Of Demon Kind

PROLOGUE

 

One thousand black spears pointing skyward, glinted in the failing light as the sun slowly descended over the battlefield. Black clawed hands of one thousand large, beautiful creatures gripped black sword blades. Although they looked similar to men these were not men, but demon creatures that stood waiting. Their skin shone inhumanly, blue-black in the twilight. Stark against the black glistening skin, sharp, white fangs gleamed, dripping saliva. Night black hair, neatly braided, cascaded down the backs of the demons like thick ropes. Their eyes glowed with green phosphorescent malice. Over their perfectly sculpted bodies, they wore only black loincloths, and they held their evil weapons in tense anticipation. Each demon shone as if just oiled or sprinkled with a delicate rain. Standing in perfectly ordered ranks, was an army of beautiful living, obsidian statues. They did not move or breathe they just waited for a signal.

King Kullorn’s handsome albino face grimaced in the wind and his red eyes glowed with anger as he sat upon his tumultuous black mount. Steam misted from the nostrils of the snorting beast. He surveyed the ranks of demons and smiled a wicked, satisfied grin. He was very pleased with himself and his troops, eyes glinting eager for victory. Despite the staggering numbers of the opposition across the battlefield from his forces, King Kullorn sat tall with confidence in his strength. The force that he had enticed to come against him could not stand against his demon warriors.

Turning, he spoke to the huge black armored figure beside him. Violet eyes glowed from the depths of the being’s dragon winged helm. After a short discussion, the figure spurred his mount forward to the front of the ranks. Silence ruled the battlefield and the green demon eyes trained on him as he dismounted then stood still for one long moment. His chest expanded as he took a deep breath and, with a mighty shrug of his shoulders the black armor on his back parted. A huge pair of wings unfurled from the demon’s back. White wings glowed brilliantly in the failing light and the sharp feathers spread wide as they reached up beseeching the Heavens as if asking for permission to fly. 

The black demons behind the white-winged figure began to hum and in perfect rhythm beat their spears on the earth. The sound rose, mesmerizing the coming night, and then blended in unison. With a mighty flap of his large wings, the white demon bent at the knees and then leaped into the sky. The ranks of black demons chanted louder, their bestial song echoed as he circled once over them, drew his huge black sword, and pointed toward the waiting army of men. 

King Kullorn’s laugh was heard booming out as his demons made ready to charge. Ruled by a strong human ruler, commanded by a white-winged demon, each warrior-demon was filled with lust for battle. Filled with self-conceit they would have balked at following a human leader, but they followed King Kullorn because of the white-winged demon that had trained them and led them into battle. King Kullorn raised his fist in the air and then chopped it down sharply. The battle began. 

The demon horde and the forces of the men marched forward and clashed together. King Kullorn’s army cut through the infantry as easy as if they were bugs crushed under their bare feet. The men broke and ran. Suddenly, huge fireballs streaked through the twilight sky and crashed into the demon forces. King Kullorn bellowed orders as the white demon swooped over his troops and landed in the front ranks. Shouting in a loud voice and leading his followers, he hefted his massive sword and cut down man after man, reaping a crop of the dying.

The battle raged on. King Kullorn screamed ordering his army to hold their ranks and fight as a unified military force as was critical in warfare. Demons tended to flee back to the underworld once they had their claws into a human soul taking one man at a time. Thus, Kullorn’s numbers dwindled swiftly. 

Suddenly, the men who had earlier fled now circled back behind the demons. They came in waves and thousands more men joined the fight, coming from behind the hills wielding silver swords and iron knives. They fought with desperate intensity. The fireballs of tightly wrapped hay had been covered in pitch and threaded with iron nails and exacted a heavy toll among the demons that could be felled by the iron and fire charmed by Blue Sorcerers trained to command the elements. King Kullorn brandished his sword high, spurred his stallion forward, and launched into the fray. Arrogance had blinded him into thinking this was going to be another easy victory, but this time his foes were prepared, good was triumphing over Kullorn’s evil horde. Making a huge, useless effort to regroup his forces, he was overtaken by a hundred men, pulled off of his horse, and hacked to pieces.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Prince Lorn gazed out at the signs of the coming winter striking the Violent Mountains. Soon the snow would come and bury his dark castle in a white, frozen blanket. He pressed his forehead against the frost-covered crystal of the window, sighed deeply, and looked down from his tower. Severe boredom was his constant companion. 

