Prompt: Two young boys swore an oath to defeat evil and fight for the light. Many years later they stand before one another, one a Paladin of the Light, the other a Harbinger of Evil
I stood in the center of the desolate city. Small fires continued to burn throughout as demons and devils circled overhead. Occasionally they would sweep down to pick corpses of flesh. The fought and bickered over the littlest scraps of meat.
I looked around at the destroyed city around me. Buildings were now just rubble and splinters lying beneath my feet. This was just another city to me. It had a name. A history. A people and a culture. But now it was just another black mark on a map. A city destroyed by a bringer of darkness.
I made my way forward through the rest of the ruins and the darkness followed me. It was an ever present being that clung to me. It was blood-thirsty and unquenchable. It wanted pain and sorrow and I was forced to give it to it. I had made my decision long ago and I was forced to stick to it. It was a dark path but it was mine and mine alone. When I was but a child, I told everyone I was going to be a Paladin of light and defend civilization from evil, but that seemed like someone else’s life now.
I heard the darkness in the back of my mind. It sent a burning feeling down my spine and out to my fingers and toes. I was almost used to it now.
There was a flash of light and I lifted my glance up from my feet to the source. Up on the hillside stood a single man donned in white and gold armor. He shone like a beacon of light. The demons and devils noticed the presence and started to circle it. The light shining from the man seemed to create some kind of barrier from the fiends. They snarled and hissed but did not approach him.
I unsheathed my blade and the darkness seemed to grow. Dark red runes pulsed on my weapon. A once, holy blade now bathed in the blood of thousands of innocent lives. The ever present darkness had corrupted the weapon just like it had corrupted me.
The man pointed a longsword in my direction and I felt a wave of heat overcome me. This heat wasn’t the heat of fire or volcanic rock. I had spent enough time in the many levels of hell to know that kind of heat. No, this was different. A searing heat that seemed to pierce the darkness.
The darkness encroached into my mind once again.
“Have you come to kneel or be conquered?” I asked the man. My voice sounded like I was breathing through gravel, but it was something I was used to after my time with the darkness. It twisted my words and deepened them.
“Your path of destruction stops here,” The man shouted.
“You are a fool if you think you can stop me,” I said. “You will be just another name lost to history in a city of the dead.”
The man looked me up and down and took a step forward. The ground around him seem to spring back to life as the poison in the soil was dispelled. The flying creatures above continued to hiss and growl but retreated a few paces.
“My name is Griffen Snowcrest, Paladin of Pelor The Dawnfather and my name will be the last thing you hear before I put you down,” The man said with a girn. His face was stoic and solid like he was sculpted out of marble.
“Griffen…” I muttered. The name hit me like a ton of stone bricks.
He looked me up and down and his grin fadded. It was like I took the wind from his sails.
“Griffen. It’s me, Theo. Theo Lightfoot,” I said. The darkness swelled around me and the bits of laughter were warped into a cruel crackle.
Griffen looked puzzled and then he repositioned himself.
“What are you talking about, demon?” Griffen yelled. “What cruel trick is this?”
“It’s not a trick, Grif,” I said. “It’s me Theo. Remember me.”
Emotions swelled up inside me as my mind became clear. I remembered Me and Grif playing in the creek outside our village. We splashed through the water. We climbed trees. We swung sticks like swords. We were both determined to become Paladins then. We were to serve the light.
The darkness swelled around me and my mind became fuzzy again as that memory faded.
Kill him. Kill him now.
This time the pain hurt and my eyes refocused on Griffen standing before me.
“That’s impossible. Theodore Lightfoot is dead. He’s been dead for decades. He…he went to the nine hells and never returned,” Griffen said lifting the sword at me. “Whatever you are, you are not him.”
“I traveled to the nine hells to stop the demon-lord Bractus as you fought his brother Billick here on our plane. We both had a path and I chose mine. I went to hell for you, Griffen. But…there was something greater down there, Grif. We didn’t know about it,” I said through soft cries.
The tears stung like acid on my face.
“What are you talking about?”
“This!” I yelled out. The darkness came close and clung to my form. Only my face showed. “The power that swarms me now. I made a deal with it. It was going to come for you.”
Griffen stood immobilized as he stared at me. My face reflected in his eyes.
I continued to speak. “Bractus and Billick were just pawns. Their deaths created a doorway between our plane and theirs. It was all a trick and we fell for it. They outsmarted us, Griffen. So I made a choice.”
My voice grew deeper and deeper as the darkness filled my mind. “I chose to save you. I chose.”
No more hesitation. Kill him now.
“I chose the darkness,” I said my voice hollow.
The flying demons and devils now approached closer and closer to the two of us.
Griffen raised his shield up and the aura of light around him grew larger keeping the fiends at bay. They hissed and snarled.
“I’m sorry Theo, I didn’t know,” Griffen yelled.
“You’re apologizes aren’t necessary, I will hear your pleas soon enough,” I rose my darkened blade at Griffen.
“I will save you, Theo,” Griffen said. “I will figure out some way to save you.”
I smiled with a large, toothy grin as my eyes grew dark. The darkness and I spoke in unison.
“No one will save you, you are both doomed to die here.”