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Lord Gammon

Demonic ruler of the Black Sand Isles

0 · 98 views · located in Pelobus

a character in “Isles of the Black Sand”, as played by Ten

Description

Name: Gammon
Age: 28
Gender: Male
Bio: As a result of hedonistic rituals performed by his relatives in the Throat of Glass Society, Gammon was born from the blasphemous union between his mother and a daemon. Groomed from an early age to rule and conquer the kingdom of Light, over the years of studying magick and consorting with devils, spirits and monsters, he has been steeped in so much toxic, dark power that he has irrevocably tainted himself. Now, even his blood can be used to infect living things, turning them into his shadow minions, filled with only the will to serve their Lord and consume and kill all those who oppose him.

So begins...

Lord Gammon's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: General Eckhart Character Portrait: Lord Gammon Character Portrait: Rek

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ten
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Eckhart felt sick, as he usually did when entering the castle. As loyal as he was to the Lord of the Black Sands, something dark crawled and writhed about inside him whenever he was in the man's presence. Not that Eckhart was a perfect or even moral man under any definitions, but Gammon, the Demon Lord, took being "evil" to extremes that made even the most heartless and bloodthirsty men cringe. Inside, the castle's floor and walls were a dense black material that seemed to absorb the lighting from the braziers positioned every few feet in the hallways and took every inch of heat from within the walls as well. Stifling a shiver, his metal bound boots made heavy clinking sounds on the polished obsidian as he sauntered with more confidence than he felt, deeper into the fortress.

Arriving to his Lord's chambers and after a few solid knocks, he was finally admitted into the evil man's presence. Eckhart was a tall man, solidly built, towering over the other man in a physical sense, yet Gammon's whole demeanor and aura of authority was enough to dwarf the general. The room had one lone torch within, and as large as it was, the blackness of the decor still swallowed every inch of the light that was not necessary; details were a frivolous thing not entertained by this Lord. Still, from what he could see, the walls were sparsely decorated and a humungous bed dominated the right side of the room, banisters holding up dark, purple and blood red velvet curtains - both colors almost black in their darkened tones. A tall window sat on the left wall, with the Lord standing before it looking out at the desolate and storm cloud shadowed land beyond. It was noon when he arrived, which made Eckhart swallow thickly to realize how much darker this place would get at nighttime; a blackness so deep, it probably warped a man's sense of existence.

Turning around to greet him, eyes black as ink with red irises turned amber in the dim lighting, the Demon Lord gave him a large, illustrious smile. "General Eckhart! How good of you to answer my summons! I have a new assignment for you but before we get to the nitty gritty, how goes the war?" he spoke with the echoes of several voices speaking at once, some deep and graveled in tone and others high and womanly, all of them blending together in a monstrous harmony.

Madness filled that grin as he stared at the general fiendishly, his youthful features, well groomed with golden eyeshadow and dark eyeliner making him look almost feminine, if not for the heavy brow-ridge and large nose that dominated his face. The velvet cloak he wore draped over him, all the way to the ground, shoulders topped with spikes and large feathers, and elegant, manly hands emerging from the sleeves with long, pointed nails on each finger. His exposed stomach and chest were slender yet muscled, a thin trail of dark hair dusting above his groin, disappearing beneath his trousers, and a golden ring put through his right nipple glistened in the available light. The entire package was alluring, tempting and sensual and yet at the same time made him feel sick with fear and shame.

Without missing a beat during his quiet inspection, he answered, his deep voice, normally making other men seem girlish in comparison now seemed unnatural and bizarre when compared to the Demon's multiple voices. "We have overtaken the Gillians and the Welks and have squashed all rebellions in their territories. Our forces are moving steadily north and we should reach the capital by the Tide months, as planned, my Lord."

Stalking forward, like a large and dangerous cat, the Lord made his way closer to Eckhart, now standing merely a foot or two away, his closeness only increasing the level of intimidation and seduction radiating from his being. Looking up at the general with a wicked grin, the voices echoing from Gammon's throat asked, "And the recruits?"

There was absolute delight in his master's anticipation of this response and it was another thing that filled Eckhart with an eerie chill and made his stomach revolt in disgust. Gammon didn't use regular soldiers, instead, he infected the strongest and most able-bodied men in the newly conquered territories with his blood, turning them into shadow-monsters that never died. Gammon had difficulty trusting people and preferred to take the entire choice away from those who might abuse his generosity in letting them live. Thankfully, those who lived in the Black Sand Isles, having already declared allegiance to their Lord for several years, were absolved from this paranoid distrust. Still, the human forces on their side were dwindling as the battles raged on, and their warriors died, until Eckhart found himself mostly shouting orders to undead shadows rather than real men.

Keeping in a sigh of discontentment, Eckhart said, "We have added 60,000 more Shades to our numbers."

Gammon stuck his tongue out and bit it, smiling gleefully in triumph. With him being this close, Eckhart could now see that the Demon Lord's tongue was forked and all of his teeth were sharpened like a garwolf's. "And the Gillians are tall too," he said in approval, walking over to a dark, blackish red cabinet and pouring himself a glass of a thick, sickly green liquid and taking a tender sip. "It'll be a great advantage to add that height to our forces. Now, about why I called you here..." Walking back over to Eckhart, with glass in hand, his demeanor changed to become more hungered than before as he spoke of his new desire, the tones of his voices sounding eerie as his voice lowered. "I'm rather lonely, in this castle by myself with nobody except Shades to play with. Since I'm going to be ruling the whole world soon, I've been thinking a lot about my future. About producing progeny. Actual brood." As opposed to the shadow-clones he turned other men into and disgustingly called his "children". "Since you're right on the frontlines of newly conquered lands, I figured you were in the best position for this task."

