedes – she is far stronger than you ever even understood,” Jihl told the former archangel as she reached the bottom step, stopping there and turning back. "But never fear; when her forces scour the land, you shall be left alive to live out your mortal self. The corruption of the realm of light shall take a longer time than you will be granted life so you won’t get to see the emergence of her kingdom. But you will bear witness to the full invasion of Kingdom Darkness upon that world. War has come and with it, the death of the Darkness King and his compatriots.”
Archimedes opened his mouth to speak further but Ruman was already walking towards him. The last thing he caught sight of was Faera’s eyes, staring out of the darkness of her throne, before the other archangel’s fist came flying into his face. And then all was dark – a strange darkness he couldn’t call home any longer.
The new mortal slumped to the ground as Izrael scoffed and stepped away from him, walking over to Ruman’s side. “Prideful idiot,” she hissed, spitting on the unconscious man. Her gaze lifted to the other archangel. “Trumpet of Self-Absorption is more appropriate.”
"Ruman, our Trumpet of Triumph. Izrael, our Trumpet of Punishment. We must prepare our forces. Now that the final spot of the Immortal Thirteen has been filled, we are stronger than we’ve ever been. But there is still much to do. Archimedes was too full of ego but he was effective in one sense; they believe they have fought evenly with an archangel. They are unaware that he was the weakest of our Trumpets.”
“And what of Sheperd, My Dark Mistress,” Ruman asked.
"Sheperd has already been dispatched,” Jihl explained with a soft, knowing smirk. "By the time they realize who he is, it will be far too late.”
|Kingdom Darkness||Rune Knights|