“In his pride, The Brother shall lose himself and become the second Monger of Death.”
– Excerpt from the Tome of Time
Hara began to cry as her brother lay unmoving beside her.
"Why... Why am I on the floor?" A voice came from her right. She turned to the tower's open doors to see her father standing there in his armor, with an expression that was both the same and different from everyone else's.
"Father..." Hara said quietly.
Herzog strode to Hara and Konig and knelt next to Konig's head. He poked at the flesh.
"That's irritating, father." Konig said. The wound in his chest finally began to stretch itself closed. Everyone jumped back in shock as Konig stood back up.
Herzog stared at his son a long time as Konig turned to face Diana.
"Was that really necessary?" Konig asked his mother as he pulled at his shoulder, popping a bone back into place.
"How are you still alive? You died five years ago!" Diana shouted. "No living man could survive that either! A demon! You must be a demon!"
"Living... I wonder if I am such anymore." Konig said, continuing to pop bones in his spine back into place from the sword's pierce. "I hope not all reunions between us are like this."
"Konig, what happened to you?" Hara asked.
Herzog's began to speak but was quickly interrupted by Konig before anyone could notice. "Made a deal with Dhuum for power. Don't you like it?" Konig smirked as he took the sword out of Diana's hands and handed to back to the guard she took it from. "You may want to hold onto your things better, nothing's more useless than having a guard who can't even protect his own weapon."
The people around continued to stand with their mouths agape. None of them as ever seen such a sight before, nor have they heard of such a sight without a god's presence in the very area. Even those blessed by the gods to use magic had never survived what they witnessed.
Out of the corner of Hara's eye, she saw her father shake.
"Not going to say hello, father?" Konig said as he finally turned to stare at the man in the crimson red armor.
Herzog's shaking continued, he stood silent, and Konig responded by remaining silent himself. Several minutes passed as the two stared at each other silently, Herzog's shaking turning into clenched fists.
"King Doric! Sire!" A servant shouted as he ran up to the king and Malaquire. He paused to catch his breath for a second before continuing. "Your nephew. He's returned! But... I think Diana finally lost it! She stabbed him!"
"What? Where were they?" The king demanded.
"At the main entrance to the estate, sire."
The king broke into a run and was quickly followed by his captain. The servant ran with them, but quickly fell behind, tired and shocked at the others' speed.
What would have been a fifteen minute run for others had been a mere five for the two of them. They arrived without sweat or heavy breathing. Herzog stood in front of the two, his back facing them, and beyond him stood Konig as if nothing happened.
"Death it is." Malaquire said softly.
Konig... what were Dhuum's plans for you if you can control your very own death?
"Stop this both of you!" Hara shouted, tired of the silent argument. She turned to Herzog and grasped his fist. "Shouldn't you be happy that Konig's here?"
Herzog's gaze went from the scarred man to Hara in an instance as she flew from his side. His extended arm showed to him that he instinctively hit her. And why shouldn't he? She called the intruder by his own name.
"Herzog! Have you lost it?" Afzal shouted.
"Do not call me that! I am Konig Hagan Doric! Son of that man! Nephew to King Doric! The next heir to the throne! Do not call me by the name of that failure!" Herzog shouted. He grabbed a obsidian sword from his belt and pointed it at the mimicing man. "And never call this impostor by my name!"
"You're name?" The man with the scar laughed aloud. The laughter resounded throughout Herzog's head and throughout his mind long after the man's mouth closed.
With a scream, Herzog charged towards the man.
Konig braced himself for Herzog as his father rushed forward with a scream. Sidestepping the obsidian blade, he grabbed Herzog's arm and spoke a quick chant. A faint green glow surrounded Konig's hand as Herzog's scream renewed, now in pain instead of anger. Blood trickled down Herzog's arm as Konig released it, leaving the arm limp and seemingly lifeless. The obisidian blade clashed onto the ground. Konig stood over his father as Herzog bent over in pain, first grabbing his arm then holding his head. Herzog's screams were endless.
