Rah stopped and began to examine the air, unsure of what he had felt. Suddenly, reality deformed behind him; a gigantic scythe appeared out of nowhere and swung towards his head inhumanly fast. However, as if he sensed the attack at the last moment, The Lord of Judas flinched from the blade’s trajectory, harmlessly grazing the right side of his face. Rah instantly turned, but there was no sign of his unknown assailant.
He very calmly traced his fingers along the open wound on his cheek and looked at the blood with some disdain.
“A surprise attack… how futile,” he commented somewhat indifferently. “This is all that you could come up with to kill me?”
In one fluid movement, he drew his huge sword and dragged it along the ground with sparks jumping all around him.
“Show yourselves! I do not have all day for games.”
In response to these words, the tiles of the hall began to form bright red runes preceded by heart wrenching screams; it was as if all reality began to cry. One after another, three strange creatures manifested loudly in the room, while all the candles lit up with a bluish hue. The first of these beings was a proudlooking angel with six ash-colored wings stained with blood and an enormous black scythe in his hands. The second was an obese and deformed imitation of a man whose huge mouth full of sharpened teeth could even be seen in pitch-black darkness.
Lastly, undoubtedly the most frightening of the trio, was a beast whose body was made up of flesh, metal and fire.
“Pride, Gluttony and Wrath; The Three Demon Princes. To send lap dogs rather than act directly… So concerned are they in remaining hidden that they do not even send their own agents? I cannot say that I am very impressed with the choices. You are not even gods.”
“But we are, ‘O King of Men,’” responded the gray angel with a melodic voice and certain irony. “I no longer remember the last time a human survived one of my attacks.”
“WHY WASTE TIME WITH EXPLANATIONS, PRIDE? HE IS NOTHING MORE THAN FLESH… FLESH!” Roared the incandescent beast rushing towards Rah.
The Lord of Judas was prepared for the onslaught, but still found it difficult not to be overwhelmed by the monstrous speed of Wrath. Gathering his energies, he managed to distance himself from the path of the mass of metal and fire while at the same time lashing it with his sword. The Demonic Prince, confused by his enemy’s maneuvering and the pain he felt because of the thrust, was unable to stop his momentum and went through the wall behind Rah destroying it.
“All seven of you should have come,” Rah declared. “You might have stood a chance.”
Pride’s expression became gloomy.
“Too much arrogance for a mere mortal, be he a pauper or a king.” The praise had ended.
As soon as those words left his lips, he rushed him hoisting up the dark scythe. With equally surprising speed, Rah raised his own sword and blocked the gray angel’s attack, creating a powerful gale the moment that both blades met. After a few moments of silence where the contestants tried to measure each other’s strength, a cruel grin spread across the face of Pride as he began to attack his rival. His movements were so fast that his body split leaving a trail behind himself, which gradually forced Rah to retreat while the columns of the room flew past them. Suddenly, two powerful bolts of supernatural energy flew towards The Lord of Judas, who could see from the corner of his eye how Gluttony was gesturing arcane symbols with longing expressions. Making an incredible display of martial prowess, Rah disengaged Pride with a two handed thrust and prepared for both hits. Surprisingly, the power of the spell was less than what he had assumed, although the resulting explosion sent him flying towards one of the walls of the room after hitting his weapon. Without wasting a moment, he raised his head waiting for the next attack of Pride and Gluttony, but to his surprise neither of them launched themselves after him; they remained quietly in opposite corners of the great hall.
By the time he understood what was happening, it was already too late.
The wall behind him exploded as the burning metallic mass of Wrath broke through it. Just as he did before, Rah tried to distance himself from the impact of the beast, but this time he didn’t have time and was attacked from the side. His body went through one wall after another, crushed by the demon that never stopped laughing. Even for somebody of Rah’s fortitude, the punishment was more than he could bear. His ribs cracked and blood began to drip from the corner of his mouth. Seeing his prey severely damaged, Wrath stopped cold and used his momentum to throw him back towards the great hall, where Gluttony caught him in mid-flight. Those strong arms held him fast as if he were merely a toy. The pressure was so intense that, had it not been for his armor and the energy instilled in him, he would have been snapped in two like a twig. Slowly, Gluttony began to pull him towards his enormous open maw, and even The Lord of Judas felt a chill when looking into the endless void in there.
“You look… so… tas… tasty…” The obese demon stuttered with some anxiety.
As if those words had broken him from a trance, Rah gathered his remaining energy and raised the blade that he still had in his hands slicing the arms off his captor. The moment his feet hit the ground, he spun around making an enormous arc with his sword and striking the monster with all the power that he could muster. The impact would have cleaved a mountain in half. Gluttony’s head rolled cleanly across the ground, but Rah had faced too many higher entities to think that this would be enough to kill a creature whose power was equal to that of a fallen god. Without giving him time to recover, he looked for the spiritual core in the greasy body that stood before him and pierced it with his hand. The sensation was repulsive, even through the heavy metal gloves, but he continued pushing until he felt the creature’s essence between his fingers. Realizing the danger he was in, Gluttony became truly frightened and tried to escape to another plane, but before he could The Lord of Judas squashed his soul, completely destroying the demon lord. Very slowly, turning back to the remaining princes, Rah removed his bloody hand and raised it high.
