When I reach the castle stables, because I plan on riding into town, I notice that it's very quiet. The horses should all be going crazy, but it's more silent than a funeral. The only noise I hear is the rustle of my feet moving through the hay. The horses were one of my father's prized possessions. He said they were a part of his image. A king must look strong, and at times intimidating. A king must look like he can get the job done so his people will have confidence in him. A king is only as mighty as his people let him be. My father would never let me in the stables, because he was afraid I'd let them loose, and after what happened with mother no one dared to go near his horses. Taking care of them was the only other thing he did besides going through his many books. Ella didn't care about our father or his horses. She would gladly sacrifice the horses and our father just to bring back our mother, but she doesn't have to do that now. Her wish came true. "What happened to these damn horses?" I whisper under my breath as I check the final stale. All of them are empty. I don't really know what I would do even if one of them was here. I never learned how to ride one. My mother was busy with her garden and father never had any free time. I asked him one day when he was grooming them, but he just waved my question away and told me that he'll do it when he had time. I smell the familiar scent of blood coming from somewhere, but when I went through the stalls I didn't see any trace that they were even there. I'm about to leave the stable when I hear a thud behind me. I turn to see what it was, but before I can make sense of anything, something hits me hard in the face and I fly backwards. I quickly gather myself, and I take out the sword that hangs from my waist, but it's unnecessary as the thing that collided with me was just a huge chunk of meat that's hanging from some rope. I'm about to put away my sword when the hunk of meat starts talking.
"Kill... Me..." It was a mans voice. It sounded like the stable boy, Francis, that used to work here when father was ever away on business. He had to follow a strict schedule, and if something wasn't right he would've been hanged in the castle courtyard, which seems to have been part of his untimely demise.
"My lord... Francis, what happened?" I ask. The boys body is just a big clump of human. His bones are crushed, his skin has been flayed off his body, and blood soaks the ground beneath his hanging body. This poor thing is only alive, because of some sort of magic.
"We were attacked... By a monstrous beast with... black, cracked skin that was soaked in blood..." He tells me. His voice is raspy and full of pain. "It has purple eyes..." An image flashes through my mind and I remember the beast that chased me the first time I met Parlgu. Blood oozed from its cracked, black skin, and its teeth were sharper than the swords our guards carry. Francis coughs a little and says something else. "Please... Just finish me..." He pleas. In the distance I hear a I high-pitched cackle. In one swift motion I swing my blade around and I meet a resistance. When I turn around I'm staring into those glowing purple eyes that haunt the darkness. My sword is stuck in the shoulder of this beast, but it doesn't even phase him. I tug my sword free, and take another swing at the creature, but this time it ducks under the blade. It jumps over me, lands on Francis, and rips him free of the rope. Then it sinks its teeth into him and runs. I can hear the stable boy's scream as he's being dragged away for only a few more seconds before he's silenced. I try to turn, and run, but it's back. As quickly as it left it has returned. Fresh blood drips from its lips, which are curling up as if it's smiling. Suddenly, it rushes at me and drills its blood soaked body into mine. My breath is forced out of my body, and I can't see anything. My skin is starting to tingle, my ears are ringing, and my eyes are burning. It's getting really hot, the wind is rushing through my hair, and as I try to breath in all that fills my lungs is burning ash. I want to cough, but the only thing that does is help me breath more in. I feel like my insides are on fire, and then everything cools down. I'm flipped through the air as the demon throws me from it's body, and I land hard on some sort of stone. As the ringing starts to fade I begin to hear faint screams of panic and pain.
