He voiced his thoughts over Serilda’s fears, or at least those she used to have, and expressed his surprise over her willingness to not just engage against a goddess in battle but to ally herself with demon lords in the process. Faera assured him that his assessment of the woman was still very much correct, as the goddess had been able to sense Serilda’s fear while the mortal had been within her realm. It seemed Serilda had indeed been quite terrified of the task before her, however the motivation that she had at the time -- freeing this Mythal -- far outweighed any dread she felt. The noblewoman had put a large target on her back in her boldness to take Kingdom Darkness by storm and remove Mythal from Faera’s grasp, but in doing so also had earned herself quite a bit of respect from the goddess. Serilda had proven herself a force to be reckoned with, even on the level of gods and demons.
It was all very… interesting. Even at his most disrespectful, Hugo could never deny that Serilda had always had a lot of things going for her. She was beautiful, collected, commanding in her own way, intelligent, and more than capable of combat. However, she had also been naive about a great many things, overly trusting, paralyzed by her fears, and usually had the personality of cold sandpaper. Sure, she had shown a softer side around him once he’d started to court her and that had at least made her more bearable, but at the same time it had made her all the more boring. Soft and delicate women were a dime a dozen. Hugo liked his women confident, rough around the edges, and wild, things Serilda had never been.
Now, though, it seemed she had grown quite a bit past that, and for the first time in his life -- or well, existence -- Hugo actually found himself genuinely interested in hers. For once, Serilda actually sounded a bit exciting.
But there would be plenty of time to focus on upheaving her life later. For now, Hugo had more pressing and important matters at hand that included the company of a sexy and deadly goddess. He had even chanced another elegant flirtation in their conversation, which was met with a smile, if an amused one. Faera complimented herself in reply to his words, but it didn’t put him off. If anything, it just made her all the more alluring to him, particularly as she reached up and brushed her fingers sensually along his face. The act sent a shiver down his spine, one that he couldn’t entirely hide. Not that he was trying to. He had a hunch that while Faera probably enjoyed a man that could face her despite the effects of her terrifying aura, she probably also enjoyed the rises her powerful presence got out of lesser beings such as himself. And hey, if that was what did it for her, he didn’t mind letting her have her fill.
Faera inquired as to his readiness and Hugo briefly explained that, while he probably wasn’t as ready as he should be, there was no reason to linger and he had no intentions of backing out. So, she drew him into the room beyond and the place where his fate would be forever changed. The room was dimly lit with a series of violet flames set upon a series of pillars that reached up into the dark ceiling. Despite the images he’d formed in his head when she’d referred to the “cauldron”, it was not a raised structure as such but rather a pool of sorts built into the floor and filled with what he assumed was a liquid of some kind. It was difficult to tell. It was silver in color, but so smooth that it looked solid, with nary a ripple or shiver to suggest that one couldn’t simply walk across its surface without falling in. Surrounding the pool were the Immortal Thirteen, though nearly all of them were hidden beneath their cowls. The only one to show her face was Jihl, who stood closest to them where they had entered.
Hugo eyed the other mortal curiously for a moment as Faera led him toward the edge of the pool, his expression blank aside from the attentive way he took in the room itself. He had no understanding as of yet as to the purpose of the mysterious group, though surely all would be revealed to him in time. The goddess drew his attention back to her as she remarked about his rags and removed them, the fraying material crumbling out of existence and leaving him as bare as the day he’d been born. He was a little surprised, but not much, and certainly not embarrassed. Hugo had little to be embarrassed about. He was a large man covered in tight, rippling muscles from head to toe, with exceptionally broad shoulders and toned abs that may as well have been chiseled out of marble. He had spent the majority of his adult life working hard labor in the Sinclair mines, and even after death it showed just what great shape the job had put him in.
However, he wasn’t the only one who was naked. Faera had also waved away her own clothing, revealing herself to be quite as succulent beneath her leotard as the rest of her had suggested. Hugo was doing his best to be professional, but he couldn’t help the slight wandering his eyes did in the brief moment he had to do so before she took him by the hand and drew him into the pool. The liquid felt as thick as it looked, more like sludge than water. Given the rather large mass of his body, Hugo was met with quite the resistance as he tried to push his way through it. Once they were in the center, Faera physically eased him down into the substance until he was floating upon its surface with the entire front of his body exposed to the shadowed roof above him.