"Sir?"

"I want you to find me a bride," the deeper echoes of his voices sounded louder than the rest as he spoke this sentence, his red eyes seeming to flare bright as freshly shed blood. "The perfect companion for your Lord. Can you do that for me, Eckhart?"

There was the sense of being admitted into his Lord's confidence, as if a lot of trust weighed on him being awarded this task and he felt honored to be chosen for it. He couldn't help it, despite the rabid, bloodthirsty light in his master's eyes. "Absolutely, my Lord. I will find only the best."

"Good." And just as simple as that, the moment was over. Gammon turned away, striding back towards the window and drinking thoughtfully from his glass, casting Eckhart out of mind, simply confident that the man would perform as expected. "Then you are dismissed. Keep moving north and continue on as planned. We will launch the attack on the capital city of those pathetic sunshine people on the eclipse during Tide Month. The frilly bastards won't know what hit them." He let out a mean chuckle, his forked tongue sticking out in excitement as he laughed at the landscape outside his window, no doubt imagining the whole world corrupted and twisted in his image.

Taking that as his cue to leave, Eckhart murmured stout agreement - love of war and bloodshed; it was one of the things he would always admire and agree with his Lord about - and turned to head for the door. As he turned the handle and opened it, the echoed voices addressed him once more and he glanced back. "Oh, and Eckhart?" Gammon purred, looking at him from over a shoulder. "Remember: I like them young."

With a shudder he couldn't contain, Eckhart nodded his assent and left the room, trying his best not to run sprinting for the castle gates like a little boy scared by the dark.

***

The sun shone high in the sky, seagulls looping and swaying overhead, like ghosts over the field of water. The massive ship rocked with the motions of the waves but by now, on the very last leg of his journey and nearly to the port which he could see in the distance, Rek had gotten used to the movement, his body automatically adjusting to the sway. The air smelt crisp and fresh, tinted with saltiness and now with other, more human smells as the harbor drew nearer. 3 months on the seas and he'd been ready to get off, bored by the endless ocean and suffocated by occupying the same spaces as the other soldiers who rode this vessel. But now as land came into view, he realized he wasn't ready for it. Fighting wars over the ocean in the lands to the west and now they were coming to more lands wrapped tightly in conflict. Against his will, his blood began to pound heavily, excited for more combat, even though he was growing wistful for the months of quiet mornings, sweat stink and drunken sea shanties.

Another warm breeze came flowing over the railing where he stood, watching the ship's progress, blowing the loose strands of hair from his face. Most of his dirty blonde hair was tied back in a tail at the nape of his neck, but a few small portions of it were teased free by the ocean winds. Small, blue eyes always filled with a stern look, squinted in the sun, a serious frown on his lips, surrounded by a halo of facial hair that covered his chin and upper lip. At 30, he was at his prime, still attractive, although he never though of anything except war now, with a couple scars here and there that spoke of the many battles he'd been in. With broad shoulders and average height, Rek didn't look like much, but when he pulled out his axe, then it became a different story. In some countries, his nickname was "Death Angel" - "angel" for his fairer hair and good looks and "death" for the trail of slaughter he left behind everywhere he went. In other places, they called him "Mad Angel" for the madness that sometimes took over him during battle, his fear nonexistent, turning him and his blade into an unstoppable force rather than a man of flesh and blood. Either way, he had a reputation for spilling blood and not only was it something he was good at, but if Rek was honest with himself, it was something he enjoyed as well.

"I hear they're not men but demons made of pure shadow." A small group of soldiers was slowly walking towards him and he caught the end of one of the men's statements as they drew nearer. Rek rolled his eyes as this superstitious nonsense was brought up again. For 3 months, he'd had to deal with these rumors swelling like rotted meat in the sun, just blistering and getting more ridiculous by the day. "Swords swipe through them like cutting into empty air and they disintegrate when struck, only to form again in another place and keep on charging."

"And every state conquered adds another hundred thousand to their ranks."

Rek couldn't take it anymore and without turning spoke loud enough to be heard. "Bullshit. If you believe that, then it's time to let go of your mother's apron strings and actually learn to walk in the big world, boy." The man he addressed was a burly soldier, more muscle than fat but wide of girth, with his balding crown shining in the sun.

"You don't believe the stories then? It's all we hear from the men coming across the ocean. They say the army of the Black Sands is indestructible." One of the younger men spoke up and Rek had the urge to pinch the lad's cheeks for being so naive and stupid.

"Well, that's unfortunate, eh? If the battle is already lost and we're on our way to join the opposing side, then you might as well throw your weapons down now. It's not like you've ever used them before anyway."

The older man wasn't pleased by Rek's doubts and pointed a defensive finger at him. "You calling me a liar? One of my cousins saw them with his own eyes and I believe 'im! They're not human, I tell you!"

"Right," Rek said with a shake of his head. "Will you be joining the Shade Army right away, then?" The ship had docked already and they were lowering the plank, so he was ready to get off, plenty bored with this conversation and the other men's defensiveness. "Human or not, even shadows bleed. Good day, gents." He gave them a fearless smirk and sauntered away, spitting into the water as his feet touched the boardwalk.

