Can you feel it? Can you smell it? Can you…taste it?
Lazarus breathed in through his mouth, letting his senses fill with the death and destruction that lay all around him. It had taken him some time, but he had finally saved enough power to reach his goal. He was now a Dieth'ka in full.
Taking his first steps into the city, a city he had long since thought lost to him, Lazarus smiled as a group of soldiers charged him. Their spear tips glinting through the haze in the morning light, like the crystals of Knold. He held out his arms as if to embrace the men. A few of the men stopped running, clearly uncertain of him.
And they shall live because of it, Lazarus thought with a grin.
The other soldiers pushed forward; their faces twisted in a feral snarl. They never made their mark. Within an arm’s length of distance, the first of the spear’s shafts disintegrated, puffing into dust. The men running tried to jump aside, but still carrying that forward momentum to strike made them run through Lazarus’s trap. He laughed as soldiers cried out in pain as a fortunate few disappeared completely into dust. Some had the unfortunate luck to fall only part of the way into Lazarus’s path as certain limbs went missing, falling to the ground with an arm or a leg gone. Lazarus laughed at the people standing in horror on the street. Let’s give them a show, he thought, grinning wickedly.
Pointing a finger at a wooden building to his left, he pulled on his powers as a Dieth'ka, and shouted, “Fire.”
Flames burst from the windows as screams flung themselves from the heat before the bodies ever could.
Laughing gleefully like a little child, Lazarus clapped his hands and then pointed at two more buildings in concession, shouting “Fire,” at each one.
More bodies engulfed in flames ran from the buildings as others sprinted about, screaming to get away from Lazarus.
“I know who you are,” a man said, dressed in a leather apron. Lazarus was surprised that he knew the man too. It was Ardent, a shoe worker. “Lazarus,” Ardent said, his face in disbelief. “Why are you doing this?”
Lazarus frowned. This was not how it was supposed to go, he wasn’t supposed to meet anyone that he would have known on this side. Ardent was one of the few who had given him food during his time spent as a beggar. As Lazarus the Mad. Lazarus…the liar. Well, now they would all see that he was telling the truth. Everyone would see him for what he truly was now. “I’m here to claim what is rightfully mine,” he said, moving closer to the shoemaker.
Ardent shook his head in disbelief. “This isn’t right. You…You’re not who I thought you were.” Spinning on his heel, Ardent took off down the road, running into people as they tried to escape the flames.
Lazarus smiled sadly. “Goodbye, friend.” With a little twinge of guilt, he lifted a finger at Ardent’s back and watched as the man fell into a cloud of dust. Laughter broke from his face, and he drank in the death of Ardent. He drank in all of the destruction that had been happening while being distracted with the old acquaintance.
He was Lazarus the last Dieth'ka. Lazarus, the heretic, who they had kicked out of their city for blaspheme. Lazarus, the madman, who they had deemed a lunatic for proclaiming to have found forbidden lost magic. Lazarus, the exiled...
“Well today that is all going to change,” he sang, twirling around in a circle like a little girl fanning out her new dress. “Today will be the day that you will all call me King Lazarus!”
More soldiers came, and more fell, unaware of what he could do those who came to close. His manic laughter followed those who had been smart enough to hold back and were now running away. Heading straight for the castle in the center of town.
“Well at least someone has some sense,” he laughed, walking heartily behind them. “They could spare themselves the pain if they’d just bow to me!” He said this last bit to a family that was walking out of a burning building. Taking in another deep breath, he sucked in the death and destruction that he had caused and savored in the power that it gave him. He could feel the energy of his power flowing through his veins. “Ah, that is more like it.”
People, however, didn’t seem to take the hint. He had lit three more houses and dissolved two dozen more soldiers before people began bowing before him. He through on his most ravishing smile to those who bowed before him and congratulated them.
“Not too many people back there were smart like you folks,” he praised, touching lightly the heads of those before him as they quivered in fear. “I now go forth to claim my prize. I suggest that you do the same with your own belongings… before the fires consume them,” he added as an afterthought.
