Chapter 6: Episode 22 - "Possessed"
“So this is what it feels like to be king.” Kane sat upon the Imperial throne of Kodia, having slain the puppet ruler of the Imperial dynasty and claimed the seat over Kodia as his own. Festus Kane wasn’t much of a man by stature of worldly ways, but his sudden ascent to power would surely not go unnoticed by the rest of the world. They wouldn’t ignore him now. No one would overlook the presence of this great man.
The power within Kane grew restless as he sat upon his false throne, looking down upon an empty throne room. The body of the nobles had been drug out of the room by the guards and disposed of, Kane did not care how. His disregard for life and death: the human way, was evidence of the devil side of him taking more control over his mind and emotions. It had been nearly forty-eight hours since he allowed the demons to take up residence in his body, and with each passing hour, their adverse effects on his human flesh. He was prepared to make the sacrifice of his body, but never imagined the conflict it would cause within him. He flesh stretched, as if his body was too large for his skin, too many spirits dwelling within one flesh, attempting to overtake his soul.
Kane was torn, constantly ravaged from inside and out by the demon spirits, unwilling to loose their vice grip on him. Festus Kane was no longer his own man, he was trapped inside his body and yet feeling as if his soul was being forced out of his body. A prisoner of another world held captive to this one. A dead man in his living body: a dead man walking. He sat on a throne of lies, populated by small men who lifted themselves up on the backs of their people.
It was a cruel world, but someone had to rule it. If left to their own devices, men desired order and not chaos; in seeking community and structure, they looked to a leader to follow after. This was not the way of the Imperial Dynasty, one which had sprung from obscurity to utter domination of the Kodia people and even the NorthWestern end of the continent upon which it sat.
Kane gazed upon the empty throne room from the empty throne where he sat. His eyes red with flames, but dull and callously staring out into the emptiness of what once was a hall of cheerfulness and mirth, albeit at the expense of the less fortunate: those forced into subjugation and taxed to poverty to feed the king’s lavish appetite for posh parties and pleasure. The Imperial Reign was well renowned for its fanciful feasts funded by the poor box. Pity to the weak, but not one shilling to the beggar. The bureaucrats lived off of the labor of others, but felt themselves a world away from the common folk of the land. Festus Kane had lived the common life, been uncommonly common in his time among the faceless multitudes of a forgotten populace. That life was one of destitution of spirit and hopelessness of the soul.
Kane mused about the history of this hall in which he sat, and the dynasties which had risen and fallen over the throne upon which he sat. Such a meaningless and insignificant object to be the cause of so much bloodshed, and so easily purchased too. True power will out when pitted against false principalities or potentates. Pomp and circumstance were nothing more than mere frills to dress up the hideous rags of the beggared soul.
It was nightfall through the windows of the throne room, day had come and gone like a thief, only darkness and starlight remained. Kane felt the chill of the night air as it seemed in through the open windows and cooled the stone surfaces of the throne room. Kane senses were unaffected by the sudden drop in temperature. Though he felt the cold, he did not respond to it. Like a stone statue he held his gaze forward, elbows propped on his legs as he leaned his head forward and rested it in is hands. Kane’s black, thin locks hung limp around his vision, acting as borders to the sides of his peripheral, keeping his sight focused forward as he concentrated on one thing.
What was all of this worth? The position of power: the throne of Kodia was nothing more than a seat. He felt no great surge of authority or power when occupying that seat, for it was not the seat that gave worth to a man, but the man who gave worth to the seat. The authority of the throne is built by the king using the respect of his people; though that throne be occupied by lesser men, its greatness is not in association, but in attribution. What was attributed to the throne was more than who was associated with it. Kane understood this better than most. He’d seen kings at their best and worst, more worst than best. No man in power could be trusted to do what was good for anyone but themselves. This was a hard truth he’d had to learn and relearn many times over. Trust was a dangerous thing to give to a man in a position to impact your life.
Too often trust was far too easily given. Without question of intent or purpose, men gave trust to other men as if it was a coin. No more would this be the way of things. If Kane could simply abolish the precedent of trusting those in power, if he could inspire the people to question authority upon a basis of what was right rather than what made sense, maybe he could still make a difference in this world. Posterity, that was why anyone did anything, right? To be remembered, to have had an impact?
About this time of night was when the demons came out. In swirling grew wisps of cloud, the demon spirit left Kane’s body through his eye holes and formed shadowy ghost shapes around him. Their ghostly spirit forms were but images of their true forms, but still they were hideous to behold. No longer in the shape of gods as they were when in the form of statues, they took upon a shadow of their true appearance. Demons were no simple unseemly body, the grotesque images of their incarnate evil were beyond words of description. But if Kane could compare it to any earthly visual, it looked as if a body had been suffering the torture of burning for eternity and not being consumed until its flesh was boiled and puckered, the bones were swollen and misshapen, and the facial features were obscured and marred beyond recognition: displaced eyes, nose and ears where they should not be; hairless ogres but to call what he saw by the name ogre seemed to sell it short by a long shot.