For five years now, the Prince had slowly retreated into himself. After his father’s disgraceful defeat in battle and then his bloody death, he did not know how to go on. As commander of King Kullorn’s forces, Prince Lorn had spent many long years training demons and mercenaries, who were willing to sell their souls to the King of Jior, whipping them all into a semblance of military organization. It was all for naught though; he could never break the demons of their propensity to bolt after taking a single human soul and then vanishing into the underworld. His human mercenaries were well trained with sword and weapons, but men were only flesh and blood. Despite the promise of gold, and having no real loyalty, men ran when the battle went against them. Now, Castle Jior fell into disrepair around him, the black granite walls cracked and threatened to crumble, and the echoes of the past died away on the winter breeze. Anything left of the kingdom’s vast treasure hoard had been stolen when the people living at the castle deserted, disappearing into the Violent Mountains. One by one, they had left including the slaves. They took what they could carry and fled Jior and its Prince. The only person that remained behind beside Prince Lorn was Lan-Loe, his father’s Red Sorcerer.

Turning away from the window and his depressing thoughts, Lorn started as he caught a glimpse of himself in a cracked, full-length mirror hanging crookedly on the opposite wall. The haggard face staring back at him was deeply lined with a permanent scowl. The once vibrant, violet-colored eyes were dull with lack of sleep, nightmares when he did sleep, and too much wine. He looked look a walking corpse, he silently mused to himself; considering the pale white skin that was stretched over his lean, muscular, soldier’s body. Five years of inaction had thinned him slightly, but his half-demon blood kept him almost unchanged-almost. Still, he thought he looked noticeably sickly. He scoffed inwardly; that he was even thinking about his appearance was indicative of just how deeply his boredom ran. His broad shoulders shook with silent, self-mocking laughter.

Memories of how life used to be, circled through Lorn’s mind as he contemplated the events of five years ago. His father, King Kullorn of Jior, had raised him with one purpose in mind and that was to lead the Jiorian armies out of the Violent Mountains and conquer the entire island continent of Vedt. Kullorn had been an evil tyrant who had reigned over the once vast empire of Jior that was now only jagged mountains, left to the encroaching forest and wild animals. 

Lorn’s mother was a demon or so he was told. He held only very vague memories of her, none of which harmonized with what he had been told about her. It was said she possessed a haunting beauty and that she was as evil as the King, her husband. The union with King Kullorn, an albino skinned, red-eyed, white-haired, human, had begotten Lorn. Lorn inherited his father’s pale white skin and the snow-white hair that now hung unwashed around his shoulders and tangled down his back. 

Even now, after his mother’s long-ago desertion, Lorn cursed her for being a demon. She had bequeathed him with demon characteristics that kept him from being accepted by humankind. He was an outcast, feared by people, and rejected by demon kind because it was not in their nature to accept anyone unless it pleased them, and it rarely did. Although human soldiers did follow Lorn at one time when King Kullorn was alive, he wielded a power over them that no longer existed.

Returning his thoughts to the present, Lorn finished his goblet of wine and reached for the jar to pour another. He discovered it was empty and flung it against the wall, delighting in the shattering noise it made as it crashed to the floor. 

Angered at the fact that his wine jar was empty he stumbled toward the heavy wooden door of the room, threw it open, and yelled down the dark, empty hall for more wine. His slurred voice echoed and faded down the dark hall, but no one acknowledged his command. Disgusted, he went to find more wine himself, to drown his melancholy in continual drunkenness.

He headed down the dark corridor dangling a huge, silver goblet between his long fingers. The torches were cold and the passageway dark as night which did not inhibit the Prince. Demon eyesight gave him the ability to see in light or darkness, along with enhanced hearing and other gifts he had inherited from his demon mother. The scratching sound of vermin scuttling along the walls seemed to echo loudly in the quiet darkness. As Lorn wandered the halls he kicked at the dried bones of a dead man lying across his path.

Finally reaching the kitchen, he found it bare except for a small fire in the fireplace where a black kettle boiled some uninviting looking, and smelling, concoction. A few overturned wine jars littered the floor and the worn tables held empty plates haphazardly stacked on them. The shelves were devoid of food and the content of the jars had long since turned black and dried up. Even the mold had turned to dust.

“Sorcerer!” Lorn’s shout fell dull on the walls of the room. He waited and then repeated the summons, more loudly the second time.

“I am here, my Prince.” The Sorcerer’s deep voice suddenly answered from the kitchen's back entrance.

“I need more wine,” Lorn spoke listlessly, slowly twirling the goblet between his fingers. 