“You’re not going to stop the flames?” A woman questioned, raising her head in alarm. “But—” Her words fell into the air as her head vaporized before the crowd. Her body slumped forward, blood flowing profusely from the stump of her neck. Men, women, and children stared at the corpse; their eyes wide in horror at what had transpired.
“Tsk, tsk, no asking questions from your King,” Lazarus said, still holding his finger out towards where the woman had been standing. “Good luck everyone.”
A man stepped forward with tears running down his face as he picked up a little girl who had frozen in place when the woman had died and ran away with her.
Lazarus could hear his new subjects scramble as he walked away People screaming for water, others for help to get family out of burning houses. It brought a thrill to his soul as he headed towards the castle.
Upon reaching the gates, Lazarus found rows upon rows of archers waiting for him.
“Ah, my warriors,” he said, holding out his hands towards them.
The first row of archers knocked arrows and took aim, some shaking so bad that Lazarus wasn’t even sure they could hit a dragon if it sat in front of them.
Smiling wide, he continued. “I will give you all this chance to surrender. Lay down your weapons and I will let you live.”
In response some men dropped their bows and ran, the rest fired their arrows, not caring if they hit friend or…well not foe, since not a single arrow touched Lazarus as they vanished into puffs of dust. Frowning at them, he pointed with both hands to men on the balustrade and shouted, “Fire!”
The men screamed as flames erupted around them, catching others on fire as they collapsed in burning heaps of flesh.
“Fire for you, and fire for you, everyone can have some fire!” Lazarus cackled as he pointed to various places in the archers' ranks, causing multiple men to crumple to the ground as the flames spread from person to person. Slapping his leg, he laughed as he walked past the burning men and those that were trying to put out friends and brothers before they passed away.
Lazarus inhaled and enjoyed the feeling of death around him, the passion that it ignited within, and the pain that it caused in those around him. This! This was what he was made to do. This was what he was meant to be. Dieth'ka! But he wanted more, he didn’t just want to be a harbinger of death and destruction. He wanted to rule. He wanted the king’s throne!
Walking forward nonchalantly, he disintegrated a hole into the gate just the right size for him to pass through unhindered. In the courtyard, men and women disappeared in puffs of dust that ran too close, and soldiers cried out to get the king to safety.
“Fools,” Lazarus chided. “I am your King!” walking across the courtyard he made his way to the large double doors to the throne room.
He found his way blocked, however, by a man dressed in white robes, standing before the doors to the king. “You will go no further, Lazarus!”
Lazarus stopped, a little surprised, although mostly happy that the gentleman already knew who he was. “I don’t think I know you fair stranger, but with or without your permission, I think I’ll go on through.”
The man ran forward and pulled back his fist to throw a punch.
“You imbecile, no one has—”
Lazarus’s words were cut short as the man’s fist contacted his face. Throwing him back and off-balance so he landed on his backside. Reaching up he rubbed his mouth, glaring at the man who had touched him.
“You will pay for your insolence,” Lazarus said, anger flaring within as he pulled his hand away to see a smear of blood on his fingers.
“So long as you die,” the man said, crouching low, “then I will have fulfilled my purpose.”
Why didn’t he die? Lazarus wondered, spitting out a glob to the side as he stood. He received his answer upon closer inspection. The man’s arm was still there, but the sleeve of his shirt was gone.
“So, you can withstand me, huh?” Lazarus chuckled. “I should have realized that the king would have had a Likukan in his service. Let’s see if you can withstand this.” Flinging his arms forward, he hurled dissolving wave after wave at the man, only to see the Likukan’s clothes disintegrate instead. Occasionally parts of his flesh would disappear, only to grow back. Lazarus grew impatient as he could feel all the power he had reserved for this day—his day—get wasted away on this stupid man.
“Why won’t you die?”
“Because I have my own goals to attend to,” the Likukan cried as he took a step closer, and then another. “And I will not let men like you sow chaos and destruction on your way onto the throne because you think you hold some special power.”
Lazarus stretched out both hands and screamed, releasing what he dared hope would be enough death and destruction to kill the man. But all that had disintegrated was the man’s clothes as they floated away like dust on the wind, leaving him bare.
