[ CW: violence, gore… sexual themes? ]
He nearly missed that jump. If it weren’t for his clawed talons, he would have been tumbling down a several hundred feet high drop. Maybe he would have gotten lucky, and landed on one of the huge dessicated coral tables jutting out from every side of the spire and survived, but in any case, he just got a good fright.
He clung to the salt-crusted beam as his life quite literally depended on it, and caught his breath. He glanced up, and sighed. He was nearly there, just a little more…
He couldn’t see the ground anymore. It was both a blessing and a very distressing notion. Everything around him was clouds and briny mist. He could taste it in the air, along with the sweet and sour aroma of old, putrefied sea life. One would think that so high up in the air for centuries, the smells would have faded away completely, but no.
A few more jumps and a short steep climb, and Fiel was clinging at the deck of the ship.
In all logic, the thing should have rotten away and crumbled years ago, especially after the stone spire that held it lifted it high in the clouds when the Undead Dragon stirred. But centuries of sediments and generations of polyps had encased it in a stony shell, preserving it for the years to come. More impressive were the sails, tattered and stiff, but still very much present, with even the faded emblem of the Lion Guard still discernible under the thick layer of salt crystals.
Maybe the state of this ancient ship could be explained with more than just natural causes. Maybe a little bit of the necromantic energy that had seeped deep into the land had affected it somehow. Something that kept the decomposition going for all those years, something that was not yet completely gone.
Fiel scrambled on all fours towards the main mast, as far as possible from the edge, and would have kissed the crusty floor if he wasn’t disgusted at the idea. He melted off his raven form and laid on his back, taking another much deserved break.
The climb up to that ship took him the best part of the day, and his new armor, though light and comfortable, was not exactly the best gear for a long climb up a tower of stone, coral, shattered wood and broken bones.
The wind whistling through the petrified sails and disemboweled hull was cold and damp. He sat up to behold the vessel that would be his home for the next few days. He was sailing in a sea of clouds, so high up in the sky, nothing but the stars above could be seen. Nothing but an endless, shapeless void, and the cold, indifferent stares of the lights above. He felt isolated, stranded, and lost.
He immediately began to set up. There was work to be done: structures to check, sigils to carve, spells to cast. During the next couple of days, Fiel prepared the ritual. Symbols were embedded into the stony planks, arcane oils poured into the grooves, incense was burned, mantras were recited and layers after layers of binding and protective enchantments were woven into the skeleton of the old ship, blending with and pulling strength from the raw, latent necrotic energies of the place. He spent that time fasting and meditating, eating only the strips of carefully prepared ritualistic raw meat. He anointed his armor and his blade with special mixtures of herbs, venom and animal fat, and drank foul smelling and even fouler tasting potions. All in preparation for this.
Finally, he was ready.
He pulled the package out of his bag. A bundle of rune-inscribed cloth, wrapped in several magically infused ribbons –safeguards, to keep what was inside locked, and to keep magic-sensitive snoops from finding it. One by one, he loosened and removed each bind, then the cloth. Inside was an old, innocuous leather-bound journal. The same kind the necromancer would use to take notes when traveling. A very unimpressive, and non-threatening looking thing.
But there was much to be feared about it.
Fiel remembered when he first saw it, a decade prior, back at his mentor’s shack. Abbel had told him to never, ever touch it, not until he was positively, absolutely certain he was ready for it. That within, was contained an evil so powerful, even he dared not mess with at the time.
But now Abbel was gone, and the responsibility of this book had fallen upon him. Fiel had kept it hidden, masking its aura under spells and locks, stashing it behind a secret compartment of one of his bookshelves. That compartment contained his raunchiest ribaldries and toys, and for most sleuths and thieves, this would have been enough of a find, something he would have quite naturally wanted hidden away. But these were merely a decoy, and beyond those, behind a featureless back panel than could only be open by a very specific series of knocks and presses in a very specific order at very specific spots, was this journal. The norn briefly mused about the time and coin spent to acquire such a hiding spot. Worth every copper, he silently decided.
He could have given it to the arcanists at the Priory, or even to his contacts from the Order of Whispers. They could have found ways to destroy it. But this was too personal. A task left unfinished, and that he inherited. And, in its own way, a rite of passage.
Fiel knelt down in the middle of the deck, facing the prow as the ship motionlessly cut through the waves of this rolling grey ocean. He laid his sword, his dark, dull-looking sword in front of him, and placed the journal down over the planks. With a slow, almost reverent motion, he opened it. Nothing happened, but it was to be expected. The danger laid not in the book itself, but rather the words scribbled inside, the looping, nonsensical strings of words coiling over the yellowed pages like snakes, forming patterns, symbols, figures.