The dock was full of activity, other ships lined up along the waterway and men busy loading and unloading goods, the air thick with smells and sounds, filling Rek's head with noise and dusting his tongue with an acrid taste. With his large battleaxe against his back and his pack under his left arm, Rek chose a direction and began walking, going in search for good food and a place to stay for the night before he headed out to join the nearest military effort. He'd see for himself these demon creatures they all said were conquering the East and then he'd cleave them with his axe until all the boogeymen were nothing but meaningless bumps in the night.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Crow Character Portrait: General Eckhart Character Portrait: Lord Gammon

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He sighed and withdrew the paper upon Eckhart's nod. He never seemed to bother to read his reports, though in all fairness his hand writing was fairly atrocious. Perhaps he'd spent to long reading the scrawled letters of many a magical tome, and had subconsciously decided that was what writing was supposed to look like? On that note, did he still have a subconscious? He frowned and pondered the question momentarily. Technically, his brain was dead, kept alive only by magic, along with the rest of him. Did that mean that his mind was also kept alive by the magic? Perhaps this seeming lapse of actual brain function was responsible for his lost memories? It was definitely a possibility. Hastily he drew out a second black leather bound book, this one worn with age and dog eared. He dug into one of his pockets and drew out a quil and opened the book. He was all out of pages. He "tsk"d and gripped the corner of the back cover, as if to turn a page. Suddenly a blank page appeared between his fingers, on which he scawled "Brain is dead, so memories are also dead?" On the other page were things along the lines of, "Mind erased by creator" "Gammon's doing. Conspiracy" "Don't want to remember." The last one was underlined several times.

He snapped the book shut and returned his belongings to their respective pockets. Lot's of things could be said about Crow. Amongst them, along with being an incredibly talented sorcerer and being dead, was this. He had LOTS of pockets. Some of them even held objects much larger than should be possible, thanks to his spacial magic. Once that was done, he looked back to Eckhart. He looked... well, human. Perfectly normal human being, with human needs and such what not. Working for the most powerful source of evil to ever surface on the face of this planet. He had to confess, the man was a tactical genius, his overwhelming knowledge of warfare nearly matched Crow's knowledge of magic. Separately, the two of them were extremely powerful generals, but together, like their time fighting the coastal battles, they were nearly invincible. Eckhart's expert tactical knowledge combined with Crow's powerful magic, both destructive and spacial, meant that they could strike at an enemies weakest point as soon as it appeared, and maneuver troops in whatever manner was required.

He frowned slightly as Eckhart cast his gaze about the hall. Crow had very few emotions left, but he was concerned for the larger man's mind. His constant paranoia made him a minor liability, but it was well worth the trade off. He followed the man slightly away from their lords chambers and stood near one of many large braziers. He stood a little ways further than Eckhart from the fire. As powerful as he was, his skin was still quite fragile and burned shockingly easily, which is why he wore such thick clothes. Then Eckhart spoke, dropping what would be equivalent to, say, a Lord of Vermillion's Canon, easily the most powerful spell in terms of sheer destructive power he'd read about so far.
"Our Lord has given me the task of finding him a bride. Apparently, he is bored with his usual playmates and cannot content himself with reproducing by spreading forth his infected brood. I'm to hunt him down a wife who can bear him flesh and blood children."

Crow would've turned pale if it were possible, but he lacked the color to do so in the first place. "A.. Bride!? A wife for the Dark Lord and soon conqueror of the Kingdom of Light?!" He took a deep breath, though it really wasn't necessary since he didn't have a working pair of lungs, and leaned against the black wall. He thought quietly to himself for a few seconds. Well, in a way it made sense. What did most kings do when they conquered a country? They married one of the local nobles to help calm the people. Though in this case, he highly doubted that would happen. Likely, entire cities would take up torches and pitchforks, but to someone like Gammon, it only made it more... what was the word? Fun? Perhaps.

"There's plenty of room for trial and error but I get the feeling he'll delight as much in the search as in the acquisition of his goal. You're welcome to help, if you like. I could use a young man's opinion when it comes to... taste. Light knows the years have favored me with experience but I no longer have a palate for the youthful or the innocent."

Crow nearly choked, trying to hold back laughter. He couldn't contain it though, and burst out laughing. "Y-Young man? I'm thirty seven! Well, seventeen for twenty years." He tilted his head and frowned again. "Well technically I'm twenty, since I don't remember ever being alive." He scratched his chin, though he didn't know why. It wasn't itchy or anything. He'd never had an itch for these past twenty years since his nerve endings were dead too. Maybe a habit from carried on with his reanimated body? He pushed the thought aside. His not-life seemed to teem with technicalities. "As for taste... I've never really put much thought into the matter. I suppose I'll just have to go ask him." With that, he turned back to the dark lord's chambers and knocked as hard as he dared without breaking his hand. He disliked how fragile his undead body was. he'd have to see if Gammon had anything to help with that while he was talking with him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Crow Character Portrait: General Eckhart Character Portrait: Lord Gammon Character Portrait: Rek

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ten
Ah, yes, of course. With the sorcerer's youthful looks, Eckhart often forgot that the undead boy was not actually a boy anymore. It wasn't like Crow acted particularly youthful or immature in the way one would expect from a pup sitting in his position. He was missing the over-excitability of an eager to please bootlick and the brash arrogance of a punk too big for his britches. There was confidence there but also the power and strength to back it up, not to mention a melancholy and brooding air befitting a man with several years of battle and bloodletting under his belt. The General had just fallen prey to the misleading packaging.