"Konig!" Hara shouted as she began to run to her brother and father.
"That's enough out of all of you." A deep resonating voice said from the opened door, stopping Hara in her place. King Doric stepped forward in a calm pace with a calmer, yet worried and angered, face. He strode to Konig and stared unblinking at the robed man. "I'll need to talk with you later, nephew." King Doric then went to his brother and stretched his hand over Herzog's broken arm. A light blue glow flowed from the king's hand and wrapped itself around the arm, moving it so that it no longer bent incorrectly. King Doric then moved his hand to Herzog's head and repeated the process.
As the blue glow disappeared, Herzog collapsed onto the ground. Standing up, King Doric said, "Hara, Afzal, please take my brother to rest. He should be well when he wakes up."
Hara nodded in response and helped pick him up for Afzal to carry. Diana followed the three silently.
"Come with me." King Doric said to Konig.
With a simple "tsk" sound, Konig followed the king.
Light shone through and turned what was black into red-yellow glare. Herzog opened his eyes to the brightness that disturbed his sleep. He rubbed his temple as he leaned forward. His body felt light and graceful, but something felt off. What happened last night?
He asked himself.
Looking to his left, he saw his wife sitting on a velvet-covered chair, staring outside the window... or at it. Herzog got out of his bed, dressed in his clothes from yesterday that were under his armor, and walked over to Diana. She remained still, like a statue. He turned to see where she was looking, and saw nothing of interest.
"What are you looking at?" He asked. She didn't respond, didn't move. He didn't even see her blink. With a sigh, Herzog left his wife to change his clothes and went out into the large hallway.
Hara sat on the ground, her arms wrapped around her legs and her forehead resting on her knees. She was sleeping.
Herzog scowled at his daughter and quickly turned to walk away, hurrying down the hallway toward the large central tower. Then a thought came. Herzog, stopping mid-step, turned back to face Hara, and smiled.
Konig laid flat on his old bed. Now, his feet just reached the end of the bed showing that he grew the past five years, though not by much. He was tired still, yet not tired at all. He missed sleeping on a comfortable bed, even just having a bed was kind. Though he couldn’t sleep at all, he kept his eyes closed the entire night, ignoring the whispers of the servants and guards, ignoring the few times when they entered his bedroom in their duties or patrols to keep things orderly. He ignored it all.
But the scream he could not ignore. A shout followed after, a shout that no human voice could create.
“Konig! My son! I wish to speak with you, traitor! Dhuum has given me a vision, a vision of your treasonous actions! Come to Dhuum’s domain on Tyria, and I shall show you your punishment! Konig! My son!” Herzog’s voice resounded again and again, ever repeating itself.
It seems your back to normal. Insane as always…
Konig remembered his dream, his nightmare. The dream which brought him to Arah in the first place, and with that remembrance, Konig knew where Herzog wished him to be. And he knew he had to go, but a thought filled his head.
“I need more power.”
His voice told him. His memory told him. He would go, and he would fail. Konig touched the scar on his face and grimaced at this realization.
He was weak.
Herzog’s repeating voice and Konig’s own thoughts melded into his mind and became a solid impenetrable noise. An unrhythmatic of clattering broke his thoughts. Konig unclenched his fists, forcing them to move despite their resistance, their hardening from the force he subconsciously put on them. The clattering became louder and louder, then suddenly stopped.
A fist brushed against Konig’s face as he passed by his room, and further, without any effort. Konig quickly stood up to see Afzal where he had stood.
“Snap out of your day dreaming! Hara and Diana are missing and Herzog’s calling for you. Do you have any clue what is going on?” Afzal galloped up to Konig and picked him off of the ground, racing off to the central tower. “You’re the cause of all this, aren’t you. Idiotic two-legs.”
“Don’t degrade yourself into simple racial slurs, ‘four-legs.’”
A smile ran across Afzal’s muzzle for a second before disappearing again.