“You’d be better off sobering up and having some bread and meat, my Prince.” Then the Sorcerer reached for a jar of wine off a back cupboard and set it on the table along with a plate of bread, cheese, and meat.

Lorn ignored the food, sat down heavily, and poured the wine.

“I hope this is stronger than the last swill. I thought I was drinking water. You fail badly at everything, Sorry Sorcerer.” Swaying a little, he lifted the cup and spoke into its depths, “You are a poor excuse for a magician.”

 

With those final words, Lorn rose, grabbed the wine jug, and turned away to retrace his steps back to his tower room.

The Sorcerer shook his head sadly and gave him a look that spoke to the fact that he was usually to blame for everything that bothered the Prince.

 “One moment, my Prince, if you will.” the Sorcerer said. “I have news for you.”

The Prince stopped but did not turn to face the other, asking in a barely audible voice. “What news could possibly interest me?”

“News of a large army, coming here to finish tearing down your crumbling castle walls.”

“An army? Coming here? What for?” Lorn scoffed turning, “What does this army hope to find?” He gestured expansively. “There is nothing here! Certainly, there is no treasure which is what usually draws men’s greed. I haven’t bothered anyone in years and I don’t want to be bothered!”

“I know not entirely what brings them, my Prince. I only know they intend on tearing down the castle and skinning alive the Demon Prince.” He spoke patiently.

The Prince moved to a table, sat down heavily, and refilled his goblet.

“Speak no riddles to me Lan-Loe. Tell me how all this can interest me.” He waved a hand at the empty air.

“As you know, I occasionally have to venture out to mountain villages to procure what little supplies we need. I listen and I watch what goes on in the towns of men.”

Lan-Loe stopped and poured a measure of wine for himself. He sat down across the table from Lorn and after drinking from his cup, he continued.

“Warriors gather my Prince, weapons are being sharpened, troops are being summoned and trained. Down in the city of Skogur, King Bower calls the War Lords from all the corners of Vedt. He is convinced that you are responsible for raids, murder, burning crops, thefts around the land, and…” he said hesitating. “King Koran of Skoria, I hear, is convinced you are responsible for kidnapping his beautiful daughter, the Princess Lililaira. They plan to bring war against you, take your lands and castle, and rescue the Princess from your evil clutches.” Lan-Loe laughed a little a shook his head at the folly of men. 

Prince Lorn sat lost in the action of swirling the wine in his goblet. He gave a scornful laugh.

“Let them come. If they can find the castle in these treacherous mountains; have you not guarded the passes with barrier spells, and doesn’t the old magic still confuse the way? They’d never find this castle even if they searched for years.”

Lan-Loe hesitated and then sighed heavily.

“Yes, my Prince. The spells still do their job hiding our location. But, as you are fond of pointing out, my magic grows weaker by the day. Some of the barrier spells could be broken by any white-robed novice sorcerer. Word is that they are trying to find us.”

“I say again, let them come. They will see I’m completely incapable of evil doings anywhere and they can search this castle and they can search for me and this Princess, room by empty room.” He hesitated again, “I certainly don’t have any Princess.” He almost laughed again for real this time.

“Men are combing the Violent Mountains for Castle Jior’s location. My fading magic can only hold them off for so long. They want the fabled Jiorian treasure that King Kullorn supposedly amassed. They want revenge, not only for what is happening throughout the land but for your father’s past transgressions.” Then more quietly he said, “Curse him for failing.”

King Kullorn of Jior had reigned in the Violent Mountains from his black, demon-built castle. Fierce winters, dangerous peaks, and a densely forested hidden valley gave the castle complete cover. In addition to the harsh environment, Lan-Loe had cast magic spells throughout the mountains obscuring their location. Castle Jior’s glistening black towers could not easily be found or seen, camouflaged as they were among the jagged spires of these treacherous mountains. Lan-Loe’s strategic placement of confusing spells and maze-like paths had kept them safe from discovery these many years. Only the darkest imagination could dream of the past goings-on there and, until now, no one had bothered to search for them.

It was, however, the reality of the Jiorian War five years past, that brought fear into the hearts of the people who had survived that terrible era of Kullorn’s reign. It was the greed of men that sent them hunting for fabled treasure and the white-skinned Demon Prince.

Lorn looked up, not sure his wine befuddled mind correctly registered the tale the Sorcerer was weaving.

“I bother no one! Where did King Koran get such a ridiculous notion? I stole his daughter? The idea is laughable. I have not left this castle since returning from my father’s defeat on the plains of Skogur five years ago!”