"My mistake," Eckhart murmured noncommittally. He was so lost to the apothecary's cocktail he'd ingested, he was unperturbed by the lad's burst of laughter, shrugging it off with an apathetic head tilt.
As he was turning to leave, he commented breezily, "You do that. After you're done, come find me at the Atropa Belladonna. We'll regroup and plan our next strategy on Pelobus, particularly in regards to this new hunt." And maybe he could even get the Lich to transport him back to the mainland. Heaven knew he wasn't eager to go by ship again but he would if he had to.
Having said all he wanted to say and feeling pressured by the looming darkness seeping from the Demon Lord's chambers, Eckhart took a hurried stride out of the castle. Through the twisting, winding corridors and down hundreds of steps, while faint echoed moans drifted through the walls, following him from hidden and buried rooms, Eckhart finally found himself outside. Like he'd been holding his breath through the entire fortress, air exploded from his lungs and he took in great heaving gulps of afternoon air.

Unlike the mainland of Pelobus, noon on the Black Sand Isles was indistinguishable from the morning and afternoon. The sky was always in a constant state of threat no matter what time of day, overcast with graying, tumbling clouds that hid the twin suns from view. Not even the nights were clear, growing impossibly dark beneath rumbling red and purple storm clouds, the only illumination coming from a few lightning bolts stabbing at the horizon.
As a result, everything was colored with gray tones, diluted and gloomy. Even so, there wasn't much color on the Isles to begin with. The animals were black. The waters were black. The trees were twisted and black. And of course, the ground was black. Stones and metals dug from the earth, although strong and efficient for their purposes of fortification and arms, all reached the surface with black and gray coloring. There were no colorful flowers on the Isles, so all arts and tapestries were made with grayscale dyes, depicting high-contrast scenes in black and white relief.
Having grown up here, Eckhart wouldn't have it any other way. The sunlight and rainbow colors of the mainland sickened him and caused him headaches. Their fruits and flowers caused stomachaches with their strong scents and sweet tastes and all of their art was useless, gaudy trash. Even so, the General was eager to return, if only to continue his campaign of violence across the countryside. Because the only color he liked more than silver and black was the red of freshly spilled blood.

Walking through the town sloping down the hillside that the castle was built upon, Eckhart made his way to the Atropa Belladonna. A tavern and brothel that was well-known for it's beautiful and alluring Black Isle women, the wooden sign hanging above the door displayed the name wrapped in the twisted vines of a Deadly Nightshade flower and a pair of alluring, feminine eyes beneath it. Employing the best of the best, they were the type to chill a man's veins even as they warmed the blood. They were seducers of Death himself and women to die for. It was his favorite place to visit whenever he returned to the main island.

Deciding to take a moment to relax and soothe his nerves, he entered the establishment through the front door, gently fingering his gauntlets off.
****


After the General started walking away, there was a second's pause when Crow finished knocking before the doors gracefully swung open to admit him. The room was the same as the General left it, with Gammon still enjoying his drink while standing at the window. With the opening of the doors, he turned and approached them with a predatory look of madness in his black and red eyes. Upon seeing who was standing there, the expression dissolved to a more friendly one, the threat and madness hidden beneath a veil of seductive charm instead.

"Ah, Crow!" his multiple voices said with welcoming appraisal. "I was just about to summon you." He paused to let his leering gaze travel down the Lich's body before sweeping back up to his face. Tilting his head curiously, he asked, "How are things? Memory still giving you issues?" Gammon must have been going for a sympathetic tone but the creeping malice in some of his deeper voices and the taunting smirk he quickly hid behind his glass, while taking a sip, took away the impact of whatever emotional support he attempted to give. Not that he didn't like Crow, as he most clearly did but just like any other being both sentient and not, the undead sorcerer was a toy in the Demon Lord's eyes and Gammon loved to play.

"You've actually caught me right in the middle of my playtime," Gammon's voices purred, even as he leaned forward a little bit into Crow's personal space. "I hope you won't mind if I torture someone while we talk..." As he spoke those words, a shadow door bled from the wall by the bed and from it appeared a couple of Shades hauling a woman in restraints, chaining her to the floor in the middle of the room. The woman was in her middle summers with stern features yet attractive eyes and the telltale peach skin of someone who'd lived all their life in the presence of the sunlight to warm their days. Even here in the upper-most towers of the Demon Lord's castle, the woman did not scream or cry, holding herself firm and quiet, her features stony and proud.

"So, tell me what's on your mind," Gammon said, giving his attention over to Crow for the moment as he prepared his tools on a cart that the Shades had brought with them.

****


Even after their month-long journey across the sea, not many of the men on the ship were willing to join Pelobus's forces once they heard more about the forces attacking from the Isles of the Black Sand. It was all the rumors they'd heard confirmed and more, whispers of a sorcerer boy, scarred and masked who ate the souls of men and led legions of the walking dead. The cowards were beside themselves. Rek's comrades were planning on joining forces to help security in towns and cities that hadn't been attacked yet. Because of the efficiency of the opposing forces, there weren't a lot of refugees but they were going to help with the relocation of citizens on the run as well. Rek's plans, on the other hand, hadn't changed since day one: he was going to find a military outpost getting the most recent action and situate himself right on the frontlines. He'd come here to protect the Kingdom of Light and that was what he was going to do.

Buying himself a horse, he traveled southeast inland with enough food in his pack to last him a couple of days. Sadly, he was pretty much out of money at the moment but hopefully once he joined the Pelobus army, he'd start making some of it back. Enough to take care of himself at least.