He remained in relatively somber silence as she began to work her magic, soaking up the last few moments that remained of his mortality and anticipating the rough road that laid before him. Faera ran her fingertips meticulously along his body, starting at his face and moving lower from there. Though he couldn’t see the runes forming along his flesh, nor the darkness that spread from her finger, he could more than feel its power. It was unlike anything he’d ever felt before, a simmering might that made his body tremble like it was about to burst from a pressure it couldn’t sustain. It wasn’t painful, though, and so he could only assume that everything at the moment was simply set up and preparation for the culmination of the ritual. The goddess chanted as she worked, moving her way down toward his toes and despite everything, he couldn’t help the slight excitement he got at her touch.
Eventually, the Immortals picked up the goddess’ chant, and with nowhere else to look but up Hugo didn’t miss the strands of darkness that wove their way through the air and into Faera. Of course, his attention was quickly pulled from that when Faera’s face obscured his vision, the stunning woman leaning down and placing her lips on his. Hugo wasn’t sure if this was part of the ritual or not, as he couldn’t feel any of her magic seeping into him like it had from her fingers, but he didn’t really care. All he did was take the moment and opportunity to enjoy it, bold enough to return the rather lustful gesture with a soft grunt of appreciation and desire. The act, Faera told him rather ominously after she’d pulled away, had not been part of the ritual but rather to wish him luck, and he understood in that moment that the hard part was about to begin.
He wanted to smirk at her or do something to mask his fear behind some kind of layer of false confidence, even a playful one that they both would know was a front. However, even a man as staunch as he was couldn’t help but dread what was before him, and he couldn’t bring it in himself to pretend otherwise. Particularly when her wishes of good fortune to him promised pain unlike anything he’d experienced before. Considering that Hugo had died a slow and agonizing death with his body being crushed by a boulder, that was saying a lot. Faera put her hand on his chest and Hugo braced himself, physically and mentally, before submerging him fully beneath the liquid.
In an instant, he was swallowed in blinding misery. His entire body felt like it was on fire, each nerve searing in agony so hot that he might as well have been submerged into a sun. Without stopping to think about it, Hugo’s mouth opened on instinct to scream only to accidentally breath the thick molasses into his lungs. He began to choke, a process that was unfathomably horrific given that he was already dead and could, theoretically, endure the sensation for an indefinite amount of time without release. He clawed desperately at his chest and throat, thrashing beneath the surface of the pool and desperate for air. His mind was utterly blank, unable to think about anything except for the way it felt like every single molecule in his body was violently morphing and rearranging themselves.
How long it lasted, Hugo wasn’t sure. It felt like hours. He’d lost all sense of time, his entire world consisting of nothing but anguish and unbridled fear. As everything came to a culmination, his wild lashings were exchanged with the stiff arching of his back as the dark magic consumed him so deeply he couldn’t even control his own body anymore, completely at the mercy of the power that felt like it was ripping him apart piece by piece, coalescing most potently along either side of his spine.
And like that, it was over. Hugo broke through the surface of the liquid with a feral roar so loud and deep it shook the cavern. His skin had turned an ashy black color, his once dark hair a pristine white and flowing well past his shoulders. If anything, his already overly muscular form had bulked itself even more. Six great wings with dusty silver and white feathers protruded from his back, each one about as long as he was tall and flexed to their full span behind him. Over his head floated a dark halo with several spikes along it that caused it to resemble more of a crown than anything else. Completely white eyes that lacked any irises or pupils were wide as saucers as he stared ahead, not really registering anything at all as he hunched where he stood, gasping deeply for air. His new form still shook greatly from the ordeal it had just gone through, his muscles knotting and spasming uncontrollably in the lingering effects of agony.
He fought to get his body and breath under control, which got easier with each second that went by as the reality of immortality and divinity settled into his core until he was finally calm, if a bit weary. Finally, he was able to look at himself, or at least that which he could see. His hands lifted in front of his face, turning gently so he could observe the new tint of his flesh. He flexed his back and the wings that now graced it, getting a feel for their weight and range before gently settling them down. Standing shakily to his feet, he realized he was much taller than before as well, easily having added at least another foot from what his mortal height to a total of around seven feet.
Turning his head to glance down at the goddess, his colorless eyes watched her for a moment seemingly without emotion before a light smirk tugged up his lips. “Does it look as good as it feels?” he asked her.