He flipped the pages. Fiel recognized in them his mentor’s own writing. They started clean and orderly, recounting the tale of an old summoning stone idol he had found, and read how it had tricked him, through insidious thoughts and dreams, to break it, opening a portal to the Realm of Torment, and allowing a beast out. He deciphered this in the writings as they progressively became tortuous and raving, a messy blur of jumbled words and angry splotches, up till the sigil drawn in blood –Abbel’s blood– sprawled over a double-page.
A note was written on the following page, clean and readable once more.
‘In a moment of clarity I managed to imprison the demon in this journal,’ it said. ‘The fight nearly cost me my life, and I dare not face it again, not until I am stronger. Until then I must keep it hidden away. If I fail in that task, know that the demon Phalarios is trapped within this book, and must be destroyed before it can break free.’
There it was. The demon’s name. The last element Fiel needed to get this done.
The necromancer flipped the pages back to the bloody sigil, somehow still wet and glistening, even after all those years.
He took a deep breath, and began the incantation.
As the words trickled out of his mouth the cold air around him became warmer. The crusty planks at his knees creaked, like in his dream, and he felt himself nudged forward, pulled towards the bloody tome. Fiel steeled himself and pulled back, still chanting.
The ritual was a tug-o-war between him and the demonic entity. He could feel it stir beyond the veil, could feel it thrusting its will upon each rune of the sigil impatiently, accelerating their unmaking. One by one the symbols burned over the pages, until the whole thing caught on fire.
“Phalarios!” Fiel shouted. The final word of the summoning. “Phalarios! Appear and meet your doom!”
A crimson wound appeared in the air, floating over the crumbling journal. As the book slowly turned to ash the tear widened. But the demon was not going to wait patiently.
Blood-red claws shoved out of the opening, grasping each side and pulling them apart. The stench of blood, sulfur, rust and putrid flesh hit the norn in the face like a jet of steam, and he blinked, tears stinging his eyes. A head emerged, then a torso, then the rest of it, and the portal shattered with a wail.
The creature in front of him looked flayed. It had no skin to speak of, or at least, none the necromancer could see over it sanguinolent frame. The glistening strips of its muscles were stretched over sharp exposed bones, its legs ended in blood-stained bone blades, jagged like the arms of a mantis. The demon wore no clothes, save for the soiled bandages wrapped loosely over its arms and legs, and the tattered loincloth that seemed stapled directly into the protrusions of its hip bone –a loincloth made of saggy, decaying skin. In each of its gaunt hands it held a small, rusty, blood-encrusted scythes. Gold chains dangled from its exposed ribs, and a blood-stained band of gold adorned with precious gems circled its skeletal waist like a belt. Its belly was split open, its flesh pulled aside with rusty hooks to reveal its grey, glistening intestines, writhing like a nest of worms.
The demon had no jaw. Loose strips of flesh drooped from its skull. A ring of horn sat upon its head, a singular looping horn that held in its center a piece of flesh. It took a moment for Fiel to realize that it was in fact a face. The flayed face of a man –human or norn, he couldn’t tell– was proudly decorating the top of the demon’s head, stretched within this crown of bone like a drying pelt on a leatherworker’s rack. The realization sent a cold chill down the norn’s back.
The demon in front of him held itself aloft with two pair of leathery wings made out of roughly stitched together patches of skin which, judging by their differences in shade and texture, seemed to come from many different beings.
Fiel felt himself grow faint at the sight of this monster. It looked down at him with its seven glowing eyes, and spoke without a mouth. Its voice was agonizing, bubbling and gurgling like a throat full of blood, strident like rusty nails on shards of glass.
“FINALLY… THE SHACKLES THAT BIND ME FALL. TREMBLE, MORTAL. FOR I, PHALARIOS, DEMON LORD OF PAIN AND DELIGHT, RULER OF–”
“Wait! Wait, waitwaitwait...” Fiel interrupted, raising a hand, too distracted by the thumping of his panicked heart to marvel at his own boldness, “… you’re a demon Lord, and you got trapped into a moldy journal?”
The necromancer was tense to the point of madness, and maybe that’s why he burst into laughter. “Bear’s tits! That is so… unimpressive.”
Phalarios‘s eyes narrowed into cruel slits, all seven of them.