“That scream was Hara’s.” Konig said calmly. Afzal remained silent, continuing to run down hallway after hallway towards the central tower. “We need to go to the west wing… To the crypts under the tower dedicated to Dhuum. That’s the ‘domain’ Herzog’s talking about.”
Afzal nodded and changed his course, taking a turn he would of otherwise ignored.
“I’m not strong enough to get Hara out alive. You focus on getting Hara, I’ll take care of Herzog.”
“Do not kill him, he isn’t well. He hasn’t been since you disappeared.” Afzal said, his gruff voice nearly breaking.
“And can you please stop carrying me like this?” Konig said as he motioned to Afzal’s arm holding him up by his stomach just as Afzal did the night before. In response, Afzal tossed Konig across the hallway; Konig skidded across the ground like a rock skipping across water until he slammed into the door.
I swear, one day that centaur will get what’s coming to him.
“Get up, runaway, we’re at the tower. Where did Herzog go?”
Konig tried to remember his dream, his memory, as he stood up and brushed the dirt that was on his clothes. His dream was useless due to their nonlinear pattern. His memories were blank. He was at a loss.
“It’s an underground passage, but I don’t recall how to get there. It’s been years.”
“It’s been years since you’ve even been here.”
“It was long before then.”
Afzal grunted and opened the door that Konig slammed into. Underground meant on the bottom floor, that narrowed the search.
Herzog’s voice continued to ring throughout the estate.
King Doric leaned against a balcony, looking westward to Dhuum’s tower. Death will be coming soon, he knew. Herzog’s resounding voice told this to him.
“Your brother seems to have delved too far into Abaddon’s darker domain.” Malaquire said to the king.
“It seems so.”
“Shouldn’t you go help? He is your brother.”
“I am forbidden.” King Doric sighed.
Malaquire responded silently, shocked at the words that came out of King Doric’s mouth. “Who would forbi… Ah, the Six.”
“Just one of them.”
“Just me.” An old shaking voice said from the shadows. As if melded into the darkness until now, a robed figure with a face covered by a skull stepped out. “Konig must face his own hell if he is to do the duty he unknowingly accepted. It’ll be a long task, but I intend to make him worthy of the task you two have as well.”
“A long task?” Malaquire asked.
“You two, and I, were chosen due to our personalities. Sadly, I believe Konig was as well. But he is not like us. Not in the least.” Grenth walked to the balcony’s edge next to the king and stretched his long bony hands over the rail.
“You’ve changed Grenth.” King Doric said as he glanced at the god of death’s hands.
“The power does that.” The god replied.
“I don’t think becoming a god makes you more sympathetic to individuals.”
Grenth stared in silence at the tower dedicated to his predecessor, left unchanged by Herzog.
“Konig! My son!” Herzog’s voice continued to resound throughout the estate. Every servant and guard were in a frenzy, searching for Herzog, Hara, or Konig.
Konig opened the door to a small room tucked away in the center of the tower. It was hidden behind the closet of the servant’s main corridor of the tower. A trapdoor latch laid wide open in front of him.
“Afzal, I found it!” Konig hollered to the centaur who was searching the other side of the corridor. “Good luck getting in there though.”
Konig crouched into the trapdoor onto some stairs. It was a tight fit for him. With the small room still directly above him, he said a small chant and watched as an ethereal hand reached out from his own, enlarged, and pushed the flooring up expanding the trapdoor.
Konig motioned to Afzal to wait a little bit before following as he went down the stairs. The stairs were not long and quickly ended into a floor of bones. Konig’s memory flashed before him showing what the dream omitted: Herzog taking him when he was ten along with his sister and the daughter of a guest to the bone-riddled catacombs underneath the estate. Hara left screaming once she realized what was under their feet, but the daughter and Konig continued on, curious what Herzog wanted to do. The two children followed the man eagerly until they came upon a room with a circle with unreadable runes etched into it. A hooded shade levitated above that circle and called for a sacrifice: the young girl who was with them. Only memories of running footsteps filled Konig’s head after.
Konig shook his head to shake the memories away. Events of years gone past were of no importance to him.
