We all have a destiny.
"For years you and your followers have cursed me." Lord Marillion positively beamed at such a pathetic sight; this once might hero of the people, this defender of the innocent and all that was good and just, knelt before him; stripped of his heroes uniform, his body battered and bruised and his arms chained to a metal ring in the floor. All that muscle, all that power and now, as Marillion looked down on him from his throne, he barely had the strength to lift that arrogant head of his, yet he did just that, held his head high and stared defiantly into the gleam of malicious delight in Marillion's eyes. It was that determined defiance that had destroyed the plans of over lords, tyrants and emperors across the galaxy and yet here, with nothing and no one left to fight for, this brazenness did nothing but make Marillion Happier. He wanted to kill not a broken ghost of his enemy for there could be no sport in gloating over a husk. He wanted the man who had offered so much opposition; the man who had beaten him down again and again, stolen his rightful power, position and beauty, and consequentially made this moment of victory gloriously rewarding. "And now I have won." He spoke calmly, a gentle smile on his lips. Only his clasped hands, two fingers of which keenly rubbed the smooth jewelled ring that was a family heirloom, showed any sign of the intense anticipation of the moment that he felt. He savoured every word as though he was delivering the most important speech of his life. "You are mine to do with what I will. I have created an army neither living nor dead that rivals the legendary warriors of Sdrahcir. An army that has no will of its own and will never tier, never feel remorse, an army that will only respond to my command and will make me Emperor of the Universe. But now to complete my destiny I have the Hand of Ennaxor that will grant me eternal life."
"Glad to hear everything's going so great for you," said the chained man, the sarcastic tone that had always been so sharp and infuriating was now strained and dull, as though it was little more than habit that made him reply. A full-hearted laugh echoed across the dark hall, returning from the shadows as though even the darkness was joining in with Marillions merriment. He rose from his throne and sat himself cross-legged right in front of his prey. With tired eyes the hero followed the movement, neither flinching away in fear or tensing to struggle and fight, not that either would have done him any good. "It really is wonderful to hear you speak dear Captain, I was so afraid that I would not hear your voice before you died. Tell me, how does it feel to have lost the war? For you won so battles, but in the end it is I who succeeded. You see I was destined to rule and you could never stop my destiny, though I admit that you were a worthy foe and I always enjoyed battling against you, and this is why I have decided that it must be you that will return me my youth." Slowly his smile turned into a sneer and there was a bitter edge to be found in tone. "After all, it was you who stole it from me that day you left me for dead." Marillion turned and reached for what looked to be a single tan glove sitting on a small, glass table beside his throne. He admired it for a moment as though it were a thing of beauty and then he carefully slipped it over his hand. "You see, my noble hero, long ago there was a great healer by the name of Sdrahcir, she had the ability to transfer the life-force from one being to another, saving some and sacrificing others. When she died a pair of gloves was made from her skin and they granted the wearer the same skills as she. One glove gave life and the other took it." He waggled his gloved fingers in the hero's face and laughed. "Can you guess which one this is? I have seen it used, I have, not that it did the owner must use when I realized what it was. Can't use it to heal yourself when yourself when someone cuts your hands off. It can be used to steal just a little, a moment, a week, or it can drain a man dry, which I can tell you is not a pretty sight. Tell me which would you prefer?" The hero remained in stoic silence, so Maillion leaned slightly forward and reduced his voice to a loud whisper like a child about to share a secret. "Your strength will become mine. I will live forever, as an Emperor, as a God."
"I pity you."
Marillion frowned at this mistaken choice of words. "I don't understand."
The prisoner smiled a full, knowing smile, that had a strange serenity that Marillion thought should not have been possible from someone who had lost so much. "You may live forever off the lives of others but you will live it alone and that is no life. Enjoy eternity, may it dwindle forever."
Marillion grinned, baring sharpened teeth. Ever the moralistic philosopher. Never one to let you down. "And you enjoy death." His hand shot forward but his gloved palm did not touch the flesh, instead it hovered over the heart. He imagined the heart beating in that chest, thumping with the fear that he must feel. Marillion's fingers tingled, and he was not sure if it was the enchantment of the Hand of Ennaxor or simply the excitement of a kill. Gazing once more into his victims eyes, locking them and this moment into his memory, he struck forward with his palm. He felt a jolt like electricity run from his hand and through his arm before spreading out into the rest of his body. At first it was painful, a shock to his system and he almost cried out, but the pain quickly abated into something that felt powerful. It was like he just begun to run in a race he knew he could win, his heart beating strength and energy into his veins, adrenalin driving a rush so compelling that he could not have stopped draining the man, could not have even slowed it had he wished. He watched with fascination as his enemy crumbled; the skin on his broad, handsome face paling as it shivered away, making his head seem comically shrunken, his hair whitening and falling away and his heart, that had beat so compassionate for the weak and innocent, now became pitifully frail. The eyes still stared, but the defiance was replaced at last with a horror that Marillion had waited years to see. How glorious it was to know that as he watched the hero decay, the hero watched him rejuvenate, it being his life that was the trade for such youth and beauty and strength. The eyes stared even as the life left them entirely.
