True Shades of Darkness: Chapter 8

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The sunset came quietly to Santificado. Darkness set in quickly over the sandy slums of Vatic. The lights of Sanctum’s nightlife mimicked a distant, electric sunset behind the wall that separated the two cities. If the silence of Vatic in the night were any indication, one would assume that the slums were a serene and peaceful place. No one would imagine the fatigue that the citizens of Vatic were suffering from; not a single soul could imagine the sickness that filled these slums.

It was hard to imagine what was happening in this peacefully sleeping land. Shadows moved in the darkness; men and women wearing cloaks made their way around the catacombs of Vatic. No one entered the catacombs, but the figures all seemed to be strategically positioning themselves.

“You’re sure he’s here, then?” Lucius questioned one of the younger men at his side. He was now wearing a large, black cloak with a hood pulled over his head.

The younger man was clad in the same concealing attire, “Yes, Mister Nox. There’s no doubt about it. The Desert Lilacs have set their camp up in the catacombs.”

“Well,” Veronica’s voice spoke quietly, “I suppose it’s time for Victor to face the consequences for his actions.” The woman’s clothing was now matching that of the men before her. Only a few strands of her white hair poked out from her hood. She looked up to Lucius, questioningly, “Are you sure you’re okay with me going with you? You seemed to want the others to stay out of the way.”

The younger man snicked lightly, shaking his head as he walked ahead, “On your signal, Mister Nox.”

Lucius reached into his cloak, taking a large ring with an amethyst on it. He looked over it a bit before placing it on his left ring finger. He took a deep breath, releasing it in a growl-like sigh. The air around him stirred slightly as the amethyst took on a soft glow for only a moment, “It’s fine, Veronica. You want to see your brother die, so you shall.”

Veronica eyed the ring for a moment, but nodded to Lucius’ words, not questioning anything more.

Lucius lifted his left hand straight up into the air, opened. A few moments passed, and an eerie silence filled the catacombs. The howl of the wind filled the rocky exterior of the catacombs. As the wind stilled, Lucius’ hand became a fist, and instantly, five explosions shook the ground beneath them all. Veronica’s eyes widened as she struggled to keep her footing. The explosions were deafening, leaving the woman with a ring in her ears. As the high pitched sound died out, she began hearing the sounds of yelling, screaming, and metal clashing.

The Desert Lilacs were pushing out of the catacombs, attacking the cloaked invaders. Meanwhile, Lucius’ soldiers were forcing their way into the catacombs, ruthlessly revealing their vast superiority in both strength and numbers. As Veronica watched the killing, her soul shook, “Lucius… isn’t this overkill?”

Lucius began walking ahead, a cold air felt in his wake, “Why fight if you’re not certain you’ll win?”

Veronica’s eyes locked onto Lucius. The shadow he cast in the moonlight was frighteningly dark. She could feel it enveloping her, everything within her wanted it to devour her, so she followed.

The pair walked on, unimpeded through the bloodshed that surrounded them. The smell of death in the catacombs mixed with the scent of blood in the air. Veronica watched battle after battle. Lucius walked past bodies of his soldiers alongside bodies of the Lilacs with the same lack of concern. All of these warriors were mere pawns when compared to Lucius. No one would dare to attack Lucius, or so it seemed. One large member of the Lilacs let out a war cry as he pulled his sword from the core of one of Lucius’ men. His eyes suddenly locked onto Lucius. With a passioned spurred by bloodthirst and his recent victory, he charged towards Lucius, planning to run the crime lord through. Veronica called out, but Lucius only slightly adjusted his stance.

Veronica watched in shock as the Lilac’s sword revealed its bloody blade, piercing through the other side of her ally’s cloak. She cried out his name, not all expecting him to perish so quickly, nor the events that followed.

Lucius turned, his hand gripping the attacker’s wrist firmly and calmly while the man struggled to get free. The sword had pierced only the robe, missing Lucius’ body. Lucius’ other hand was wrapped around the attacker’s throat, gripping it tightly. The man tried pulling his attacking hand away while simultaneously struggling to pull Lucius’ hand from his throat. All of the Lilac’s efforts were in vain, and finally, he let out in a rasped voice, “What… are you…?”

Lucius’ amethyst orbs glared into the soul of the man, calm and collected; not a single word was spoken.

A twisted excitement filled Veronica when she witnessed Lucius’ bare hand tear the man’s throat out completely. Blood poured out, gushing endlessly; the man struggled to breathe. His life faded away as he collapsed. He reached out towards Lucius, who was walking away without a second look back.

Corpses plotted Lucius’ route from there on out. By the time he and Veronica reached the inside of the catacombs, the man’s cloak carried a coat of blood. His hands were sticky and stained red. Suddenly, Lucius stopped walking; eyes locked ahead of him.

“Victor.” Veronica spoke out, glaring at her brother, “Father isn’t happy with you, Brother.”

