His was a realm untouched by and unbelieving of the myth called light, a landscape twisted to know and cherish only the dark. With gnarled hands extending to elongated, jagged fingers, he had meticulously sculpted his desolate domain—his hellish home, and his alone. Laughing at the haunted resonations of his own gleeful, hammering footfalls, he danced across the rutted, stabbing terrain, pounding the sodden ground with the soles of his leathery feet till vales became hillocks and stable soil became sinking quagmires. That hideous, maniacal voice—which had tempted sovereigns to murder their heirs, beguiled priests to ravish helpless virgins, and taught temperate mothers how to strangle their cradled babes—that same devilish voice sang proudly of his abhorrent triumphs, feeling not the most finite trace of detestable remorse. For in this merciless world, small though it might be, he was a king without peer, a god of his craft, reveling in all the vileness of his being and what he (through humankind) could achieve.

No name did he possess, but an endless string of wicked titles, bequeathed to him by his innumerable victims. Demon, they labeled him, Monster and Beast, Menace and Phantom, Deceiver and Betrayer, yet his favorite was Avenger. For his sweetest prizes were wrought in vengeance, to vindicate some wayward soul with evil deeds far surpassing the instigating crime. Many years had it been since last he was invoked to perform his beloved task, and the last of such work, by his boundless art, had been his most treasured amongst all his malevolent memories.

A young lady, half-witted (by his haughty estimations), had been spurned by her intended lover, who had never genuinely returned her affections from the start. But she, in bitterness, had wept heavy tears from dusk until dawn, crying out for succor to any deity who would hear. And HE had heeded her call. From the deep of his ghostly kingdom, he had clambered slowly upwards toward the solitary star of his perpetual midnight, a choked spark of radiance despised by his plane. For that star was the singular portal uniting his deathly sphere to the universe of humanity, and through it, he could rise to corporeal form, birthed like vomit from the Black Jewel, to wreak his unholy profession on the mortals above. So up from the pit he had climbed, and once his craved destination attained, he had slyly coaxed his carrier to release him from the nightmarish void. As blood spills out from the yawning wound, so too had he crawled himself back into our reality, oozing forth like congealed ichor from the Black Jewel hanging around that poor girl's neck. Nothing ever felt more refreshing to him than to remember his true earthly shape, stretching his long gangrel limbs to their fullest, his knotted skin clinging like solidified obsidian lava to his bone-tight frame, his contorted, charred face smiling corroded fangs, eyes ablaze as dying flames in murky caverns, tomb-streaked hair hanging with the buoyancy of alabaster chains from his decayed scalp. A burnt, petrified corpse of a thing was he, molded only in mockery of a manly figure.

Grinning his sinful malice, he had loomed over his female conjurer, relishing her pale, mute terror, just hoping that she might find the strength to scream herself into powerless paralysis. But at last, with a diabolical cackle, he had embraced the horror-stricken girl as one would hug a childhood companion, and by well-chosen words, he then cunningly informed her that he was the answer to all her woeful prayers. He was her Revenge.

Many, many torments and miseries and deaths did he inflict on all the girl's enemies, and even unto her dearest friends and family. He amused himself with gore-filled hours and blood-curdling cries far beyond the scope of what the ignorant maiden had momentarily (and repentantly) wished. What tears she had formerly shed for her own sorrows, she now wailed for those she had unknowingly condemned, as she begged in anguish for her avenger to at least spare her beloved ones. But he would not. And only when she herself had been physically and spiritually scarred beyond all recovery did he finally take his leave and return to the Black Jewel, to that demonic necklace which remained irremovably draped around her throat until the eternal sleep of very old age ultimately relieved her of her torturous burden, after decades of agony.

Since then, he had tarried patiently within his barren dominion, just waiting for the day when another lost soul would naively seek his aid, and he would give it gladly. During that lengthy span of time, the Black Jeweled necklace passed quietly from inheritor to pawnbroker, from collector to seller, from fiancé to wife, and from mother to daughter. And all the while, HE toiled merrily in his oblivion, reshaping his surroundings to suit his whim, always honing his depraved skills on the shriveled carcasses of playthings.

Yet suddenly, on an unspectacular afternoon, he detected an almost forgotten noise drifting across the fouled air—an echo of a whimper, distant and pained, resounding off his mal-bent hills and bilging morasses. Spurred by decadent joy, he cast his cruel eyes skyward to the grim, lonely star, which swelled and amplified its smothered luminescence as the intangible sobs increased and grew louder in their fervency. From somewhere far overheard, droplets of acidic water plunged upon his gristly body, not as heavenly rain falls, but as tears of suffering. Ill laughter once again coughed out from his scorched lungs, filled as he was with revelatory delight, for he knew exactly what this event signified, and he was only too happy to greet it.

Just as he had last done nearly two centuries before, he began to climb. His fiendish claws dug into the rocky peaks around him, lifting himself with a leisurely ease from foothold to cleft, up crags and sheer precipices which no living entity could have braved. At his desire, these sharp spires steadily transformed their makeup from profaned earth to mangled flesh, ghastly towers of deformed, fetid cadavers of every size, gender, and age—a gruesome homage to his countless assortments of accomplishments and victims. His serrated toenails scraped against tors of cracking bones, brittle and fractured by harsh eons of exposure. On all fours he went, as would some creeping serpent, slithering up the immeasurable heights, up mountains of broken skulls and pelvises, shattered ribcages and warped spines, gigantic hoards of them, glinting like tarnished ivory against the loathsome starlight.

After these bony summits, he came gradually to the pinnacles of rotting flesh piled upward beyond the horizon of sight, putrid and discolored gobs of rank skin and organs, long-ago desiccated beyond any recognition, and hereupon squashed beneath his callous heels. He loved wriggling his digits in the sludge. Coagulated blood-puddles dotted the hill-crests and ridges, visceral ponds hardened likes stones upon the graveyard slopes. The blasphemous stench of this place would have made an angel comatose.

On either side of him, sable-red rivers of roiling blood streamed down the steeps and through the crevices and off the cliff-faces of the mountainsides, to compose vast, drowning, sickening oceans of the depthless valleys far, far below in the all-consuming darkness. Yet the higher he scaled, the more he felt only those plummeting teardrops, showering down on him from his cloudless ebony sky, and he focused solely on the intensifying cries, screeching everywhere around him, as he watched his remote little star throb and flash with explosive volume. Some frail, afflicted soul was calling out in distress, pleading for a reprieve from its troubles, imploring its god to rescue it. But HE would answer the summons—an infernal savior to whomever now wore the Black Jewel.