The Prince suddenly felt an old rage rise and he slammed a fist down making the crockery on the table jump and dance.

“If it were King Kullorn being threatened, he’d raise an army, flay his foes alive, and dance to the music of their screams. You never could stomach the abominations that were entertainment to your father and his court. No! You'd rather sit and perish in your cup! You were always weak, just like your mother!” Disgust was palpable in the Sorcerer’s voice.

“Tempt me not to anger Lan-Loe or I’ll show you how evil I can be! My mother was a demon, as selfish and evil as they come!” He sneered, rose to his feet, and stared down at the smaller man. “She deserted me when I was young! My father was an ambitious, reckless, overconfident fool!” 

In truth, Lorn did not remember anything about his mother, only that she was evil and had abandoned him. Lan-Loe’s mention of her now was just used to anger Lorn.

“Your mother was a…” Lan-Loe paused, a calculating look in his eye as he stopped in mid-sentence. “This is not the time to discuss your mother. Someday maybe I will tell you about her. It is important information you should know and will be a concern in your future. For now, you must do something my Prince before these men find you and slay you like a cornered animal.”

After many silent minutes, Lorn continued, “Perhaps I'll not just sit here while they tear down my walls and hunt me like a dog. But I cannot just go down to the city and slay them all single-handed.”

With that he took the jar of wine and retreated into the shadows of the hall, leaving the old sorcerer to stare after him. Lorn considered the subject closed as he stumbled back down the dark hall toward the stairs to his tower room.

Over the next few days, Lan-Loe continued to pester Lorn. He stopped giving him wine and instead gave him meat and bread which Lorn hurled at him with tremendous insults. Lan-Loe kept entreating Lorn to leave the castle and find out who was hunting him.

Lorn continued to argue venomously against it. His head ached and his hands shook from the lack of drink. For days he paced the halls angrily searching for something, but he did not know for what. When no more wine was to be found he retreated into his room and sulked. Lan-Loe remained relentless in his hounding and sought Lorn out at every opportunity to argue about the army that was surely coming. He boldly followed Lorn to his room one overcast day, entreating him once again.

Whirling around to rebuke Lan-Loe, Lorn yelled.

“What could I do alone? I’d need an army to defend these  walls.” He laughed. “Not even mercenaries would follow me anymore. I’ve nothing to pay them! Do the Kings of Skogur and Skoria think I'm trying to conquer the continent with just one aging magician?” Lorn winced at the whining, self-pitying tone issuing from his lips. Then he laughed again scornfully. Lan-Loe continued to argue with him.

“I suspect someone has been introducing your name in connection with recent atrocities happening throughout the land. There are demon sightings and whole villages being burned. Someone is using your father’s reputation and your name for their purposes. It is this someone who is profiting from your reputation!”

Lan-Loe’s eyes gleamed with malice. “If we find out who it is, we could league ourselves with him and bring true war to all of Vedt. When you lead the army of this upstart, we could seize control after the battle is ours!” Lan-Loe spoke with a strange intensity that Lorn had not heard issue forth from him in many years. It was the voice of the Strategist Sorcerer he used to be when Lorn’s father was alive. “It is our way back to glory!”

Lorn raised an eyebrow in slight surprise and looked intently at the balding man instead of disregarding him, as he had on many previous days when he sought out Lorn to have this same conversation.

Lan-Loe was aging, but the intense, ambitious sorcerer had worked his way up through the white robes of healing magic, climbing quickly through the ranks of green for herb lore, blue for elemental magic, brown for scribes and law-keepers, and inexplicably quickly, reached the red robes of a Strategist Sorcerer. Red Sorcerers were brilliant strategists trained in the laws of the land and the art of war. They guided kings, nobles, and politicians, and acted as highly sought out advisors for ruling kingdoms. In his younger days, he was a force to reckon with. As King Kullorn’s Red Sorcerer, Lan-Loe proved himself a valuable asset in Kullorn's quest to rule Vedt. It was only because of the huge number of men banding together to fight against them, the fickleness of demons, and the desertion of Jior’s forces that caused them to fail. Had Kullorn not been torn to pieces by the combined, defending armies of Vedt, they might have succeeded, and evil would now reign.

Lorn shook himself out of the self-analysis that had taken his attention and turned to Lan-Loe saying with as much finality as he could muster.