"Get up..." A man's voice demands. Something pulls me up by my collar, but I bend over to cough as I try to free my lungs of ash. The stinging in my eyes is gone, my skin has stopped tingling, and almost able to breath normally. After a few moments I blink a couple times and look around to see that I've some how ended up in town. People are running around everywhere, houses are on fire, and bodies plague the streets. Blood and other bodily fluids stain the streets. Only one man is remains calm as all of this is going on... Parlgu. "Welcome, Henry. I hope you like what little Axel has done here." He says, petting the black beast with one hand, and rubbing his head with the other. Parlgu's dark-blue skin has become considerably lighter. I look around myself again, and I see the same thing, but on thing is slightly different... Time has slowed down. People are moving slower, the flames take longer to dance upon the wood they're burning, and the screams of the dying are drawn out. "Their agony will last seconds while yours will last for an eternity." Parlgu says, spitting a mouthful of maggots onto the ground, which slowly squirm as they move ever so slightly towards the ground. "You see, Henry. I'm not done with you yet. I don't know why, but I haven't had this much fun messing with some mortals mind for centuries."
"What do you mean? Haven't I gone through enough of your shit? I watched my father and sister die, my people are slowly dying around me, and I'm helpless to stop any of it... Despite saying that I'd find a way to rid you of my land... I have failed." I say, sinking to my knees. "I have failed my people, my kingdom, and my mother. If there is one thing I could wish for it would be to start all over. I do not wish to see this anymore." I let my head hang with the shame of defeat, and curse myself for being so weak, but I just can't do this anymore.
"Ah, a wish that I might just be able to help come true." He says. My ears perk up and I raise my head. "Yes, I might be able to help you, Henry... But why should I?" A wicked grin spreads across his revolting face. There are fairy tale monsters that spook us as a child, and then there are things like Parlgu that paralyze us with fear.
"There's no answer I can give you that will convince, but I beg you. Have a little mercy... I've been through so much..."
"What a selfish thing to say, Henry." Parlgu gasps, mocking me. "There are way more people that suffer far more greater things than what you have. Yesterday I was torturing a soul of a man who had witnessed the birth and death of his new born baby within minutes, he saw his wife die, and his daughter that he had two years previously was hung by the towns people, because they thought she was the offspring of Satan." Parlgu comes closer to me, and as he does I can feel myself become heavier and colder. "Who by the way has a daughter that is really something else. She can torture someone like no other." He chuckles a little as he thinks about her. Then he shakes his head as if coming out of a trance. "Anyway, I feel kind of merciless today. So, let's make a deal." He turns his back towards me and motions for Axel to come forth. The demonic beast comes forward with a piece of paper in its mouth. "Sign this and I will send you back to the beginning of all this. You will be reunited with your father and sister."
"What about my mother?"
"She still belongs to me. Your father and I had a deal." He says, unraveling the rolled up paper, and handing me a quill. "There's nothing change that, but you can still see your loving sister and caring father. You can save them and all you have to do is just sign here..." He points to a line at the bottom of the paper. I hesitate for a few seconds, and I think about what my family might say. Father would warn me of his trickery, my sister would tell me not to be like our foolish father... And mother would tell me to follow my heart, but is my heart right? "Don't you want them back?" He says, and with that I sign the paper. As soon as I'm done I can feel a change. The wind is picking up, my breath is slipping away, and all light around me is dimming. "Excellent... You'll make the perfection addition to my collection." Parlgu starts giggling and I don't have time to wonder why as I start falling backwards. The world around me is sucked into darkness. I can feel my body contort, and my blood becomes red hot as it surges through my body... Suddenly everything is still. A light shines over my closed eyes and I slowly open them. The light stings my eyes, but I just blink it away, and look around my room. I can hear the hustle and bustle outside my door as the servants rush to get things ready for the morning. I hear the chink of metal armor moving about. I rush out of my bed, and throw open the door, but much to my dismay what I see is not what I wanted. The people moving around shouldn't be able to. Some are missing limbs while others are missing heads. Then I see a sight that sets my mind whirling. My father's striding down the corridor, a knife in his head, and marks all over his body. He nods to me as he passes by, but I'm brought to my knees as the realization hits me. The demon had tricked me too. This is not my world... I try to scream out, but the noise that comes out is a hum. I try again and again, but I can only produce a humming sound. I'm just another part of his collection... A marking on his skin...
A/N: Thanks to all of those who've read this story. This is my first finished story and it feels great to finally finish one.