“Abigor, come to me,” Geffrey called. Just the name of the demon caused discomfort. A chill crept up his spine, his dark hair seemed to stand on end. He clutched the ancient spell book in his pale hands and called to the cold night once more. “Abigor, come to me!”
The pines around him stirred, the bonfire before him flickered. He waited for some sign that the Hugh Duke of Hell had heard him. He peered off into the darkened woods and waited, imagining that the shadows would stir and Abigor would come to him.
Behind him the sound of battle raged. He fought the urge to look down the hill where he stood and see if his army was prevailing yet, or if they were still in retreat. He couldn’t fail this time. To fail would be to lose his kingdom.
He squinted his eyes, wondering if there was something he was missing.
Geffrey, you can’t call the forces of hell without fire in your voice, the spirit of his grandmother said beside him. Geffrey always felt her there with him, but he knew if he were to look, he would find nothing. She resided, instead, in his mind.
He closed his eyes and steeled himself for what he tried to do.
“Abigor, come to me, I command you!”
A scream rose up in the distance. Birds thundered from the trees, their wings louder than the wind that crested through the pines like a raging ocean. Fallen leaves and pine needles swirled around Geffrey, slicing into his flesh, raising blood to the surface of his skin. He clutched the book tighter. The fire roared high, spiraling up into the sky above the clearing. Trails of black and green fire mingled with the orange and yellow flames.
Yes, he comes! The memory of his grandmother called. Her voice held power, it shivered down Geffrey’s spine. It held promise, it held lust. His grandmother’s thoughts were laid bare to him, and they weren’t thoughts he wanted to share with her. His heart thrummed in his throat and his saliva thickened. It was more than fear that sped his heart. It was a force close to unbridled lust for the power and the High Duke of Hell that came to him.
When Abigor appeared, it was within the flames.
A giant stead appeared within the flames. Bat wings spread from its back, opening within the heat of the fire. Its eyes glowed with green flames and Geffrey dared not stare too long into his eyes for he feared he would lose his very soul.
Upon the horses back sat a knight clad in black armor that appeared to be made of scales. Geffrey thought it was armor, but he couldn’t be sure. The pleasure coursing through him that belonged to his grandmother suggested that the scales were in fact the flesh of the demon Abigor. The shape of muscles and veins weren’t design of the forge, but in fact belonged to Abigor.
He was a striking figure, and that feeling of adoration didn’t come from his grandmother.
His hair was long and dark, his fingers tipped with cruel claws. His eyes glowed green as the horses’ did. In one hand he held a lance, in the other he held the reigns of the horse which weren’t reins at all, but a long, sinuous snake that ran down the throat of the horse, looped through its nose, and met at Abigor’s grasp where it appeared to eat its own tail.
“Who calls me.” Abigor’s voice was deep, nearly a growl. As he spoke, the flames of the fire abated to that of a normal fire, but Abigor didn’t move.
“Geffrey Truent,” Geffrey said.
“And why do you call Abigor?” the demon asked. “For riches? For the heart of a princess? Maybe a prince?”
Who would call the High Duke of Hell for love? Geffrey wondered.
“For victory in war,” Geffrey answered.
The night was silent. Geffrey hadn’t realized how silent the night had become until a long pause stretched between the demon and himself. He couldn’t even hear the crackle and pop of the fire before him. All that existed was the huffing breath of the horse, the pregnant pause of Abigor’s speech, and the hushed hissing of the snake.
“A lofty request,” the demon said. “What do you offer me for such a boon?”
He knew what his grandmother had told him to offer—his soul. Did it really require his soul?
The greater the request, the greater the sacrifice, his grandmother chimed in his head. A lifetime of victory laid out before you. No one shall ever defeat you.
But an eternity in hell, at the bidding of Abigor, Geffrey thought.
His grandmother’s thoughts ran dark. What she wouldn’t give for a lifetime of servitude to Abigor, to the dark prince of hell that sat before them. Geffrey tried to push the thoughts away. He didn’t want to share those intimate details with his grandmother, but they intruded on his mind anyway. A bed of bone, his body laid out beside countless others, waiting for the High Duke of Hell to come to him, to claim him, to ride his mortal vessel until it burned up and was no more, only to be reborn from the ashes of his body to await Abigor’s desires again.
“My soul,” Geffrey said.
No sooner had he said it than Abigor vanished into the darkness. All that remained was one glowing green eye. Faster than he could see, the eye slammed into Geffrey. As it melded with his flesh it flared red. Power rushed through him. His head fell back in the rush of hellish energy that merged with his body, that flashed through his veins and remade his mind in the fashion of Abigor. The book grew hot in his hand, so hot that Geffrey could no longer hold it. It tumbled to the ground, pages falling away as it slammed to the ground. The pages swirled in a wind that didn’t touch the trees. They swirled around, the paper vanishing until only inky words remained on the air, and then those too branded themselves to Geffrey’s flesh and then vanished into his blood.
All the power of the Book of Hell raged through him, and when the wind faded, Geffrey lay naked on the ground, his black hair tangled with leaves and bones. He pushed to his feet, no longer feeling the cold, no longer feeling the heat of the fire.
He turned away from the scene and gazed down at the field of battle beneath his hilltop clearing, and the ground ran red with blood. His enemies fell, their blood coursing over the parched land like rivulets of lava.
All lands lay before you, his grandmother whispered in his mind. I’m proud of you, Geffrey.