On his warhorse, a surly, copper mount named Eb, he rode across countryside during the morning, coming to a large wood near midday. Rek spared himself no comfort, stopping only when he felt it was necessary and pushing the horse to cross the distance as fast as it was reasonably able. Eventually, as the sun made it's descent, he had to concede to the fact that he would need to rest and it'd be easier to care for his horse if he made preparations while there was still light in the sky. Slowing the horse to a canter, Rek put his nose to the wind and frowned warily at the smell of burning wood on the air.

So far, he hadn't passed very many villages or sign of enemy activity, even as he got close to the settlement he'd been told about. Still, he couldn't ignore the very distinct smell of burnt flesh and what it foretold over the next ridge. Bringing Eb to a halt in a small wood, Rek dismounted and tied the horse to a tree. Proceeding on foot, he removed his battleaxe from over his shoulder and held it between his hands as he stalked through the trees. Holding it firm and flexing his fingers on it, he felt the familiar tingle and restlessness that often overtook him when he ran into battle.

Even so, the pent up energy and adrenaline coursing through him came to a deflated stop as he came through the brush. Spread out before him was a sorry story of death and senseless destruction. The air was choked with the smell of the dead and the sounds of carrion birds and flies, buzzing madly in suffocating swarms over the charred remains of these poor people. Rek was not a stranger to death and although he felt sorrow, he immediately distanced himself from the horror of the gruesome nature of what surrounded him. Putting his axe away in the holster on his back, he ambled through the blackened village, his keen eyes searching for any clues as to what had transpired here. If these people had been attacked, did that mean there wasn't any Light forces keeping the enemy back? How had the Black Isles men made it through? And why would they destroy the village so completely? What was it they were trying to achieve by this utter madness and indiscriminate slaughter?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Crow Character Portrait: General Eckhart Character Portrait: Lord Gammon

0.00 INK

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He waited silently for a few seconds until the doors swung forward silently on perfectly oiled hinges. While the hinges upon the Dark Lord's door were perfectly silent, others seemed almost to be designed to create the most ominous of noises. He stepped into the suffocatingly lightless room, well it would be to most humans where as Crow found it perfectly suitable. He found most things to be perfectly suitable. Negative forty degrees? Perfectly suitable. Complete lack of light by which to see? Perfectly suitable. He shook the thoughts from his head when Gammon spoke, first appearing hostile but then friendly as he realized it was Crow. Crow nodded to the man in respect, one of the few human emotions he still seemed to have, then sighed as the man swept his lecherous gaze up and down his dead body. Disgust was one of the many emotions he no longer felt, so few of the Dark Lord's quirks troubled him. After all, how could one be disgusted by something when they were just about as disgusting as a corpse? More or less exactly in Crow's case.

"Glad to be of such convenience my Lord." Even his voice sounded dead and hollow. "If you're referring to the war effort, everything is moving ahead of schedule. As for my personal health... Well I'm still dead, so not to bad." At this, the woman in chains eyes widened, but only for a moment. Obviously she hadn't expected one of Gammon's generals, the Lich himself no less, to appear so... young. At Gammon's quip concerning his memory, Crow drew out his black leather book and quickly underlined "Gammon's doing. Conspiracy." and replaced the book. Gammon probably knew everything he had in that book, but it mattered little. To him, it was likely a game. "Little trouble, seeing as I have none my Lord."

Crow stood as still as a stone as Gammon entered his "personal space" and told him of his "playtime". "I don't mind, so long as you don't make to much of a mess my Lord. The last one took a solid week to get out of the carpets." He frowned and inspected the floor. "Actually, there still seem to be few bits left." He knelt down and picked up what appeared to be... A molar. He shrugged and placed it in a pocket, depositing it directly into a box in his chambers, containing a number of various "samples".

"Just a few things to report." He snapped his fingers and a clip-board appeared in his hands, along with a quill. "The Shading process has been nearly perfected. Whereas two months ago it required nearly four ounces of blood to turn a Shade, testing completed exactly five minutes ago confirmed that the process can be done successfully using only three drops of blood." He actually smiled as he said that. It had been a huge project, involving countless "volunteers", gallons of blood and weeks of effort. The final product however had been well worth it.
"We can now create up to fifty shades with the same amount of blood it would take to create one just two months ago."

He turned to the next page on his clipboard and continued. "Also, our previous battle was a complete success. Five hundred shades were created, along with three hundred undead. They are fortifying the valley as we speak." One of the shades clapped for a few seconds before realizing no one else was clapping, then let its hands drop. A newly turned one apparently, tended to hold onto some of their human habits and emotions for around a week or so. "In other news, my Death Day is coming up." He waved his hand in the air once or twice, party hats appearing on the heads of those in the room, including the shades and the chained woman, much to her befuddlement. They were, of course, black. There was confetti too, in the shape of little white skulls. They vanished when they touched the floor, almost like snow flakes did when they landed on your finger.
"You're invited of course. I think Eckhart said something about getting me something he called... "hammered", but I don't really think it sounded all to pleasant." He frowned and looked at the hand he'd knocked with. There were tiny indentations on his knuckles where muscle should be. "Not with my body as fragile as this anyway."