“This is new information.” He stopped and started as if just coming awake. “Seize control? I do not wish to rule anything! Lan-Loe you are an old fool. I just want to be left alone. I detest those fools filling the halls, living off of our name and wealth; they just want to use us as a source of blame for their own sins. I am not like my father. I receive no pleasure from the screams of innocents under torture. I’m not like my selfish, demon mother who abandoned me, either. The only pleasure I found in that old life was in the contest of strength and skill. Blow after blow in battle! That was the thing that made my blood flow hot. No one can match the strength my demon heritage gives me, so there is no contest and no thrill against the humankind!” He paused. “I’ll not league with anyone to conqueror this continent or even one small village. It does not interest me…anymore.”

“Prince Lorn,” the sorcerer entreated carefully, a cajoling whine entered his voice, “I grow old. I cannot go into battle either and my mind slows, so I cannot even advise you well enough in this, but I will not wait here to be slaughtered like a rabbit in a trap, at least gather some force to defend Castle Jior. I could not abide watching its beautiful black walls fall. My life’s work is here. I’ve devoted my life to you! King Kullorn’s son! Your legacy is to rule men and be the Lord of Demons!” His voice rose and then fell, as his shoulders hunched in defeat. “For days I’ve tried to convince you to defend yourself. I concede it is no use. We will be hunted, found, and slaughtered like rats in a trap.” 

For a long moment, Lorn stared at Lan-Loe, considering his words. The look in his eyes said he was beginning to see the wisdom in his advisor’s words and Lan-Loe pounced. “We could at least defend ourselves. When our foes see they cannot defeat us maybe we can pursue rebuilding the empire that your father once built. It will be the last glory for us both.”

“Maybe there is some wisdom in what you say Lan-Loe. I do not wish to be hunted or slain like an animal in a snare. I also do not wish to go out into the world. Bower might know our location somehow. They may find us. I doubt he would just blindly take to the Violent Mountains and search for this castle without some idea of how to find it. We can just wait and see if he comes, then we’ll show him, we’ve no army, been up to no pillaging, and we certainly have no Princess locked in the tower.” Lorn concluded with a short harsh laugh. “I’ll just let him in to have a quick look around to satisfy his curiosity.”

“My Prince, Bower will come, and you are correct, I doubt he would just blindly take to the Violent Mountains searching for your father’s castle without some assurance of finding it. First, we must find out who has betrayed us and with what information. Second, we need to know how much time we have to prepare for the battle that will come. Third, we must find out who uses your father’s name to blame their atrocities on. Then, we join them and begin our campaign to take back the old glory that was Jior.” Prince Lorn watched Lan-Loe’s burning eyes and felt surprised as the old man brazenly raised his fist in the air, in anticipation of imagined triumphs to come.

Lorn laughed at him again then growled harshly. “I grow weary of this conversation!”

Reaching within his fading red robe, Lan-Loe brought out a flask. He poured a measure of some golden liquid into two cups and handed one to Lorn while he talked. Almost pleading now, Lan-Loe continued.

“I have little magic left and no more information. I have come across this little bit of news purely by accident. You will have to go into the city, to Skogur, and find out the truth of what is happening.” 

“Go to the city? To Skogur? Is that your plan? Ha! I’m certainly not! I’ve not stirred from this place in five years, since my father’s death. I have not the desire to pursue any of this and I won’t.” Lorn paused and said quietly, “Let them come.”

He tipped back his head and drained his cup. The golden liquid burned down his throat set fire to his belly and eased his shaking. Lorn stared down into his cup, quiet now. He did not see Lan-Loe’s eyes burn with sudden contempt nor did he see the sneer of disgust that curled his lips. Then, smoothing his features, Lan-Loe spoke quietly, pleading, disguising the passion that suddenly seemed to energize the Sorcerer. 

“My Prince,” he spoke slowly. “Forget not that they accuse you of kidnapping the Skorian Princess. This may be the opportunity we need to give you the will to live again, to make you and Jior strong again!”

He clenched his fist around his cup and shook it at Prince Lorn. “I understand your reluctance to go into the city, even if it is just to gain information about that which is threatening us, but if we have that knowledge, we can at least decide our fate. We will have a choice of what to do. If you do not wish to join whoever is starting trouble in the name of Jior, well, that is as it is. At least, we will know what to do to avoid being invaded and slaughtered like peasants hiding in a hovel.” Lan-Loe leaned forward and his voice took on a hypnotic tone of a strategist sorcerer. He whispered to the Prince, “Let me help you recover your glory.”