“…. THY SUFFERING SHALL BE LONG AND EXQUISITE,” it hissed, its gurgling voice heavy with promise.
And with those words the metaphorical bell was rang. His survival instinct finally kicked in and Fiel jumped to his feet, sword in hand. He stood up just in time to block the demon’s swipe with the flat of his blade. It bounced back against his breastplate, knocking him back a step.
It was so strong… he knew better than most that appearances were deceiving, that this dangly puppet of bones and loose skin in front of him was much more dangerous than it appeared, but he couldn’t help being taken aback.
He dug his heels into the crusty planks, placed his free arm against his blade and pushed back, deflecting the demon’s scythe. The norn took advantage of the momentum gained and followed it with his own swing, which the demon easily dodged.
It moved with a grace it didn’t ought to have, swooping low, twirling high, dancing between the necromancer’s swings, a nightmarish prancing fairy of blood and viscera.
And Fiel tried to swat at it, to catch the demon as it teased and toyed with him. Phalarios grew bolder with each dive –not that it ever was in any real danger to begin with. The norn was like a frustrated child trying to crack a dragonbash piñata that was way too high with a stick that was way too small. Finally it got tired of teasing and slashed at him for real, down his shoulder and over his chest, yearning for blood.
On any regular armor, the demon’s blade would have most likely dug to the flesh, shredded the metal like paper. On a regular armor, yes. But the suit Fiel was wearing was tempered with more than just metal.
The contact blossomed with a spark of blue, and Fiel shouted with surprise and fear. He instinctively brought his hand to his chest and found the breastplate whole, with barely a scratch on it. He would have to marvel at his mother’s handiwork at a later time though, as the angry snarl the demon let out alerted him that it was not amused at the result.
Phalarios was done playing now. He swiped and slashed and manoeuvered, half hovering in the air, half pushing forward with it legs to harass the norn better, each step of his blade-like feet leaving a deep stab wound in the stony planks. Each bone-shaking blow that the norn could not parry, the armor blew back with an arcane flash. Each wide-arching swipes the norn managed to dodge left long, splintering cuts in the deck of the ship.
Warriors would often tell of the thrill of combat. They would talk of the blood-pumping, adrenaline-fueled bliss of the clashing blades, the rushing blood, the shocks of violent contact. They would speak of the raw energy that made them feel more alive.
All Fiel could feel at that moment was barely contained panic. He felt the siren song of death every time the tainted blades whistled past his face, every time they raked against his armor and pulled another frighten gasp out of him. Fiel was not a warrior, nor a soldier or a fighter, and could barely count as a hobbyist brawler. How long would the armor hold? How long could he keep dodging on this nutshell of a ship? He was shaken and rocked at each impact, his muscles tensed and his joints ached from inside his magic carapace. He could only parry the demon’s attack, and only just.
Then Phalarios snarled. He feigned an attack to the right, and the frantic norn fell for it, leaving him wide open on his left.
The demon could have easily lobbed his head off his shoulders right there and then –his mother had told him not wearing a helmet was a stupid idea. But the creature existed only for pain and torment. Didn’t it promise, after all? Death would be too quick.
The scythe dug into the thinner segment of his armor, right between his hip and his thigh, shattering past the arcane layer in piercing his flesh.
In hindsight, some tassets would be a nice addition as well…
Fiel screamed, falling to one knee. Warm blood splattered over the salty deck, and Phalarios shivered, its glistening crimson lungs swelling and pushing against its jagged ribs as it inhaled deep to savor its aroma.
“YESSS….” it sighed, twisting his weapon deeper.
Rage flashed red in the norn’s mind. With the first blood spilled, fear disappeared in his heart. The spell that fright held over him shattered, replaced instead by fury, outrage and defiance.
Fiel gritted his teeth, grabbed the scythe and pulled it out, shouting as the blade tore his leg some more. He wobbled to his feet and the demon laughed. Spirits… its laugh…
He could feel his consciousness fading away. Was is the pain? Some demonic aura influencing him? Fiel saw everything around him tilt downwards. And the demon laughed, and laughed….
His hand tightened around the scythe, hanging onto it to not fall. Phalarios’s laugh cut short when the norn righted himself suddenly, his dark blade falling like a guillotine in the space between the both of them. The scythe remained in his grasp, along with the demon’s claw, still attached to its handle.
Phalarios did not scream. Instead it glared in disbelief at its stump, bubbling with dark ichor and pus, its eyes alight with surprise and indignation.
“YOU DARE!!” the demon roared.
“Fuck you,” the norn replied.