"Other than that, there's just the matter of your bride to be." He turned to a blank page and pulled out a quill, apparently to take notes. "Eckhart and I don't err... Really know your tastes my Lord. If you could clarify what we should be looking for, I'm sure it would speed up the search significantly." He sat down, a chair appearing behind him to catch him as he did. He could've simply pulled up a chair and sat in that, but magic was like a muscle. The more you used it, the more powerful it became. So he tended to use magic for just about everything, all to grow his power to even greater heights.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Crow Character Portrait: Lord Gammon Character Portrait: Rek

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ten
Image


Although Gammon was interested and even amused by meetings with Crow, it didn't dissuade him from his current activity of bringing misery and pain to the woman chained to the floor.Even so, while in the middle of drawing an esoteric symbol on her stomach with a knife, he paused when the party hat appeared on his head. Giving it a small flick of his bloodied finger, he gave Crow a smirk over his shoulder. After putting the finishing touches on the symbol etched into his victim's flesh, the lines began to glow with an inner light. If Crow recognized the symbol at all, he'd know that it's purpose was to prolong the life of the one wearing it, no matter how fatal their wounds were.

Gammon had used the symbol multiple times to keep his playthings alive right up to the point where they were just a soupy mess of parts on the floor. Also, the little lines and circles drawn to the right of it were intended to amplify the woman's pain and keep her conscious through everything the Demon Lord planned to do to her. As of yet, other than a few odd looks shot in Crow's direction and a few grimaces while getting cut by her torturer, the woman's demeanor and stony silence had yet to break. That was okay though. Gammon liked a victim with strength of will. It made things more enjoyable when he had to fight for every scream he dragged from their throats.

When the Lich brought up Eckhart and the task he'd been given, Gammon took a moment to stand and return to his cart of tools. Facing Crow, he smiled and his multiple voices said in impassioned tones, "All good news, my friend. I always love to hear about the progress of the war. I cannot tell you how it fills me with pleasure to know that the Shades are being produced more efficiently. I knew you were the one to be trusted with leading that effort and getting the kinks of the process worked out.

"As for your other concerns..." Gammon's voices slowed as he thought to himself, a small, naughty smile appearing on his lips as he once again turned to his victim. Walking in a circle around her, he waved a knife in the air as he spoke, stopping occasionally to administer cuts to her thighs and arms. All the while, his voices, blending male and female tones together, remained conversational.

"I am aware of your Death Day arriving soon. In fact, I've scheduled you a banquet on that night to celebrate. We'll hold it right here in the castle and I've invited the entire citizenry of the Black Sand Isles to attend. It shall be a gloriously morbid party, with a gift required upon entry to the hall." Of course, attendance would be mandatory by threat of death but the Demon Lord overlooked that fact. Gammon paused, lost in fond musings for a moment, licking his lips as his voices crooned softly, "I remember when you first came to me... watching you work... seeing what you could do to a battlefield..."

Snapping out of it, the hazy look vanished from the Demon's red and black eyes, in a blink replaced with that shrewd madness once more. "My gift of course will be the best of all and I know you will love it the most. Eckhart, with all of his camaraderie and 'good times' won't be able to compete." Was that a hint of jealousy? Honestly, who knew?

Coming back around his victim to stand in front of the Lich, Gammon stopped and reached out a hand to softly pet the sorcerer's hand and fingers, ever so gentle but with a lingering touch. "I have just the thing for your little 'delicacy' problem. However, just because I love you Crow, doesn't mean you get presents for free." That leer was back, with another sweeping gaze that licked at hidden places beneath the Lich's robe with a small glow igniting in those red eyes. Without another word he swooped away to the far side of the room to where a cabinet stood beside the bed. Hidden from view, he manipulated a hidden latch and through thamaturgic workings, he opened the double doors before reaching within.

Turning gracefully on his heel, he returned to where Crow sat, the cabinet closing by itself with a soft "whoosh" and a click. Standing in front of Crow with a coquettish grin, Gammon said, "I have an ointment that will revitalize your skin, repair damaged tissue and create a bit of flexibility and resistance. Nothing extraordinary, mind you, just what you'd expect from anyone living. It needs to be used regularly to keep working consistently." Brandishing a small bottle at the Lich, Gammon held it out and bit his own tongue with malicious, playful glee. "That amount is enough to cover your entire... beautiful 17 year old body and it will work for an entire week.

"I will make you a deal, my little dead bird. I will continue to supply you with this concoction that will keep your body in fit fighting condition just like a real live boy, but if you successfully complete the quest to bring me a bride, I will tell you how to make it. As it stands, I've put a lot of work into binding the ingredients, so, I doubt you'll figure it out on your own." Through that adoring smile, the leer flickered with a small flash of paranoia but was gone in a calming sigh in the next. "But you're nothing if not patient and loyal, so, I probably shouldn't have bothered."

Clapping his hands once, the Demon Lord rubbed his palms together and walked with a restless air towards the bed, pacing back again as he broached the new topic. This was something he felt truly passionate about and he jumped right into talking about it without any hesitation - his victim lay forgotten on the floor, barely bleeding. "The woman I desire is to be young and beautiful. I'm not looking for beauty enhanced by makeups or fancy trinkets. I'm not looking for one ounce of beauty or one aspect of beauty - someone who 'only looks good in a certain light'. I want ethereal beauty. Angelic, fair, soul-wrenching beauty that will still the heart of this dark Lord. I want purity, untouchable, uncorrupted, innocence in mind, body and spirit. I've searched the Isles and all these women have been under the rule of darkness for far too long. They're tainted by it, covered in the filth flung from off my cape.

