His eyes fluttered open, glazed over and burning from days of sleep. How long had it been? Six days, the answer immediately came to him. Yes, it had to be.
He could remember the intense pain that occurred with each sunrise and the cooling of his skin when the moon found its way into the sky. He felt all of it but could see nothing more than darkness behind his sealed eyelids. He could feel the changes deep in his veins as his body shifted and transformed into something new. Into what? He wasn’t completely sure. All he knew was a power filled his body and a burning so intense barreled from his throat to the very pit of his stomach.
He was thirsty. Water. He needed water.
No, that wouldn’t be enough. Something more. Wine? No, but he was getting closer. Something intoxicating; alluring; he needed more to quench this thirst.
He sat up quickly; sniffing the air. His hazy eyes darted around his surroundings. What is this place?
Snow capped mountains, desert sands, rolling hills, a thick forest off in the distance. Nothing matched. The only thing about this place that seemed consistent was the sky. It was a deep, terrifying purple and streaks of lightning continuously shot across the dark clouds; yet there was no thunder.
Not a single rumble.
It frightened him and filled him with excitement all at once. There was a veritable power here.
Scanning the area, he spotted a lake near an opening of the forest. He stood, placing a foot forward to begin the long walk across the ever changing terrain. With one step, he found himself speeding; gliding; towards the far off watering hole. Within seconds, he stopped just inches from the…water?
Falling to his knees, he drove his hands through the surface of the thick, black liquid that stretched out before him. Except when he lifted his cupped hands, he saw it was not black. It wasn’t even the pure, crystal blue that water often was. No, it was a deep, crimson red.
It was blood. Thick, sticky, salty, warm blood.
His throat burned as the smell drifted under his nose. Saliva filled his mouth and a yearning rumbled in his stomach.
Bringing his filled, curved hands to his lips, he drank. He feasted. Plummeting his hands into the bloody lake over and over, gulping down its contents.
The taste was nothing as he remembered of times that he’d cut a finger while sharpening his sword. When he’d place the wound to his mouth to stop the bleeding, it was bitter and salty. But this was different. It was sweet and filling and he could feel it cooling that nagging burn in his throat.
He drank until his stomach felt full and the longing faded. He sat back and leaned against the trunk of a nearby tree. That’s when he heard it for the first time; a sound that caused a smile to spread across his face and the hairs on his arms to stand with excitement.
The scream of someone being tortured. The sound of someone withering in agony. Except it wasn’t the sound of just one, it was thousands. Possibly millions of petrified, painful screams.
That sound. That magnificent, torturous sound was a precious melody to his ears. It reminded him of the many souls who denied him as their king back in Romania. Their betrayals found them flogged repeatedly and starved. The useless peasants would silently fight the pain for days, sometimes even weeks, until it became too much to bear. That is when the screaming would begin. Delusional, blood curdling screams. It was sweet music to him then in Romania and it was sweet music to him now in…
Where am I?
“Welcome, my child,” a deep and musical voice came from behind him, pulling him from his thoughts, “I’ve waited a long time for your arrival. I was beginning to grow impatient and was tempted to come above to kill you myself.” The man smiled sweetly as if he’s just given the highest compliment known to man.
He considered the man who stood before him.
He was tall and had the build of a powerful warrior. Golden waves of hair fell to his shoulders and his eyes were glowing yellow like the morning sun. His cheeks bones were high and his slender nose was placed perfectly in the center of his face. He was picturesque; angelic; inhuman.
“What is this place and who are you to wish for my death?” his voice came out stern and fierce.
He had always been a man of power and he did not mean to alter his mannerisms for the stranger who stood before him.
“Lazar,” the lyrical voice spoke his name. “I am Earth’s greatest fear. Many moons ago, I stood at the feet of the Messiah and worshiped without question. I surrendered my life in the heavens for a life of understanding that not everything arises out of love. Now I rule the underworld and feed off the doubts, hatred, and desire for power that comes from mankind. I feed on the soul’s of men; men like you.” He stood tall and straight as he introduced himself. “I am Lucifer and this, my son, is my paradise. This is Hell.”
A smile touched Lazar’s lips as he looked into the face of Satan himself, “And your wish for me, my lord?”
“To bring my wrath to the surface. You shall walk the Earth as a man who died but has returned to destroy the human race. You will feed from the innocent and the weak. You will drain them of hope, life, and blood. You will transform those who prove themselves worthy and you will use them to create my army. Your purpose, Lazar; my son, is chaos and devastation.”
“What’s in it for me?”
Anger filled Lucifer’s eyes, darkening them to a fiery orange and his voice boomed in fury, causing the ground to quake beneath their feet, “For you? I owe you nothing! Yet, I offer you everything! You have the courage to question me? You are a fool!”
Lazar stood before the dark one, unfazed by his bout of anger.
He’d slain rulers who threw bigger tantrums than this and when they were killed by his hand he sat upon their thrones and ruled their people. Fear was not something he ever welcomed into his heart and he was not starting.
“If I get nothing of this, find another soul to do your bidding. Please allow me to burn in your fire pits or freeze on your snow capped mountains, ” he gestured behind him to the ever changing terrain. “I do not fear you, my lord. There must be something in it for me or I will stay here in your kingdom and in a matter of time, I swear I will rule in your place.”
“Immortality,” Satan growled.
“Well, that sounds promising.” Lazar grinned and clasped his hands together in excitement, “Let’s begin.”