Victor was a tall, handsome man. He had short white hair and vivid red eyes, features matching Veronica’s. He wore blood red silks with gold trim under golden, polished armor. His gauntlets left his fingers open except for clawed middle fingers and thumbs. His breastplate had an amethyst set into it, softly glowing, “My, my. Lucius Tyrus Nox; you sure do know how to pick us, Sister.” His voice was youthful and carried the tone of a proper noble.

Veronica’s glare wouldn’t leave her kin, “Shut up, Victor.”

Victor let out high pitched laughter, almost maniacal. As he did, a pair of long, sharpened canine teeth could easily be seen “You haven’t told him the truth yet, have you?!” He asked.

“Shut up!” Veronica snapped.

Lucius looked down at his hands, noticing as the blood of his victims began to stir along his skin. His eyes moved back to Victor when he started speaking.

“You see, Mister Nox!” Victor called out, “Veronica was once my lover,” he explained, “She’s obsessed with people like us!”

Veronica let out a frustrated growl and yelled, “Victor!”

Victor’s twisted grin curled wide, and he waved Veronica’s words away, “Fine, fine… it’s too late for him anyway.”

Suddenly, the blood on Lucius’ body shifted more obviously, taking the shape of sticky and viscous tentacles. The tentacles shot down into the ground, pulling Lucius to his knees. His hands were forced behind his back and locked into place. Lucius tugged on his restraints lightly, but they only tightened more. He sighed a bit and looked up to Veronica, who was staring at him with an excited grin, “Cunt,” He let out.

Victor quickly moved towards Lucius, planting his heel into the larger male’s shoulder and leaned down towards him, “That is no way to speak to a noble lady, Mister Nox!” He exclaimed before looking to Veronica, “Either way… she has no control over her actions. Veronica is my puppet. She cannot help but obey my orders. Isn’t that right, sister?”

Veronica looked away, saying nothing.

The stone in Victor’s armor began glowing when Veronica suddenly cried out in pain, gripping her chest, “Please stop, Brother! It’s true! I do as you say!”

The stone’s glow died down, and Victor laughed out loud, prodding Lucius’ cheek with the sharpened claw of his gauntlet, “How’s it feel, Lucius? Knowing that you lost and you’ll fall victim to these fangs?” He asked, grinning to reveal the implanted, gold canines.

Veronica fell to the ground, sobbing as she kept her hands in her chest, “I’m sorry, Lucius…”

“Don’t be,” Lucius said, unnaturally calmly, “Unfortunately for your brother, those dentures will never stand up against real fangs.”

Shortly after his words, Lucius’ body began to shift under his cloak. The air in the catacombs became still and cold. A purple aura visibly seeped from the man’s figure.

Victor narrowed his eyes and stepped back, “What are you doing?”

Lucius’ body became covered in fur-like hair. His large body began to bulk more, struggling against the bloody tentacles as his chest began to lift and fall more quickly. His breathing shifted to growling quickly, and his face’s bone structure began to shift. The man’s purple eyes took on a soft glow as his pupils became slit. His cloak struggled around him and slowly began to tear away, revealing a furred body. His legs snapped as his bones shifted. The creature took in a deep breath and suddenly released a soul-shaking, distorted roar. He revealed rows of sharp teeth now lining his mouth, which was shaped more like a snout. Lucius now resembled a giant, black, man-shaped wolf.

A moment after his roar, Lucius calmed down and locked his gaze on Victor, “Veronica!”

When Victor yelled out, Veronica suddenly sprung up. At the same time, Lucius kicked off of the ground and broke free of Victor’s restraints. He lunged forward, only to be tackled by Veronica.

“Keep him busy Veronica!” Victor ordered as he held both hands out, preparing to use more blood magic. That was when he noticed the sudden existence of new, fresh blood. His eyes widened as he watched Lucius stand up tall. Lucius’ maw was covered in blood, “Ver-Veronica!”

Lucius lifted Veronica’s corpse into the air easily in his giant claw. He tossed the body aside and spoke out in a twisted, deep growl, “She’s worthless to me now, anyway.”

Victor looked to the corpse of his sister, then looked to the furred monster that stood before him. He knew what he needed to do to survive. He was confident that he only needed to use his magic, but the confidence was fractured at best. As the witch continued staring into the darkness of the creature’s fur and soul-piercing glare, reality set in.

Lucius slowly stepped towards Victor, towering over him. The monster didn’t attack; he only stared into Victor’s eyes.

Victor was lost in Lucius’ gaze, as if portals into madness, he could feel fear itself creep its way up his spine and through his body. Every scenario he played through his head ended with him dying. He saw no way out of this situation. The creature before him embodied and defined danger; it entirely and utterly broke him. Victor’s scream filled the catacombs, ringing out into the night of Vatic; his raw fear carried through clearly until the sound was suddenly cut off.

A chilling breeze drifted through the sandy area above the catacombs, howling quietly. The remaining Desert Lilacs and members of the Nox Syndicate all felt the chill in the air, driving them to stop fighting. Everyone knew Lucius had finished the battle.