Even the shady appearance of them, absent of their true forms was enough to cause riotous physical illness within Kane’s body, but the spirits of the demons inside of him still warred against all human feeling and emotion. His mind thought that he would vomit, but his body rejected the commands of his conscious.
“You have done well, young human.” Aphaliax spoke, addressing Festus with condescension for his race rather than calling him by his name. Demons ever sought to belittle or malign the favored creatures, thereby elevating themselves above all other beings.
Kane took the shade Aphaliax threw his way and cast it to the side with a glance over his shoulder. Words of the demons could not bother a soul possessed of their spirits. He was immune to the weakness of men, and thereby was immune to the strength of men.“The king is dead. How do you want me to proceed?” Kane’s eyes were white and empty, void of feeling and meaning. It was as if the window into his soul was shut, or rather diverted to another realm, a darker realm; a realm of nothingness and fear.
“The king is dead. And you are one step closer to achieving your goal, young Kane.” Aphaliax noted Kane’s lack of interest in his attempts to insult Festus as a human. The goal was the agreed upon gift to Kane for his faithfulness to their cause. It was a fair deal, but incredibly lopsided in the direction of the demons. Aphaliax was a master at bowing his head to make humans think that he was their servant, while serving his own ends through their service to his cause. Deception was the greatest ally of the vile creature and he was a sensei in the art of it. “Now that you have done this deed for us, you are free to pursue your end of the deal. We will deign to aid you in your quest of vengeance for now.”
Kane’s eyes faded for a moment and the barest hint of their old color revived somewhere in the depths of themselves. For an instant in time he felt, or imagined that he felt actual, genuine feelings: human emotion in the rawest natural form of it. The gloriousness of its essence was a warmth of wholeness to his cold and dry body, deprived of physical feeling for so many days. It was like a hunger that named at his soul, but numbed him to all else for so long that he had forgotten what it was like to feel anything else.
Feeling was something he wasn’t sure he’d felt in his life. It had been a stranger so long he had forgotten how it felt to… feel. Just to know that you were alive and breathing. What did it feel like to breath? To fill one’s lungs with breath, the oxygen it took to exist. How did he know that he existed? Did he exist anymore… in the real world: as a person, as a thing, was he just a spirit like the demons were spirits? He took a breath. Breath. He felt nothing. Nothing at all.
He wanted to slap himself but felt no control over his hands or arms. Aphaliax had said he was free to pursue his desire, but the demons would not allow him to be truly free until he had accomplished their desire. He was a slave, for now and for eternity until he fulfilled all their designs upon his soul. His body was theirs to do with as they pleased.
Once a soul had sold itself to the grip of the darkness, it was nearly beyond all human capability to undue the bonds of evil upon that soul. Only one had ever come close. Only one had ever succeeded in selling his own soul out to demons and then purchasing it back again. To Kane’s knowledge, no-one had ever reached the depths of hell that this mortal man had, and his price to buy back his soul was still not fully paid.
Kane’s soulless eyes gathered back in the spirit of the demons into his body. A withered look and wearied lines returned to his face and figure. The toll of demon presence in a human life was tremendous and bore serious physical marks. The demons had spoken for far longer than what Kane had listened, and he may have even responded to them. But when one is so often a slave to the wills and whims of another, they tend to lose themselves and even the awareness of their own actions becomes a stranger. The demons possessed his ever present thoughts, but somewhere, deep in the recesses of his mind, Festus Kane: the person he truly was, lived on.
He liked to think, in the mind of his mind, that someday, when it was all said and done: when the demons had what they wanted from him and he finally found his own peace, that things would return to how they were before. Before the Rebellion had taken everything he had ever loved, there was a time and a place where he had once felt happy and whole. He wanted that feeling again, even at the expense of this living hell. His body protested the ravening of the demon spirits, which like a drug gave him extreme highs and lows.
The only person he’d ever know to survive this and not simply be another discarded shell where demons used to reside and rule was the same man who’s life he now sought to end. The man who had been to the darkness and returned to live in light. The man who went from being possessed by demons to possessing demons of his own, enslaving them in a place of torture and confinement: to wander the earth no more and put an end to their defiling of souls. It was said that he kept the souls of the demons within the very weapon with which he brings about their demise and defeat. The man was one a dying breed, a legendary brotherhood: he was a demon hunter, and his name was Felix Savoor.