The monster shrieked, and infernal flames erupted around it, launching the norn off his feet. He crashed into the aftercastle of the ship, leaving a deep indentation in its petrified wall. Fiel was disoriented. His vision was dancing from the shock and his ears were ringing. He got to his feet, sword held out in front of him, expecting to be jumped at any moment. He could hear muffled cracking sounds and feel tremors around him. The demon was a flaming crimson blur occasionally coming to view, gone before Fiel could swing at it.
His vision cleared just in time to see what the demon had been doing: from above, dozens of petrified shards –bits of the ship’s mast and preserved sails– rained down upon him. Fiel jumped back too late. The debris pinned him down against the deck. Once again, his armor saved him, preventing him from being crushed, but now Fiel was trapped. The bigger piece of the mast was resting over his chest, and the arm that held his sword was buried beneath the shards of dead wood.
The infernal beast lazily descended upon him, triumphant and haughty, an angel of blood and misery. Its dagger-feet daintily landed atop the pile, adding even more weight over the norn. Fiel could feel his supple breastplate give and put pressure upon his chest, making it harder to breathe.
Death was so near now…
“DO NOT FRET, LITTLE FLY…” the demon tenderly hissed. “FOR YEARS I HAVE WAITED IN THIS FOUL PRISON OF VELLUM. I DO NOT INTEND ON CUTTING OUR TIME TOGETHER SHORT TOO SOON…” Phalarios bent over, and with the tip of its scythe, slowly dug into Fiel’s left cheek.
The norn clenched his jaw and shut his eyes hard. He didn’t dare move as the rusty blade cut into his flesh. He was afraid that if he did, he might put his eye or ear in the way, and lose either. Stuck beneath the mast and half-suffocating under the demon’s weight, he could only sit there and take it… and it only made it that much worse.
If the demon had lips, Fiel knew it would be licking them. It took its damn time digging a crimson gash down his left cheek and nicking his trembling upper lip. The norn could feel his blood running down the side of his face and into his mouth, red hot in the chilly salt-saturated air.
Phalarios straightened up and brought the bloody weapon up to its face, where a long, pustule-covered tongue slid from between the torn strips of flesh of its skull to collect the ruby droplets dripping from it.
Fiel almost gagged at the sight of that tongue, twirling and coiling over the tainted blade, rubbing roughly against its coarse surface, cutting itself over it in its lusting thirst for his mortal blood. If that ever caused the demon pain, it did not show it. In fact, its wings seemed to tremble in excitement, and even its eyes, usually unblinking, seemed to quiver shut for a split second.
“NO…”, it sighed. “TOO SOON INDEED.”
Phalarios suddenly took off again, and Fiel gasped in relief as soon as his lungs were able to take more air.
“WAIT FOR ME RIGHT HERE, SWEET FLESH. I HAVE REMAINED IN SOLITUDE FOR TOO LONG… I SHALL AMUSE MYSELF A BIT WITH THE MORTALS OF THIS PLANE BEFORE COMING BACK TO YOU.”
Phalarios rose in the air cackling, and Fiel panicked, struggling to get his arm free and the heavy beam off him. He couldn’t let the demon get away. Couldn’t let it–
The whole ship shuddered and groaned as the demon was about to leave its periphery. Just as it was about to fly over the side, a gigantic wall of ghostly blue flames encapsulated the hull, rising along its side to contain the remaining masts like a huge, flickering glass bell.
Fiel let out a curt, frantic laugh as the demon bounced off the fire wall with a cry of pain and annoyance. For a moment, the necromancer was afraid that the safeguards he had painstakingly carved all over the ship during the past few days wouldn’t work. Sigils and runes came alive as soon as the demon tried to stray away from the shipwreck– sigils Fiel had placed on the inside and outside of the hull, out of sight of the summoning area, so as to not raise the demon’s suspicion. And it worked. By Raven, it really worked.
But now the norn was stuck with a mighty pissed off spawn of the Realm of Torment.
Phalarios’s whole body erupted into flames, dark, angry crimson fire that contrasted bleakly with the flames that kept it contained within the boundaries of the skeletal ship.
The time for panic and dread for over.
Fiel closed his eyes muttered a few words as the demon dove for him, scythe raised. He silently called upon his patrons, Raven and Grenth. In the precious micro-seconds he had before the demon reached him, his thoughts dwelled upon what he held most dear, waiting for him miles and miles away from this dead spire…
Just as it was about to strike him, the broken mast shot outwards, knocking into the demon and checking its advance.
