(Damon’s Manor, Kaleion, A Long Time Ago)
A soft, transparent orb, floating just over his head and forward of his right brow, produced a pale but substantive candleless flame, seemingly burning inside its oxygenless environment, whilst he feverishly worked on something he truly feared successful. No pen nor inkwell adorned his desk, yet words and symbols appeared on the lambskin parchment before him as he gated his terrifying plot through his right index finger, now traversing the page left to right, down, then left to right again, and again—each fingernail like unto living, liquid gold dust. Each character seemed to burn itself into existence from nothing. Talented was not the right word for him. Unique. Dangerous. Ruthless. God-like. Those were all far more fitting descriptions for this…what one might call a man.
Damon sat shirtless at his desk; his muscular torso radiant from the arcane light brought into existence by his own thought. Ever-so-faint scaring became visible about his chest, shoulders, and back as his light orb began traversing from his right brow to a spot just to the right of his face, responding to his will. His charcoal, herringbone silk pants clung more to his sweat than his lean, hard, caucasian body. Black bangs hung down across furrowed brow and the black irises of his eyes—black mirrors of the soul.
He recalled others telling of spells they had created—spells that had taken months, years, and even most of their adult lives. This was but night one, and it was nearly finished. One might call it inspired work, but only if they knew nothing of its intent or its true impact. Far from inspirational, this was something that would reshape the world, making it in his own image. No smile, nor frown, crossed his face or lips—only a thin pressed, hard line of focus and most lethal gravity.
Now gating the last symbol into the parchment, Damon did something he had not done in hours—breathe. Sitting back in his chair, the light orb still hovered to give him light, yet did not move with him as he sunk into his chair seeking a level of comfort. Suddenly another symbol began burning itself into the paper, at the top of the spell; a symbol he knew far too well, but had not, himself, instantiated. Looking around his secret study, not truly expecting to find anyone or anything, he took another heavy breath. The symbol was more than calling card enough—the seal of Banthis. Her acknowledgment perhaps, thinking to himself. Now, even more certain it would work when he tested it tomorrow, Damon did fear that possibility—no that probability. Yet he wanted it too. His future with Banthis was worth risking all. Slowly tracing the name of the spell at the top of the page, then Banthis’s seal, Damon contemplated the fork of consequences before him and where this would all lead.
It had all started with an enemy of course, as most things do. One couldn’t walk through life without making a few here and there, unless one’s life proved inconsequential. Chara had been a thorn, and an imminent threat in his life, for far too long. He had allowed the escalation of his war with her to cost him great treasure, blood, and toil. It had to come to an end. And, an end it would soon find.
* * * *
Dawn came fast, even without sleep. Damon needed something for his test that wouldn’t be available till morning—moreover, he needed someone. There, sitting on a pale stone bench just outside the citadel’s walls. She might not yet have been ten years of age—still prelude the age of innocence, he believed. Beautifully delicate, curly golden bangs hiding the brightest green eyes, with full and radiant cheeks, she was so very full of life. She bore the hallmark of being well cared for—not royalty, but certainly not commoner either. She had eaten recently and eaten well. Her cream dress, with hearts of fire, passed her knees in elegant pleated folds of childhood. Pulling her precious doll into her hands in a loving embrace, it quickly became the sole focus of her attention.
She’s the one, Damon committed to himself, walking closer but non-threatening. Not close enough to harm, or so she must have thought—if even her innocence allowed her to think of threats at this age. Walking towards the gate of the citadel, the girl bearing slightly off to his left, he cast. Without a sound and just the slightest motion of his right hand, the beautiful little girl was gone, leaving only a small symbol of ash, in the shape of winged female, where her feet would have been—the seal of Banthis. He felt a sharp, pernicious crackle in the air all around him, traversing the ground with him as the terrain split under his feet with a small crack he knew would soon grow. Calmly walking through the citadel gates as if nothing had happened—nothing of concern—Damon could hear the father’s calls, off in the distance, for his little girl. She would never be seen again. Her sweet name, Lis, would fall ill-fated on the destiny she had just been robbed.
A familiar, sensual voice, carried on the wind, whispering in Damon’s ear, confirmed the success of this monstrous spell. Banthis in receipt of the young child’s soul no doubt. No smile crossing his face nor lips—only that thin pressed, hard line. Damon’s Damnation had worked on its first attempt. It was one thing to kill or to sacrifice a body, quite another entirely to permanently condemn a wholly innocent soul to the possession of anyone of his choosing—this one to Banthis. This was the very definition of perniciousness—malevolence most unfathomable. This was the start of it all—the first rock cast into the water of life itself. This was the very first ripple in the pond of Creation undone.
He was feared already, by almost everyone, long before this. Every living creature, on every world, would fear him now. He feared himself. Already, those ripples cascaded toward oblivion, carrying Damon atop their waves of immeasurable destruction.
(Damon’s Manor, Kaleion, Present Day)
Looking back through his many lifetimes as he contemplated his master plan, that was the one inerasable moment for Damon. Many moments stood out, of course, but none like that. He was a condemned man, caged in a prison of his own making. There was no saving him since that moment. That unspeakable memory and that banned spell had set him on an irrevocable path destined for a justice purpose built for him. Damon’s Damnation, he contemplated all these lifetimes later. ’Twas a fitting name for that heinous spell, not for what it did to its victims as much as what it had already done to his own soul.
Creation stood on the edge of knife, and those waves from that pond he’d set in motion so very long ago, with the redirection of that little girl’s soul, threatened to cast that knife into the Abyss allowing imbalance and chaos to rule. It was now or never. Damon had reached the tipping point of his very long life, and he had to commit one way or the other. His master plan, years in the making, would execute tactically the strategic outcome of his decision. Phase One of his master plan would start right here. Right now.
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