The crunch of the bones underneath his feet echoed throughout the darkened hallway. It was near impossible to see in the darkness. An eerie silence flowed around him, constantly interrupted by the crunching of bones.
Konig thought to himself as he realized that Herzog’s repeating voice finally ended – or perhaps merely couldn’t be heard from where he was.
The entire hallway suddenly lit up, blinding Konig in the unexpected light.
“You’ve come, my son.” Herzog’s voice echoed through the hallway.
Konig saw a crevice with an unusual glow in it. Stepping closer, he saw the crevice was, in fact, an entrance to another room: The room where the hooded silhouette floated in his memories. A room now holding Hara in chains.
Herzog stared at the entrance of the summoning room patiently. He knew his son had finally entered the catacombs of the estate and was coming this way. He had just lit the way for him. Hara groaned softly behind him. She was in pain. Good.
Herzog waited for his son to appear. Waiting that seemed like an eternity. Death will come. Death will always come. No one escapes death, nothing escapes Dhuum.
The cracking of bones began to fill the room, muffling all other sound. Then he showed.
Konig appeared before Herzog, stiffened and unshaken. Unlike when he came down this path before.
“Took you long enough, my son, my traitor. Do you know why I called you here?” Herzog said calmly, attempting to hide his ecstaticness.
“Let me guess, you’re going to tell me that I’m a traitor because you were the one to give me power, but I found it on my own. I was supposed to be your tool to claim what you never got. Am I right?” Konig said as he circled the room. “I’ve heard this before.”
Herzog responded with nothing but a confused look. When did he hear this? How could he have known Herzog’s plans? His confused expression turned into anger. Into hatred.
“Then why have you let yourself fall?” Herzog shouted. “Why have you stopped aiming higher? You should be above me, not below me!”
“You forget father, I am
above you.” Konig said, now facing the entrance of the room.
“You are nothing but a god’s tool now! I could have made you more! I should have! You have doomed yourself to walk Tyria alone for all eternity!”
“Yes… enough indeed. Dhuum desired a sacrifice of a potential successor seventeen years ago. He shall now have that.” Herzog walked to a ledge on one of the room’s walls and grabbed a serrated knife.
“A successor?” Konig asked.
“It matters not my son.” Herzog said as he stared at the blank wall. “Prepare to say goodbye to your dear sister.”
“I would but she’s no longer here.” Konig said with a smile on his face.
Herzog spun around to see empty chains dangling in the center of the room. How did he not hear them? Herzog tried to clear his head and heard crunching in the distance. Crunching too often to be a single person, at least two had saved Hara…
“How…” Herzog said.
“Afzal.” Konig said, that annoying smile still on his face. “I was afraid you’d hear him, but it seems your ego is too large.”
Herzog stared at his son with annoyance. He remembered how Konig always did things just to spite him and his actions. Herzog cursed at himself for his blunder.
“I’m getting bored of you, father. Let’s end this here and now.”
A sharp pain filled Herzog’s mind. His knees buckled under him as he clutched his head in agony. He wished to scream but no sound would leave his mouth.
Minutes passed, then hours, days, weeks, years. It felt like an eternity that Herzog clutched at his head in pain. Then the pain stopped. He stood and stared at the man in front of him. His blood-colored hair and his scar taunting him.
“Get out of my life!” Herzog shouted. “Get out, you damned imposter!”
The scarred man laughed aloud at Herzog. As his laughter still echoed through the room and nearby chamber, he asked, “what is your name?”
“I am Konig Hagan Doric!” Herzog said. “And you are an imposter pretending to be me!”
“Prove it.” The man said.
Herzog looked at his hand, still holding the serrated knife. “Very well! I shall prove to all that I am Konig! I am Konig Des Todes, the King of Death!” Herzog shouted as he stabbed the knife into the center of his neck and ripped forward, tearing through his entire throat. His already dim vision had turned completely black within seconds as he dropped towards the ground into a puddle of blood. A smile lay on his face.