Right where the norn had been laying, the dark figure of a large humanoid raven was. He, along with the flesh golem Fiel had summoned, cleared the debris and pushed the demon back. The Raven-Fiel let out a powerful crow of defiance at the faltering fiend. Waffles the flesh golem rushed in position and Fiel dashed forward, using his minion as a springboard to reach Phalarios. It all happened very fast, and couldn’t have turned out better if it was planned.
The raven form shed off him in a trail of inky feathers as he soared into the air, revealing the norn, his armor, and the sharp dark point aiming for the demon’s heart.
It didn’t quite hit the mark, but it got pretty close. The blade pierced through it ribs with a sickening crack, its tip poking out between the demon’s wings. It roared with a cry lost midway between wail and moan, and the flames surrounding its body vanished. Fiel had to shove his free hand between the demon’s exposed ribs and hook his legs over its jutting hip bones, hanging on for dear life as Phalarios bucked and writhed, bumping into the last standing mast and crashing through the last bits of petrified sails. The demon had lost his scythe in the struggle, and was trying to pry the sword out of its body. But he held fast. The demon roared and the norn roared back. For each inch Phalarios managed to pull the sword out, Fiel shoved it right back. When that failed, the demon tried to claw the necromancer’s face off with its remaining hand.
The norn was a creature of pure instinct then. He saw the claw reach for him and bit at it. He stuck his teeth into its nauseating flesh till the skin tore and the bones beneath cracked –and they did so with surprising ease. Foul ichor and poisonous bile filled his mouth. Surely the mixture was dreadfully poisonous, but Fiel had prepared for such a possibility. He had drank vials after vials of potions, tonics and antidotes, just in case. In fact, the wounds on his hip and face had already stopped bleeding, thanks to the regenerative troll decoction he had thought to bring before coming to this place.
With a beastly growl he tore the demon’s fingers off and spat them out, before going back to sawing his blade through its torso, searching for the fiend’s heart –if it even had one. Eventually the sword wedged itself between two vertebrae and wouldn’t budge. Overtaken by a visceral bloodlust unlike any other, Fiel left the sword alone and stuck his bare hand into the coiling mass of the demon’s exposed intestines instead, grabbing a handful and pulling as hard as he could, anything to hurt it. They unfurled like loose, squishy ropes, writhing and jumping in his hand like angry snake, pouring over the norn’s legs in warm, caustic garlands. It was surprising that they never just fell out the demon’s abdomen until that point, considering how easily Fiel pulled them out.
But even that seemed only a mild inconvenience to the demon. The norn had expected it to wail in abject agony from being disemboweled a few feet up in the air, but he detected something else within its cries.
The demon was contorting in throes of torturous pain… and obscene pleasure. Fiel was snapping its bones in half and tearing off its organs and it was moaning. Instead of trying to push him off, Phalarios was suddenly pulling him in, embracing him with its bleeding arms.
That disturbed the necromancer more than the demon’s infernal appearance. More than its hellish stench. He shuddered in utter disgust, almost letting himself fall just to be freed from the demon’s embrace.
When he realized he wouldn’t defeat the Demon Lord of Pain and Delight that way, he grabbed the sword again, using all his might to yank it free from the demon’s frame.
Phalarios was still lost in its own haze of tainted sensuality, it did not see the sword falling over it. The demon realized it much too late, when the pair of wings on its right side were slashed clean off its body, and both it and the norn fell down like a stone, crashing through the deck and landing in the bowels of the ship.
Pain flashed in the back of Fiel’s head, and the world before him was caught in a furious jig once more. The trembling shape of the fuming demon cut itself from the light that poured from the hole in the deck, towering over him. Something fell upon him. The armor shrieked as the arcane protection finally cracked and the metal was punched through. The norn’s cry echoed in the hold of the ship. He clutched at the demon’s dagger-foot that was piercing his belly, trying to keep it from skewering him.
Phalarios was not in a hurry. He pushed slowly, twisting his jagged limb with undisguised delight. Fiel’s arms were shaking. Blood was pouring from his wound and his hands. The demon was much stronger than him. His demise was only a matter of how long the fiend wanted to make him suffer. He hurriedly muttered something under his breath, between groans and coughs, but Phalarios twisted its foot harder, pulling another scream out of him.
“NONE OF THAT,” it hissed.
“Fuck…. You…” he gurgled.