"This is someone you will have to find somewhere on Pelobus. The Kingdom of Light, with their fair-haired maidens and blue-eyed girls are bound to have somebody who fits the bill. Among the hundreds and thousands living in the mainland, I know you will find her. You and Eckhart, together will find me the perfect young girl to be my bride. She will be a queen, the perfect union between the light and the dark." With the last, he gestured to himself and came to a slow, languid stop. Giving Crow an illustrious smile, he raised an eyebrow and asked, "Is that all?" Obviously, he was done talking about this and was eager to get back to... the still living and wriggling business on his floor.

*****


Crows cawed angrily at one another, fighting for dominance over the feast spread out before them. The breeze drifted between what was left of scorched walls and fences, carrying smoke from the dimming fires still burning - and the scent of spilled blood and cooked flesh with it. Rek grimaced silently to himself and looked beyond the buildings to the mountain ash and evergreens surrounding him. It was just a peaceful mountain village. There were no notable fortifications on the border and from his brief inspection, it looked like they were very earth-centric with farming and gardening tools abandoned during the panic.

There were plenty of things Rek had done that he wasn't proud of in his life. He'd fought in civil wars to the West, quashed rebellions for the Sun King and even killed tribal savages in the mountainous Dead Lands to the north for territory and greed. When he flew into his berserker rages and let the battle-lust take over him, he didn't always stop and think about who was friend and who was foe before slashing down with his terrible axe. But never had he raised a hand to woman or child. It just didn't make sense.

Rather than continuing to mull over the ethical questions of this war and the enemy he was going to be fighting, Rek finally decided to leave. As he sauntered away, he stopped as the body of one of the fallen caught his eye. It was untouched by the carrion eaters and didn't seem damaged by the fire but Rek couldn't be certain. The teeth had fallen out as if rotted right out of the skull and parts of the flesh were torn and bubbled, exposing muscle beneath. But what caught Rek's attention and inspired his doubts about the fire being responsible was the eyes... A viscous coal black liquid oozed out of the orifices, congealing in the empty sockets and flowing down the cheeks in thick rivulets. What could have possibly done this? And why did the animals stay away? Not even flies swarmed the open sores and wounds like they did on the others.

That was when a noise suddenly grabbed Rek's attention, forcing him to spin around in a defensive posture. With his hand halfway up to grabbing his battleaxe from the holster on his back, Rek stopped when his eyes fell on the young girl and the fox in the middle of the path near him. A beautiful child of fair hair, his breath got caught in his throat when he saw her eyes, the clarity of the azure pools striking him right to the core of his being. She was soon joined by another girl who seemed older but both of them were of indeterminable age - all children were qualified as 'young things' in Rek's book. She too held the beauty of the other and although his immediate assumption was that they were related, he couldn't know for sure. Then again, about 6 seconds later, he really couldn't be bothered to care.

Stepping forth with a relaxed and calm gait, Rek cleared his throat and stopped a few paces from them. "Do not be afraid, younglings," he said in a neutral voice. "Where are your parents?" He winced internally, feeling at once shamefaced for his insensitive question. Clearing his throat again and pressing his fist to his lips, he looked away from them awkwardly before continuing, trying to save face. "Is this your village? Who did this? Speak up!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Crow Character Portrait: General Eckhart Character Portrait: Lord Gammon

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He listened patiently to his dark lord after having given his reports, flipping through the pages once of twice to make sure he'd covered everything. He smiled quite happily, and quite eerily, when he was praised concerning his efforts in the shading process. While Gammon had the kind of smile that made women concerned for their maidenhood, men too at that, Crow had the kind of smile that made the leaves fall off trees and small children cry. He stood from his conjured chair and bowed deeply, making a small flourish with the long flap of his tooled leather coat, the upraised leather giving the illusion of intricate feathers. His other hand went up to keep the party hat from falling. "I shall do my utmost to ensure this praise was deserved my Lord." He eyed the intricate rune the dark Lord carved into the woman's flesh. An impressive display of his arcane knowledge, the kind of knowledge Crow had spent the past eighteen years under Gammon's command trying to learn.

He straightened as his Death day was mentioned, straightening his coat as he did. Since he had no recollection of his life, he had no idea when his Birthday was, so his Death day was a sort of backwards version of the former. Instead of celebrating the day he'd been born, they now celebrated the day of his death. To Crow, it was no secret that Gammon was slightly jealous of Eckhart. After all, Crow was obligated to spend the majority of his time both on and off the island with the man. This put Crow in a somewhat... precarious position. "I'm.. Uncertain what to say. Thank you my Lord! I'm certain whatever you've prepared will be more than perfect. It will certainly be more than I am deserving of." Secretly though, the idea of a banquet sat ill in his mind. After all, he didn't have a sense of taste! The only reason he ate was to ensure he had enough proteins and nutrients to maintain his muscles and skin. Things like wine, chocolates and other such delicacies held no value in his eyes. He ate expertly balanced meals using only salt as a seasoning, and even at that he only salted his food to maintain a healthy sodium level. As for this gift he spoke of... Knowing Gammon, it could be any of a hundred things. Only one way to find out, and that was to wait a week for his Death day.

Apparently Gammon had heard him mention the current fragile state of his body, because he brought the subject back up and pet his hand like one would a small and fragile cat. While he was incapable of disgust, the dark Lords touch and his leer combined stirred up something in his deep well of emotions. What was it? Ah, discomfort. After letting go of his hand, Gammon glided over to a cabinet in the corner of the room, which was of course black, just like everything else in Gammon's chambers, and opened it up, after about forty seconds of flipping secret levers and turning small knobs hidden in the woodwork. He returned holding a small vial filled with a strange liquid. Apparently it was some sort of rejuvenating ointment, created to make Crow's body like that of one still living. Upon hearing that, he all but snatched the small vial from the Dark Lord and began his inspection of the fluid. How was something like that possible? Perhaps something the lines of a youth potion, but specifically altered to bring something closer to a state it previously held? Knowing the extent of Gammon's magic, it could be done. "Very interesting... I accept your deal, on one condition. Please refrain from calling me beautiful, it's highly... irregular." The chained woman had the audacity to smirk at that, and Crow's all seeing eyes took note of this, quickly decided upon the proper response, and executed it.