Lazarus’s eyes grew wide with fear. “How much can you hold?”
“Enough to withstand you,” the man said running forward and swinging another fist into Lazarus’s head.
The hit cracked against his skull, making everything ring in his ears. The second crack came when his head smacked down on the ground beneath him, blinding his vision.
“This... is all... mine,” Lazarus said through clenched teeth. “All mine!”
“No, it isn’t.”
Growling Lazarus got on his feet and jumped the now nude man, throwing his own punches while still trying to turn him into dust. Eventually, he quit trying to deliberately vaporize him, and instead continued with fighting him hand and foot. But it was pointless. He needed to get to the King, who was probably getting away, if not already.
But every time he tried to run around the Likukan, he would literally yank him back into the fight.
“If you wish to see the king why don’t you stay,” the man taunted. “I could send you to your maker where you can say hello to God.”
“Leave me alone,” Lazarus snarled, sending out a large blast. His destructive power hitting the Likukan and destroying the throne doors and the lower section of the castle wall. He gaped in surprise as the top half of the structure swayed back, and then forth, rows of archers screaming in terror as they realized that their demise was imminent. It eventually started coming right at him.
Raising his hands, he shot a hole through the stone, wide enough to keep him from getting smashed. He was still knocked to his knees as the ground trembled with the force of the falling stone, bits, and pieces disintegrating before they could reach him. As the dust began to settle, Lazarus took in a deep breath to soak in the desolation that was his. He was surprised when he found that his power was replenished, more than it had ever been!
Shouting came from up above and Lazarus listened intently, trying to gauge if he could come out safely.
“Does anyone see the King?”
“Did he defeat Lazarus?”
“Where is the King?”
With each passing question from above, Lazarus’ eyes grew wide. Had he done it? Had he unwittingly–unknowingly faced the king and won? Blasting his way through the fallen debris, he made steps with his power to reach above the wreckage. When he came above, he could see soldiers trying to move boulders around, searching for their king. Smiling wickedly, Lazarus laughed.
The five guards took up their stances, some grabbing swords, others their bows and arrows. All ready and willing to die for the kingdom.
“Be not afraid good gentleman,” Lazarus said, taking a bow and feeling an arrow fizzle into dust by his head. Ignoring the shot, he stood with the widest smile he could give them. “Let me be of service in finding your king.”
The five of them glanced at each other nervously, the one who had fired the shot lowering his bow hesitantly.
“Stand back everyone!” Lazarus cried, twirling a finger around as he began to carve a hole into the rocks. An extra puff of dust rose from the men as they backed away, unwilling to get caught in the magic.
Lazarus slowed down as he neared the bottom, concentrating on not doing any more damage to the fallen king. To be honest he needn’t have worried. The king's corpse was nothing more than a pile of goo, mixing in with the rumble.
Smiling, he turned his gaze back to the four men who were looking horrified down into the pit. “What a pity. He certainly put up a great fight. I will expect a proclamation to be made throughout the whole kingdom proclaiming my victory, with the announcement of me becoming your new king.”
The soldiers grimaced as they slowly kneeled before him. “We will do as you ask Lazarus,” a soldier answered grudgingly.
“Ah, ah, ah, that’s King Lazarus now,” he said waving a threatening finger at them all.
“Er… yes, of course, your majesty,” the soldier corrected, his body tensing in anticipation for Lazarus to kill his with his Dieth'ka.
“Let it not be said I am an unmerciful Lord. Go, I forgive you of your temporary lapse. Proclaim throughout the City of its new rightful ruler!”
“Thank you, my lord, of course, my lord,” the soldier said rising again. “Brutus, I want you to go and find the Captain and alert him to the state of our new King. Cadoc and Cados, I… Cadoc?” The soldier spun around, looking for a man named Cadoc.
The other three men look around as well. “Where did Cadoc go?” one of the men asked, as Lazarus made his way towards the throne room. “Where did my brother go?”
Lazarus smiled as he heard the soldier’s scuffle with the man who must have been Cados behind him, yelling at him to calm down. Lazarus lifted back his head and laughed.
Thank you for reading!