Fiel’s golem sprung from the rubble, himself a bit torn and damaged from the fall, but still able to charge at the fiend and impale it with his horn. Waffles wrapped his sickle-like arms around the demon’s skeletal body and lifted it up, spitting and cursing in a language the norn did not wish to understand. Fiel took advantage of the distraction to finish the spell.
Hundreds, thousands of symbols began to glow on all the walls surrounding them.
Had Fiel known the demon would have them crash through the deck of the ship and into the hold? No, but it was very fortuitous. Now they were in the heart of the necromancer’s spell upon the ship, where the ward was at its strongest.
Chains of ghostly light erupted from all sides, lunging at the demon. Phalarios attempted to jump out, but without wings, it wouldn’t go far. The chains pierced both demon and golem, reeling them back and driving them to the ground. The fiend roared in rage, fighting with all its might against the trap, tugging at the bonds and trying to throw the golem off its back.
Fiel scrambled to his feet as fast as he could. He found his sword and planted it on the floor in front of the demon. The necromancer used the blade as a tuning fork for the spell, using it as a centerpiece to make the chains stronger.
The demon’s flesh sizzled and cracked as the spell drained its lifeforce and channeled it back to Fiel, healing his wounds. Phalarios fought against him, spinning spells of his own to harass the necromancer and make him falter, but if Fiel was no warrior, he was at least a pretty damn good spellcaster, and this was not his first rodeo with a creature of the Underworld.
Hellish flames erupted on the ground around the norn, aiming to burn him alive. Fiel coiled them within his own enchantment, using their power to bolster his own. Phalarios vomited a jet of poisonous tar at him, but the necromancer wasn’t fazed. He used his bond with his golem to transfer the venom infiltrating his blood to his undead minion, protecting himself from harm.
The demon attacked, and the norn returned every blow back at it. Eventually the fiend was weakened enough that the chains piercing him cracked its thoracic cage wide open like a boiled clam, revealing the small, dark, coiling organ that was its heart.
Fiel reached out, and shadows sprang from his fingers, forming a dark ephemeral skeletal claw that grasped at the heart and tugged. Phalarios shrieked as the tendrils that held its heart in place snapped, and the quivering, steaming organ fell to the ground in front of the norn.
With both hands, Fiel grabbed onto the sword and held it over the heart. He stomped on it to prevent it from crawling away as he addressed the demon one last time.
“Hey, Phalarios!” The demon stared at him with seven, wide eyes. Fiel could see in them that the demon was afraid, and that was a great victory in and of itself. The norn smirked.
“…….. Fuck you.”
The norn brought the sword down, and the blade pierced it true. Fiel pushed, and pushed, until the sword was half-buried through the floor and couldn’t sink any deeper. Black, poisonous vapors hissed from the heart, and both it and the demon wailed.
There was a shift in gravity around the sword. Everything seemed pulled to it, the demon, the norn, the ship itself. Phalarios’s flesh bubbled and melted from its bones, and the ruby-black ichor rushed to the blade and was sucked within before it could even touch the ground. The heart shivered and coiled upon itself like a dying spider, before flaking off in a pile of ash, the ash itself then sucked into the maelstrom that had become the dull greatsword.
Fiel clung onto the hilt as he waited for the storm to pass. For a while he feared that the magical pull would be the final nudge that would bring the entire ship down, finally. That he would die there, even though he accomplished his mission.
The storm ended as suddenly as it had started, without fanfare or any damage to the ship or the norn. A pile of smoking charred bones rested in a pile were Phalarios stood, topped by a battered and indolent flesh golem.
Phalarios was dead. Really, truly dead. Its body destroyed, its ego shattered, its essence absorbed into Fiel’s sword.
The norn pulled it free from the hull. It had changed during the storm. It was no longer grey and dull-looking. The blade was sharp, and lighter too, and glistening like a ruby. Light danced within it like an ocean of distant stars, dripping from it at each swing in crimson ribbons. The hilt had morphed as well, now sporting the twisted figure of an agonized demon: the spitting image of Phalarios.
This was the shape that the sword had shown him in the dream. The shape of an awakened magical weapon.
Fiel swung it a few times, marveling at its new shape and balance. Before that day, the sword had always felt more like a hindrance than a tool in his hands. A hefty slab of metal that was much too heavy to be efficient. But now, it felt like it belonged in his hand, married to it. It sung in the air and its hum resonated in the norn’s bones. He knew instinctively that this sword would feel like this to him and him alone.
He held it close to his chest, letting the light of the sun reflect off the ruby blade and warm up his face.
“Demonblight,” Fiel whispered.
And thus, the sword was named.