Lorn sat, quiet and still, lost within the depths of memories that assailed him with vicious harshness, while Lan-Loe prattled on for a long while and poured him another draught of the golden liquid. Underneath the ashes of the melancholy that covered the burning flame he had once been, a small cinder of restlessness burned, and his interest slowly sparked and began to smolder. He shook his head slowly, the hypnotic suggestion Lan-Loe made, repeated over and over in his head. “Let me help you recover your glory.”

Yes, recover glory, strength, regain the fight, the will to live, and battle once again. The prospect was suddenly becoming more appealing and Lorn found himself growing interested if only to relieve his boredom.

“Alright Lan-Loe, I will go to Skogur and seek information if only to shut you up! I think it is a pointless endeavor. If I don’t get captured and killed first, I’m sure I’ll return within a fortnight having found out nothing.” He reached for the flask Lan-Loe had placed on the table beside him. 

Lan-Loe’s eyes burned with the triumph of a small victory. “Never fear my Prince. I will make you victorious again!”

“I don’t care about victory, I only care about being left alone,” Lorn spoke softly as he quaffed the golden liquid.

#

A few days later, Prince Lorn donned a heavy black cloak and mounted his black horse. He was surprised and slightly delighted, to find Svartur his old warhorse. As an added bonus there was a red mare for a packhorse. Lorn looked suspiciously at the Red Sorcerer. Lan-Loe had gathered provisions for a long journey and where these horses had been, Lorn could not guess. 

Lan-Loe handed him a long, wrapped bundle. Taking a moment to glance within the oiled cloth he saw his father’s black sword. Lorn scoffed at the old man but did not say anything. A cold autumn wind blew through the crags of the Violent Mountains. He gave a slight nudge and Svartur danced forward, anxious to go toward the long trail. As he rode, Prince Lorn contemplated the past.

Before King Kullorn’s war, the land of Vedt had lived peacefully. Only slight border squabbles or raids from heathendom across the oceans gave the military forces of Vedt any reason to remain intact. A long stretch of peace was not wished for by any true soldier, but the kind of war that Kullorn had brought, was dreaded tenfold. That dread had guaranteed them great success in taking over the lands because men feared the Jiorians and the peril of their very souls.

King Kullorn swept the nation with his combined human and demon hordes, reaping total destruction on the land and on its people. It started slowly like a wasting disease on the land. Demons hunted in the cities and the countryside alike. The people were murdered, livestock needlessly slaughtered, the land burned, and water fouled. Unnatural storms even raged in the skies above. Vedt was truly cursed with an evil plague when King Kullorn was alive and rampaging.

It was at the final deciding battle that King Kullorn made his last great push to rule all of Vedt. He swept down from the mountains with his hordes and advanced on the city of Skogur, the largest kingdom on the continent. Once that city fell it would be under Jiorian rule and his strategy had been, after taking Skogur, the rest would fall easily.

Instead, the entire continent and all the kingdoms banded together as one army and had met the advancing threat below the Violent Mountains on the plains of Skogur. King Kullorn was in no great hurry, being confident of his forces. He moved his army against them all. At King Kullorn’s side rode his half-demon son, Prince Lorn. Prince Lorn was more interested in the battle than in the lands and riches to be won and was a fearsome warrior. Also, helping King Kullorn, as counselor and strategist, was Lan-Loe the Red Sorcerer. Lan-Loe was the skilled Strategist Sorcerer as denoted by the red robes of his level of skill.

Lan-Loe also performed the summoning of the demons which was not an art typically practiced by red sorcerers. It was also from him that Kullorn received a demon forged sword. The sword was made of blue metal that had fallen from the sky. It was wrought by demons that never saw the surface of the world. It was said to protect him from mortal men, though not from demons. His skill in using the sword was unsurpassable. Now, that sword was wrapped in a bundle of old cloth and was tied to Lorn’s horse. King Kullorn had in his possession a demon female. She was reported to be seven feet tall with white skin and hair. Her beauty was the stuff of legends and when she peered out from under her long black lashes; violet eyes glowed with amethyst fire. She sported a huge pair of wings. It was only when King Kullorn enlisted the help of Lan-Loe’s sorcery that he succeeded in roughly pleasuring himself with the she-demon and eventually he forced her to be his wife. The fruit of their union was Prince Lorn. She left her son when he was too young to remember her face.

Now, it was all starting again. Someone was ravaging the land and doing it in the name of Jior and Prince Lorn. Prince Lorn contemplated the past and the present, as he turned his horse’s head toward the dark forest and the snow began to fall upon his shoulders.

© 2020 Wendy L. Anderson

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