“One,” he said with his usual flat tone.
“I WILL DEVOUR YOUR SOUL FOR THAT!” The heart wrenching voice of the flaming beast resonated as it ran back towards the great hall. “YOU WILL SCREAM!”
With unusual composure, Rah faced Wrath holding his Lawgiver with both hands. His whole body tightened while accumulating his Ki, letting it flow outward. For a moment, the energy emanating from him was so intense that powerful bluish lightning began to surge and crackle through the air around him. The demon carefully observed him, bewildered by such power in a mortal being, but this confusion only intensified the burning rage boiling inside of him. Without pause, it pounced a third time waiting to see which way the little human would dodge, prepared to change his trajectory on the fly and dismember him.
But this time Rah had no intention of distancing himself. His feet were deeply nailed to the ground producing cracks below them, and met the beast mid- flight with his sword. He put all his skill into that attack; power and soul.
It was enough.
The blade cleanly cleaved the body and essence of the Demonic Prince. The remains of Wrath fell heavily to both sides of Rah and shattered like broken glass. This time he didn’t bother finding his spiritual core; there was nothing left.
“Two,” he declared.
But the fight was far from over. Rah knew that Pride was by far the most dangerous of the three, and he was very concerned that he did not openly participate in the fight. The possibility that he had fled hadn’t even crossed his mind; it would be foolish to think that of an entity that embodied men’s pride.
But no matter how hard he looked for him, he found no sign of his presence. Suddenly, Rah felt a queasy sensation, something that impelled him to look upwards when it was already too late.
Pride was suspended above the vault of the great hall, with his blood-covered wings splayed open and his arms stretched over a sphere of crackling energy. His two companions had given him more than enough time to prepare the final spell and, with it, the absolute destruction of Rah.
“Go to heaven or hell. Whatever most pleases you.”
The arcane spell was completely unleashed in center of the room and the entire fortress began to shake. Any other place without the incredible technomagical protections of Judas would have been completely destroyed for dozens of miles around, but even so, many rooms of the fortress were eventually blow up. The floor caved in; rubble and debris peppered the ground floors. Pride looked down amused while he waited for the smoke to dissipate. And then, for the first time in his almost eternal existence, the demon felt something similar to surprise.
Maybe even fear.
Among the cloud of ash a figure stood quietly, shaking off the dust and blood that almost completely covered him.
“Impossible! You cannot still be standing… nothing could still be standing!”
Mastering the strange emotions that overcame him, the Demonic Prince raised his scythe and without losing a moment launched headfirst towards his opponent. Rah was still wobbly, but hoisted his sword up and silently countered the savage blows one after another.
“Fall! Fall! Fall!” The demon shouted time and time again, moving back and forth at the speed of thought splitting existence with his dark scythe.
Actually, Pride was much faster and stronger than Rah. Not because he had more skill or experience, but because it simply had always been so. When he wanted to attack somebody he didn’t waste time looking for openings in his rival’s defense or was bother studying his style; he only thought about killing him and his scythe was already splitting him in two. Pride, who had even crushed the souls of gods, knew that breaking his adversary was just a matter of time. After all, to the Demonic Prince, Rah was nothing more than a man.
That would be his doom.
At the moment in which Pride dealt what should have been the killing blow, The Lord of Judas caught the scythe between his fingers and, with a simple thrust, returned the attack. The Demonic Prince wanted to block the sword, but somehow the blade managed to sneak past his guard clipping one of his arms.
As if part of the same movement, Rah began dealing countless blows throughout his entire body alternating from one side to another with Pride watching helplessly. More than just attacking, the coordination and passion of his blows gave the strange impression that he was doing some kind of dance. Finally, he drew a circle in the air with his arms and placed the palm of his hand on the demon’s chest.
For one eternal second in time, both contenders looked into each other’s eyes.
Then, without Rah’s hand moving an inch, Pride’s body was launched through the entire room crashing through one column after another until finally imbedded on the opposite wall. Then The Lord of Judas’ sword flew through the air, pinning Pride even closer to the wall.
But to the demon’s surprise, he still lived. Rah had deliberately avoided hitting his spiritual core and the creature, not yet realizing why, became aware of it.
Slowly, with remarkable calm, Rah began crossing the room while his impotent adversary writhed on the wall trying to get free. When they were face to face, in a final flourish of who he was, he arrogantly raised his head with the bearing of a sovereign, waiting for what should have been the fatal blow.
Rah simply pulled his sword out of the wall, letting his impaled body fall to the ground. The Lord of Judas, covered completely in blood, watched the arrogant creature crawl to his feet with chilling serenity. He turned his back to the demon and walked towards the stairs but, upon reaching the threshold, he stopped for a moment without turning around.
“Run demon. Run as far as you can and tell this to your masters: ‘Today a new age begins.’”
Those words were not laden with irony or anger. Neither joy nor pain.
They were simply the truth.
- Beyond the Dreams, vol. 1