Marillion tossed the corpse away and was surprised at how far across the hall it flew before crashing into a crumpled pile, the sound of splintering bones seeming to him like ring of church bells rejoicing his new life. He stood up and stretched, enjoying the tension in his revitalized arms, and then reached for a small mirror that had been on the beside the glove on the little glass table. There it was, his face, without that hideous scar that the hero had punished him with for kidnapping one of his friends, a friend that had since been dispatched with anyway. He had destroyed many mirrors in wrath of this disfigurement, but now he looked once again at the noble complexion of his youth, felt it's smoothness. Brimming with elation, he tossed the mirror away, and even as it littered the floor with it's tiny shards, he decided that he would take down the portraits of his ancestors and replace them with mirrors of all shapes and sizes. He would have gilded frames made and would place them so they reflected the sun and where ever he would go he would walk in radiant light. For too long his home had been in gloom and disrepair, his neglect spurred on by his obsession for revenge and power. Now that he had both he would return this ancient building to it's former glory.
He walked to the large balcony doors at the bottom of the hall, enjoying the power he seemed to feel in every step, opened them and walked out into the night air. Above him the stars winked conspiratorially. They seemed so distant those tiny pinpricks, but no longer beyond his reach. With an army at his command, the power of life in his hand and no hero to compete, he would make each one of those twinkling diamonds his own. He did not care how long it would take. There was nothing to stop him now.
Emperor Marillion stared down at the slaves that slept soundlessly on the floor around his bed. The most beautiful men and women from the main systems. They used to be hand picked by him personally, suiting his current tastes and pleasures, but for a long time they had been chosen for him by servants he did not see, renewed periodically or at least as he assumed. It had been an age since he took time to appreciate their beauty, he knew it was there in that young tender flesh, but after thousands of years of living, they all looked the same and for all he knew they could be. In fact he hardly bothered with them any more, a fact that these hidden servants could have taken advantage of as collecting such beautiful stock could be timely. Perhaps he could damage the group to make sure that the next lot were indeed fresh. Maybe he should go out himself like he used to and find some virgins. He could threaten them with the destruction of their villages and the torture of their families, maybe he wouldn't threaten. It had been a long time since he had destroyed a village, burning every house to the ground, slicing up the locals, crippling the survivors. Only those he thought enticing enough would be graced the absence of his sword. They would be made to watch, then brought to his palace to sleep by his bed like a dog and used as he felt.
He sighed and, leaning deeper into his pillows, let his thoughts of carnage drift away. Maybe a century or two ago he would have revelled at the thought and impulsively choose a planet at random, but now he could not bring forth the effort. What had happened? He looked around him at the treasures that lined the walls, his greatest trophies from past expeditions, not a single one of them from the last two hundreds years. The Great Bust of Katrina looked sternly at him from across the room, her stony features displaying the disapproval the woman she envisioned would have felt at the depravity that filled the floor. Beside her stood a great mirror framed with a twisting design of white roses. It was the mirror of Princess Jade and only reflected what was Feathured Amulet of Ocavious, the Journals of Loki's Daughters, the Shattered Light Crystal, all of them collected in honour of his triumphs since he first used the Glove of Ennaxor all those thousands of years ago. He smiled as his eyes locked on the golden mask of the goddess Skyra. It's wolven head glared back at him with jewelled eyes. That had been the first religion he dismembered. A primitive planet that had put up quite a fuss, claiming to prefer to die rather than deny their gods, so he had the Temples bathed in the blood of the people and the priest and priestesses displayed around these godly buildings. Then he forced the people to pay daily visits. There was to be no god to ever rival his power.
He often reminisced about that first hundred years. The thrill of battle as one by one the universe became his. The feeling of invulnerability. Not a single system was left unscathed. Not a planet where his name was not feared. He killed where he pleased, took what he wanted, he was the most powerful being in existence. He still was. He had been for the last four hundred years and would be for many, many more years to come. Those who stood up to him where quickly killed else held for his amusement and soon there were no challengers, no heroes to defend the people. No nothing, no nothing for the last two hundred and fifty years. No food that he had not tasted, no pleasure that he had not felt, no evil that he had not committed. There was nothing more to do. So he lay in his bed, in his mighty palace, the centre of the Universe, bored.