He drew from a small but intricately patterned pocket what appeared to be a small, perfectly clear crystal. They were an item of Crow's creation called "Records". They varied in size, but all held the same purpose. They stored information, withdrawn from countless sources, whether it be a book, someones voice, a specific spell or even someones mind. He took the Record, rolling it gently between his fingers before pressing it against the woman's forehead. At first nothing happened, but suddenly the woman's eyes filled with shock and the Record slowly turned a deep black, images flashing briefly across its surface. He withdrew the Record and returned to his chair, watching the Record for a small while before tossing it to Gammon. "A gift for a gift. A complete Record of this woman's hopes and fears. I trust you know exactly how to use it."

He took complete notes of his Dark Lord's desires regarding his bride to be. Essentially, it sounded like the polar opposite of Gammon himself. Night and Day, Light and Dark. To the romantic that was still somewhere in Crow, buried under an immense pile of hatred and skepticism, it sounded beautiful and perfect. To the realist, which rested ontop of said pile, it sounded all around like a bad idea. Not that he could tell Gammon that, nor even imply it. "I believe that is indeed all my Lord. He stood up and waved a hand, the chair vanishing as he did. "Thank you for your time. I'll let you return to your... playtime." He bowed elegantly and turned, vanishing with a flash of black and the sound of flapping wings. All that remained to prove he'd even been in the room was a small black feather that fell where he'd been standing.

He reappeared in a small corner of his own chambers which had been set aside for his teleportation. The rest of the large room was... Well, odd. While Gammon's chambers had been an elegant black, Crow's room was filled with various colors. Strange plants sat under magic lamps which provided a controlled amount of artificial sunlight. Shelves upon shelves of books spanned across each wall, bound in various colored leathers. A complete human skeleton stood in one corner, held together with thin metal wires. Stuffed birds and reptiles and mammals and other... undefined things hung from the ceiling or sat ontop of shelves. Strange chemicals bubbled in strangely shaped beakers ontop of desk against a far wall. All in all, it was the chambers of a sorcerer. A well funded sorcerer at that.

He placed the vial on his favorite desk, carved from ebony wood, and stared at the shelves upon shelves of books, formulating a plan in his head. He jotted his ideas up in the air, where they stayed and glowed with a green light. He drew diagrams and formulas until he was satisfied. Yes, this could be done... and it would be much more efficient. He climbed a small ladder against his bookshelf and started pulling out books, which floated in the air next to him. First was the Necronomicon, followed by A Complete study of the human body, and finished off with A Study of Theoretical Enchantments. He sat at his desk and flipped through said books until he found what he needed. But if the enchantment failed, the ointment would be destroyed... Better do some test runs first.

He prepared three variations of the enchantment known as Never Ending Bottle, one from the book, one he vaguely remembered from around seven years ago, and one based off the book, but with certain elements he believed would work better. Done correctly, the enchanted container will never run out of whatever fluid is contained within. He filled three beakers with water and placed the enchantments on each. The first was... almost right, but instead of never running out of liquid he now never ran out of beaker. He cast a dispell before it got to out of hand. The second failed miserably. The water had become wine an expensive red wine. He shrugged and corked it, no point in wasting it. The third was less obvious. It looked no different than before. Experimentally, he took it to the open window and poured the water out, and kept pouring. He waited about half a minute, but he was still pouring by then so he decided that the third had been a success. He removed the text from replaced it with his successful enchantment, a small black star in the top right corner marking it as a success. Replicating it on the ointment vial was a simple task, and pouring the ointment into another vial revealed that it had been successful. There were now two vials of ointment.

Next he recreated the human sweat gland system with one twist. It would secrete the ointment at a slow rate and keep his skin and muscles as healthy as any living person for as long as the vial remained intact. But for now, he removed his clothes and placed them on a chair, then rubbed the ointment into his skin. He gasped at the nearly instantaneous results, his muscles firming up and his skin becoming more elastic and healthy. Even his hair felt better! He slipped his clothes back on and looked in a mirror. He looked... alive. Pale as the moon but alive! He grinned and flexed his muscles. They were more firm and defined and... well beautiful. He laughed and thought about telling Gammon he call him beautiful as much as he wanted, but that was probably a bad idea. He corked the second vial and placed it in a secret compartment of his desk before going into his teleportation corner. In a flash of black and the sound of flapping wings he was gone.

He appeared outside the Atropa Belladonna, sighing slightly. He... disliked this establishment. It felt like the women here made a game of seeing if they could get a rise out of him. He shook his head and slipped inside, sitting down at a bench and toying with his new fingers. A "waitress" placed a glass of clear water in front of him and winked, leaning down a little to far to show off her bosom before sauntering away. He sighed and sipped the water. His lack of desire for carnal pleasure was a game to them, despite him being one of Gammon's generals. But what could he do? They were, after all, indiscriminately doing their jobs. He saw Eckhart and waved him over, placing the never ending wine beaker on the table in front of him. "A failed enchantment, but I prefer not to waste useful things. Consider it a gift."